Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. http://www.charismanews.com/component/content/?view=featured Wed, 29 Jul 2015 21:55:48 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Home Depot and 76 Other Companies That Support Planned Parenthood http://www.charismanews.com/us/50781-home-depot-and-76-other-companies-that-support-planed-parenthood http://www.charismanews.com/us/50781-home-depot-and-76-other-companies-that-support-planed-parenthood

On July 14, 2015, this video was released uncovering some of the practices of Planned Parenthood involving the selling of aborted baby parts—this needs to stop. EVALUEator has now released our research on 77 companies that fund Planned Parenthood through direct corporate donations and sponsored events.

Planned Parenthood continues to generate their revenue from government funding and corporate sponsorship—many of the shares of these companies are packaged in retirement plans (401k plans and IRAs) and listed on the S&P 500 and Fortune 500. We hope this list will encourage the public to voice their concerns to these companies and to stop investing in these companies as consumers and investors. 

Meet the Companies

Other companies on the list include Disney, Nike, Starbucks, Johnson and Johnson, Macys, Whole Foods and Gap. 

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eVALUEator Featured U.S. News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:10:42 -0400
Gov. Bobby Jindal Goes on Offense Against Cultish Baptists http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50778-gov-bobby-jindal-goes-on-offense-against-cultish-baptists http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50778-gov-bobby-jindal-goes-on-offense-against-cultish-baptists

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order barring Westboro Baptist Church protesters from the Monday (July 27) funerals of Lafayette shooting victims.

The shooter, John Russell Houser, killed two and wounded nine at the Grand 16 movie theater on July 23.

Houser had praised the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church in a comment online, and church leader Benjamin Phelps said "God sent the shooter," in a YouTube video in response to Jindal's order. The church is known for its "God hates fags" website (which says God is punishing America) and its picketing at the funerals of U.S. service members. Though the church threatened on Twitter to protest at the two Lafayette victims' funerals, the group ultimately didn't show.

But the ordeal raises a question: If Westboro members had protested, would their picketing be protected as free speech? And, if so, did Jindal's executive order infringe on the church's First Amendment rights? Some experts suggest that the law is unclear.

This isn't the first time the controversial church has raised questions about freedom of speech. After Westboro Baptist Church protested the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died serving in the Marines in Iraq in 2006, his father, Albert Snyder, sued the church and former pastor, Fred Phelps, who died last year, for emotional distress, among other things, in 2011.

Though a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that Snyder should receive damages, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed the judgment, a decision that was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in Snyder v. Phelps.

Vanderbilt University Law School professor and First Amendment expert David Hudson Jr. noted that Chief Justice John Roberts made an important point during the case: "Speech is often provocative and the First Amendment protects a great deal of disagreeable and even repugnant speech."

"That's a good precedent for Westboro Baptist Church," Hudson said in an interview.

That said, Louisiana is one of 44 states with laws restricting funeral picketing, many of which were created directly in response to Westboro Baptist Church, Hudson said. So technically, Jindal's executive order called on the police to enforce an existing state law. The law says that protesters must be 300 feet away from a funeral and they cannot disrupt it; they can protest only until two hours before a funeral starts and two hours after it ends.

So, the executive order would seem to just reinforce state law. But it may be problematic for two reasons:

According to Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, Jindal selectively applied the funeral-picketing law. By issuing an executive order telling police to enforce the law specifically against the Westboro Baptist Church, she argued, Jindal singled out the group.

"What the governor did is essentially say, 'We don't like this religion and we're not going to allow them' and that is in total violation of the First Amendment," Esman said.

The second issue is that there's debate over whether state funeral-picketing laws are constitutional.

On one hand, there are compelling reasons for the laws. Funeral-picketing laws are, in essence, "not unreasonable," Esman said. "The law exists to protect, really, both sides—the participants in the funeral and the protesters."

But courts are not so sure. In Snyder v. Phelps, the Supreme Court specifically stated that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of funeral-picketing laws, but "the federal courts are actually split," Hudson said.

"The Westboro Baptists could probably challenge the constitutionality of that law—and they may or may not be successful."

Copyright Religion News Service 2015. All rights reserved. 

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Sara Weissman/RNS Featured Politics Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Victoria Hearst Wins Battle Against Smut in Grocery Checkout Lanes http://www.charismanews.com/us/50774-victoria-hearst-wins-battle-against-smut-in-grocery-check-out-lanes http://www.charismanews.com/us/50774-victoria-hearst-wins-battle-against-smut-in-grocery-check-out-lanes

Supermarket chains RiteAid and Delhaize America, owner of Hannaford Stores and Food Lion, have opted to place Cosmopolitan magazines behind blinders in their stores due to the magazine's inappropriate content and covers. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) and Victoria Hearst, granddaughter of Hearst Corporation (which publishes Cosmopolitan magazine) founder William Randolph Hearst, count this as a major victory for the ongoing campaign to shield Cosmo from minors because of the magazine's glorification and desensitization of porn and sexual violence.

"I congratulate RiteAid and Delhaize America, owner of Hannaford Stores and Food Lion, for their sincere promise to immediately put Cosmopolitan magazine behind blinders in all of their stores," says Victoria Hearst. "It will protect underage children from being exposed to the magazine's sexually explicit covers showing scantily clad female celebrities and article titles ...! Since these two companies are now clearly aware of Cosmopolitan's pornographic content, I pray that they will do the right thing and either stop selling the magazine or obey the Material Harmful To Minors laws in each state which forbid the sale of magazines like Cosmopolitan to anyone under 18 years old." 

In a nationwide poll, conducted by NCSE, the majority of Americans agreed that Cosmo's front cover is not appropriate for all ages. NCSE has campaigned against Cosmopolitan magazine since 2013 when the publication was listed on NCSE's Dirty Dozen List, a list of the top twelve organizations contributing to sexual exploitation. Ultimately, NCSE calls for stores to put wrappers on all Cosmo magazines, and to refuse to sell them to minors.

"Cosmopolitan magazine regularly features articles, and occasionally explicit pictures, encouraging girls to participate in [inappropriate activities], and it blatantly targets young girls by displaying teen idols on their covers. Recently, Cosmo even posted an article encouraging readers to visit hardcore porn sites, including one site that is particularly focused on the extremely violent torture of women," says Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. "We are thankful to RiteAid and Delhaize America for not allowing this harmful material to be in plain view of minors at their stores, and we encourage other chains to follow suit, and to refuse to sell this pornographic magazine to minors."

Victoria Hearst and NCSE invites members of the public to thank RiteAid and Delhaize America on the website CosmoHarmsMinors.Com.

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Brimstone Media Featured U.S. News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
You're Invited to Help 'Charisma' Celebrate A Huge Milestone http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50770-you-re-invited-to-help-charisma-celebrate-a-huge-milestone http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50770-you-re-invited-to-help-charisma-celebrate-a-huge-milestone

The August 2015 issue of Charisma just came off the press and we're excited about it. A new issue has come out more than 400 times. We get excited about each one every month. But this one is extra special: It's our 40th anniversary!

It's the biggest issue we've had in years, and one of the nicest we have ever produced. If you subscribe, you'll get it in the mail in about a week.

We wrote about 40 leaders "who radically changed our world." They were people we wrote about in the last 40 years—many but not all appeared on the cover. We will feature at least one a day during the month of August. Because we've decided to celebrate Charisma's anniversary all month long, I need your help.

We have some exciting things planned for each day, such as a daily giveaway of 40 gifts to those who register. We will also have video greetings from leaders you know commenting about Charisma, or what the Lord has been doing the past four decades or just telling interesting stories about their experience with the magazine.

I intend to focus on one decade each week, trying to give perspective on trends in the church and culture that we've covered. But I don't want it to just be a history lesson. I want to write about what's interesting to you. For example, we've had more than 430 different covers. What interest is there in putting all those covers online?

Friday morning I recorded my weekly Strang Report podcast (I hope you'll sign up if you haven't already). I invited my listeners to email me with their ideas. (We also put this on Periscope, a form of social media I recently discovered). I told my listeners to send me their ideas, and we created an email account, anniversary@charismamedia.com, where you can write me directly. I'll see every email that comes in.

To create a little interest, I'll give a new large print version of the Modern English Version to the person who sends me the 40th email. We'll email the winner so you can send us a mailing address.

When you write, you can also tell me your own stories of Charisma and what the magazine means to you. This is my way to make this an interactive process as my staff and I complete our plans for this special issue online.

The events will be on charismamag.com, which presently has more than 1.4 million unique visitors a month. This is in addition to the several million that come to our other websites, such as charismanews.com, ministrytodaymag.com and so forth. I hope that friends like you, through our use of social media, can create a lot of interest in this special anniversary month.

Everything will culminate with a special reception at our headquarters in Lake Mary, Florida, just outside Orlando. We expect a few friends from the area to drop by for this reception. But I'm curious how many from outside Central Florida would be interested in visiting our headquarters that day and joining this special celebration.

I won't tell you now which 40 people we featured in Charisma this month, nor will I go in to the other articles we ran on upcoming leaders who are younger than 40. In the print issue, you can also read thoughts from Lee Grady and Jack Hayford about what we can expect in the future. You can read that in our print issue. Yet day by day we'll publish online the articles from the magazine, plus new material.

And remember, your input will help us decide what goes up online. Remember, please send me your ideas at anniversary@charismamedia.com.

Steve Strang is the CEO and founder of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook (stephenestrang).

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Steve Strang Featured Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:45:00 -0400
6 Ways You Can Overcome Evil http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50769-6-ways-you-can-overcome-evil http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50769-6-ways-you-can-overcome-evil

Recent weeks have seen the revelation of deeply disturbing practices at Planned Parenthood, the world's largest corporate abortion provider. As a practicing OB-GYN in Tennessee, these videos horrify me too—especially the latest one released yesterday. Yet I am not shocked.

Women have shared with me how Planned Parenthood violated them, and the pain of losing their babies. For years now, I have volunteered to advance the pro-life cause—because anything else would contradict my Christian faith and the medical ethics I swear to uphold.

Groups such as Live ActionAmericans United for Life and Bound4LIFE have documented the horrors inside Planned Parenthood for many years, sharing with anyone who would listen. This latest investigation brings it into sharp focus ... and it isn't going away.

(Be forewarned: this article describes some baby parts trafficking procedures in accurate medical terms.)

People are shown dissecting what they call an "11 and 6"—a human being who was 11 weeks and 6 days along in the pregnancy. The images and the commentary show the baby's humanity and discuss its head, its spine and its kidneys.

The baby is coldly referred to as a "five star specimen." A Planned Parenthood employee named Dr. Ginde says, "I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it."

It is not possible to say that these things are "deceptively edited" or "taken out of context." The words and images speak for themselves.

Americans are right to be disgusted over these practices. Yet those of us appalled are incorrect if we feel there is nothing that can be done. Congress and the Obama administration have the power to investigate these practices. They also have the power to withdraw taxpayers' funding currently being utilized by Planned Parenthood.

The federal government provides more than $500 million annually to Planned Parenthood. The Obama administration has declared that it will not withdraw funding; he is not worried about the political implications of that stance, as Mr. Obama cannot run for the office of the president again. He has nothing to lose. Members of Congress, however, always have the next election foremost in their minds.

What do we do? How do we handle this opportunity? The progressive left has a saying: "Never let a serious crisis go to waste." We need to resolve that we will not let these revelations go to waste. Before discussing specific calls to action, we should consider certain spiritual truths that help us understand our role.

The Bible tells us that we can understand many of God's attributes by observing nature and all that has been created. Please consider some rather simple and easily understood observations.

Did you know that there is no such thing as cold? Cold is really the natural state of things in the absence of something. When an object is cold, it lacks heat. Heat is a real thing. Heat is a form of energy, without which things are cold. 

Darkness is not a real thing in itself. Darkness is the natural state of things in the absence of light. Cold and dark are not necessarily the opposites of heat and light—they are descriptions of the natural state of things in the absence of heat and light.

Few moral people disagree when we say, Planned Parenthood's actions are evil. Consider this question: is evil a real thing? Or is evil simply the natural state of things in the absence of good? And what is the ultimate source of good in the world. The answer, of course, is God Himself.

Next we must ask ourselves, Why is goodness so increasingly absent from our society?Because we have been silent for too long. We have not been effective salt and light. How do we overcome the evil? Much like we overcome a cold room when we turn on the heater, and we banish darkness when we turn on the lights—we overcome evil by applying goodness.

The church can no longer be silent or passive on this issue, nor can its members. The natural state of things in our fallen world has become more dominant, because the church and our people have been silent and ineffective. 

How do we use our voices on this matter? Here are six practical, effective steps each of us can take.

  1. We pray. You can talk to our Father anywhere, anytime. Perhaps God is calling you to go one step further, and join those who pray in front of abortion centers.
  2. We speak truth from the pulpit without hesitation and without consideration of reprisal—because we teach the whole counsel of God's Word.
  3. We involve ourselves in the community, perhaps advancing adoption and foster care in our churches.
  4. We continue to speak truth about the injustice of abortion using whatever means at our disposal—especially social media. We cannot let these revelations result in nothing; if we do, what worse things will be required to touch the hearts of the people?
  5. We involve ourselves in the political process. Find the names and office phone numbers of your particular members of the House of Representatives and the Senate and call them. Express your heartbreak over what has been revealed about Planned Parenthood's practices. Let them know that you expect Congress to defund this organization; a Senate vote on S. 1881 to prohibit federal funds going to Planned Parenthood is expected next week. Get friends and family members to contact Congress as well. 
  6. We pray for those involved in the abortion industry—especially people in positions of authority like Dr. Nucatola, Dr. Gatter and Cecile Richards. We serve a God who can change hearts and transform lives. Some of the most effective pro-life advocates and activists are those who have come out of the abortion industry.

When there is an absence of good, evil is the natural state of things—like what we have seen from Planned Parenthood in these recent revelations.

God has instructed us to apply goodness to our society and the world around us by being salt and light. Let us all take this responsibility seriously.

Brent Boles, M.D., has been practicing medicine for two decades as an OB-GYN in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He served as a volunteer spokesman for the Yes on 1 initiative and is a contributor to Bound4LIFE, a grass-roots movement to pray for the ending of abortion and for revival worldwide.

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Dr. Brent Boles/Bound4Life Featured Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:30:00 -0400
With All Due Respect, the USA Is Worse Than Barbaric http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/50768-with-all-due-respect-the-usa-is-worse-than-barbaric http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/50768-with-all-due-respect-the-usa-is-worse-than-barbaric

A third undercover video has sparked a new round of outrage over Planned Parenthood.

One liberal commentator tried to stake the moral high ground—said she was disgusted. But she went on to say Planned Parenthood's killing fields are not a pro-life or pro-choice issue.

So, it's OK to kill unborn babies, so long as you don't chop up their bodies and sell them to the highest bidder?

Society behaves as if having an abortion is like getting a mole removed. Bill O'Reilly posed a question last night: Have we become a barbaric society?

Nearly 60 million aborted babies since Roe v. Wade. That's roughly the populations of California and Florida—exterminated.

American taxpayers are subsidizing Planned Parenthood's human harvest. A half-billion dollars.

Our elected leaders—impotent.

The blood of the unborn is on all of our hands. We are long past barbarism—but I don't believe there's a word to describe the hellish monsters we've become.

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

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Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Tearful Mark Driscoll Says God Convicted Him of Sinning Against Joel Osteen http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50767-tearful-mark-driscoll-says-god-convicted-him-of-sinning-against-joel-osteen http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50767-tearful-mark-driscoll-says-god-convicted-him-of-sinning-against-joel-osteen

In an interview with Hillsong's Brian Houston, Mark Driscoll says the Lord has convicted him of his sin against other pastors—namely Joel Osteen.

"I think in the providence of God I can honestly say it was a couple of weeks ago that the Lord convicted me of that sin against pastor Joel. And so, through a mutual friend, I have contact with his team and have asked permission to send him a private apology. But in addition to that, I appreciate this opportunity to publicly apologize to him," Driscoll told Houston. 

The remarks were made in a pre-recorded interview that aired at Hillsong's international conference earlier this year. 

Initially, Driscoll has been scheduled to appear in person at the event, but was disinvited after a petition circulated on Change.org.

In addition to his conviction and apologies to Osteen, Driscoll tells Houston he's repentant over many of his public comments. 

"Some of the people I have criticized have been the most loving and kind toward me. It's God's kindness that leads us to repentance and sometimes that kindness comes through others. They have no obligation to be kind and gracious because you have not been with them. So we've seen some remarkable grace and kindness from people that I did not give that to them but they have given that to us," Driscoll says.

"And that has been deeply convicting and brought about repentance. There's a list of pastors I have contacted or called to apologize to, to ask forgiveness from, and I don't want to do that publicly because I don't want to cause them more drama or pain, but that has been part of the journey."

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Black Pastor's Viral Video Clip Blasting Hypocritical Christians Didn't Tell the Whole Story http://www.charismanews.com/us/50766-black-pastor-s-viral-video-clip-blasting-hypocritical-christians-didn-t-tell-the-whole-story http://www.charismanews.com/us/50766-black-pastor-s-viral-video-clip-blasting-hypocritical-christians-didn-t-tell-the-whole-story

House of Hope Pastor E. Dewey Smith says his message about hypocritical Christians antagonizing gays has been taken out of context based on one viral clip

When the video hit YouTube, many responders thought this was Smith taking a stand for the LGBT movement and against Christians, but Smith says that is simply not true. 

"Although enumerable media outlets have used my sermon clip for their own journalistic and editorial priorities, my message was not presented in an effort to 'affirm the rights of the LGBT community," Smith writes in a statement on Facebook. "My sermonic intentions and ministerial assignment is not to be the 'pro-gay pastor'. My agenda is Jesus' message and exaltation. I preached that sermon and in it confidently affirmed the humanity of and contributions that have been made to the black church by many from the gay community. I stand wholeheartedly behind that because it is the truth."

Smith says that his sermon goal was to discuss evangelism to marginalized groups of people, specifically like Philip did to the Samaritans. 

"At that moment, I made a logical application and challenge from that point; who could many 'religious' people consider to be '21st-century Samaritans'?" Smith writes. "Would they be willing to leave 'their Jerusalems' and share the gospel with those not like them? In making that point, I posited that maybe recent Supreme Court legislation could be a moment for persons to share Christ with those who some consider and treat as 21st-century 'Samaritans.'"

And while the pastor does not condone same-sex relationships, he maintains that those in the gay community should not have to wonder if Christians care about them. 

Smith writes that feelings of superiority and elitism are preventing Christians from evangelizing. Those in the church are so consumed with this attitude that they completely ignore their own sins while calling out the sins of others. 

He looks to Paul and Philip, whom he says fought through biases and prejudices to share the love of Christ with those unlike them. 

Though Smith said the clip was taken out of context, he says it is a blessing in disguise, as it has opened his eyes to see just how many people are hurting because of the church. 

"In spite of it all, I am comforted by the fact that God and those who have actually heard the entire message, know that my purpose was simple: Spread the message of Jesus with those who will listen and expect God to bring transformation to any life. Though I wish God had given me prior warning about the 'firestorm' of the past five days, I am confident that Jesus' name has been heard by millions all over the world via my mouth."

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Is This Seafood Commercial Really Blasphemous? http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50764-is-this-seafood-commercial-really-blasphemous http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50764-is-this-seafood-commercial-really-blasphemous

Quiz: Are these tag lines from Comedy Central, a commercial ad campaign or the church on your corner?

  • "Moses split the Red Sea. We split lobster tails and drizzle melted butter on them."
  • "In our book, gluttony isn't a sin, it's a commandment."
  • "Presbyterians will give you a sermon. Pescatarians will give you a salmon."

Ding! Ding! Ding!

If you said ad campaign, you may be one of the people laughing at the 30-second TV commercials now running in Boston, home of the East Coast's Legal Sea Foods restaurant chain, and posted at the chain's Pescatarian religion spoof website.

Legal Sea Food's New York ad agency, DeVito/Verdi, created the campaign, which launched July 6, using religion themes to urge people to "convert" to being a Pescatarian, the term for those who eat fish and seafood but shun meat and poultry.

Roger Berkowitz, the chief executive of Legal Sea Foods, told The Boston Globe he was the "high priest" of fish-eaters and loved "the idea that we're elevating seafood to a religious experience."

The chain's press release, sardine-packed with pescatarian puns, listed all the ad vehicles, including a "Salmon is my co-pilot" bumper sticker and a website with a playful pescatarian creedand famous adherents (Noah?). The release quotes an altar call from Berkowitz, who's Jewish, saying he hopes "people take this campaign in the 'spirit' in which it was created, so to speak."

"It's a tongue-in-cheek campaign," said Kelly Durcan, a spokesman for DeVito/Verdi. Of course, he added, "not everyone takes it that way. We hear some people find it funny but we mainly get complaints that it's more or less blasphemous."

A writer for Forbes, Will Burns, called it funny but risky.

So far, The Boston Globe hasn't noted any complaints from area churches.

Neither has the Archdiocese of Boston's publication, The Pilot. The archdiocese spokesman could not be, er, fished out of important meetings for comment on Tuesday.

Neither is the campaign exactly going viral. The YouTube video showing the TV spots has 1,205 views. A search of the most likely followers—#pescatarian on Twitter—led to restaurant tips, recipe links and some yummy food photos, but no readily apparent outcry from religious people or groups offended by the campaign.

Sticking a fork in the eye of advertising conventions is a familiar act at Legal Sea Foods.

In 2012, the chain advertised a "Jesus fish"  and claimed that dining at its restaurants is a "religious experience."

In 2008, local transit workers were not enchanted when the Green Line trolleys sported restaurant ads such as "This conductor has a face like a halibut."

 Copyright Religion News Service 2015. All rights reserved. 

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Cathy Lynn Grossman/RNS Featured Culture Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:30:00 -0400
Universalist Rob Bell Jumps on Mysticism Bandwagon http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50763-universalist-rob-bell-jumps-on-mysticism-bandwagon http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50763-universalist-rob-bell-jumps-on-mysticism-bandwagon

Hipster preacher Rob Bell is mashing up quantum physics, Jewish Kabbalah and Catholic mysticism to explain humanity's future evolution.  

In his 30-city "Everything Is Spiritual" tour, the former megachurch pastor and short-lived Oprah Winfrey Network talk-show host delivers a two-hour monologue aimed at a millennial generation less interested in sin and judgment and more attuned to science and cosmic connections.

"A bunch of the old stories that we used to rely on just aren't working anymore," Bell told a crowd of almost 500 during a tour stop in Durham. "I want to take a stab at a new story."

Wearing a gray denim jacket, a white collared shirt, chinos and ankle boots, Bell used only one visual aid: a large dry-erase board in the shape of a long, skinny triangle. In the far left corner he drew a small black dot representing the Big Bang. Moving to the right, as the universe expanded over the course of his talk, he sketched milestones of evolution over 13.8 billion years.

Bell maps Christian faith onto modern evolutionary science, quoting New Age healing champion Deepak Chopra, Sufi mystic Rumi and Catholic theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—an amalgamation sure to rile some in the evangelical crowd who made him famous.

A graduate of Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary, Bell became an evangelical luminary with the success of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, which he founded at age 28. The church, which once boasted a Sunday attendance of 10,000, became Bell's calling card as he urged young Christians to embrace their doubts, dig into their Jewish roots and treat the Bible as literary rather than literal.

Then he published "Love Wins," in which he questioned the existence of hell. Evangelicals were swift to part company, describing Bell as a modern-day heretic.  "Farewell, Rob Bell," retired megachurch pastor John Piper famously tweeted.

A year later, Bell left Mars Hill and moved to Los Angeles in search of a broadcast audience and a "more forgiving faith." Earlier this year, the partnership with Oprah fizzled, but Bell says he's working on another TV program.

He now talks about warring religions giving way to enlightened secularism giving way to nihilism.

"Let's grow up," he says, summarizing the anti-religious materialism of the modern West.

"That works until you're standing in the hospital room and your first kid is born, and you need something more," he said. "You and I are made of dust and bones, and yet you are also made of something called spirit. You are crammed full of a divine breath of life itself. You are an exotic cocktail of dust and soul, bone and spirit."

Bell casts what we now call "science" not as an enemy of faith but as a source of spiritual insight.

Tony Jones, a theologian, author and blogger, said Bell is at the leading edge of a cultural move toward mysticism.

"People are getting frustrated with the pure, cold rationality of science," said Jones. "Rob holds science in high esteem, but Rob is really a lot about mystery. You can be a thinking person who appreciates reason and science, but there are things we can't explain."

In "Everything Is Spiritual," Bell explores the religious mystery within science. Drawing on the evolutionary theology of the early 20th-century Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard, Bell argues that ever since the Big Bang, matter has been developing more complexity, depth and unity. Particles bonded to form atoms. Atoms bonded to form molecules. Molecules bonded to form cells. Cells bonded to form organisms. Humans developed language to form social bonds.

"You say, 'I just want to be part of something bigger than myself.' Congratulations. Everything in the freaking universe has been saying the same thing for 13.8 billion years," said Bell. "The universe moves forward when people of similar essence and substance bond together. Loneliness is going the wrong direction. Racism is the failure to bond with another of similar essence and substance.

"Progress," he said, in a nod to Teilhard, "is the soul of the universe."

Copyright Religion News Service 2015. All rights reserved. 

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Jesse James DeConto/RNS Featured Culture Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
WATCH: John Kilpatrick Sees These Last-Day Signs Clearly http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50762-watch-john-kilpatrick-sees-these-last-day-signs-clearly http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50762-watch-john-kilpatrick-sees-these-last-day-signs-clearly

While only the Father knows the day and the hour of Christ's return, many are speculating that the time is drawing near. 

Look to Matthew 24 for the words of Christ Himself regarding the last days: "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled. For all these things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake" (vv. 6-9).

And for Pastor John Kilpatrick, these signs are happening in the United States. Watch the video to see how. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:30:00 -0400
The Failure of Status-Quo Christianity http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/50761-the-failure-of-status-quo-christianity http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/50761-the-failure-of-status-quo-christianity

There is a reason the church in America has lost ground in recent years.

It is not because of our stand for morality and righteousness, although our hypocrisy has greatly damaged our credibility and lessened our authority.

It is not because of our claim that salvation comes through Jesus alone, although our failure to live out the radical implications of that claim has blunted the force of our message.

No, the biggest reason the church in America has lost so much ground in recent years is because we have become the Church of the Status Quo, the Assembly of the Content and Well Fed, drifting aimlessly with the tide rather than being the revolutionary society we were called to be.

As I wrote in 1989, like the church of Sardis in Revelation 3, "We have become the 'perfect model of inoffensive Christianity' (G.B. Caird), 'having a reputation of being alive, yet being dead' (Rev. 3:1). Like Sardis, we have so come to terms with our pagan environment that we provoke almost no opposition and make virtually no impact. And like Sardis, situated high on a mountain rock, we have felt safe and secure in this world.

"The fact is, we have gotten so fat that we can't even get out the church doors to touch the world. Our contemporary gospel has bred complacency instead of compassion, success instead of sacrifice, prestige instead of prayer. We no longer ask what we can do for Him, but rather what He can do for us."

What has become of our holy desperation? What has become of our spiritual fervor? What has become of our sacred calling to serve the Lord by life or by death (Phil. 1:20-21)?

Jesus came to launch a revolutionary movement with the ultimate goal of replacing the kingdoms of this world with the kingdom of God (just as we pray in the words of the Lord's Prayer), turning worldly values upside down (see Luke 16:15) and calling us to leave all and follow Him (see Luke 14:33).

But when we become the Church of the Status Quo, the complacent majority rather than the persecuted minority, we lose our revolutionary edge, becoming like the world rather than changing the world.

That is our great, great challenge: As the gospel spreads and the church grows, how do we maintain our revolutionary focus? How do we continue to live in the light of eternity in the midst of material prosperity? How do we avoid carnal complacency when everything is going well?

In his book The Different Drum, M. Scott Peck commented, "If a so-called religious belief is not radical, we must suspect that it is mere superstition. The profession of a religious belief is a lie if it does not significantly determine one's economic, political and social behaviour."

How do our contemporary sermons line up with a standard like this?

Journalist and author A.G. Gardiner once wrote, "When a prophet is accepted and deified, his message is lost. The prophet is only useful so long as he is stoned as a public nuisance, calling us to repentance, disturbing our comfortable routines, breaking our respectable idols, shattering our sacred conventions."

To a certain extent, this applies to the whole church, although to be sure, as followers of Jesus, we are to be known for our love, for our care for the poor and needy, and for our message of hope and forgiveness, along with our prophetic, confrontational stance.

But the principle remains the same: When we are accepted by the world and our message becomes innocuous, we lose our effectiveness.

In his book Revolution and the Christian Faith, the late Vernon C. Grounds, former chancellor of Denver Theological Seminary, said, "A Christian who ... becomes a revolutionary will serve as a revolutionary catalyst in the church; and by the multiplication of revolutionized Christians, the church will become a revolutionary catalyst in society; and if society is sufficiently revolutionized, a revolution of violence will no more be needed than a windmill in a world of atomic energy."

That is the kind of revolution Jesus came to inaugurate, and that is the kind of revolution that will impact and change the world until He returns. And that's why, although I'm grieved over the current state of affairs in America and mourn over the state of much of the church, I'm encouraged at the same time, knowing that the growing opposition to the gospel in our country is a blessing in disguise.

It is waking us up from our slumber, reminding us that we are in this world but not of it, and calling us afresh to lead revolutionary lives, following in the countercultural footsteps of our Master and Lord.

The German theologian Gerhard Lohfink once wrote, "It is true that Jesus never called for a political, revolutionary transformation of Jewish society. Yet the repentance which he demanded as a consequence of his preaching of the reign of God sought to ignite within the people of God a movement in comparison to which the normal type of revolution is insignificant."

In response to this, I say on with the Jesus revolution.

We have been born (and born again) for such a time as this.

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book (September 2015) is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown

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Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
SBC Slams Boy Scouts for Gay Leadership Move http://www.charismanews.com/us/50760-sbc-slams-boy-scouts-for-gay-leadership-move http://www.charismanews.com/us/50760-sbc-slams-boy-scouts-for-gay-leadership-move

A decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay leaders was met with indignation by the largest U.S. Protestant group on Tuesday along with criticism from a leading gay rights group that the move did not go far enough.

About 70 percent of the roughly 100,000 U.S. Boy Scout units are sponsored by religious institutions, and many said the Monday decision runs counter to the moral standards set by the 105-year-old youth organization.

"We express consummate sadness that this once vibrant organization continues to cave to social pressure, compromising its long-held, constitutionally protected tenets," said Roger "Sing" Oldham, a spokesman for the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention.

Even though the decision permits religious organizations to exclude gay adults in keeping with their beliefs, other major conservative church groups also criticized the change, which took effect with the vote Monday by the National Executive Board.

The largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has said it was "deeply troubled" by the move, adding the Mormons' "century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined."

The Catholic Church, another leading sponsor of troops, on Tuesday said in a statement it was concerned with the "practical implications" of allowing gay leaders but remains committed to its relationship with the Irving, Texas-based Scouts.

The policy, backed by 79 percent of board members, removes a prohibition on gay adult leaders, but allows religious groups to bar them.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, called for the Scouts to drop the opt-out religious exemption and become fully non-discriminatory.

"Including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of (the) decision," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

The Boy Scouts' president, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, called for the change in May, saying continuation of the blanket ban on gay Scout leaders was "unsustainable".

Gates helped end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that barred openly gay individuals from serving.

Earlier, corporate sponsors such as Lockheed Martin and Intel dropped funding for the organization to protest policies considered discriminatory.

Membership in the Boy Scouts has been steadily declining over the past decade, but the 2013 decision to allow gay youth contributed to a steeper drop of 7.4 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to organization figures.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Marice Richter/Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:45:00 -0400
'Full House' Star Shares How She's Stayed Sane in Corrupt Hollywood http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50758-full-house-star-shares-how-she-s-stayed-sane-in-corrupt-hollywood http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50758-full-house-star-shares-how-she-s-stayed-sane-in-corrupt-hollywood

Candace Cameron Bure isn't one of those Hollywood celebrities who happens to be a Christian on the side when it fits into what she wants. 

It's quite the opposite, actually. 

Bure—whom you may recognize from Full House, Hallmark movies, Dancing With The Stars or myriad other programs—says her biblical worldview defines who she is to her very core.

"For me, my faith is who I am, and I carry that with me whenever I go," Bure says. "I don't think of it in terms of 'I have to live it out, or act this way or that.' I'm just myself."

But it took her 39 years, most of that spent in the entertainment industry, to learn some of the lessons she writes about in her latest book, Dancing Through Life. The book details her time on DWTS and some of the faith parallels she discovered along the way. 

Bure was challenged like she never experienced while participating on the ABC reality show. From emotional to physical exhaustion to facing criticism from the judges and fans, Bure took her turn on the show to dive into courage and conviction. Along the way, her partner, Mark Ballas, helped her realize a few spiritual insights. 

For starters, Ballas asked Bure to give him 100 percent all the time, especially during practices. Bure says as an actress, she's used to saving her effort for the cameras ... and that mentality can also apply in a relationship with God. 

"I thought 'Wow, isn't that like our Christian walk?" She said of Mark's request. "It's so easy to say, 'God, I'm giving you 50-80 percent,' and that's pretty good. But the Bible says God wants all of you, 100 percent of the time—the good stuff, bad stuff too. He's connected to all of you. (There's) no part of your life to leave Me out of."

To give that 100 percent all the time, Bure says she's constantly in prayer, seeking out the Holy Spirit and obeying when He asks. 

But rather than accosting people with her beliefs or taking offense at Hollywood standards, Bure says her interactions are almost opposite from what one might expect. If she's challenged, she can always walk away.

Bure's biblical worldview not only dictates her moral choices and beliefs, but it's also created her career trajectory. 

The former child star is grateful for a steady stream of family-friendly jobs that have allowed her to promote programming she can share with her own kids. Having a set moral compass and devoted fans have enabled Bure to live the life she wants, honoring God with all of her being. 

And that's all He asks of us, that in everything in word or deed, we do as unto Him. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:30:00 -0400
Latest Leaked Planned Parenthood Video Stirring Republicans to Fight Back http://www.charismanews.com/us/50759-latest-leaked-planned-parenthood-video-stirring-republicans-to-fight-back http://www.charismanews.com/us/50759-latest-leaked-planned-parenthood-video-stirring-republicans-to-fight-back

Senate Republicans are planning a vote in coming days on legislation to cut $500 million in annual federal funding for Planned Parenthood, reigniting a fight in Congress over abortion that has long been dormant.

For years a target of conservatives, Planned Parenthood has come under increasing scrutiny recently due to secretly recorded videos about its role in supplying aborted fetal tissue for medical research.

Anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress on Tuesday released the third of a series of videos that it says prove Planned Parenthood staff sell fetal material from abortions for profit.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he was holding meetings with Senator Rand Paul, a fellow Republican, and others to "see if we can have a meeting of the minds on the best way to craft a measure to deal with the horrendous videos that we've all been viewing."

A vote could come before the Senate enters a five-week summer break, as early as this week, but Republicans might struggle to get the 60 votes needed for approval.

Paul, who is also a presidential candidate, has introduced legislation to prohibit federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which provides screening, contraception services and abortions at clinics nationally.

It receives about $500 million annually in federal funding, although that money cannot be used for abortions.

Planned Parenthood says the videos are the latest attack in a campaign against it and denies any wrongdoing. It says abortions comprise only 3 percent of its services.

Graphic Video

The latest video shows what appears to be a Planned Parenthood doctor in a clinic discussing the price of fetal tissue with an actor pretending to be a potential buyer.

Someone in the video pokes flesh-like material with tweezers in a glass and the undercover actor points out what he says are tiny intact kidneys that a medical assistant describes as worthy of "five stars."

They discuss prices for fetal tissue.

"If we were doing like $50 to $75 per specimen, that'd be like $200 to $300 (total), and we'd be comfortable with that," the actor says.

The woman identified as a doctor replies, "I think a per-item thing works a little better just because we can see how much we can get out of it."

Federal law prohibits the trade of fetal tissue for profit but allows for donations for research or transplantation. Donors can receive "reasonable payments" for expenses such as transportation, processing and storage of the material.

"It's outrageous, not to mention wildly unpopular, that politicians are using this widely discredited attack against Planned Parenthood to push through legislation rolling back women's access to healthcare," Dawn Laguens, a Planned Parenthood executive, said in a statement.

Republicans have been gunning for the group for years, but do not want to be seen as anti-women with the 2016 presidential election approaching.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives in 2011 voted to starve Planned Parenthood of money but the measure was never enacted into law.

While public opinion has swung clearly in favor of liberals on one front in the culture wars - gay marriage - Americans remain divided over abortion.

A total of 44.5 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared to 42.3 percent who believe it should be illegal in most or all cases, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll.

Advances in ultrasound technology in recent decades have helped shore up opposition to abortion, said Lila Rose, a leading anti-abortion campaigner.

"Having the ultrasound on the fridge, baby pictures from the womb onward, is extremely compelling for millennials and shows the humanity of the child from the beginning," she said.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Richard Cowan and Megan Cassella/Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:15:00 -0400
What the Church Can Learn From the Gay Rights Movement http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50757-what-the-church-can-learn-from-the-gay-rights-movement http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50757-what-the-church-can-learn-from-the-gay-rights-movement

The greatest public relations coup in the last 100 years was accomplished this summer in America when the Supreme Court decided marriage is no longer between a man and a woman. It was the crowning achievement of the gay rights movement in America that first began its strategy in the late 1980s.

Randall Collins, a sociologist and author of Discovery of Society, has stated that culture is defined by the adoption of values and beliefs in seven spheres, but that four of these spheres have the greatest influence: military, economic, political and cultural.

The cultural network is the most important of the four. It is made up of education, arts and entertainment, and media. These three most define values and beliefs. In 1975 Bill Bright of Campus Crusade and Loren Cunningham of Youth With A Mission met each other for the first time and God spoke to each of them that very week about the seven areas of influence in culture and how important they were to impacting the culture. These 7 areas are business, government, education, family, media, arts and entertainment, and religion.

When values are expressed through education, arts and entertainment, and the media, those who view the messages on an ongoing basis adopt them, often subconsciously. If the messages being communicated are antibiblical in nature, it is only a matter of time before they will be embraced.

The viewer does not recognize the subtle change until one day it is too late. Unless those in the culture understand the messages that are being communicated, and seek to alter respond to those messages, then culture will be changed by whoever chooses to influence the media through the avenues available to them. It only takes a small percentage of those influencers at the top of these seven areas to make a big difference.

One case in point is the gay rights movement. Less than 3 percent of the population has gotten the 97 percent to agree to change laws based on lies and distortion. This is another proof that it only takes a small percentage of a leadership to control or change a cultural mountain of influence.

How did the gays change America's view that homosexuality is not a moral issue, but a civil issue? It is one of the greatest strategic public relations achievements in our century. We in the church can learn a great deal from their example.

The Impact of the Gay Agenda on the Family

In February 1988, a meeting was held with 175 gay activists in Warrenton, Virginia. Marshall Kirk, a Harvard-educated researcher in neuropsychiatry, and Hunter Madsen, who hold a doctorate in politics from Harvard and is an expert in persuasion tactics and social marketing, was the convener of this meeting. In that meeting they said, "AIDS gives us a chance, however brief, to establish ourselves as a victimized minority legitimately deserving of America's special protection and care. It generates mass hysteria of precisely the sort that has brought about public stonings and leper colonies since the Dark Ages and before. ... How can we maximize the sympathy and minimize the fear? How, given the horrid hand that AIDS has dealt us, can we best play it?" This was the beginning of a public relations multi-year plan. They developed a public relations bible of the gay movement. They outline the key strategies for the movement in their book. Their goals include:

  • Break current negative associations with our cause and replace them with positive associations. 


  • Change what people actually think and feel. 


  • Reframe the terms of the debate. 


  • Seek desensitization and nothing more (until it doesn't matter any more).

What is their ultimate goal? It isn't just to get acceptance. It is far more than that. The goal is not only to bring about the complete acceptance of homosexuality, including same-sex marriage, but also to prohibit and even criminalize public criticism of homosexuality. In other words, total removal of criticism with the force of law. This is already the case in Canada and parts of Scandinavia.

A Media Campaign Built on a Lie

The first thing they needed to do was exchange the truth for a lie and convince their core audience to believe the lie so they will passionately believe in and fund their mission. What is the lie? "God made me gay so we should be a group that has protected rights."

Most of us hear the rationale of gay activists that they are born gay rather than their sexual preference being an influence of how they were raised through their exposure to societal factors and childhood wounds that predisposed them to this lifestyle. Kirk and Madsen made an amazing admission in their playbook written in the late '80s, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the '90s.

Here is an excerpt from their playbook: "We argue that, for all practical purposes, gays should be considered to have been born gay, even though sexual orientation, for most humans, seems to be the product of a complex interaction between innate predispositions and environmental factors during childhood and early adolescence." They have intentionally chosen to build their campaign based on a lie and government, education, media, entertainment and our young people have bought this lie. Once the LBGT community convinced America that people are born gay, they were able to easily shift their campaign from being a moral issue to being a civil issue. When they were successful at that, they won. There is no turning back without an all-out spiritual great awakening in our nation.

The civil argument is built around whether someone is born gay.

It's not a sin to be a black person or live as a black person, according to the Bible. However, the Bible is very explicit about homosexuality as being a sin. So the idea of comparing this to a civil liberties issue is not comparing apples to apples. If you remove the moral issue and you operate totally as a secular society then perhaps you can argue this issue purely on a civil basis, which is where our nation has evolved. However, it's a slippery slope, because then you must recognize civil liberties of polygamists, pedophiles and any other form of aberrant behavior among people who want equal access and want to be treated equally without moral consideration.

Should we legalize sodomy or sexual abuse of a child? Why would we not think of such a thought? It's because we believe we are dealing with a moral issue. What if a parent and a child are consenting? Just because immoral behavior takes place by two consenting people does not make it OK or that it should be protected by law.  

The born gay argument has no scientific proof.

Eight major studies of identical twins in Australia, the U.S., and Scandinavia during the last two decades all arrive at the same conclusion: gays were not born that way. "At best genetics is a minor factor," says Dr. Neil Whitehead, Ph.D. Whitehead worked for the New Zealand government as a scientific researcher for 24 years, then spent four years working for the United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency. Most recently, he serves as a consultant to Japanese universities about the effects of radiation exposure. His PhD is in biochemistry and statistics.

Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. They are nurtured in equal prenatal conditions. If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay.

"Because they have identical DNA, it ought to be 100 percent," Dr. Whitehead notes. But the studies reveal something else. "If an identical twin has same-sex attraction the chances the co-twin has it are only about 11 percent for men and 14 percent for women."

Because identical twins are always genetically identical, homosexuality cannot be genetically dictated. "No-one is born gay," he notes. "The predominant things that create homosexuality in one identical twin and not in the other have to be post-birth factors."

The predominant things that create homosexuality in one identical twin and not in the other have to be post-birth factors.

Spiritually speaking, people can be predisposed to sexual behavior and preferences based on the sins of their parents and their upbringing. However, we should not confuse this with the idea that God made someone gay.


Tipping Points

Several tipping points in culture have occurred through the arts and entertainment mountain. One tipping point occurred when Ellen DeGeneres kissed Laura Dern in the 1997 episode of Ellen. This event became a tipping point for the gay rights movement. Gays and lesbians have long been prominent in the arts and entertainment worlds, but this event encouraged famous gays and lesbians to come out of the closet. They told their people to get jobs in media, script writing and acting so that their lifestyle would be represented in sitcoms, movies and news. Issues about gay life worked their way into story lines in television, movies and plays. Modern Family is one of the more successful examples of this.

Hollywood films have become one of the primary propaganda machines for their cause, which is designed to legitimize their lifestyle. They present a wholesome view of the lifestyle so that they would be perceived as a discriminated group of people so you would have sympathy for them. Their strategy has worked wonderfully. Our young people have especially bought into this lie.


Public Perception of the Gay Agenda

Seventeen Magazine has been doing a survey about the gay lifestyle for several years. To get an idea how effective the gay rights movement has been with public relations, one only needs to look at this survey of its readers compared to earlier years. Consider their 1991 survey, which revealed that 17 percent of their readers accepted homosexuality as appropriate. However, in their 1999 survey, after eight years of public relations work, the same survey said 54 percent accepted homosexuality as appropriate.


In Pew Research polling in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a 57 percent to 35 percent margin. Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Today, a majority of Americans (57 percent) support same-sex marriage, compared with 39 percent who oppose it.

This is clearly further evidence of the success of the gay agenda using the media for their cause and the public's increased acceptance of an ungodly lifestyle. Gradually even those in the church begin to succumb to public persuasion and pressure and begin to rationalize sin. This has led to an entire Episcopal denomination to not only embrace the lifestyle as acceptable but also to even ordain them as priests. This has spread into parts of the Lutheran church. 


The Church Has Lost Its Authority to Speak Into This Area

The problem the church has is we have lost our authority to speak into this area. A recent sitcom illustrated this. A recent show called The Goodwife presented a story about a wedding planner who denied service to a gay couple. A major law firm was trying to determine if they would take the case. They did a mock trial to see what the opposition would do in this situation. They hired another lawyer from another firm to be the prosecuting attorney. In the mock trial the prosecuting attorney questioned the wedding planner in this way:

"Miss Jones, you are refusing service based on your religious beliefs, is that correct?"

"Yes."

"Did Jesus say anything about homosexuality?"

"No, but the Bible clearly speaks of it in several places."

"Did Jesus ever speak of divorce and remarriage?"

"Yes, on at least four occasions he called it sin to divorce and remarry."

"Have you ever done a marriage for a divorced couple?"

"I suppose I have."

"Actually, you have conducted two weddings for Christian couples who are divorced. So, what you are saying is your religious ground is selective, at best. I rest my case."

The judge's verdict was in favor for the gay couple.

You see, the church has failed so badly in the area of marriage by condoning divorce and remarriage as well as other sins that we have lost our voice. Fatherlessness has contributed to broken families. One survey says that over 50 percent of men who attend church are regular viewers of pornography. You combine this with the Catholic Church scandals and you see why we have lost our authority. This does not change the fact the sin is still sin, but if the church is going to judge homosexuals, it must first judge itself.

How can the church counter the narrative currently being pervaded by the anti-God movement?

First, the answer to all of this is that the church must begin to return to God and establish wholesome families again. We must stand against divorce and remarriage. We must return to purity in men and leadership. A divorce rate of 3 percent would be a good start to reverse the brokenness in families.

Secondly, we must change the narrative in the media and speak the truth about this issue in creative ways. We must engage with the media about this lie that is being propagated and embraced. We must create positive messages in the media and entertainment about God and His love for people. We must create sitcoms and movies about the love of God and powerful stories of redemption.

The gay rights movement is well funded, they are passionate about their cause and they are unified. The church has failed to be any of these things. So, we are trying to fight a battle with no bullets in our spiritual gun.

Perhaps when we do all these things, we can begin to see a shift and a spiritual awakening in our nation.

Os Hillman is author of TGIF Today God Is First and Change Agent. Visit todaygodisfirst.com.

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Os Hillman Featured Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Billy Graham Answers 8 Questions About Satan and Idols http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50756-billy-graham-answers-8-questions-about-satan-and-idols http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50756-billy-graham-answers-8-questions-about-satan-and-idols

Recent news headlines remind us that idol worship is not a thing of the past. People all over the world worship false gods and some even worship Satan. But there is only one true God, and He has never taken idolatry lightly.

Jesus called Satan a "murderer" and the "father of lies" (Matt. 8:44) who comes to "steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10). While the devil lies and kills, the Bible tells us Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

So why would anyone worship Satan? And is it really a big deal to dabble in idolatry or the occult? These eight time-tested answers from Billy Graham seek to answer those questions and more.

Who Is Satan? Is He a Fallen Angel?

No, Satan is not imaginary; he isn't something people dreamed up just to try to explain the existence of evil. Satan is real, and the Bible makes it clear that he is a powerful (and evil) spiritual being who is absolutely opposed to God and His goodness.

The Bible doesn't give us a detailed account of Satan's origin but it does indicate that Satan originally was one of God's angels, created by Him to carry out His will. But apparently Satan became filled with jealousy and pride, and he decided that he would lead a rebellion against God so he could take God's place as the ruler of all creation. The Bible says, "You said in your heart ... 'I will make myself like the Most High'" (Is. 14:13-14).

But Satan's rebellion failed, and he was cast out of heaven. Now Satan and those who followed him are fallen angels—no longer part of God's heavenly army, but separated from heaven's glory forever. He still is powerful, however, and he still does everything he can to block God's plan for our lives. Don't be deceived; Satan is your enemy, and he will do everything he can to keep you from God.

The greatest truth about Satan, however, is this: He is a defeated foe! By His death and resurrection Jesus Christ conquered the forces of sin and death and hell and Satan. Are you on Christ's side? Make sure, by turning to Christ in repentance and faith and by committing your life to Him for your salvation.

Does Satan Actually Exist, and Is He a Threat?

It's often been said that one of the devil's greatest tricks is to convince people that he doesn't really exist—and it's true.

But Satan really does exist—just as surely as God exists. And he isn't just a vague, impersonal force; he is a real person—that is, he has a real personality. Just as you and I can think and make decisions and act, so Satan can think and make decisions and act. The difference is that everything he does is evil—without exception—because he is totally opposed to God.

But don't think of him as just an evil person in a red suit and a forked tail; he is much, much greater than that. Satan is a powerful, spiritual being whose goal is to turn us away from God. He isn't equal with God—but in ways that are largely hidden from us, he is engaged in a constant cosmic battle against God. Don't take Satan lightly—for he is your enemy! The Bible says, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against ... the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12).

The most important fact you need to know about Satan, however, is that he is a defeated foe! By His death and resurrection Jesus Christ overcame all the powers of death and evil, and some day His victory will be complete. On whose side are you? Don't turn your back on what Christ has done for you, but by faith put your life into His hands today.

Isn't the Devil Just an Idea People Dreamed Up to Explain Evil?

Let me ask you a question: How do you explain the existence of evil, if there is no evil spiritual force working behind the scenes of this world?

After all, evil isn't just an absence of good; evil is real, and evil is aggressive and destructive. Can you come up with a better explanation than the existence of Satan, as he is portrayed in the Bible? I doubt it. The Bible calls him "The great dragon ... who leads the whole world astray" (Rev. 12:9). Jesus called him "a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. ... He is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).

It has been said that one of the devil's greatest tricks is to make people believe he doesn't exist—and that's true. When we deny his existence, we become blinded to the reality of evil, and we fall for his lies about God and about ourselves. But Satan is real; our headlines scream it every day.

The most important truth, however, about the devil is this: He is a defeated foe! By His death Jesus overcame Satan's charges against us, and by His resurrection Jesus conquered Satan's rule of death. And some day Christ's victory over Satan will be complete, and Satan and his demons will be banished forever. Don't be deceived, but turn to Jesus Christ and build your life on His truth. He alone can give us hope, both now and forever.

What Is an Idol? Is It a Physical Object, or Can It Be Something Like Wealth or Fame?

An idol is any object that people worship—so yes, he was right to label things like that as modern idols. Some people today worship their money or social position or possessions just as devoutly as people in the ancient world worshipped an image made of gold or wood or stone.

The difference, of course, is that most people don't think of money (for example) as an idol, or as something they worship. In reality, however, many people do; their whole lives are focused on money, and they serve it just as faithfully as other people serve an actual idol. In fact, money has become their master, and they have become its servants. In other words, money has taken the place of God in their lives. Jesus warned, "No one can serve two masters. ... You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matt. 6:24).

The Bible gives us two important warnings about idols (whatever form they take). First, it warns us that they are false; only God can meet our deepest moral and spiritual needs. Second, it warns us that nothing should take God's place in our lives. The Bible says, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything" (Ex. 20:4).

Are there any idols in your life—things that you have allowed to take God's rightful place? Face them ... repent of them ... and then make Christ alone the center of your life.

What's the Big Deal About Getting Involved With the Occult?

Let me ask you a question: Do you think the devil would like for you to get involved in these practices? The answer is yes—and that should be a solemn warning to you.

The Bible is very clear: If we want to please God, we will avoid everything that has anything to do with the occult (even if it seems innocent or harmless on the surface). The reason is because occult practices of any kind could involve you with spiritual forces that are opposed to God and are, in fact, in league with the devil.

I know that is a strong statement—but I can't emphasize strongly enough how spiritually dangerous it is to follow Satan's way rather than God's way. When the Ephesians who had practiced the occult became Christians, they "brought their (magic) scrolls together and burned them publicly" (Acts 19:19). They knew there could be no compromise between their old way of living and God's way.

Don't try to resist the "pull" you feel toward the occult in your own strength. Instead, by faith turn to Christ and ask Him to come into your life and give you the strength of His Holy Spirit. Don't be deceived, but come to Christ, who alone is "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6).


 Do People Really Worship the Devil? Why?

This isn't common, but occasionally I've met someone or received letters from people who clearly stated they deliberately worshipped the devil instead of God. I had no reason to doubt their statements, although I always prayed God would change their minds and hearts.

Why would anyone do this? I agree it isn't logical, but in their minds it did make sense because they believed Satan would help them and give them special powers. Some also didn't want anyone (especially God) telling them how to live, and by worshipping Satan they felt they were now free to live any way they wanted. Tragically, history tells us that people who deliberately follow Satan often end up doing great evil, both to others and to themselves.

The tragedy in all of this is that Satan never delivers what he promises. He promises freedom and happiness, but delivers only slavery and sorrow. He promises power and new life, but delivers only weakness and death. Never forget: Satan is a liar! The Bible warns, "The way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction" (Prov. 13:15).

Sadly, many today follow Satan without even realizing it. They ignore God and never give a thought to eternity, living instead by the self-centered values Satan approves. Don't let that happen to you. Instead, by faith put your life into Christ's hands, and make Him the center and the foundation of your life. Jesus said, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only'" (Matt. 4:10).

What Does Satan Look Like?

For centuries people have tried to picture what Satan must look like, and I find it interesting that he's almost always portrayed as something repulsive, evil and violent. Anything that pictures him as cute or harmless is misleading—for he's anything but that.

In reality, however, the Bible doesn't tell us what Satan looks like—and with good reason, for he's not limited to any physical form or image. Instead, Satan is a powerful spiritual force that pervades the whole creation, far greater than any person or beast or other creature. He is not as powerful as God, nor is he eternal like God; someday his power will come to an end. But don't limit him to the mental image you may have of a pitchfork-carrying person in a red suit.

At the same time, the Bible indicates that at times Satan and his demons may take on human form. In his attempts to deceive us, the Bible says, he may even seem like a messenger from God: "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). If our lives are built on Christ and His Word, however, we will not be deceived.

Satan's goal is to keep us from Christ—because he knows only Christ can deliver us from hell and take us safely to heaven. Is your faith and hope in Him? "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Why Do Some People Say Satan Is Not Really Evil but Good?

Don't think Satan is an out-of-date superstition; even a casual glance at the headlines in your newspaper should convince you that Satan is alive and well. How else could we possibly explain all the horrific things that are happening in the world?

But Satan is very clever in the way he disguises himself. When something evil happens, he seldom boldly proclaims, "I am Satan, and I did this!" Instead, he often works behind the scenes so people don't realize just how active he really is. Or, he may deceive people (such as this group) into thinking his way is best, and that he alone can give them the happiness and success they seek. The Bible even says that at times "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14).

The tragedy is that many people serve the devil—without even realizing it. They don't worship Satan; they may not even believe in him. But God is not important to them, nor do they thank Him for His gifts—and as a result their lives are aligned with Satan's plans instead of God's. The Bible says that Satan "has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts" (John 12:40).

The most important fact about Satan, however, is that he is a defeated foe! By His death and resurrection Jesus overcame Satan's power—and some day His victory will be complete. Don't be deceived, but build your life solely on Jesus Christ—both for this life, and for eternity.

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Billy Graham/BGEA Featured Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
President Obama to Abortionists: 'Thank You, Planned Parenthood. God Bless You.' http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50755-president-obama-to-abortionists-thank-you-planned-parenthood-god-bless-you http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50755-president-obama-to-abortionists-thank-you-planned-parenthood-god-bless-you

Planned Parenthood pays no taxes. Under President Obama, they made more than $500 million in profits, but they claim to be a "nonprofit" organization. They kill more 800 children every day. And they have from the earliest days targeted minority women. They once had a "Negro Ministers" project designed to recruit black pastors to push first birth control and then abortion in minority neighborhoods.

Now, in two startling videos, we have seen Planned Parenthood leaders engaged in a ghoulish traffic in the organs of unborn children whom they have killed. My colleague at Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, discussed this horror on his recent radio show in an interview with former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum. "Hearts, lungs, livers" are the sought-after treasures of these scavengers.
Deborah Nucatola is Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical research. Nucatola is seen on this video casually discussing the mechanics of death and dismemberment of children in the womb. Nucatola sips her glass of red wine as she offers this, from John McCormick's Weekly Standard article:

"We've been very good at ­getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact," says Nucatola, who adds that the most difficult thing to get out intact is "the calvarium—the head is basically the biggest part."

Calvarium. That's an interesting word. It is the skull minus the lower jaw. For those of us who see that word for the first time outside a medical dictionary, the word might conjure up images of Calvary. It might remind us of what the Bible calls "the place of the skull."

These Merchants of Death know their business. They are careful to use only those techniques that give them intact organs and body parts. Odd, isn't it? When they are trying to advance an abortion agenda in the public debate, they only refer to the unborn child as a fetus, only describe what is in the womb as "a mass of tissue" or "the products of conception."  But they can get amazingly specific and entirely clear when there's cash on the barrel head. Lungs. Livers. Hearts.

How tragic it is for President Obama to owe any part of his place in history to this outfit. When speaking at Planned Parenthood's annual conference in April 2013, Mr. Obama concluded his remarks with, "God bless you." Invoking God's blessing on these blind peddlers of death: May He, instead, have mercy on them—and on us for allowing them to flourish in our society.

Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at Family Research Council.

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Ken Blackwell Featured Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Kerry: Israeli Strike on Iran Facilities Would Be 'Enormous Mistake' http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/50725-kerry-israeli-strike-on-iran-facilities-would-be-enormous-mistake http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/50725-kerry-israeli-strike-on-iran-facilities-would-be-enormous-mistake

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry believes that it would be extremely dangerous for Israel to launch airstrikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"That'd be an enormous mistake, a huge mistake with grave consequences for Israel and for the region, and I don't think it's necessary," Kerry told NBC's Today Show.

Kerry is on a political and media blitz to sell the Iran nuclear deal to a skeptical Congress and to the American public. Congress has 60 days to review the agreement, and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any resolution that does not support the deal.

"The more people learn about this agreement, the more people are learning this is the only viable alternative to be able to control Iran's already existing nuclear program," Kerry told NBC.

On Friday, Kerry also met with leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Committee to discuss "the U.S.-Israel relationship and regional issues," the State Department said. 

Many American Jewish groups have expressed concern about the nuclear deal. Notably, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee has launched a massive campaign to lobby Congress and the general public against the deal.

For the original article, visit jns.org.

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JNS.org Staff Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Why So Many People Think Pope Francis Is the Antichrist http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/50752-why-so-many-people-think-pope-francis-is-the-antichrist http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/50752-why-so-many-people-think-pope-francis-is-the-antichrist

If you type "is Pope Francis antichrist" into Google, you'll get about 425,000 results in .37 seconds. By way of comparison, if you ask Google the same question about Pope Benedict you only get 137,000 and it takes a little longer—.47 seconds.

So why do so many people think—or at least ponder—that the Latin American pontiff is the Antichrist (or at least the end-time False Prophet mentioned in Revelation 19:20)? It could be for some of the same reasons his popularity is declining. His approval rating in the United States has dropped from 76 percent a year ago to 56 percent today, according to Gallup.

Indeed, even Roman Catholics are cooling off to Francis, the first-ever Jesuit pope who emerged as a darling among the evangelical community when he took over for the retiring Benedict. Some Pentecostal onlookers suggested he was Spirit-filled. And Kenneth Copeland and James Robison met privately with the pope in Rome and exchanged high-fives.

So what gives? Reuters' Scott Malone points out: "The decline comes as Francis has changed the focus of his public remarks from that of his immediate predecessors, concentrating less on the Church's opposition to abortion and gay marriage and spending more of his time discussing social inequity and poverty."

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Francis has been vocal about the evils of capitalism while backing off conservative views about homosexuals, asking, "Who am I to judge?" He's even called for a New World Order more than once. Some predict he will usher in this New World Order on Sept. 25, just 10 days after the end of the Shemitah year, which has a swirl of speculation about economic collapse around it.

Meanwhile, Francis has warmed up to Islam like no other pope before him. In a historic first, Francis opened the door to Muslim prayers and Quran readings at the Vatican last year. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres joined the pontiff in the Vatican gardens for a prayer meeting.

At that time, Francis said: "It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide. Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict." Some saw this as a precursor to the one world religion.

Protestant feathers really got ruffled when the washingtonpost.com.co and others falsely reported that Francis said the Quran and Holy Bible are the same:

"Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths. This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is respect each others beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by. We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God."

Although it seems unlikely that the pope actually said that (I could not independently confirm it from mainstream media sources, only Internet rags that tend to publish misleading information) the fact that so many Christians took it as truth without a second blink is telling. He's said and done enough other shocking things to make this statement believable in the ears of many believers.

Could Francis be the final pope before Christ's return? Could he be the Antichrist? Is he the False Prophet? The chatter continues.

Here's what we know: More than 50 years ago, a Jesuit priest predicted the resignation of Pope Benedict—to the day—and now Tom Horn, who worked with Cris Putnam to unveil a 900-year-old prophecy buried in the library at the Vatican that describes a series of 112 popes, and others are looking at his research. "Was he divinely inspired? Was he demonically inspired?" Horn asks. "Because we know demons know things about times and dispensations, too."

These are strange days in which we live. How do you feel about the Pope's stand on homosexuality, Islam, capitalism and the New World Order?

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. She is the co-founder of AwakeningTV.com and a leader in the New Breed Revival Network. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and on Periscope @propheticbooks.

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Car Crashes Through Wall of Worship Center Near IHOP http://www.charismanews.com/us/50753-car-crashes-through-wall-of-worship-center-near-ihop http://www.charismanews.com/us/50753-car-crashes-through-wall-of-worship-center-near-ihop

The grass is gouged by a tire just outside a church in Kansas City, Missouri. A few feet away, splintered car parts rest on the gravel. 

Look across the lot, and one can see the crumbling wall of Word of Life Worship Center, decimated when a car crashed through.

Watch the video to see more.

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Obama Confident He Could Win a Third Term: Is He Prophesying? http://www.charismanews.com/us/50751-obama-confident-he-could-win-a-third-term-is-he-prophesying http://www.charismanews.com/us/50751-obama-confident-he-could-win-a-third-term-is-he-prophesying

Barack Obama told African leaders that he thinks he would win a third term if given the chance to run again. 

"I actually think I'm a pretty good president—I think if I ran, I could win—but I can't!" Obama said.

But since 1951, a Congressional law has prohibited any person from taking more than two four-year terms. Obama, however, has a track record for bypassing Congress and issuing executive orders

In 2015 alone, the president has issued 13 decrees addressing everything from North Korea to cyber security to court-martialing. 

With this summer's Operation Jade Helm—a massive military training exercise across the southwest—questions arise about the commander in chief's intentions in office, and if he plans to vacate or declare another executive order giving himself power over the American people. 

Even the Washington Post picked up on the rumblings of Obama's potential martial law and the theories behind the exercises.

"The idea there was that this was an American response to the imminent start of World War III, since 'drills are always the way that operations are designed to position men and materials ahead of an operation,'" The Post's Philip Bump wrote earlier this month. 

Concerned parties dig into executive orders passed as far back as 2012 to make the connection between Obama and martial law, which is Constitutionally approved under Article 1, Section 9

Conservative commentators remain skeptical, claiming Obama's recent Iran Deal is part of his plan to secure more time in the White House.

"What if Obama isn't looking to his 'legacy'?" writes commentator Alan Keyes. "What if the threat of nuclear devastation he helps to arm with this agreement (an America-hating Iran with nuclear bombs) is to be brandished, along with a related threat from ongoing terrorist uprisings on U.S. soil, to create the exigent circumstances needed to justify imposing martial law throughout the United States and a plausible excuse for demanding that Obama remain in office until the emergency passes?"

While martial law may sound extreme, a potential Obama third term has not escaped the minds of his fellow Democrats. Just take these words from Vice President Joe Biden:

"Those seeking to lead the nation should protect and defend and run, yes run, on what we've done; own what we have done. Stand for what we have done, acknowledge what we have done, and be judged on what we have done. ... Some say that would amount to a third term of the president. I call it sticking with what works and what we ought'a do."

However, while Obama does think he could win another term, he had some choice words for leaders who choose to stay in office. 

"The point is, I don't understand why people want to stay so long. Especially when they've got a lot of money," Obama says. "And sometimes you'll hear a leader say 'I'm the only person who can hold this nation together.' If that's true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation."

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Huckabee Blasts Bush: 'We Need a Churchill, Not a Chamberlain' http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/50750-huckabee-blasts-bush-we-need-a-churchill-not-a-chamberlain http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/50750-huckabee-blasts-bush-we-need-a-churchill-not-a-chamberlain

 

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee's passionate defense of Israel has caused a massive puckering among Democrats and Establishment Republicans—including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"This is about whether we want to stand against tyrants and tyranny," the former Arkansas governor told me.

Bush called on Huckabee to "tone down the rhetoric" over President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

Last weekend, Huckabee called the president's plan idiotic and said that President Obama will ultimately "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."

Bush scolded Huckabee at a campaign stop in Florida.

"I think we need to tone down the rhetoric, for sure," Bush said. "The use of that kind of language is just wrong."

In response, Huckabee defiantly stood his ground—reminding Bush that Iran has vowed to incinerate "all the Jews."

"You don't tone down the rhetoric when people are threatening a country off the face of the map," he told me. "When you have a country that's openly declaring that it's going to kill Jews, guess what—you better take it seriously."

"I take nothing back," he declared. 

Huckabee also took exception to Bush's suggestion that his comments were hurting the Republican Party.

"This is not the way we're going to win elections and that's not how we're going to solve problems," Bush said.

"What's bad for the party is taking a milquetoast attitude toward the Middle East, believing that somehow you can bring appeasement into the world," Huckabee said. "This is not time for a Chamberlain. This is time for a Churchill. We either stand against evil or we don't."

Huckabee rightly pointed out that the Iranians are still holding four Americans hostage—and their citizens are marching in the streets chanting "Death to America."

And yet the Establishment Republicans seem to think Huckabee's comments are the problem?

"I think the problem for Republicans is when we're so weak-kneed that we won't take a stand against such stuff," he said.

So there you have it, folks. 

On one side you've got Gov. Huckabee—standing resolutely in alongside Israel. And on the other side you've got President Obama—and Jeb Bush.

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

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Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Genetics Expert Confirms the Reality of Adam and Eve http://www.charismanews.com/world/50749-genetics-expert-confirms-the-reality-of-adam-and-eve http://www.charismanews.com/world/50749-genetics-expert-confirms-the-reality-of-adam-and-eve

Modern-day DNA research is confirming the biblical account of Adam and Eve, according to one genetics expert. 

Answers in Genesis' Georgia Purdom has recently released a documentary explaining her findings and the scientific support for the records presented in Genesis. 

"One of the most compelling genetic evidences for an original human couple created by God is mitochondrial DNA research done by creation geneticist, Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson," Purdom says. "He clearly shows that the common human female ancestor of us all (biblical Eve) lived within the biblical timeframe of several thousand years ago."

Jeanson has also done research disproving the evolutionary timescale

What the scientific jargon breaks down to is this: If evolution were true, if men and women had been roaming the planet for years, there would be more genetic diversity.

By focusing on the DNA, these scientists have been able to evaluate that men and women can trace their roots back to a man and woman, Jeason writes

Though Jeason's timeline differs, his research echoes a study claiming all men can trace their lineage to a single man who lived 135,000 years ago, a "Genetic Adam."

"The Y chromosome is passed down identically from father to son, so mutations, or point changes, in the male sex chromosome can trace the male line back to the father of all humans," LiveScience's Tia Ghose writes. "By contrast, DNA from the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of the cell, is carried inside the egg, so only women pass it on to their children. The DNA hidden inside mitochondria, therefore, can reveal the maternal lineage to an ancient Eve."

For creationists, the scientific evidence backs not only the existence of Adam and Eve and the truth of Genesis, but the overwhelming support for the need of Christ in a broken world. 

Without Adam, Eve and original sin, Purdom says, we wouldn't have a need for a Savior—and salvation wouldn't be a necessity.

But through this research, geneticists are proving the case for Christ, not just creation.

"We need the good news, grace and life, which is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ," Purdom says. "Jesus is the solution to the problem of evil that began in Genesis 3. Paul made this connection very clear in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15."

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Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Satanist Bows to Jesus, Gets Filled With the Holy Spirit and Preaches the Gospel http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50748-satanist-bows-to-jesus-gets-filled-with-holy-spirit-and-preaches-the-gospel http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50748-satanist-bows-to-jesus-gets-filled-with-holy-spirit-and-preaches-the-gospel

"He can make your back feel better," his mother said. And she was right. The "doctor" healed 9-year-old Pedro Ochoa's back—the excruciating pain was gone!

But this was no ordinary Honduran doctor. The man was a self-described "new age white magic" doctor—a Satan worshipper. Little did the young boy know that from that moment on, Satan had plans for Pedro's life.

Pedro's father was a businessman who traveled extensively. He divorced Pedro's mother after she had an affair. Pedro, now 14, and his two younger sisters chose to stay with her. Two months later, Pedro's mom walked out on the children, leaving Pedro in charge of his sisters and an infant cousin she had been caring for.

"I felt so vulnerable," Pedro recalls. "So incredibly hurt."

Feeling powerless to change his situation and that he needed protection from the world crashing in around him, Pedro remembered the doctor who healed him through white magic.

"When I told him about my situation, the doctor said he could help me," Pedro recalls. "He told me that he could give me power and a god who is going to care about me and make me rich. He said that I would be able to grow a lot in this religion and become so powerful that I would be invincible if I would study the materials and consecrate myself to this god."

For a young boy desperate for control in his life, the promises of the white magic doctor were just what he longed for. Pedro agreed to become a student. He went through the ritual of consecrating himself, including donning an amulet that connected him to his idol/god (the spirit world), and declaring his love for his god.

"At this time in my life, I knew Christians, but I didn't know anything about the Bible," Pedro says. "To me, Christians just worshipped a different idol or god; I didn't know that there was only one true God."

The doctor's promises, however, weren't empty. Powers soon became evident in Pedro's life. "I started training, and I began to grow in this power—I started with moving small objects with my mind—and my powers continued to grow."

But the power came at a price. "I started hearing this voice," Pedro says. "And I knew it was the devil. He would tell me that my destiny was to go to hell with him—it was the reason I was born—and to fight in this huge battle against Christ/God, who is a selfish god that wanted all the glory and praise for Himself. Satan wanted me to fight to help take back what God had stolen from him."

Pedro sank deeper and deeper into Satanism. He soon was placed in charge of a group of other teens who also desired to grow "their powers." Pedro says he was given visions about the teens, insight into their lives, making it easy to convince them to follow his lead. They held séances and spoke to the dead, they used an Ouija board regularly with great success, and they spent an inordinate amount of time in cemeteries where things went on that he prefers not to discuss.

As he reflects upon his life, Pedro says there were things he came to realize. The more into Satanism he sank, the less human he was. "I didn't cry, I didn't laugh ... I had zero feelings," he says. "Also, I would later learn that these powers I thought were mine, were actually demons working through me. I had opened doors to them and they worked to not only deceive others, but me too! But at the time, I just believed that I was superior to everyone around me."

"Everyone," that is, except for these "weird" people.

"Nothing scared me anymore," Pedro says. "My friends and I were totally in the darkness. But every now and then a weird person would walk by. I knew nothing about God, but these people made me scared. I didn't want to be close to them. I wanted to run away from them—there was something shining on them ... it was just too shiny for me, to the point that I couldn't even look at them!"

Pedro says that he would later learn that these people weren't just Christians by name, but people who had the fire of the living God within them—and he feared them for reasons he did not understand.

And although Pedro didn't know it at the time, his battle with Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit was going to take place much sooner than he imagined.

Now a freshman in college, Pedro found himself in a U.S. English class with an older teacher who was one of those "on fire" Christians. Pedro wanted to turn in a paper late, but the teacher denied him, saying he would fail—but if Pedro would attend his Saturday meeting he held in the class each week, he could turn in his paper after that.

The meeting? A Bible study!

"That Saturday, the moment I crossed the gate into the college, something hit my spirit—it was scary, like I was about to die," Pedro says. "My body started shaking and I wasn't even close to the room yet, and the closer I got, the worse I felt ... it was like this crazy scared thing moving inside of me, from my head to my feet ... it's hard to put into words how scared I was. I was sweating and felt like I was going crazy. It wasn't a human scared, it was all the demonic power and devils living in me who were scared to come into the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, ... but I didn't know that then, all I knew was I wanted to run fast and far away from that place."

Pedro attempted to turn his paper in and leave, but the teacher refused the paper, saying he would need to sit through the meeting.

"They started to talk about God, the Bible, the Son of the Living God, the ABCs of salvation, the Cross," Pedro says. "I was listening, but fighting with stuff inside of me. But the words started to hit me. God loved me; died on the cross for me; He was not against—he wanted to rescue me!"

As the meeting concluded, the group stood to sing a song and the teacher began to pray for each person. As he prayed, people began to fall to the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit. Pedro knew he was in the presence of some kind of supernatural power as people were falling to the cement floor, but not getting hurt.

Then the teacher came to Pedro.

"We were eye-to-eye when he began to pray and boom! It was like an explosion," Pedro says. "I fell to the ground, but it felt like falling on a bed. My body began to shake like crazy. I felt this power like electricity going through my head, feet, legs, hands. I knew this was my last day on earth. I remember thinking I can't receive this kind of power—it was too much, my body is going to explode! It was so strong, I couldn't resist, like millions of volts in my body."

Pedro began to yell loudly as he felt the moment of his death approaching—whatever "it" was, was killing him.

But he didn't die.

"I suddenly realized I could breathe," Pedro says. "Then this voice came into my mind and kept repeating, 'God is real! God is alive! Jesus is real! God is touching you now!' I started to cry like a baby. I opened my eyes and in that moment I realized that the power that was in me was nothing compared to the power of God, which was now touching my soul. I realized I was on the wrong side of the line—I didn't want to fight against God, I didn't want to be an enemy of God."

Pedro stayed on the floor as the powers of darkness drained from him and the Holy Spirit worked in him. After some time, the teacher returned, helped him sit up, then prophesied over him that for the next three days, he wouldn't be able to sleep as the Lord wanted to speak with him.

It was as the teacher prophesied. For three days, Pedro did not sleep. "Those three days shaped my life," Pedro says. "God revealed Himself to me, explaining things to me, helping me to understand His power, and how I was now coming to the light, the side of God."

Pedro moved to Miami not long after his salvation experience. He says he could no longer hang around with his old friends, because when he was in the same room, their efforts to contact "the dead" no longer worked. About six years ago, Pedro, who worked in television, moved to Peoria, Illinois, to assist a church in developing television programming.

He is now the director of evangelism at Hilltop Campus Church, an Assemblies of God U.S. Missions Chi Alpha Campus Ministries church plant near several colleges and universities in Peoria, Illinois. Ironically Pedro, who is now 34, spends time mentoring young people to grow in their prayer lives and experience the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.

"Christians need to understand how powerful the name of Jesus is," Pedro says. "When Jesus is 100 percent in our lives, we are so powerful against the enemy. Nothing is comparable to the power of Jesus—remember, the devil and all the darkness is limited because they are creations, not the Creator. Those who serve Satan can yell and say things, but inside they are scared, shaking, and wanting to run!"

Although Pedro says that early on he would battle with Satan's attempts to reclaim his life, the Holy Spirit remained his constant companion. Through prayer, Pedro even rejected the healing the Honduran "white magic" doctor performed on his back, which resulted in several years of pain for Pedro before God stepped in and performed His own healing. "That healing I had as a child was Satan's hold on my life," Pedro explains. "When I renounced it through prayer, my struggles with Satan were lifted."

Pedro says he never intended to share his testimony, as he was deeply ashamed of his past life. But through the encouragement of Hilltop Campus Church interim pastor and AG U.S. missionary Dale Crall, Pedro, now the Holy Spirit-controlled follower of Christ, has begun to open up about his experiences.

"Pedro is one of the most spiritually discerning and truth-living Christlike believers I've ever met," Crall states. "He is highly favored of God and is gifted in everything he does. He brings God's presence in all he does."

"One of my burning desires is that Christian people can know the power of God's Word and live in the reality that God is real and close to us," Pedro says. "That when you walk into a room, people can feel the presence of the Lord with you—it will change your life, and may change their lives too!"

 

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Dan Van Veen/PE News Featured Culture Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How to Make or Break Your Child's Future http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50747-how-to-make-or-break-your-child-s-future http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50747-how-to-make-or-break-your-child-s-future

Shante had a lot of things going for her as she finished middle school. She was bright, attractive and talented. Her parents, Glenn and Sheri, had worked hard to ensure she could have a better life than they had experienced growing up. But both were uneasy with the public high school that Shante was zoned for in Prince George's County. Although it's the highest income majority-black county in the United States, it had a high school dropout rate more than 10 points higher than neighboring Montgomery County.  

Glenn and Sheri both understood that high school would make or break Shante's future. These strategic years are when good kids could go bad. They had seen it happen too often to children of friends and relatives: a studious, ambitious kid fell in with the wrong crowd and caved into peer pressure with bad decisions. Shante had a bright future, but like other kids in her neighborhood, her margin for error was slim.

A turning point came when her family attended the Riverdale Baptist High School graduation ceremony for the college-bound daughter of some family friends. As they listened to the commencement speeches, they learned that 100 percent of the senior class had graduated on time, 98 percent were headed to four-year colleges and the other 2 percent to military service. They looked at the students receiving their diplomas: neatly dressed, respectful, and enthusiastic about their futures.

That night, Glenn and Sheri agreed that even if they had to eat peanut butter and jelly for lunch every day for the next four years, they were going to send Shante to Riverdale Baptist. And while they did end up getting a break from PBJ now and then, it was a sacrifice. They put off buying new furniture, and drove used cars that sometimes didn't have heat, all while reminding Shante to make the most of her education.

Cell phone video gave their family and the nation a real window into the chaos that reigns in many of our failing public schools. In May, a video surfaced of a substitute teacher in Prince George's County beating unruly students with his belt.  The same month, an unnamed female teacher was fired from her Detroit high school for trying to break up a violent brawl that threatened to turn deadly. In another widely circulated video, a student in a Chicago high school shouted at her teacher above the deafening commotion: "I want an education! You get paid, don't you?"

As I have written before, my father made a very similar decision to Glenn and Sheri when he decided to send me to the most rigorous private school in our area instead of the public school I was zoned for. In that spirit, my wife and I sacrificed considerably to send our daughters to private high school as well. For us, the quality of the education our children received was always more important than the kind of car we drove or the square footage of our house. But many other parents don't have that option.

The important things kids learn in school go far beyond academic markers. They refine their vocabulary, learn to relate to authority figures and subconsciously absorb a multitude of behavioral norms. These skills are not only vital to succeeding in college, but also to obtaining and holding down a job.  

In fact, a study published in the journal Education reveals that ninth grade may be the most important year in determining a student's future. As psychoanalyst Dr. Linda Stern told The Atlantic:

"Students entering high school—just at the time brains are in flux—still have the propensity to be impulsive and are prone to making mistakes. They are therefore experimental and trying to separate and might try substances that interfere with the normal developmental process. Put all that together with raging hormones the normal academic pressures, and meeting a whole new group to be judged by."

Shante not only graduated sixth in her class at Riverdale Baptist, but was offered full-tuition scholarships to seven different universities. After earning her degree in psychology, she was accepted to a fellowship at George Washington University where she obtained a master's in special education. After marrying and having children, she obtained her second master's degree in applied psychology.

How can we ensure that all parents can make the choice that Glenn and Sheri did for Shante? This summer, Nevada became the first state to offer universal school choice: it allows every single public school student in the state an education savings account so that parents can customize their children's education as they see fit. I hope other states will follow Nevada's example and put all parents—regardless of income—in control of their children's future.

Harry R. Jackson Jr. is senior pastor of 3,000-member Hope Christian Church in the nation's capital. Jackson, who earned an MBA from Harvard, is a best-selling author and popular conference speaker. He leads the High-Impact Leadership Coalition. 

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Harry Jackson Featured Opinion Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:30:00 -0400
Is Jesus' Matthew Prophecy Being Fulfilled Even Now? http://www.charismanews.com/us/50746-is-jesus-matthew-prophecy-being-fulfilled-even-now http://www.charismanews.com/us/50746-is-jesus-matthew-prophecy-being-fulfilled-even-now

Famines, epidemics and earthquakes are how Jesus foretold the beginning of sorrows in Matthew 24

In the United States, there were more than 260 earthquakes in the last seven days. Those startling statistics include a 4.5-magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma and a 6.9-magnitude shaking in Alaska.  

"There is a backstop—the craton, that ancient unbudgeable mass at the center of the continent—and, sooner or later, North America will rebound like a spring," writes The New Yorker's Kathryn Schultz.

And perhaps that rebounding is exactly what Jesus meant. 

One might be prone to brushing off the statistics as an improvement in the scientific recording of earthquakes, but that assumption would be a mistake. 

Of the past, and future, earthquakes, Schultz writes: "In fact, the science is robust ... we now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next 50 years are roughly 1 in 3. The odds of the very big one are roughly 1 in 10. Even those numbers do not fully reflect the danger—or, more to the point, how unprepared the Pacific Northwest is to face it. The truly worrisome figures in this story are these: Thirty years ago, no one knew that the Cascadia subduction zone had ever produced a major earthquake. Forty-five years ago, no one even knew it existed."

Those are in the United States, alone. 

Expand the global observation and timeline of these earthquakes, and the picture is far from comforting. Take a look at Nepal earlier this year, or Japan in 2011.

Though scientists from across the world are attempting to predict the quakes, the words of Jesus appear to be manifesting before our eyes: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places" (Matt. 24:7).

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Golfer Zach Johnson Had Scripture In Mind When He Won British Open http://www.charismanews.com/world/50745-golfer-zach-johnson-had-scripture-in-mind-when-he-won-british-open http://www.charismanews.com/world/50745-golfer-zach-johnson-had-scripture-in-mind-when-he-won-british-open

With Scriptures running through his head, Zach Johnson became only one of six golfers to win the Masters at Augusta and the British Open at St. Andrew's when he beat two others in playoffs for the coveted Claret Jug on July 20.

"I was patient," said the 39-year-old from Cedars Rapids, Iowa. "I had some Scripture going in my head. I thank the Lord. I thank my friends. I thank my family. I'm just in awe right now. I feel like God gave me the ability to play a game. I'm just a guy from Iowa who's been blessed with a talent, and this game provided great opportunity."

Among PGA players, Johnson is not known for killing the ball; he drives 280 yards per stroke. Nor is he the pinpoint putter. But he prepares diligently. When rain postponed a whole day of play, he was practicing wedge shots with his caddie, gauging differing wind conditions. And he kept calm, remembering Psalm 27:14 throughout his play on the legendary Old Course: "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart" (NKJV).

The Word of God is his anchor. "I'm a Christian guy, and when it comes to my priorities, it's the utmost," Johnson said. "For me, just to calm myself down, to keep my perspective when I'm playing, to not make too big a deal of it. That's where I go. The peace that comes with that allows me to play free golf."

The expert wedge shots served him well in the final stretch holding off two playoff competitors. But Johnson doesn't chalk up the victory to his professional acumen.

He credits God—and his wife.

"Kim's my rock," he said. "She's the one that I can trust with anything. Good or bad, it doesn't matter what the situation is, she's always there."

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Mark Ellis/Assist News Featured World News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:30:00 -0400
Chris Brown Hears From God, Says He's Tired of the Devil Ruining His Life http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50744-chris-brown-hears-from-god-says-he-s-tired-of-the-devil-ruining-his-life http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50744-chris-brown-hears-from-god-says-he-s-tired-of-the-devil-ruining-his-life

Chris Brown says he has heard God speak, and he's tired of the devil ruining his life. 

According to the rapper's Instagram, it appears he's been fighting a spiritual battle for some time, and he's tired of the devil ruining his life. 

Now, though, Brown says he's heard God speak to him:

"What's on the surface always looks like one big party but inside there is a little boy looking for help and guidance," Brown writes. "People say 'be a man'. Yeah, that's right but it doesn't take away any pain you really go through."

He says he has no more patience for anything that will cause him to self-destruct. 

Brown's social media followers are reaching out with prayer and support. 

"I heard and seen your cry God heard your cry I know how you feel you still have everything but you like something is missing it is God all the devil wants is to give you everything of this world and take your soul," one commenter writes. 

Another writes: "No weapon formed against you shall prosper, God is with you, keeping you in prayer!"

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Satanists Don't Believe in Satan, So Why the Statue in Detroit? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50743-satanists-don-t-believe-in-satan-so-why-the-statue-in-detroit http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50743-satanists-don-t-believe-in-satan-so-why-the-statue-in-detroit

The Satanic Temple in Detroit has unveiled a 1-ton bronze tribute to Satan. The statue depicts a person with a goat's head, horns and wings. The image is flanked by statues of a young girl and boy gazing up at the creature in adoration.

However, the Satanic Temple says it doesn't believe in Satan. The group views the devil as "a literary figure, not a deity—he stands for rationality, for skepticism, for speaking truth to power."

So Satanists stand for rationality and truth? 

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat explains why Planned Parenthood apologists have avoided commenting on the actual content in recently-released videos: "Because dwelling on that content gets you uncomfortably close to ... that moment when you start pondering the possibility that an institution at the heart of respectable liberal society is dedicated to a practice that deserves to be called barbarism." Abortion supporters will continue to focus on women's rights while ignoring "human beings that the nice, idealistic medical personnel at Planned Parenthood have spent their careers crushing, evacuating and carving up for parts."

How did our culture get so far from truth?

Evangelical scholar Os Guinness notes that recent decades have witnessed an astonishing rise in consumer choices, a phenomenon he calls the McDonaldization of our culture. I remember when TV had three channels and we went on vacation to see our grandparents because that was all our family could afford. Today's consumer is immersed in choices—what to wear, to buy, to see, to do. Our very lives seem to be the product of our choices.

Why wouldn't we believe that reality is what we choose it to be? Why wouldn't we believe the lie that there are no lies? Why wouldn't we make Satan a symbolic literary figure and abortion a harmless reproductive choice?

Here's where Christians must beware. You and I live in the same consumer culture. Our lives are equally constituted by our choices, or so we think. We may believe that we make better choices than others. But we can be just as deceived into thinking that we are what we decide to be.

Over the weekend I read Brennan Manning's classic Abba's Child. Manning defines our core identity as the fact that we are loved infinitely and passionately by the God who is our "Abba," "Daddy." To accept this identity, we must reject all others. We must admit that we are nothing without God and that our choices cannot change this fact. 

Manning quotes Thomas Merton: "The reason we never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with God is that we so seldom acknowledge our utter nothingness before Him." He agrees with St. Augustine: "There can only be two basic loves, the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God."

Reality is ultimately not what you choose, but what your Creator has chosen. He has chosen to like you, to love you, to die for you, to rise for you, to prepare your place in paradise, to walk beside you and in you right now. He longs for you to see yourself as he sees you—the child of your Abba.

"Consider how much love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God" (1 John 3:1).

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: denisonforum.org/subscribe. For more information on the Denison Forum, visit denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit twitter.com/jimdenison or facebook.com/denisonforum.

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Jim Denison Featured Opinion Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Huckabee's Holocaust Gas Chamber Reference Draws Israeli Ire http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50742-huckabee-s-holocaust-gas-chamber-reference-draws-israeli-ire http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50742-huckabee-s-holocaust-gas-chamber-reference-draws-israeli-ire

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee drew rare criticism from Israel on Tuesday for comments in which he accused President Barack Obama of marching Israelis "to the door of the oven" in a nuclear deal with Iran.

Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said on Facebook the former Arkansas governor was "genuinely concerned" about Israel's future but was wrong to refer to Nazi gas chambers that killed millions of Jews in voicing alarm over the July 14 accord between world powers and Iran.

Israel has called the agreement a threat to its survival and has urged U.S. lawmakers to reject the deal, saying it would give Iran a "sure path" to nuclear weapons.

"Dear Mr Huckabee, no one is marching Jews to the ovens anymore," Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, wrote.

"That is why we established the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces, and if necessary, we will know how to defend ourselves by ourselves," Katz said.

Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to Washington, said in an interview with USA Today's Capital Download program that while Israel had a "very serious disagreement" with the Obama administration over the Iranian issue, Huckabee's remarks were inappropriate. The Anti-Defamation League called the remarks "completely out of line and unacceptable."

Huckabee, one of 16 candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination, made the comments in an interview with a conservative website on Saturday. He has been a regular visitor to Israel, where he has been embraced by right-wing politicians as one their country's staunchest supporters.

Huckabee on Tuesday dismissed his critics as coming from the left.

"The response from Jewish people has been overwhelmingly positive. The response from Holocaust survivors, from the children of Holocaust survivors ... People were overwhelmingly supportive," Huckabee said on NBC's "Today" show.

In Ethiopia on Monday, Obama said Huckabee's remarks were emblematic of a slide in public discourse coming from the Republicans.

"The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we've seen that ... would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad," he said.

Huckabee responded with a critique of the Iran nuclear deal.

"What's 'ridiculous and sad' is that President Obama does not take Iran's repeated threats seriously," he said in a statement. "For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to 'destroy,' 'annihilate,' and 'wipe Israel off the map' with a 'big Holocaust."

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Jeffrey Heller/Reuters Featured Politics Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Excommunicated Mormon Hosts LDS Mass Resignation Event http://www.charismanews.com/us/50741-ex-communicated-mormon-hosts-lds-mass-resignation-event http://www.charismanews.com/us/50741-ex-communicated-mormon-hosts-lds-mass-resignation-event

When Stephanie Engle was a teenager, she struggled with what she termed as the racism and sexism within the LDS Church.

Engle said she researched Mormon history after moving away from home for college, learning about polygamy and other "really questionable practices" of church founder Joseph Smith.

"I just thought this is so obviously not true," she said. "I can't keep claiming that I believe it."

On Saturday (July 25), six years after ending her participation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Engle took a final step to sever her ties with the Salt Lake City-based faith.

With a signed letter in hand, Engle joined roughly 100 current and former Mormons—including Ordain Women co-founder Kate Kelly—at a mass-resignation event a block from the church's downtown headquarters.

"Before we think about having children, I would like to have it done," she said of her resignation.

Organizer Brooke Swallow said the event  was intended to provide a sense of community for people leaving Mormonism.

She said the resignations are not done out of anger nor to provoke the church, but to show a sense of dissatisfaction among church dissidents.

"We know that it's a painful process," she said. "Some people are ostracized or they feel like they need to ostracize themselves from their Mormon families."

After gathering at City Creek Park, participants crossed North Temple and State Street to deliver their resignation letters to the LDS Church Office Building.

Former LDS bishop Earl Erskine, host of the online video series "Ex Mormon Files," said his withdrawal from the church began after he read an 1830 edition of the faith's signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, and noticed discrepancies with more recent printings.

That inconsistency became a sticking point, he said, and opened him up to questions about other areas of church history—from the foundation of the religion to purported translations of Abrahamic texts.

Kelly, who was excommunicated from the church last year after advocating for the inclusion of women in the all-male LDS priesthood, told the crowd: "If you stay, you should raise hell," she said. "I think you have a moral imperative to make it a better place for children and especially for girls."

In a statement, church spokesman Dale Jones said:  that regardless of their choice, "we love them and wish them well, and hope they will find the support and answers they seek."

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Benjamin Wood / Salt Lake Tribune Featured U.S. News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:30:00 -0400
Meet the State Rep Who Says She Lost Her Seat For Her Convictions http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50740-meet-the-state-rep-who-says-she-lost-her-seat-for-her-convictions http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50740-meet-the-state-rep-who-says-she-lost-her-seat-for-her-convictions

Bette Grande never planned to be a legislator. Concerned about what her children were being taught in school, this mother of three first ran for the local school board. She ended up serving the people of Fargo, North Dakota, as state representative for 18 years.

In addition to her work on state budget issues, Rep. Grande became known for her outspoken defense of pre-born lives. Her legislative efforts caught the attention of Planned Parenthood.

State Representative Grande made national headlines as the author of the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, passed by wide majorities in the State Legislature and signed by Governor Jack Dalrymple (R-North Dakota) in 2013. A lawsuit from Planned Parenthood state affiliates quickly followed.

On Wednesday, after a years-long court battle, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state law unconstitutional; however, the decision urges the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider precedent considering "... an unborn child possesses a detectable heartbeat."

Bette Grande will not be responding from the floor of the House Chamber, as in years past. She lost her seat in the 2014 election. According to Grande, Planned Parenthood "poured close to $2 million" into North Dakota and tagged issues ads with Grande's name—sealing her narrow defeat.

Since then, she and her husband Don have enjoyed spending time with their new grandson while she also serves as a research fellow at The Heartland Institute. Speaking via phone from her office in Fargo, Grande discusses her record as state representative and offers her perspective on how to advance the defense of life. 

Bound4LIFE: What is your reaction to the ruling this week by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, essentially repealing the North Dakota Human Heartbeat Protection Act which you authored?

Bette Grande: While the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court opinion that North Dakota's Heartbeat bill is unconstitutional, the judges were almost apologetic about it. The full body of this new opinion is very positive for defending life, including pro-life laws enacted in North Dakota.

Let me read it straight from the ruling: "Good reasons exist for the Supreme Court to re-evaluate its jurisprudence," the judges state. "The viability standard discounts the legislative branch's recognized interest in protecting unborn children."

They are saying that "one size fits all" abortion policies that began with Roe v. Wade are unworkable. With the strong difference of opinion on abortion throughout this country, the U.S. Supreme Court needs to reconsider its stance to reflect the people's will—which is ultimately what the Constitution and separation of powers demand. 

What happens now with this lawsuit is anyone's guess. I trust state leaders will consider all options. But one thing is clear. With a focus on pain-capable legislation and other laws centered on life in the womb, the protection of life at all stages is gaining ground.

Bound4LIFE: As a North Dakota state legislator for 18 years, tell us a little of your story. What inspired you to first run for public office?

Bette Grande: My interest in public office did not come willingly; it had to be a solid push from the Father Himself. I did not consider myself a public speaker, so being out in the public square wasn't something I had considered. I had been involved in politics behind-the-scenes, working on campaigns for people I believed would adhere to the value system I had.

When my children were young, I became concerned with how some things were handled in their elementary school—issues of what was being taught to my children. I thought, I should be involved on the school board, that sounds simple enough.

I lost that local race, but soon after that my legislative district came to me and asked if I would fill a soon-to-be-vacated seat of state representative.

We prayed as a family about whether running for the State Legislature was right for us. Public office is not a task anyone should undertake unless they have full support of their spouse and family. The attacks do not stop at my back; it comes to everyone. My husband was supportive right from the start.

As I went to family members, I asked my dad what he thought. At first he said, "No." When I asked why, he said he "did not want to hear people say bad things about my baby girl. You've got to have thick skin, not everyone is going to be nice to you." 

That surprised me because he had taught me to stand up for myself. I responded, "Dad, you taught me to have thick skin." The first two years were not as difficult for me as they were for the kids.

The more vocal you become, those who oppose you tend to attack you. For me, having thick skin is Ephesians 6—as long as I have on my armor, my skin is thick enough. There was a team of intercessors who covered everything I did in prayer.

That is why I felt I could take on the tasks that were laid out before me. One of those, sparked from a passion for my own children, is a passion for saving babies and life issues as a whole.

Bound4LIFE: What were some of your early efforts to defend the sanctity of life?

Bette Grande: In North Dakota, we've always had a very strong pro-life stance—from conception to natural death, we protect each life. 

We voted on a law to stop physician-assisted suicide, as well as making sure North Dakotans are knowledgeable on issues like living will and power of medical attorney before it becomes something they are facing and cannot mentally handle. It is critically important for people's lives to understand these issues.

We've always had a broad view of life issues. I've never liked the label "anti-abortion"; I do pro-life work. It's an argument I had consistently with an Associated Press reporter during my time in office.

Words matter and the pro-abortion side has been successful in the battle over words. The AP Stylebook works against us on life issues. To some it may seem like a minor thing to be called ''pro-life" rather than "anti-abortion"—but in the battle for hearts and minds, we need to be clear.

Through various programs, we worked to ensure the mother is taken care of throughout the pregnancy—that there is awareness of real alternatives to abortion, full disclosure and informed consent. 

Bound4LIFE: You gained national attention with the North Dakota Human Heartbeat Protection Act passed in 2013. Why was this bill crafted specifically based on the pre-born baby's heartbeat? 

Bette Grande: We have to go back to 2009. One bill that I put in ensured that women would be afforded the opportunity to see their ultrasound prior to the abortion and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child. 

We've gained great knowledge about life in the womb over the past 40 years. Having the mention of a baby's heartbeat seemed like a natural thing to include; we simply saw it as the right policy.

When the pro-abortion side filed a lawsuit against that law, the heartbeat aspect was one of their biggest concerns. They became so upset with the thought of an expectant mother hearing her baby's heartbeat. The judge did not agree with their viewpoint. But it intrigued me that they argued against this so strongly. 

This legislation in 2009 also included a provision that chemical abortions must adhere to FDA guidelines. We began seeing this trend of webcam abortions coming to North Dakota.

Abortion providers have been going off-label with how they use RU-486, attempting for it to be used far later in pregnancy than what the FDA allows. They're giving all three doses of the drug to the pregnant woman, so she does not have to come back to the abortion center. It saves cost, but it raises the risk of health complications.

We fought this in court, which went all the way to the North Dakota Supreme Court. It took nearly two years for them to rule on it, but we won that case. Now it is the law in this state: Chemical abortions must adhere to FDA guidelines.

The rise of chemical abortions in this nation has been rapid, and people do not even realize it. They are being done via telemedicine, which should be concerning to everyone.

We found it important to focus the discussion on the life in the womb. There were two main bills in 2013 for me. The first bill was the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. People were not understanding what was happening in these later-term abortions, particularly the gender discrimination happening against girls.

We have ADA laws in the United States to ensure we do not discriminate against the disabled. Yet abortionists are discriminating when over 90% of children with Down Syndrome are being aborted.

It's a shameful thing in our society that we feel we can discriminate inside the womb, making a determination about the worth of another person's life based on criteria like presumed productivity.

Do we as a society want to look into the womb and determine someone else's outcome in life, before they've ever had a chance to take their first breath? I believe it sets a very scary precedent, and it's important for people to start having a discussion on this.

Bound4LIFE: How did you as a legislator approach these complex issues of caring for both mothers and pre-born children? 

Bette Grande: Whether it's a money issue or needing parenting skills or a boyfriend issue where the woman may need protection, we want to be there for her in all these ways.

We have laid a lot of groundwork to love them both—it's never been just about the unborn child, it's also about the soon-to-be new mother.

We want women to have access to services like our First Choice clinics and parenting centers, where they can go and stay even after the birth of the child. They are cared for in these places, and we want them to receive as much help as possible.

In the Abortion Control Act and after that in the Alternatives to Abortion legislation, we have worked to be as supportive as possible in all aspects of adoption, foster care and safe haven policies.

In 2013, I felt it was the right time for North Dakota to consider this bill based on when a baby's heartbeat can be detected.

Bound4LIFE: In the State House, the North Dakota Human Heartbeat Protection Act passed by a 63-28 vote and in the Senate 26-17. How did the pro-life side achieve those overwhelming majorities?

Bette Grande: It was an awesome thing. It did not require heavy lobbying by any means. Most people who were elected in both House and Senate already knew where they stood on life issues. For them, this Heartbeat bill was a commonsense issue: We know that stopping a heart ends life.

Prayer certainly played a role in the passage of this bill. I do nothing in life without prayer. Throughout that legislative session, as in previous ones, prayer teams were in place.

When we were on the House floor for the debate, the first bill heard that afternoon was the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act which prohibits sex-selective abortions. 

The other side was baiting the pro-life legislators, to say something we would regret saying. When colleagues asked what I was going to say, and if they should make a floor speech, I told them I didn't think we needed to say anything in the debate other than describing the policy before us.

The legislator who carried the prenatal bill explained the policy, and talked passionately about his feelings on behalf of pre-born babies. The pro-abortion side got up and said their piece. People knew where they stood. So we proceeded to the vote for the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, and it went overwhelmingly pro-life.

The next bill up was the Heartbeat bill, which I had authored. Another legislator got up who was carrying the bill from the committee. He gave a floor speech describing the bill and sat down. The Speaker called for debate. No one said anything for several moments.

On both bills, the pro-abortion side wanted me to stand up and say something. They so badly wanted to get me on the record saying something they felt they could use against me. I didn't need to say anything. It was already spoken.

"Seeing none," the Speaker said and then it proceeded to the vote. The bill passed by over two-thirds majority, with no protest. At that point, I remember turning to my husband and saying, "The mouths of lions have been shut in this lions den." That is truly how the room felt.

When the bill went on to the State Senate, the exact same thing happened. The prenatal bill came up first, the other side tried to argue against it, and the Senate voted.

The Heartbeat bill was next. One Senator from the relevant committee introduced it, he explained the policy and sat down. The president of the Senate called for debate. There was silence.

Again, it passed by nearly two-thirds vote. It was amazing. You could feel a hush come over the room.

Bound4LIFE: Governor Jack Dalrymple signed the bill. Yet Planned Parenthood and its allies quickly filed a lawsuit to keep it from going into effect. Did you expect that?

Bette Grande: They had threatened that from the day I introduced the bill. It was nothing new. I had been used to their lawsuits since 2009; every policy we introduced on life issues, they sued to keep it from going into effect.

Bound4LIFE: A similar bill, based on detecting a baby's heartbeat, passed in Arkansas only a month apart from the North Dakota bill. Was there contact with legislators there?

Bette Grande: I didn't work with anyone outside of North Dakota on the Heartbeat bill. To my knowledge, there was no contact with legislators in Arkansas.

I did not do anything but write the bill, let God do the work and let the people come. I did not recruit anyone or anything similar; it just came to be on the merits of the issue.

Both the Arkansas and North Dakota Heartbeat laws were challenged by Planned Parenthood affiliates in court, but were heard separately because of the differences. Arkansas put the 12-week marker in their law, whereas the North Dakota bill is based strictly on the medical term "heartbeat."

Some in the press have called the North Dakota law "a possible six-week ban on abortion." There is no such wording in the legislation. We were clear on that when we wrote it, because 40 years ago they never knew that a baby's heartbeat was detectable at six weeks.

Why put in a time-bound piece to this policy? Medical terminology is what leads the North Dakota policy. It's more appropriate to allow the new knowledge our society is gaining about life in the womb to be the marker, rather than locking it into a specific week marker or some forced trimester model. 

At one time, viability was defined as 28 weeks. Now with medical advances we see children surviving at 21 weeks. "Heartbeat" is critically important terminology; it isn't locked in to a certain week marker.

Bound4LIFE: Soon your name, as the author of the Heartbeat bill, was in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, Politico ... How did you handle the media frenzy? 

Bette Grande: A picture of me and my husband even ended up in the Australian Times! Really all the attention on me came from an Associated Press story that released shortly after the bill was enacted.

When the governor signed the bill and the press found out about it right away, I was in an appropriations hearing and unaware of all the press frenzy. My husband sent a text message: Have you seen all this stuff? And I hadn't.

Apparently three reporters were waiting to speak to me. I was voting on important bills and deep into state budget issues, which was my job. The citizens of my district trusted me to legislate and to do the detailed work of appropriations.

When we took a break, I went out to speak to the press. The AP reporter spoke first, saying, "I'll bet you're pretty proud of yourself—getting these bills passed and the governor signing them."

His words surprised me. It hit to my soul. Pretty proud of yourself. As a Christian woman, a woman of faith, for someone to say that set me back a step. I thought, Pride? Lord, I pray that is not me.

What came out of my mouth in response was: "No, it's a great day for babies." They used that quote prominently in the story, to get people to read the article. It snowballed from there to a national story.

Some of these media outlets did call and ask for interviews, to their credit. I did as many as I could. But when we're in the middle of a legislative session and I serve in Appropriations, I did not have time to spend a day doing interviews. If the media outlet could not arrange for 7 a.m. or a late afternoon, I was not available.

Some would say I should have cut my losses and spent more time on interviews, but that really was not my job. I was asked by the majority leader to serve on a busy committee for a reason, and I knew I had to do my work there well. I certainly would never miss floor votes for an interview.

Bound4LIFE: Susan B. Anthony List noted in 2011 that "Planned Parenthood has its sights locked on Bette Grande." What happened in that election and in subsequent ones?

Bette Grande: Planned Parenthood and others had their sights set on making sure I was not re-elected for a long period of time. In the 2010 election, it was very telling how bitter some of their attacks were and how their focus was directed only at me.

In our district, a senator and two representatives ran at the same time—but I am the only one who had an opponent. The media and other players just ran with this narrative that I was "out of touch"; though they didn't mention life issues, because North Dakotans largely supported my stand there.

After I was re-elected, what happened over the next three years is that a couple of talk show hosts and one local media outlet spent time attacking me nearly every day.

When asked by my friends who would call into the show, "Are you going to allow her to come on and address your concerns?" The radio host replied, "No, it would just take up my time." That's what I was up against for literally years, trying to combat that type of stuff.

During that election cycle, Planned Parenthood and its state-based political arm poured close to $2 million into North Dakota "life issues" campaigns. They attached my name to all those attack ads. Indirectly, they were able to campaign against me in that fashion.

One cannot track specific donations of my blatantly pro-abortion opponent in the 2014 race, but the out-of-state percentage was fairly large. Check some of the names on the larger donations reported, there are affiliations with various pro-abortion groups. But I'm just presenting information, not making allegations; someone else can draw all the lines.

You can only fight that for so long. It comes down to the constant attack. 

Bound4LIFE: In your view, what is the goal of pro-life legislation?

Bette Grande: Pro-life bills are not about trying to "legislate away" abortion. That by itself would not matter. As leaders, we need to shine a light so people in our society will open their eyes and change their hearts, minds and souls.

Society must change before we will stop abortion as a whole. There has to be a conscience that is awakened. If there was a law enacted tomorrow that somehow made abortion illegal, abortion would not stop tomorrow. Let's be honest about that.

The most important portion of this debate is the fact that we are no longer in our society talking about a "blob of tissue." This is a key aspect of the Heartbeat Bill. We now know that the baby's heart is beating as early as 6 weeks and that is powerful.

For 40 years, pro-choice advocates got away with this "blob of tissue" talk. Instead, the public discussion has now turned to: At what point does the baby feel pain in the womb? At what point are we hearing a baby's heartbeat?

People are starting to ask themselves and ponder these questions. The pro-abortion side knows exactly what we are talking about and the recent Planned Parenthood videos prove that in a disturbing way.

This matters a lot when we talk about a young mother who is trying to decide, Am I going to abort or keep my child?

She is going to hear in the back of her mind what she heard on the news, what she saw in the paper: That baby's heart is beating. That the baby can feel pain. And she's not going to go in and have the abortion. 

Changing hearts, minds and souls—that's what this whole thing is about.

Follow Bette Grande on Twitter and via her posts on Say Anything Blog

After 10 years on staff at The Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family, Josh M. Shepherd currently serves in communications at Bound4LIFE International—a grassroots movement to pray for the ending of abortion and for revival worldwide.

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Josh M. Shepherd/Bound4Life Featured Culture Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:15:00 -0400
Bold Christian Voice Has Strong Message for Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/clarion-call/50737-bold-christian-voice-has-strong-message-for-muslims-jews-hindus-and-buddhists http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/clarion-call/50737-bold-christian-voice-has-strong-message-for-muslims-jews-hindus-and-buddhists

I suppose it's a bit more of an anecdote than a commentary. Twenty-two years ago and it seems like last week.

Isn't that something old people say?

The aftermath from the previous night's whirlwind revelry had become all too familiar. Friends had come and friends had gone. My tiny, one-bedroom apartment in Thornton, Colorado, was, once again, strewn with empty beer bottles and soggy cigarette butts that lay decomposing in makeshift ashtray tombs.

The pungent pong of stale beer and cheap tobacco turned my stomach as I, having just roused at the crack of noon and suffering the hangover of all hangovers, staggered the short distance from my lonely bedroom to my lonelier kitchenette.

My daily refrigerator inventory cataloged exactly one large Domino's Pizza box, containing exactly one half-eaten piece of stale pepperoni, and a three-quarters-empty Coors Party Ball. The sink was full of foul-smelling dishes, and the trash can had flies.

Yes, it was pitiful.

Yes, I was pitiful.

My high school sweetheart and wife of nearly five years, you see, had kicked me out and filed for divorce a few months earlier saying that I'd never amount to anything. At the moment, her words seemed a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I was crushed.

So this was rock bottom. The day, which yet again wore into night with fast food and old Bonanza reruns, would end like all the rest. Where were my car keys? As I searched in preparation for another trip to the liquor store, I made my way to my bedroom and opened my nightstand drawer. I found there, instead, my old dusty Bible. I suppose it was "desperate times" and all that, but, for whatever reason, I picked it up, brushed it off and began to read.

I've experienced, in my life, a handful of what I would call miracles. While I've had a few supernatural experiences that, for the outsider looking in, might be thought more profound, it was on this day that I experienced the miracle most influential to the course of my life—defined it, in fact.

I had been raised in a Christian home and, as far as I knew, "accepted Christ" at a young age. Still, on this particular night as I, the consummate "prodigal son," randomly thumbed through the Holy Scriptures and read—the words literally leapt off the page. No, literally—certain words rose just above the page. I don't even recall what specific passages I was reading, but things I had never before seen and words I had never before understood connected with my soul. The undeniable reality of the existence of God and the deity of Christ for the first time in my life became, in an instant and with crystal clarity, known to me in a way that I could never, ever again deny.

"This is truth!" I yelled aloud. "It's all true! It's real!"

I wept, overwhelmed with what I can only describe as sorrowful joy.

From that point on, my life changed. It wasn't overnight. I still had bad habits and hang ups that, in partnership with Christ, I had to shake loose. I still do. Who doesn't?

Even so, and tracking back from right now to then, it was on that night, at that very moment, that God's destiny for my life—a destiny He mapped out before the beginning of time—finally took root.

Christ and Christ alone can satisfy.

Seventeenth-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote, "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God Himself."

Some have come to call Pascal's "infinite abyss" a "God-shaped hole." We all have (or once had) this God-shaped hole, this void in our soul, that can be filled alone with, and satisfied by, the presence of the Holy Spirit—by Christ Jesus.

Attempts to fill this void in my own life with womanizing and hard-partying were found wanting, woefully, and the more I tried to fill it with these and other worldly items, the emptier and more restless I became. As Saint Augustine reflected, "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."

But I promised you the meaning of life.

Jesus said: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

Jesus is the life. We are all perishing in the flesh. We all die. But we can all have Life eternal. We can have eternal Life, even in this life.

It's a hard truth, but it's not a complicated one. Whether you're an atheist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist or whether you identify by some other man-made religion or non-religion, until you fill the God-shaped hole in your soul with Christ Jesus, you will find no rest.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'" (John 14:6).

No one.

Except through Him.

Jesus is the meaning of life.

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

 

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Matt Barber Featured Clarion Call Opinion Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Oklahoma Supreme Court Decrees Ten Commandments Must Go http://www.charismanews.com/us/50739-oklahoma-supreme-court-decrees-ten-commandments-must-go http://www.charismanews.com/us/50739-oklahoma-supreme-court-decrees-ten-commandments-must-go

Oklahoma's Supreme Court on Monday said the state must remove a Ten Commandments stone monument first placed at its Capitol in 2012, rejecting an appeal to reconsider an earlier decision.

The justices denied a request by the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission to rethink the court's June 30 decision that the statue's placement violates the state constitution's ban on the use of state property for the benefit of religion.

Earlier in July, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, had said she would keep the monument in place while lawmakers sought a way to block the decision.

The 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter) monument was paid for with private money and is supported by lawmakers in the socially conservative state. Some lawmakers had threatened to impeach the justices or amend the constitution.

"We carefully consider the arguments of the commission and find no merit warranting a grant of rehearing," Chief Justice John Reif wrote.

After the Ten Commandments monument went up, other groups including Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, applied to erect their own monuments on Capitol grounds to mark what they say are historical events.

The Satanic Temple unveiled its bronze Baphomet sculpture in Detroit on Saturday after failing to have it installed near Oklahoma's Ten Commandments monument.

Jex Blackmore, director of the Satanic Temple Detroit chapter, said members plan to ship the sculpture to Arkansas, where a law authorizing a Ten Commandments statue on capitol grounds was approved earlier in 2015.

A spokesman for Fallin said the state has not received a final order to remove the monument, which would come from district court.

"In the meantime, the state is reviewing what legal options are available for preserving the monument," spokesman Alex Weintz said. 

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Heide Brandes/Reuters Featured U.S. News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:45:00 -0400
Boy Scouts of America Ends Ban on Gay Leaders http://www.charismanews.com/us/50738-boy-scouts-of-america-ends-ban-on-gay-leaders http://www.charismanews.com/us/50738-boy-scouts-of-america-ends-ban-on-gay-leaders

Boy Scouts of America took final steps Monday to remove the organization's national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. However, the Texas-based group is allowing faith-based organizations to select their leaders based on their religious beliefs, including matters of sexuality.

The move was approved by the group's National Executive Board Monday. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution, which is effective immediately. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month.

Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates serves as national president of the 105-year-old scouting organization.

"What remains unchanged is everyone associated with scouting agrees to follow national policies and comply with BSA's behavioral standards; no youth may be denied membership to our organization on the basis of sexual orientation; and no council can deny a charter to a unit that is following the beliefs of its religious chartering organization."

Gates called for moving past the issue that "has divided and distracted us," calling for unity.

"Now it's time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its youth members."

The organization lifted its ban on gay youth in 2013.

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Christine D. Johnson Featured U.S. News Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:17:06 -0400
Where Does Donald Trump Really Stand on Abortion? http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50736-where-does-donald-trump-really-stand-on-abortion http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50736-where-does-donald-trump-really-stand-on-abortion

Since 2011, Donald Trump has identified himself as pro-life. But in 1999, when he ran for president, he was an abortion-rights advocate, and even defended partial-birth abortion. So what changed him?

On Oct. 24, 1999, Trump told Meet the Press host Tim Russert, "I'm very pro-choice." When pressed whether he would oppose a ban on partial-birth abortion, he said, "I would—I am pro-choice in every respect, as far as it goes." Yet less than three months later, Trump was on record saying he would support a ban on partial-birth abortion. He actually made the switch immediately following the show.

On Jan. 16, 2000, Trump's new book was published, The America We Deserve. He discussed why he flipped on partial-birth abortion. Here is what he said: "When Tim Russert asked me on Meet the Press if I would ban partial-birth abortion if I were president, my pro-choice instincts led me to say no. After the show, I consulted with two doctors I respect and, upon learning more about this procedure, I have concluded that I would indeed support a ban."

Someone in Trump's campaign obviously pushed the alarm button after watching the interview, and then got to his publisher in time to reflect his new position. Until he was educated by two doctors—right after he walked off the set—he was apparently clueless about this "procedure." He did not know, he says, that partial-birth abortion entails crushing the skull of a baby who is 80 percent born. What did he think it meant?

I'm not buying it. Even if I did, what does that make Trump? New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and New York City Mayor Ed Koch supported abortion rights, but they drew the line at partial-birth: they properly called it "infanticide." They didn't need doctors to tell them that this was a monstrous act.

Trump needs to explain his lightning fast flip flop, and why we should believe him now.

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Bill Donohue/Christian Newswire Featured Politics Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
10 Reasons You Should Eat More 'Fermented' Foods http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50734-10-reasons-you-should-eat-more-fermented-foods http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50734-10-reasons-you-should-eat-more-fermented-foods

Our bodies house ten times more bacteria than cells, and there are more than 100 trillion bacteria on and within the body. Only ten percent of our cells are human. The remaining 90 percent of the cells living within the body are bacterial.

For some of us, that is almost too uncomfortable to think about, but what we should really start to realize is the important role that bacteria play in our overall well-being: This includes the bacteria in the gut.

1. Bacteria in the human body. The 100 trillion bacteria residing on and in our bodies are responsible for things like making the immune system stronger, synthesizing vitamins, and digesting the food we eat. Just as light needs dark to exist, we need bacteria if we are going to continue to exist. The microbiome, which is all of the bacterial cells inside the body, is one of the biggest factors playing a role in our health. Gut bacteria is part of the reason our bodies are capable of assimilating and digesting food. Now, scientists are finding that some bacteria may influence behaviors, thoughts, moods, and personality.

2. Birth and bacterial exposure. When a child is born it is the moment the child begins receiving exposure to the bacteria the body requires. The baby's first exposure to bacteria comes from vaginal delivery and the second comes from when the mother breastfeeds the child. While in the uterus, a baby remains within a sterile environment. However, passage through the birth canal causes bacteria from the mother to pass to the child's skin, eyes, and mouth: This bacteria then colonizes on and within the child. If the mother breastfeeds the child, it exposes the baby to bacteria that passes from the mother to child through the breast milk and skin-to-skin contact.

Researchers have found children who come into the world through C-section do not end up with a healthy mix of the bacteria needed for optimal well-being. In various hospitals there are ongoing experiments where health care professionals place gauze inside the birth mother's vagina for about an hour before the child is delivered through Cesarean birth. Once the baby is taken from the mother's womb, a health care professional takes the bacteria soaked gauze and rubs it onto the child's skin, face, and eyes in an effort to mimic the effects of a vaginal birth where bacterial exposure occurs. Of course, if such actions will prove beneficial remains unknown. It will take a number of years to assess if there are beneficial health effects from the bacterial exposure in the children involved in the experiment.

3. Vitamins & gut bacteria. Even harmful bacteria has different strains of which some prove harmless and beneficial to the body. For instance, Escherichia coli (E coli) has more than a single strain, and some strains of E. coli and another bacteria called Bacillus subtilis are responsible for synthesizing Vitamin K. Researchers have discovered that bacteria synthesizes a variety of intestinal bacteria. In addition to Vitamin K, the healthy bacteria synthesizes an array of B vitamins. Now recall for a moment how babies first come into the world and are not exposed to bacteria until passing through the vaginal canal, and then you can understand why doctors feel the need to give babies a shot of Vitamin K at birth: when born, the child lacks the bacteria in the gut to trigger its synthesis. A lack of certain bacteria in the gut may be responsible for the onset of at least some vitamin deficiencies as well.

4. The autism & gut bacteria connection. A study is currently ongoing at Arizona State University where researchers are looking into a possible connection between gut bacteria and Autism. Researchers have already found that individuals who have been diagnosed with the condition also have gut bacteria that differs from the bacteria of an otherwise healthy individual. In fact, the bacteria is in differing ratios, as those who have Autism tend to be lacking hundreds of bacterial strains considered beneficial to the body.

It is too soon to suggest that the absence of different bacterial strains is responsible for the neurological dissimilarities between neurotypical people and those people who are on the Autism Spectrum. Nevertheless, there are experiments occurring involving the beneficial transfer of bacteria through fecal transplants. The transplantation is done in an effort to bring balance back to the bacteria in the guts of Autistic individuals who have gastrointestinal difficulties.

There is some promising evidence of a link between gut bacteria and Autism, since scientists have been able to produce autistic like behaviors in mice simply by changing the balance of the bacteria in their gut. Once the microbiome was rebalanced in the same mice, the autistic-like behaviors disappeared and the mice regained behaviors considered neurotypical. Additional experiments were conducted with a pregnant mouse where the mother's microbiome was altered; the newborn mice demonstrated autistic like behaviors following the changes to the mother's microbiome.

5. Gut bacteria and its influence on immunological functioning. Researchers experimenting on mice have revealed the role gut bacteria plays on the functioning of the immune system. Studies have indicated that when mice did not have well-developed bacteria in the gut, they were prone to illness and more likely to get seriously ill when compared to mice that had a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Likewise, in societies that heavily rely on products containing anti-bacterial ingredients, people are prone to illness more often and with greater severity than individuals living in societies that do not rely on antibacterial containing products.

The immune system is both adaptive and dependent on certain microbes responsible for releasing Immunoglobulin A (IGA). IGA tags or marks harmful bacteria and viruses and the immune system defends the body by destroying the marked microbes. Researchers surmise the immune system exists for the sole purpose of protecting the microbes in the gut.

6. The link between an absence of gut bacteria and autoimmune disease. When the immune system suddenly turns on the body and healthy tissue the condition is called an autoimmune disease. For reasons unknown, something triggers T-cells to start attacking healthy cells. The attack leads to inflammation in the body. The attacked tissues no longer work the way they should. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one such autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the neurological system. Some researchers are suggesting that the reason for such autoimmune diseases could be due to the near or complete absence of Bacteris fagellus in the gut. Bacteris fagellus is found in minimal amounts or not at all in people suffering from autoimmune disease. The bacteria is responsible for the creation of polysaccharide A (PSA): a chemical that improves immune system functioning when it interacts with T-cells and triggers an anti-inflammatory response in the body. Tests in the lab reveal PSA not only treats and prevents MS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Within two to three years, Bacteris fagellus should go into clinical trials.

7. What is leaky gut syndrome? If the walls of the intestines weaken and the lining allows for the leakage of gut bacteria through its walls, thereby allowing molecules to reach other parts of the body, the condition is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Researchers have discovered that when minuscule particles of waste, food, and bacteria leak through the intestines and enter into the body, a whole host of symptoms can occur. Leaky Gut Syndrome produces issues with allergies, brain fog, pain, inflammation, and headaches. Thankfully, it is possible to restore the balance of gut bacteria so that the leaky gut and intestinal walls heal.

8. How bacteria in your gut affects the human brain. The bacteria in your gut play a role in how your brain works. The physical body connects the body, the immune system, and the mind through multiple body functions and systems including neural pathways, hormones, the endocrine system, and gut microbes. Neurons travel from the human brain and send out electrical messages to the entire body; as much as 70 percent of all neurons that travel from the brain are actually in the gut. The Vegas Nerve gives the bacteria in your gut access to the brain. What's more, the same bacteria are capable of creating neurotransmitters that travel as messages to the brain.

The bottom line: gut bacteria has an influence on your brain. As an example, Mycobacterium vaccea, a bacteria found in abundance in soil, can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety in mice. In contrast, lab tests where mice were given antibiotics to minimize the amount of gut bacteria were seen to become aggressive. Once the gut bacteria were rebalanced, the mice were no longer aggressive. Research has revealed that people who consume bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, two probiotics, have experienced reduced anxiety and stress as a result.

9. Gut bacterial and your body weight. While obesity has reached epidemic proportions in America, only part of the problem may be due to lack of exercise and poor eating habits. The other part of the problem may actually have to do with an imbalance in gut bacteria. Researchers have found that in thin animals and people, the microbiome is completely different than the microbiome in obese animals and people. Experiments involving mice with microbes associated with being overweight eat more frequently and more with every feeding than thinner mice. Such studies suggest an imbalance of gut bacteria may contribute to or worsen Metabolic Syndrome: A disorder featuring conditions like Pre-Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, and increased belly fat. Appetite-controlling hormones are produced in your brain. The production of corticosteroids can alter the balance of microbes in the gut, while the existing microbes in the gut can play a role in the production of corticosteroids.

10. The microbiome and food intake. The bacteria in the gut play an important role in your general well-being. An imbalance in gut bacteria can contribute to weight gain, excessive hunger, changes in your mood, and can increase, not just the likelihood, but the severity of illness. Some foods actually contribute to the overgrowth of bacteria that's harmful to the body. Sugar is a substance that feeds yeast microbes that can cause an excess of yeast growth. In contrast, consuming fiber derived from some grains, vegetables, and some fats feed good bacteria while starving off the undesirable bacteria in the gut.

Don Colbert, M.D New York Times best-selling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida where he has treated over 50,000 patients.

For the original article, visit drcolbert.com.

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Don Colbert, M.D. Featured Opinion Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:00:00 -0400
This is the Very Reason Christians Should Stand With Israel http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/50722-this-is-the-very-reason-christians-should-stand-with-israel http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/50722-this-is-the-very-reason-christians-should-stand-with-israel

Israel is a deep well of history. The Land has been dwelt in, conquered and invaded, ruled by many kingdoms and empires and the dust and rocks give up secrets daily.

Bible doubters have their work cut out for them. Every time a self-publicizing critic declares the Bible to be fraudulent, a name a place or artifact calls foul.

Perhaps one of the most noted discoveries involves a people known as the Hittites. The Hittite script was first discovered in 1884 by an Irish missionary, William Wright. Later in 1906 German archaeologist Hugo Winckler uncovered more evidence. By 1912, the Royal Archives at Hattusa, the Hittite capital, had been discovered and excavated.

Over 10,000 tablets disclosed the day-to-day workings of an empire referred to in the Bible which deniers had used as an excuse to criticize the Book. Today, Uriah the Hittite is known and understood, the large number of references to this empire and its people in Biblical times are verified en masse by other discoveries and records. Evidence for Israel and the Bible outside Israel are found in monumental amounts.

Israel itself holds the solid evidence of its past, despite denials by Muslims. The Temple Mount is the most visible, historic and conflicted holy place in the world today. Mount Zion is considered to be where Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, born of Sarah. It is considered to be the place where David was told the Temple was to be placed, the Temple he was not permitted to build. Solomon built the Temple and its size made it a landmark in a region full of huge temples. What made it stand apart was the absence of idols: it was the place where One God came upon the Mercy Seat.

Conquests by Babylonians and Romans, reconstruction and repair by Zerubbabel and Herod made their mark on the mountain. The final Roman destruction of the rebellious city and its Temple to the One God in 135 CE left only a wide platform and a monumental retaining wall, the Kotel. Herod had expanded the territory of the Temple that it overflowed the mountaintop.

Other smaller structures occupied the site later until the Muslim conquest and the building of two Mosques. The narrative of Muhammad's night journey to heaven from this place is the only real connection made by Muslims to Jerusalem. The site is off limits to Jews, although within the boundaries of the reunited Jerusalem.

Israel permits the Waqf, a Muslim non-profit that maintains the site to govern its maintenance. Photographs from early days show what a noted archaeologist  has determined is the place where the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies. The Waqf also excavated the site to construct walkways for Muslim worshippers.

In doing so, they removed tons of earth and dumped it outside the boundaries. Buried in the dirt is a treasure trove of the Temple's history. Israeli archaeologists secretly began sifting the earth and wonders appeared.

Items thought to date from Solomon's time, sections of the wall including a piece marking "the place of trumpeting," a relic of an ivory pomegranate decoration with ancient Hebrew script engraved, all have come to light.

The very soil of Israel is a witness to the Bible's truth. Christians absolutely have to stand with Israel. The very stones cry out.

Tom Brennan has worked in quite a few professions. Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, he's worked as a museum curator, archivist and graphics curator, library administrator, small business owner, animal care worker, sheriff's deputy, rancher and farmer and author and researcher and NewsBlogger. He plans to volunteer for Sar-El next year and see Israel from the ground up. When he's not digging into news, he works with Arabian horses and other breeds in Boise, Idaho.

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Tom Brennan Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Don't Believe What the False Prophets Say About America http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50733-don-t-believe-what-the-false-prophets-say-about-america http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50733-don-t-believe-what-the-false-prophets-say-about-america

America is truly a divided nation, but the things that divide us may not be exactly what you think.

Many times we look at someone's physical appearance and automatically think they are against us. We may see someone and see they are definitely in a lower or higher social class then we are or maybe they voted for a different political party than we did.

We are truly a divided nation. It seems that a huge portion of the news is all about division. The news has turned into more of a drama showcase than any reality show or soap opera could have ever been. Watch the news and you'll see just how much America is divided by race, religion, social status, gender, gay or straight, Elephant or Donkey or even urban versus rural lifestyles. Mark 3:25 says, "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." America is so divided on many fronts rights now, but God has a plan!

Always remember what the Word of God says: "For our fight is not 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" (Eph. 6:12, MEV).

People think they are fighting people and political parties and genders. This is a spiritual battle! Yet most people will gauge all things through how they see them from their natural eye.

Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." We must learn to lean not on the natural sight to see what's going on in the world around us, but rely on our spiritual eyes and ears to perceive and understand what God is saying in every situation or circumstance in life.

Too many times we take things at face value but God has a greater plan. John the beloved disciple laid his head on Jesus Christ's chest—he knew the heartbeat of Christ. We need to know the times and seasons we are in, like the sons Issachar. The sons of Issachar had analyzed their times and had perceived correctly what those times were all about. They knew what to do because they understood and saw what was really going on.

"From the sons of Issachar, those having understanding of times and what Israel should do: two hundred of their captains with all their brothers at their command" (1 Chron. 12:32, MEV).

Throughout the history of ancient Israel, the tribe of Issachar is portrayed as a family that was destined to prosper both physically and spiritually. The ancient Rabbis taught that the sons of Issachar were not only "mighty men of valor" but they were also called to serve the other tribes in the areas of finance and the ministry of God's Torah.

The ones that hear God and know Him will always lead the ones who don't. We must always stand on and for the Word of God! The world around us may seem like it's going crazy, but I hear the voice of God saying hang on I'm about to revive you again America!

"For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears" (2 Tim. 4:3, MEV).

Don't be afraid of the false prophets spitting out threats and demands. Listen to the voice of your heavenly Father. I still believe in an awakening coming to America that will drive us to unity. Psalm 133:1 declares: "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" (NIV). Right now people in America are living foolishly and without cause, but the Word says in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (MEV).

Peter told his spiritual son Titus, "We also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various desires and pleasures, living in evil and envy, filled with hatred and hating each other. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward mankind appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, being justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3-7, MEV). We are to be the light of God to a dark and dying world.

I love these two Scriptures in the Book of John: John 1:5 says, "The light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it" and John 8:12 says, "Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.'"

We must remember who we are in Jesus: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9, MEV).

When God sets someone free they are free like it says in Ephesians 5:8, "For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light."

God has a plan for unity for the American church and don't live in fear for what you are seeing, but rather let's live in Faith. John 10:10 reminds us, "The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." When the enemy throws something at America remember God has a much powerful answer. Things may seem to be getting worse in the natural, but know that we are about to experience an awakening in the American church. The sleeping giant, the American church is about to be awakened! 

Joe Joe Dawson is the president of Burn Texarkana Revival center and House of Prayer. Pastor Dawson also serves as staff evangelist for First Assembly of God in Texarkana, Texas, where he also is now the Tribe College/young adult pastor. Burn Texarkana has one revival/awakening service a month at First Assembly and also has Burn on the Road meetings in neighboring cites monthly. There are four Burn Texarkana prayer meetings each week! Joe is married to the love of his life, Autumn, and together they have three kids: Malachi, Judah and Ezra. He also serves on the leadership team of New Bread Revivalists Network.

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Joe Joe Dawson Featured Opinion Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Persecution of Chinese Christian Churches Ramps Up http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50735-persecution-of-chinese-christian-churches-ramps-up http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50735-persecution-of-chinese-christian-churches-ramps-up

The global campaign to eliminate Christianity and the followers of Jesus Christ is as diverse as it is unrelenting.

In the Middle East and Africa, ISIS Islamists have reverted to the savagery of the Dark Ages in their genocidal tactics, liquidating churches and believers in the most barbaric ways.

In the West, the war has more subtle overtones, though its "soldiers" are as determined as ISIS to beat the Christian faith into a state of dhimmitude and subordinate it to Christ-hating, secular revolutionaries. That they will not succeed in destroying Christ's body of believers can be certified by a look at history over the last 2,000 years.

In China, the antagonistic aggressor is the government, officially the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPC bows before the altar of atheism and would have citizens of the sprawling empire embrace the godless ideology of the post-Maoist Beijing rulers.

With the phenomenal growth of China's churches has come a crackdown of epic proportions. China Aid recently reported a 300 percent increase in religious persecution of Christians since 2013. Among the victims were 17,884 believers, including 1,592 church leaders, according to the 2014 China Aid annual report, available at chinaaid.org:

"The Chinese government has intensified its persecution against practitioners representing all religions in China. In the case of Christianity, both the government-sanctioned Three-Self church and the house church movement experienced unprecedented persecution. The Chinese government's persecution campaign included forced demolition of churches and crosses, the detention and imprisonment of pastors and church members on criminal charges, forcing churches into bankruptcy by confiscating church property and imposing fines, and manipulating state-run media to label house churches as 'cult' organizations."

The Three-Self church represents congregations registered with the government. House churches, much like those in the former Soviet Union, are unregistered and, therefore, not allowed to worship in church buildings. Consequently, meetings are held in homes.

According to China Aid, approximately 70 million people attend the Three-Self and house churches. The estimate is conservative, and the number is growing rapidly.

Persecution has intensified because government officials are alarmed by the tremendous increase in the number of Chinese converts to Christ. They see the church as a threat to their regime.

In an attempt to neutralize the transforming influence of the Christian gospel, the CPC has introduced a program dubbed sinicization in Three-Self churches. The China Aid report described it as follows:

"The essence of Christian sinicization is to prioritize loyalty to the CPC over religious identity and transform Christianity into a socialist force that complies with the authority of the Chinese government. The process of the sinicization of Christianity has included Chinese churches abandoning relationships with the global church, dissolving the core of the Christian faith, and preventing Christianity from exercising its social and cultural influence to positively influence Chinese society. Therefore, the sinicization of Christianity amounts to de-Christianizing the church in China and eradicating the universal nature of Christianity under the appearance of constructing a 'Christianity with Chinese characteristics,' and, in the name of prioritizing the interests of the Communist Party, usurping Christian doctrine that 'Christ is the head of Church.'"

Sinicization is reminiscent of Adolf Hitler's national Reich church of 1936. There, the swastika replaced the cross, and the Fuhrer's Mein Kampf replaced the Bible. Only invited Nazis were allowed to preach.

In the eyes of tyrannical regimes, such devices are a must if they are to achieve their dream of totally annexing the governing system and the mind, soul and body of every individual.

Although methods may differ, the objective is always the same: demean, discriminate, disenfranchise, criminalize, then destroy. And to every despot who lives that dream, Jesus Christ is always an obstacle to be removed.

Few have labored more diligently to eliminate God than the Communists—or, for that matter, liberal, secular progressives. Will success be theirs?

China is splendid affirmation why it will not. Wrote China Aid, "Dr. Yang Fenggang, a professor of religion and sociology at Purdue University, has estimated that by 2030, the number of Christians in China will exceed those in the United States, thus making China the largest Christian nation in the world."

Through peace in Christ that passes all understanding, come "Chinese citizens who embrace rule of law, oppose totalitarian governance and support the expansion of civil society," said China Aid. And that type of freedom is something thugs with guns, torture rooms and prison cells will never comprehend.

Elwood McQuaid is the consulting editor for Israel My Glory magazine, published by The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry Inc. (foi.org), and a retired executive director of its worldwide Christian ministry, which is committed to communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.

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Elwood McQuaid Featured Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Chuck Colson Prophesies From Beyond the Grave http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50732-chuck-colson-prophesies-from-beyond-the-grave http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50732-chuck-colson-prophesies-from-beyond-the-grave

Charles W. "Chuck" Colson went from being a Nixon aide and Watergate felon, to becoming one of the most eloquent and influential evangelical Christian leaders of our time; a leading voice on all Christian worldview matters up until his death in 2012 at the age of 80.

Colson, the former Nixon White House operative, famous for saying he'd be willing to run over his grandmother for the president, was the first in a line of Nixon's aides convicted in connection to the June 17, 1972, break-in to Democratic National Committee offices in Washington's Watergate complex.

He did prison time for obstruction of justice, and then became "born-again Christian," which he chronicled in his autobiography Born Again. The book was later made into a Hollywood movie, and Norma and I in 1978 actually attended some of the filming of the White House scenes at Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California. (Colson was played by Dean Jones in the film.)

Colson then started Prison Fellowship, which became the largest prison ministry in the world. He was portrayed in the media as a "public thinker," "author" and "frequent gadfly" who, to his credit, aimed to appeal to the brains of skeptics and believers—and not just their hearts—in his articles, books and the Wilberforce Forum. But as several commentators have said, since he died, "Colson's most memorable legacy may be his life, a picture of redemption."

In the capstone to his later distinguished publishing career, My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter Most (Zondervan, Aug. 4, 2015), Colson issues a clarion call for Christians to think critically about today's most pressing issues.

"What we're witnessing in our culture today is but the tip of the iceberg," said Colson, moments before suffering the stroke that would lead to his death three weeks later. "It's the latest visible manifestation of growing hostility to Christianity ... This is the moment where the church has to learn how to defend itself against this sort of thing, and do it in a way that is constructive."

According to a Zondervan news release, longtime Colson co-author Anne Morse has selected and arranged pieces written mostly during the last decade of Colson's life, spotlighting what he saw as key topics of ongoing importance for Christian cultural engagement. Colson covers many issues torn from today's headlines, a true testament to his wisdom and understanding of how these issues would continue to influence the world, even after his passing.

Some of the issues in the book include:

  • Islam
  • Religious freedom
  • The persecution of Christians

Here are some excerpts from the book:

The Rise of Islam/War Against ISIS (Islamic State):

"The problem here is at root Islam is a theocracy, so they basically have to penetrate our country and build a revolution. It's illogical to think that they would want to do anything else. This is clearly what Islam is about. This is not ranting on our part; this is fact. The only issue is whether Islamists carry out their beliefs. If they want to deny their own beliefs, then they're benign; but if they exercise them, they're not."

"We are not going to win in a toe-to-toe, head-to-head confrontation with radical Islam. All you can do is undermine it from within. In other words, offer an alternative that is so attractive that the masses of Muslims begin to demand it and moderate governments begin to embrace it. It's going to be a long, bloody clash, however."

"One thing we in the West should not do is equate all Muslims with the Islamists ... It's also counterproductive if we label the entire Muslim world with the Islamist stigma, because what that will do is produce the very clash of civilizations which the Islamists want, because they want to be at war with the West."

"I really do realize what Bush and others are trying to do, which is to avoid a confrontation with Islam. So I think it's incumbent on religious leaders to not make inflammatory statements. We need to be honest and forthright about our beliefs, but this is not the time to ignite passions."

Religious Freedom:

"The First Amendment doesn't give us any rights. The First Amendment protects rights that are already God-given. And of course they can't be denied ... if we believe all human beings are made in the image of God, we must care about the religious liberties of everyone."

"Tolerance is a wonderful thing when it is properly understood."

"On the subject of religious freedom and being forced to hire people who don't share our faith or don't agree to abide by our moral convictions—this issue is going to have a huge impact on the general public, because most AIDS shelters in America are maintained by Catholic charities, and most homeless shelters by the Salvation Army. So they're really playing with fire here, because if you start closing those down (or if they close themselves down rather than violate the teachings of their faith), you're eliminating absolutely vital public services. There's got to be an exception on the hiring question ... I don't think people understand this is coming. But now that the eroding of religious liberties has started, they could be unraveled very quickly."

Persecution of Christians:

"I believe we are headed for a new Dark Ages, with persecution coming to the church soon. It's going to happen as a result of conflicts over sex. This is where modern human beings do not want to be in any way restrained. They will accept the law that governs them in just about every area of their lives except sexual passions."

"We've taken a lot of heat over the years—we get called bigots and extremists and even accused of being homophobic and therefore responsible for the death of Matthew Shepard. So we're not strangers to this kind of stuff; it's been going on a long time. But there's a whole new wave coming, in my opinion, and it's going to be the most vicious ever—and also the most dangerous, because the form the attacks will take appeals to basic American instincts of fair play, and now particularly the American obsession for tolerance."

"The conclusions of the secularist are laughably preposterous, but this isn't going to stop them from making them, and this is the wave of the future persecution of Christians. But we need to be able to defend ourselves. The answer is to look at what the religions themselves say, the basic documents of the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran. Right there, you have three contradictive systems, all making truth claims ... I think Christians have to make this case very intelligently to people, and if we do, we'll be able to nip this thing in the bud."

"We must also reflect on how we defend religious liberty. We don't want to defend it by claiming our opponents are bigots. Instead, we have to show why, if we allow the government to take away freedom of conscience, we're going to lose all other liberties. That's the kind of approach that is going to have to be made to get a majority of the people with us. It might not help in the courts, but at least we can begin to win some public support."

Co-author Anne Morse, writes in the introduction, "While Chuck's big focus was teaching worldview, he never tired of finding new ways to explain the faith that had changed the life of this Watergate felon forever." What follows are his thoughts, previously unpublished, on some of the subjects that concerned him most. Rereading them, I was struck by how prophetic his insights proved to be."

Eric Metaxas, an American author, speaker and radio host, says of the book: "There is gold in these pages. Avail yourself to it."

Note: Charles W. "Chuck" Colson, a man I was privileged to interview on many occasion, was never one to pull his punches and his story is one of how God could rescue a felon who went to prison for his involvement with Nixon's Watergate scandal. He then went on to become a popular and widely known author, speaker and radio commentator. He wrote several books that have shaped Christian thinking on a variety of subjects, including Born AgainLoving GodHow Now Shall We Live?, The Good Life and The Faith.

Besides Prison Fellowship, he also founded The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and donated all of his royalties, awards and speaking fees to these ministries.

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Dan Wooding/Assist News Featured Culture Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Obama Critcizes Huckabee, Trump for Iran Rhetoric http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50731-obama-critcizes-huckabee-trump-for-iran-rhetoric http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50731-obama-critcizes-huckabee-trump-for-iran-rhetoric

U.S. President Barack Obama criticized Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump on Monday for their blunt rhetoric about the Iran nuclear agreement and other issues, saying it was damaging to political debate.

Huckabee, one of more than a dozen candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination, denounced a deal with world powers over Iran's nuclear program by saying Obama was marching Israelis "to the door of the oven," a reference to the Nazi gas chambers that killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust.

Trump has suggested that many Mexican illegal migrants were rapists and has mocked Republican Senator John McCain's Vietnam War record.

Speaking to reporters in Ethiopia, Obama said the former Arkansas governor's remarks were emblematic of a slide in public discourse coming from the opposition party.

"The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we've seen that...would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad," he said.

"We've had a sitting senator call John Kerry 'Pontius Pilate.' We've had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for president suggest that I'm the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party."

Obama was referring to Senator Ted Cruz, who has criticized the president's foreign policy, and Senator Tom Cotton, who compared Secretary of State John Kerry to Pilate, the biblical figure who sent Jesus to be crucified.

The president also singled out Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman who has rocketed to the top of Republican presidential polls, his controversial comments about undocumented immigrants and McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, notwithstanding.

"When he's made some of the remarks that...challenged the heroism of Mr. McCain, somebody who endured torture and conducted himself with exemplary patriotism, the Republican Party is shocked," Obama said.

"And yet, that arises out of a culture where those kinds of outrageous attacks have become far too commonplace."

Obama beat McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

His comments on Monday showed an increasing willingness to step into the political presidential primary process even as he defends the Iran deal, which Kerry and leaders from other world powers helped negotiate.

Republicans largely oppose the deal and the White House is in the midst of a vigorous campaign to shore up support in Congress.

"There is a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks it's a good deal—it's because it's a good deal," Obama said when asked how the selling job with lawmakers was going.

"I've not yet heard a factual argument on other side that holds up to scrutiny."

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday also said she found Huckabee's remarks offensive.

"One can disagree with the particulars of the agreement to put a lid on the nuclear weapons program of Iran, and that is fair game. But this steps over the line," Clinton said during a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa.

In New York, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was "disheartening" that Huckabee invoked the Holocaust in reference to the U.S. relationship with Israel.

"There is a serious debate taking place over the next five weeks within Congress over the Iran deal. We have called on all sides, regardless of whether one is liberal or conservative, to conduct that debate responsibly and civilly. That plea should apply to presidential candidates as well," ADL Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Jeff Mason/Reuters Featured Politics Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:30:00 -0400
Ciara Responds to Boyfriend Russell Wilson's Jaw-Dropping Celibacy Announcement http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50730-ciara-responds-to-boyfriend-russell-wilson-s-jaw-dropping-celibacy-announcement http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50730-ciara-responds-to-boyfriend-russell-wilson-s-jaw-dropping-celibacy-announcement

There's "absolutely" no sex happening before marriage for pop sensation Ciara and boyfriend Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson. 

"It's until the deal is sealed," she told a reporter

The two have been in the spotlight recently after Wilson told pastor Miles McPherson God asked the two to wait until marriage. Both admit it's been a struggle to remain hands off. 

"I think both of us look at each other and we're like—whew!" Ciara says. "But we take it one day at a time and keep it going with each other, and I'm really enjoying every day that we're sharing."

Though their choice has been criticized by some, McPherson has vocalized his support for abstinence. 

"There are some in the media (who) claim waiting until marriage to have sex is 'stupid'. I bet you that this would not be a 'stupid' idea if he were dating their daughter. The thought is: The prettier the girl, the more unrealistic it is to wait. It's as though there is no other option," McPherson says. "... To all of you questioning why there is a hole in your heart after all of the sex you've had—it won't go away by having more sex." 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400
WATCH: You Won't Believe What the Feds Want Churches to Do Now http://www.charismanews.com/us/50729-watch-you-won-t-believe-what-the-feds-want-churches-to-do-now http://www.charismanews.com/us/50729-watch-you-won-t-believe-what-the-feds-want-churches-to-do-now

The government wants to prevent attacks on churches like Dylann Roof's assault on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

"Federal officials here want to make sure houses of worship are able to develop an action plan," the reporter says.

To do that, they're asking, and helping, churches step up their security. Watch the video to see how.

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:00:44 -0400
Maryland Church Stabbing Leaves Man Dead, Wife Injured http://www.charismanews.com/us/50728-maryland-church-stabbing-leave-man-dead-wife-injured http://www.charismanews.com/us/50728-maryland-church-stabbing-leave-man-dead-wife-injured

Police responded to a "pretty bloody" scene Sunday at a Maryland church, where a man was stabbed to death and his wife was injured. 

The incident occurred at the Anna Prayer Mountain Church in Frederick County, Maryland. 

When police arrived, they found "a pretty gruesome scene, pretty bloody," Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said. "The stab and slashing injuries were pretty severe."

The suspect, Song Su Kim, was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree murder. Some reports say he had been living at the church, which also functions as a counseling center, for about a week. 

The victims, a man and his wife, were Korean, and their names have not been released yet. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Emasculated Republicans Block Effort to Defund Planned Parenthood http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/50727-emasculated-republicans-block-effort-to-defund-planned-parenthood http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/50727-emasculated-republicans-block-effort-to-defund-planned-parenthood

Senate Republicans had a chance to stop Planned Parenthood from butchering unborn children and selling their body parts to the highest bidder. Instead, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to put up a vote—thumbing his nose at Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, along with every pro-lifer in the nation.

That sort of emasculated leadership is why Donald Trump is surging in the polls. 

What happened over the weekend was an unprecedented display of cowardice from chicken-hearted politicians. It was a dastardly double-cross.

Senator Cruz delivered this blistering rebuke:

"To the millions of Americans who rallied in November believing if only we got a Republican majority in the Senate something would be different, this was a clarifying and a sad moment."

Indeed, it is, senator.

Come Election Day, voters have a choice—Democrats or Republicans.

But after what happened over the weekend, I'm not too sure it really matters whom we vote for. In the words of Hillary Clinton, "What difference does it make?"

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

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Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:00:00 -0400
VIRAL VIDEO: Bold Pastor Blasts 'Hypocritical' Christians for Antagonizing Gays http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50726-viral-video-bold-pastor-blasts-hypocritical-christians-for-antagonizing-gays http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50726-viral-video-bold-pastor-blasts-hypocritical-christians-for-antagonizing-gays

 

Are Christians doing to gays in the church what slave masters did to Africans?

According to House of Hope's E. Dewey Smith, yes. He says Christians are publicly antagonizing the Supreme Court for their ruling to overturn bans on gay marriage, but are turning a blind eye to gays in the church.

"You are guilty of condemning the Supreme Court System and preaching against something, but if you look at half of our choirs and a great number of our artists, we call abominations, we call demons, we demonize and dehumanize the same people that we use," Smith says. "We don't say nothing about the gay choir director because he's good for business."

Watch the video to see what else he says and give us your thoughts. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:30:00 -0400
Franklin Graham: Obama Exporting Acceptance of Immorality http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50724-franklin-graham-obama-exporting-acceptance-of-immorality http://www.charismanews.com/culture/50724-franklin-graham-obama-exporting-acceptance-of-immorality

Kenya's leaders made it abundantly clear that they did not want to discuss President Barack Obama's views on gay rights. Nevertheless, the defiant Democrat pushed the gay agenda into his Kenya talks.

In fact, Obama publicly lectured Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta about gay rights on Saturday. And evangelist Franklin Graham isn't standing silently.

"I didn't know that we were sending our president halfway around the world to promote the gay and lesbian agenda! Samaritan's Purse has an office in Kenya and has worked there many years, and I can tell you that the churches in Kenya know what the Bible says about homosexuality—it is a sin," Graham says.

"Sin should not be embraced, but recognized truthfully for what it is and for its serious consequences. God's Word says, 'the wages of sin is death.' Thankfully though, sin does have a remedy—forgiveness is available through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As a world leader, the United States of America is now exporting the acceptance of immorality via our president. What will the cost of that be?"

Historically, the United States has been known for exporting the gospel—for sending out more missionaries to the world than any other nation. Now, we're exporting the acceptance of sexual immorality.

Graham is asking the right question. What will the cost of that be? Sound off.

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured Culture Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Obama Pushing Jews Toward Second Holocaust, Huckabee Says http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50723-obama-pushing-jews-toward-second-holocaust-huckabee-says http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50723-obama-pushing-jews-toward-second-holocaust-huckabee-says

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is not backing down from accusing President Barack Obama of pushing the Jewish state toward another Holocaust.

This weekend the former Arkansas governor said the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran is "marching the Israelis to the door of the oven."

Democrat leaders are blasting Huckabee for the comment, with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling his statement "grossly irresponsible." 

But on numerous occasions in recent years, the Islamic regime in Tehran has publicly vowed to wipe Israel off the map. 

Huckabee maintains that the president is naive to trust the Iranians.

"We forget Iranians have never kept a deal in 36 years under the ayatollah. There's no reason to think they will suddenly start doing it," he said.

Huckabee is calling on Congress to reject the Iranian nuclear deal. 

"I read the entire thing. We gave away the whole farm. It's got to be stopped," he said.

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CBN News Featured Politics Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Ronald Sider's Excellent Statement on Homosexuality, and the Question of 'Gay Christian' Identity http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/50721-ronald-sider-s-excellent-statement-on-homosexuality-and-the-question-of-gay-christian-identity http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/50721-ronald-sider-s-excellent-statement-on-homosexuality-and-the-question-of-gay-christian-identity

Professor Ronald Sider, the well-known author, theologian and activist, has now weighed in on the "gay Christian" controversy with a very important statement posted on the Red Letter Christians website (where Dr. Tony Campolo frequently contributes).

Sider's article, "Homosexuality: A Better Approach," begins by stating: "The recent Supreme Court decision need not—and should not—settle the issue for the church. But we deeply need a better approach to our neighbors and our churches' own members, especially those who live with a same-sex attraction or orientation. To find this will require acknowledging the tragedy of our recent history, careful attention to biblical teaching, the continuity of Christian teaching, and the opportunity for a new kind of ministry."

As one example of "the tragedy of our recent history," Sider notes that "instead of taking the lead in ministering to people with AIDS, some of our leaders even opposed government funding for research to discover medicine to help them."

For inexcusable actions like this, Sider is right to call the church to repentance for mistreatment of homosexual men and women over the years.

At the same time, he states clearly that we cannot remain silent on the issue of homosexuality, as it would mean abandoning the testimony of Scripture, the testimony of the church throughout history, and the testimony of a multitude of believers worldwide, especially in the global South.

I applaud Prof. Sider for speaking with such clarity and force on both of these essential points.

He next looks at the biblical evidence, reminding us of the clear and categorical nature of the scriptural witness, also noting that some of the pro-same-sex intercourse interpretations that have been raised in recent years "would have astonished Jesus and Paul."

In the course of a few paragraphs, he shreds the contemporary arguments for allegedly God-approved same-sex intercourse, thereby underscoring what I've said many times before, namely, that without the radical changes brought about by the sexual revolution of the '60s, no one would have dreamed that God's Word could possibly be used to sanction same-sex intercourse. The interpretations are far-fetched, impossible and without a shred of scriptural support.

Sider's warning, then, is well-placed (and even understated), as he notes: "In addition to the unanimous biblical teaching, church history's nearly unanimous prohibition of same-sex practice and the same teaching on the part of the churches that represent the overwhelming majority of Christians in the world (Catholics, Orthodox and churches in the global South) today ought to give us great pause before we bless same-sex intercourse. So should the fact that those denominations in the U.S. which are now embracing same-sex practice are the same ones that have lost almost half of their members in the last decades whereas in the same time period evangelical churches which still overwhelmingly teach that biblical faith prohibits same-sex practice have flourished, often growing and seldom declining."

That being said, he now lays out his "better approach," calling the church to: 1) nurture a new generation of Christians that esteems marriage and is faithful to its marital vows; 2) listen to and love gay people; 3) take the lead in combating and condemning the physical and verbal abuse of gays; 4) teach parents the right way to respond to their kids who come out as gay.

And so, "We ought to develop model programs so that our congregations are known as the best place in the world for gay and questioning youth (and adults) to seek God's will in a context that embraces, loves and listens rather than shames, denounces and excludes."

Yes, "Our evangelical churches should be widely known as places where people with a gay orientation can be open about their orientation and feel truly welcomed and embraced," and, if they are living holy, celibate lives, they should be able to serve and minister without restriction.

I have two caveats to this approach, which I otherwise affirm in most every detail.

First, Prof. Sider makes no mention of the transforming power of the gospel, as if it is impossible for the Lord to change someone's "orientation," as if the church should not be praying for compassionate, scriptural and Spirit-empowered ways to minister change to those who seek it, and as if the many who have changed do not even exist.

We can certainly recognize that holiness, not heterosexuality, is the primary goal, fully understanding that some (many perhaps?) will not see a major shift in their attractions, despite their best efforts. But to ignore the transformational aspect of the church's work is to ignore an essential facet of the gospel. In Paul's words, "such were some of you" (1 Cor. 6:11), and that certainly meant deep internal changes as well as changes in behavior.

Second, Prof Sider writes, "Imagine the impact if evangelical churches were widely known to be the best place in the world to find love, support and full affirmation of gifts if one is an openly, unabashedly gay, celibate Christian."

I understand the point he is making and affirm it, but only with a strong reservation, specifically, with the idea of being "openly, unabashedly gay."

Why should a follower of Jesus be "openly, unabashedly gay"? Why should that be any part of a believer's identity or confession? Why should we take on the world's mentality of celebrating gayness, as if having sexual desires and romantic attractions that were contrary to our Father's will and intent was something to be proud about. Why celebrate something which, if acted on, would be detestable in God's sight?

The whole idea of "being gay" is a modern construct, as recognized by gay scholars and activists as well. In contrast, the Scriptures focus on us saying no to fleshly desires and actions through the renewing of our hearts and minds, recognizing our fundamentally fallen and flawed nature outside of Jesus, from our youth on (see Gen. 8:21).

As many ex-gays have stated, the gay mentality (saying "I'm gay" and identifying as gay) is one of the key strongholds that must be broken in order to find true freedom in the Lord.

That means that our precious fellow believers who struggle with same-sex attraction should not be put in the special class of "gay Christian" any more than a Christian who has a lifelong struggle with another sinful desire or attraction should be put in a special class (as in "lustful Christian" or "violent Christian" or "alcoholic Christian").

Rather, they should be fully embraced as our brothers and sisters, receiving all the help they need from the church as they seek to honor the Lord, but without embracing a gay identity or needing to be "openly, unabashedly gay." And if they feel that openness is important (as in, "I struggle with same-sex attraction"), they need to be careful not to let that define them.

What is interesting is that Prof. Sider made this very point earlier in this statement, writing: "It is profoundly unbiblical to argue that one's sexual orientation is the defining aspect of one's identity. ... For Christians, our relationship to God and the new community of Christ's church provide our fundamental identity, not our sexual orientation. That is not to claim that our identity as men and women with particular sexual orientations is irrelevant or unimportant for who we are. But that sexual orientation dare never be as important to us as our commitment to Christ and His call to live according to kingdom ethics."

This, rather than being "an openly, unabashedly gay, celibate Christian," is where the emphasis should have been placed.

All that being said, Prof. Sider's statement is tremendously important, and I pray that it resonates deeply with believers, especially the younger generation and those who tend to be left-leaning evangelicals.

Perhaps my esteemed elder colleague will also prayerfully consider the points I have raised so that even more leaders and believers could add their unqualified affirmation to his words of compassion and truth.

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book (September 2015) is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown

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Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Sign of the Times: Satan's Statue Rises Proudly Near Detroit River http://www.charismanews.com/us/50720-sign-of-the-times-satan-s-statue-rises-proudly-near-detroit-river http://www.charismanews.com/us/50720-sign-of-the-times-satan-s-statue-rises-proudly-near-detroit-river

A Satanic organization unveiled a controversial bronze Baphomet sculpture in Detroit just before midnight on Saturday, after trying in vain to have it installed near a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma.

Due to planned demonstrations, the group, which is opposed to Bible-themed displays on government land, kept the location of the unveiling of its 9-foot-tall monument secret until the last moment, when it emailed the information to ticket holders.

The Satanic Temple unveiled the one-ton statue at an industrial building near the Detroit River just before 11:30 p.m. local time as supporters cheered, "Hail Satan." Some of the hundreds in attendance rushed to pose for photos.

The statue of a winged Baphomet with a human body and a goat's head resembled a design the group previously released. Statues of a boy and a girl stood in poses of adoration on either side.

Jex Blackmore, director of the Satanic Temple Detroit chapter, said temple members planned to transport the sculpture to Arkansas, where earlier this year the governor signed a bill authorizing a Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol's grounds.

The Temple had unsuccessfully applied to have the statue placed near a Ten Commandments monument installed in 2012 on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled the Ten Commandments monument violates a section of the state constitution that bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.

Lawmakers in the socially conservative state responded with threats to seek the impeachment of the court's justices and pledged to push for changes to the constitution.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, said she will keep the monument in place as the state appeals the decision.

On Saturday, the presentation of Baphomet in Detroit drew protest from local Christians. About 50 people prayed for the city and denounced the monument outside a business where the Satanic Temple previously tried to display the statue before fears of a backlash scuttled the plan.

"The last thing we need in Detroit is having a welcome home party for evil," said Reverend Dave Bullock, a pastor at Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Highland Park, Michigan.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Serena Maria Daniels/Reuters Featured U.S. News Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:30:00 -0400
Despite Controversial Statements, Trump Leads Republicans http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50719-despite-controversial-statements-trump-leads-republicans http://www.charismanews.com/politics/50719-despite-controversial-statements-trump-leads-republicans

Real estate magnate Donald Trump moved to the top of the 2016 Republican presidential field in a CNN poll released on Sunday, edging out rival Jeb Bush and gaining support from Republicans in the last month despite a series of controversial statements.

Trump was backed by 18 percent of Republicans in the CNN poll, which was conducted entirely after his July 18 criticism of Republican Senator John McCain's war record. His lead over Bush, a former Florida governor who was at 15 percent, was within the poll's margin of error.

"There is a movement going on. This is more than me," Trump said on CNN's "State of the Union," saying the poll results were not surprising. "People are tired of these incompetent politicians in Washington that can't get anything done."

Trump's support among Republicans increased 6 percentage points since late June despite a flood of rebukes after Trump said McCain, a former Navy pilot who was tortured during more than five years in captivity during the Vietnam War, was not a war hero because he was captured.

Trump and Bush were joined near the top of the pack by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who had 10 percent support among the Republican and Republican-leaning independent registered voters who were surveyed in the CNN poll.

None of the other Republican candidates gained double-digit support. Sixteen Republicans are running for the party's presidential nomination in the November 2016 election.

The CNN poll was conducted July 22-25 among 1,017 adults. The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points among the registered voting sample of 419 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

Separately, two NBC News-Marist polls released on Sunday showed Trump doing well in a pair of states holding key early contests in the Republican nomination race.

In New Hampshire, Trump leads the Republican field with the support of 21 percent of potential primary voters, followed by Bush at 14 percent. In Iowa, Walker leads the Republican field at 19 percent among potential Republican caucus participants, with Trump in second place at 17 percent.

Trump has been criticized by fellow Republican candidates and party leaders for making incendiary comments about Mexican immigrants, belittling McCain's war record and for his personal attacks against rival Republican White House contenders such as Senator Lindsey Graham and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Trump gave out Graham's private cell phone number at a rally last week.

"I don't think Mr. Trump is qualified to be commander-in-chief, I think he is bankrupt when it comes to all the qualities you need to lead the men and women in uniform and to lead a great nation," Graham said on ABC's This Week.

Perry, appearing on CNN, said Trump's candidacy "is not necessarily moving the cause of conservatism forward."

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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John Whitesides/Reuters Featured Politics Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:15:00 -0400
Whitney Houston's Daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Dead at 22 http://www.charismanews.com/us/50718-whitney-houston-s-daughter-bobbi-kristina-brown-dead-at-22 http://www.charismanews.com/us/50718-whitney-houston-s-daughter-bobbi-kristina-brown-dead-at-22

Bobbi Kristina Brown, the only child of late singer Whitney Houston, died Sunday at the age of 22, some six months after suffering irreversible brain damage in an incident at her suburban Atlanta home, her family said in a statement.

Brown, whose father is R&B singer Bobby Brown, was found face down and unresponsive in a bathtub in her home by her partner and a friend Jan. 31. She was moved by her family to hospice care June 24.

"She is finally at peace in the arms of God," her family said. "We want to again thank everyone for their tremendous amount of love and support during these last few months."

Her death came three years after her Grammy-winning mother, who had battled substance abuse, drowned in a bathtub in a Beverly Hills hotel at age 48. Authorities said cocaine abuse and heart disease contributed to Houston's Feb. 11, 2012, death.

Bobbi Kristina Brown inherited her mother's fortune.

A $10 million civil lawsuit filed last month accuses Bobbi Kristina Brown's partner, Nick Gordon, of causing her life-threatening injuries and of stealing from her bank account while she was in a coma. No one has been charged in the case.

Bobbi Kristina Brown was an aspiring singer who began performing with her mother as early as 1999, singing duets of "My Love Is Your Love." In 2003 they recorded another duet of "Little Drummer Boy" for a holiday album.

Her father is a Grammy Award winner who started his career as frontman for the R&B group New Edition.

Houston and Bobby Brown both struggled with substance abuse and divorced when their daughter was 14. Houston described their 15-year marriage, which ended in 2007, as drug- and alcohol-fueled.

The couple's tempestuous relationship and often erratic behavior was chronicled in the short-lived television series Being Bobby Brown.

Bobbi Kristina Brown was hospitalized twice with anxiety after her mother's death.

In 2012 she starred on Lifetime's reality TV show The Houstons: On Our Own, in which Houston's family struggled to recover from the famous singer's death. The same year Bobbi Kristina Brown guest-starred on For Better or Worse, a television series about a married couple.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. (Editing by Paul Simao)

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REUTERS/Jill Serjeant, Sharon Bernstein and Chris Michaud Featured U.S. News Sun, 26 Jul 2015 23:33:26 -0400
2 Dangerous Arguments Christians Are Buying Into http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50716-3-dangerous-arguments-christians-are-buying-into http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50716-3-dangerous-arguments-christians-are-buying-into

"I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me, God. Amen." —Martin Luther

I lean libertarian politically. I'm not sure why the government has any say in marriage—that which was founded as a religious institution for thousands of years. I don't believe you can legislate morality, but at the same time, laws are needed to protect a country's citizens.

Today, Christians who won't budge on the major issues are being branded as bigoted religious haters. This exact strategy was outlined in the landmark book After the Ball: How Americans Will Overcome Their Fear and Hatred of Gays in the '90s.

In this book, the authors, Kirk and Madsen, suggest isolating conservative Christians by presenting them as "hysterical backwoods preachers, drooling with hate to a degree that looks both comical and deranged." They offered a vivid proposition of how this strategy could be used in the media:

"For example, for several seconds an unctuous, beady-eyed Southern preacher is shown pounding the pulpit in rage against 'those perverted, abominable creatures.'" While his tirade continues over the soundtrack, the picture switches to heart-rending photos of badly beaten persons, or of gays who look decent, harmless and likable; and then we cut back to the poisonous face of the preacher. The contrast speaks for itself. The effect is devastating."

In just one short year between 2011 and 2012, this issue went from having minority to majority support. And this victory for the homosexual marriage movement certainly has in large part had to do with painting Christians as outlandish outsiders who "drool with deranged hate"—the very same individuals who start charities, fight for the oppressed and rescue the helpless.

These are the most common arguments for Christians to just "get over their deeply held religious convictions":

1. If you're going to take a stance on homosexual marriage, you'd have to take the same stance on divorce.

This is true. However, I would say that one sin does not cancel out the other. Divorce is sin, the practice of homosexuality is sin, just like lying, cheating, infidelity and adultery.

2. If we're talking about sin, being judgmental is a sin, and your judgment of other people's sin is sin, (referencing Romans 2).

This argument has three different points.

Point #1: No, it isn't right to judge the world, as in looking down on people and hating them for their behavior. However, it isn't wrong to assess the behavior and avoid the behavior ourselves if we believe with our own conscience it's wrong. In this case, we discern the difference between right and wrong in our own lives. This isn't judging someone else—it's making our own choice.

Point #2: This argument on judging homosexuals goes so far as to say that in order to not judge someone we need to be accepting, active participants of the behavior, or in other words, perform a gay wedding ceremony or agree to be a servicer of a homosexual wedding.

Let me ask you something. If another sin, such as theft or human trafficking or murder, happens to be legal, how is it in anyone's best interest to be an accomplice of sorts in that sin? Perhaps people don't view this as the same thing as actually performing any sin themselves, but if you hand someone a knife to kill someone with, aren't your fingerprints on the handle? Many Christians, afraid of being framed as unloving and hateful, now say we should accept and even participate in something the Bible says is a sin. Sin is sin, and the moment we dull our conscience to any sin in our lives, we enter dangerous territory.

"... who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, while their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them" (Rom. 2:15).

Point #3: It's true the Bible says not to judge outsiders, but in tandem it actually tells us to judge our brothers and sisters within the body of Christ who are unrepentantly sinning and to "remove the evil person from among you."

"I wrote to you in my letter not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I did not mean the sexually immoral people of this world, or the covetous and extortioners, or the idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. But I have written to you not to keep company with any man who is called a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Do not even eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But God judges those who are outside. Therefore 'put away from among yourselves that wicked person'"  (1 Cor. 5:9-13).

If loving people involves being an active part of sin and violating one's conscience, that doesn't sound like love to me. It sounds like mind control wrapped in flowery words such as love, acceptance and tolerance.  

This issue is concerning because of all the moral revisionism that leads to easy brainwashing and adopting a state-directed conscience that suits those in power. Don't think I'm being outlandish here—history tells us quite the opposite.


Hilmar Von Campe, a former Nazi solider in World War II, explains how so many people were robbed of their conscience in order to create the groundwork for mind control from the Nazi state.

"I thought I was defending my country, and it was a terrible awakening, after the war when I came home, that I had not defended my fatherland, but I had done the dirty job which Hitler and the Nazis had selected for us.

"One has to remember that everything that happens is about power—the power of God against the power of man. God wants us to be free; man wants to control each other ... it is good vs. evil, God against godlessness. And since I have experienced godlessness in Germany and seen the destruction of my family, the destruction of the nation, and then I see the same forces at work here, I shudder.

"Wrong is being promoted as a virtue. But that is the road to a totalitarian system because a totalitarian system is abandonment of God's commandments where man can only rule if they control everybody. And in that case, there are no moral standards."

The more and more legislation desensitizes everyone's conscience and removes the freedom of religion, the more we create the groundwork for collective brainwashing.

Once you desensitize a nation's conscience, you can do just about anything.

The tricky part is that Jesus never said anything directly about homosexuality. But He did speak to sexual sin.

Consider the woman at the well who had five husbands. Jesus didn't condemn her; He forgave her. He also kept the Pharisees from stoning another woman who was caught in adultery. However, and this is a key point here, He put the fear of God into this adulterous woman by prophesying to her and at the end saying, "Go and sin no more."

Going back to the first example, if we replace the women's sin of fornication and adultery and say that they were sleeping with women instead, we can understand a bit of what Jesus' perspective might have been. If sin is sin, and homosexual acts are no different than fornication, lust or adultery, we have a fair replacement. If the argument many people are making is true, "Just facilitate the gay wedding out of your love for people!" then Jesus would have had quite a different response for the women then He actually did in the Scriptures. If this reasoning were true, He would have said, "Come, let Me officiate your wedding!" instead of what He did say: "Go and sin no more."

People's deeply held religious convictions are the reasons why they do inconvenient and selfless things, such as feeding the hungry, fighting against injustice and setting the captives free. The moment you begin picking away at people's conscience is the moment those "deeply held religious convictions," which are the basis for all those other good things, begin to disappear.

Let's recap:

  1. When people are forced to violate their conscience by the powers that are in charge of our nation, the result is a calloused conscience. At this juncture, confusion sets in about what is right and wrong.

  1. When the powers that force law-abiding citizens to violate their conscience, (and their free will), we no longer have liberty, but tyranny.

  1. People's "deeply held religious convictions" are not only the reasons they refuse to participate in things they believe are wrong, like gay marriage, but also why they do inconvenient and selfless things, without which, the world would suffer.

God help us if we ever find ourselves in the same place as pre-Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, I really believe we are already there.

"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience." —George Washington

Charis Hillman Brown is the marketing and communications director at Marketplace Leaders Ministries, an organization founded by her dad with a vision to equip men and women to fulfill their calling in and through the workplace. Charis is is author of TGIF, Today God Is First Daily Devotional for Next Gen and has been published in TwoTen Magazine, The Christian Post and Charisma News.

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Charis Hillman Brown Featured Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Study: American Evangelicals Stand Behind Israel http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/50689-study-american-evangelicals-stand-behind-israel http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/50689-study-american-evangelicals-stand-behind-israel

A recent LifeWay Research study shows that American evangelicals remain among the strongest supporters of the nation of Israel.

Most believe God has plans for that nation, both now and in the future. And many of America's preachers say Christians need to support Israel.

Those are among the findings of a LifeWay study of American attitudes toward Israel and the Bible. As part of the study, researchers conducted two separate surveys of 1,000 Americans, along with a survey of 1,000 senior pastors of Protestant churches.

"No piece of literature has had more impact on American culture than the Bible," said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. "No country is more intertwined with the ancient biblical narrative than Israel, and evangelical Americans see a contemporary connection with the nation."

Researchers found evangelicals see a close tie between God and Israel.

About 7 in 10 (69 percent) say the modern nation of Israel was formed as result of biblical prophecy. A similar number (70 percent) say God has a special relationship with the modern nation of Israel. And nearly three-fourths of evangelicals (73 percent) say events in Israel are part of the prophecies in the Book of Revelation.

While evangelicals remain convinced about a tie between Israel and God's plans, Americans generally are less certain.

Less than half (46 percent) believe the formation of modern Israel is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. More than a third (36 percent) disagree, while 17 percent aren't sure.

Americans are split down the middle over whether Jews are God's chosen people as referenced in the Bible, with just under half (46 percent) saying they agree. A similar number (44 percent) disagree, while 10 percent are not sure.

And some Americans think God was closer to ancient Israel than to the modern-day nation.

About two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans say God had a "special relationship with ancient Israel." About 1 in 4 (27 percent) disagrees, while 9 percent are not sure.

In contrast, only 48 percent of Americans say God has a special relationship with modern Israel—fewer than the 53 percent of Americans who believe God has a special relationship with the United States, according to previously released LifeWay research.

About 4 in 10 (39 percent) disagree that God has a special relationship with modern Israel, while 13 percent are not sure.

Evangelicals (70 percent) are much more likely to agree than Americans who don't identify as evangelicals (38 percent).

Overall, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans believe events in Israel are tied to the Book of Revelation. Forty percent disagree, and 13 percent are unsure.

Younger Americans, those 18-24, are less likely (36 percent) to see a tie between Israel and the Book of Revelation than those 45 and older (52 percent).

Women (52 percent) are more likely to agree than men (42 percent). Those with graduate degrees (24 percent) are much less likely to agree events in Israel are part of the prophecies in Revelation than those with a high school degree or less (55 percent).

Support for Israel

Schooling and prophecy both play a role in how Americans view Israel. When asked whether they support Israel's statehood, 42 percent agree, while 35 percent disagree. One in four (23 percent) is not sure.

Higher levels of education correlate to higher levels of support for Israeli statehood. Those with a graduate degree are most likely to be supporters at 61 percent, followed by those with a bachelor's degree (56 percent), those with some college (43 percent), and those with a high school diploma or less (31 percent).

Slightly more than half of men (51 percent) say they support Israeli statehood, compared to a third (33 percent) of women. Support is also significantly higher among evangelicals (50 percent) than others (39 percent).

Supporters are split on the reasons they back Israel. Sixteen percent say the Bible tells them to, and 9 percent say it's because Israel is important for biblical prophecy.

Some (13 percent) say they support Israel primarily because Israel is America's best friend in the Middle East. Others say it's because Jews needed a refuge after the Holocaust (11 percent) or because Israel is the one and only Jewish homeland (15 percent).

Though the term Zionist is synonymous with believing Jews should have their own state, only eight percent of Americans claim this label. A third (32 percent) of Americans are not sure whether they are Zionist.

Among the most ardent of Israel's supporters are senior pastors of Protestant churches. Most (80 percent) agree "Christians should support Israel." About one in 7 (14 percent) disagrees.

Even though they support Israel, some pastors have their doubts about Israel's military actions. About 4 in 10 (41 percent) agree with the statement, "It is hard to defend Israel's military tactics." Fifty percent disagree, while 9 percent are not sure.

McConnell noted, "It is surprising that evangelicals, who have such a fascination with Israel's biblical connections, are no more likely to have an opinion about Israel's statehood than other Americans."

Bob Smietana is former senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.

Methodology

The first phone survey of Americans was conducted September 19-28, 2014. The second phone survey of Americans was conducted September 26-October 5, 2014. The calling utilized Random Digit Dialing. Sixty percent of completes were among landlines and 40 percent among cell phones. Maximum quotas and slight weights were used for gender, region, age, ethnicity, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.5 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Those labeled evangelicals consider themselves "a born again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian."

The phone survey of Protestant pastors was conducted September 11-18, 2014. The calling list was a stratified random sample drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister, or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect the church.

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Bob Smietana/For LifeWay Research Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0400
The Real Problem With Target's 'Trophy' T-Shirt http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50715-the-real-problem-with-target-s-trophy-t-shirt http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50715-the-real-problem-with-target-s-trophy-t-shirt

In recent days retail giant Target has been lambasted for stocking and selling a T-shirt for women that features the word "Trophy" emblazoned across its front side. Critics claim the T-shirt and the message help fuel a culture and attitude that objectifies women. There is even an online petition that demands the removal of the T-shirt, which is currently on sale nationwide.

The term "trophy wife" and its negative connotation is common in popular culture today, and I agree that the T-shirt indeed boldly advertises the notion of women as objects. However, one of the most disturbing aspects of this story is that women are the ones buying and wearing the T-shirts! Have they fully bought into their own objectification?

What's the big deal? It's only a T-shirt! Right? Wrong.

If this were a one-time, tongue-in-cheek, promotional sales stunt, then perhaps Target and the women who buy the T-shirts would get a softer reproach. But the message on this T-shirt is a microcosm of a much larger cultural tragedy. The bigger problem is that in America we have a "pornified" media culture that indoctrinates us. Starting at a young age we are bombarded with the idea that women are dehumanized objects made for consumption. We are pounded with the view that a woman's value is solely based on her sex appeal, and that men are insatiable, animal-like consumers of that sexuality. Examples are everywhere and have escalated in recent years.

If you doubt what I say, just take a 10-minute walk through the swarming spring break crowd in Panama City, Florida, or the Mardi Gras crowd on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

In Panama City you will observe hordes of high school- and college-age girls half dressed and half drunk. The hats and T-shirts the boys and girls wear are emblazoned with offensive slogans laced with profanity. It isn't surprising at all that public rapes on the spring break beaches have been taking place on a regular basis.

A "Trophy" T-shirt may be mild by comparison, but it carries the same message: Women are objects.

Young boys (and increasingly girls) get their sex education from pornography that is mostly degrading, violent and dehumanizing toward women. Young girls have role models such as Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Shakira who writhe around and gyrate almost naked in order to increase or maintain their fame. So in one sense, that Target would carry the "Trophy" T-shirt is no surprise. It should be expected that retailers would cater to the demand of a hyper-sexualized culture that encourages objectification. But it is also part of the problem.

We need much more than to ask Target to remove this T-shirt from its shelves. What we really need is a cultural revolution where people stand up against the tide of injustice that is the dehumanization and objectification of women. We need people to change their attitudes, hearts and actions. When this happens there will be no market for a "Trophy" T-shirt. 

Laila Mickelwait serves as Exodus Cry's manager of policy and public affairs

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Laila Mickelwait/Exodus Cry Featured Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Billy Graham Weighs in on the Root of Abortion http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50714-billy-graham-weighs-in-on-the-root-of-abortion http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50714-billy-graham-weighs-in-on-the-root-of-abortion

The spiritual condition of man is at the root of the abortion issue. Until man's spiritual condition is changed by the power of Jesus Christ, we will not find a full solution to this problem. It is sin that produces the problem of most unwanted pregnancies, as well as all the other disorders which plague the human race.

It is also sin that produces the misbelief that women have a "right" to take the lives of unborn babies. The apostle Paul writes, "Now the works of the flesh are revealed, which are these: adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like" (Gal. 5:19-21a).

Life is sacred, and we must seek to protect all human life: the unborn, the child, the adult and the aged. Several Bible passages tell of the sacredness of life and speak to the subject of abortion.

Since the Supreme Court removed restrictions on abortion in 1973, abortions have risen to an alarming level. Mr. Graham strongly opposes "abortion on demand" and was instrumental in the founding of the ministry of Care Net, one of largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America. Care Net seeks to provide the most accessible and effective abortion alternatives possible. For a discussion on the alternatives to an unwanted pregnancy, you may visit Care Net's website, where there are opportunities to call, email or live chat with someone confidentially.

© 2004 BGEA.

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Billy Graham Featured Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 07:00:00 -0400
God Recognizes False Worship When He Sees It—Do You? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50713-god-recognizes-false-worship-when-he-sees-it-do-you http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50713-god-recognizes-false-worship-when-he-sees-it-do-you

"It is appropriate to ask whether there is much genuine, deep, heartfelt worship in our churches. In many evangelical churches people do not truly worship God. ... If genuine worship is lacking in our churches, we should ask how we can bring ourselves to experience much more of the depth and richness of worship, which is the natural response of the believing heart ..." (Wayne Grudem).

Dr. Grudem is spot on—many who attend church are not worshipping God, they simply go through the motions. But what is genuine worship? Worship is a combination of attitude and acts focused on reverence to God. The Hebrew meaning denotes a "bowing down, or prostrating oneself"; it is a posture reflecting homage and reverence toward the one true and living God. If there is a problem with worshipping God, the problem isn't with God; the problem is with us. Worship serves as the thermometer of the heart by measuring our spiritual condition ... are we hot, cold or lukewarm? Granted, worship isn't necessarily measured by actions such as jumping up and down; it's measured by the condition (temperature) of our heart—is it rejoicing for joy and breaking and submitting to God?

Sadly, many confuse false worship with genuine worship. According to numerous theological resources, false worship is when an entity, person or object is worshipped instead of God—our passion for "something" outweighs our passion for Him; it draws us away.

Most don't have idols on the shelf because they are parked in the garage. We don't pay homage to a statue in the living room because we are memorized by a 44" box affectionately known as "the entertainment center." We don't sacrifice things on the altar, but we do sacrifice our time (and time with of our children) on the altar of misguided priorities. 

Of course cars, televisions and the Internet are not evil, they are neutral; but it is our love for them that tilts the scale away from God. We find hours a day for entertainment, but have little time to worship. Do we honestly believe that this misapplication of priorities doesn't affect our spirituality? Think again.

False worship also includes inappropriate and improper acts supposedly directed toward God. Many simply go through the motions at church. They attend as if they are doing God a favor. The heart is not engaged and the soul is not lifted up ... they are bored.

Here is a test to measure the spiritual condition of the heart: Do we want the worship time to hurry and finish? Are we dreading another song as our eyes glance at the clock? Do we come late to miss the boring worship? If so, I would seriously encourage heart examination.

I am not suggesting that if the worship seems dead it's our fault ... not all of the worship taking place is heartfelt and Spirit-led. There is dry formalism and dead ritualism taking place in the church today. Many sing "about" God but they have never truly experienced Him—head knowledge without heart knowledge.

He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is not a cosmic force, universal love or a doting grandfather, He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We must worship Him. He created, redeemed and saved us. One of the countless hymns states it well, "O' the Blood: washes me; shed for me ... what a sacrifice that saved my life, yes the blood, it is my victory!"

Luke 19:10 records, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." John 1:29 passionately declares, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." And 1 Peter 2:24 reminds us that "He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree." These facts demand worship. Many go ballistic when a favorite team wins, but appear handcuffed and bored in church. How sad.

Worship must be a priority. This is not optional, it's vital. "Therefore I desire that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands ..." (1 Tim. 2:8). We cannot live like heathens all week and expect heaven to fall during worship. We cannot fill our mind with darkness all week and expect the light of Christ to shine during worship. We cannot worship ourselves and things all week and expect to turn our affections toward God on one designated day. 

Worship is a lifestyle! Worship and holiness are interwoven. 1 Peter 1:16 says, "Be holy, because I am holy." Holiness is not a strange, outdated word. Holiness is being set apart or separated from anything that causes us to sin, whether mentally (in what we think) or physically (in what we do). Holiness begins in the heart: "The Holy Spirit is first of all a moral flame. It is not an accident of language that He is called the Holy Spirit, for whatever else the word holy may mean it does undoubtedly carry with it the idea of moral purity" (Tozer).

Watch sermons at wcfav.org

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God at shaneIdleman.com. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.

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Shane Idleman Featured Opinion Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0400
How I Moved Past My Awkwardness to Pray for People to be Healed http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50711-how-i-moved-past-my-awkwardness-to-pray-for-people-to-be-healed http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50711-how-i-moved-past-my-awkwardness-to-pray-for-people-to-be-healed

Over the years several individuals have asked me to share my thoughts on the ministry of healing. They were particularly interested in learning how to operate powerfully in an evangelistic context. One man said that he wanted to get over the awkwardness and really begin to touch the lives of people.

I understand the questions and even the hesitation that many feel in this area. Ministering healing can appear difficult to those who have never functioned in it. In fact, when I started out, I struggled with this (and often still do).

Most have the idea that it's overly "mystical" or even the byproduct of a perfect Christian life. I don't think that this is the right way to look at it. God often uses regular, everyday believers who are still finding their way. I'm so glad that it doesn't take "perfection" to touch the lives of others. If that was required, I would certainly be disqualified (and you would be too).

I also want to point out that healing is deeply relational; even "ordinary" in its outworking. It is not taking people out of their "earthly" experiences. Instead, healing is bringing the power and truth of Jesus into a fractured human body. Arguably, it is one of the most incarnational realities imagined. We engage and watch as the glorious God of the universe brings life to broken, corruptible flesh.

I want you to understand that healing doesn't have to be so complicated. It begins by simply taking notice of ill individuals. You might see them in the checkout line or standing next to you at the gas station. Reach out and show some genuine concern about their life. People can usually tell whether you're speaking to them out of a posture of love or not.

In a calm, reassuring voice, say something like, "I noticed that you're in pain. Do you mind if I ask what happened?" Give them a moment to explain what's going on. As you're carefully listening and interacting, be sure to get their first name and affirm their great value to you.

After they share their diagnosis, be sure to mention that you're a Christian and that you love to pray for people. Ask, "Is it alright if I pray for you?" Often, they will say, "Yes," thinking you intend to intercede later. Explain that you would like to pray for them right now—if that is at all possible.

There are a few things to consider when you actually get the opportunity to pray (sometimes you don't get that opportunity to pray, but you should bless them just the same). First of all, it's good to be at peace. If you're overly agitated, it will be hard for them to receive from you. Secondly, keep in mind that you don't have to be loud or even pray for an extended time. It is not length or volume that brings healing. These things can make a real difference in people's receptivity.

As you begin to pray, invite the presence of the Lord to come. Pray that His goodness and strength would be manifest. Bless the Lord and thank Him for all He has done! Center everything you are doing in the person and work of Jesus. 

Then out of a position of authority, simply command - in the mighty name of Jesus—that the pain leave their body. Be direct and firm against the infirmity! Demand it to go! Throughout the New Testament they prayed prayers of command, not prayers of petition. We should always try to follow the Scriptural example when we pray. 


Also, if appropriate, you might ask if you can lay hands on them in the place where they feel the most pain. "Laying on of hands" is a dynamic way of imparting the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

After you've prayed for a minute or two, it's good to ask them how things are going. Find out if the pain has lessened or if they feel anything "different" taking place in their bodies. When a person is experiencing a touch from God, they may feel tingling, coolness, heat, peace, joy, or perhaps nothing at all. Have them provide a little feedback so you can get a sense of how things are going.

If there's a sense of breakthrough, ask them to do something they couldn't do before. For example, if pain was in their leg, have them now put a little weight on it and walk. Obviously wisdom must be shown in each circumstance. The ill should only be encouraged to respond in a way they're completely comfortable with. I've found that sometimes the healing comes in a moment of response.

Obviously not everyone will respond favorably to this kind of prayer engagement. Healing doesn't fit the common understanding of Christianity in North America or Europe. Because of this, some will reject your efforts. This is always disappointing.

Nevertheless, the possibility of rejection is probably not our biggest problem. I believe the greatest impediment to the ministry of healing is our own insecurities and fears. Christians often become their own saboteurs.  

It is important that one doesn't allow the awkwardness and discomfort to dissuade them from making an effort. It is not always easy, but Spirit-filled believers need to press in anyway.

I always get a knot in my stomach when I talk to someone about their illness, but I refuse to let that stand in my way. I have pressed against the awkwardness and have personally engaged hundreds of sick people. To my great joy, many were powerfully impacted by the mercy of Jesus. I've seen healing take place in gas stations, restaurants, and department stores. While my sincere efforts are occasionally rejected, most of the time people are genuinely open to an encounter with Jesus.

I think it's time for Christians to get over the awkwardness and discomfort and start advancing the kingdom. It is time to be brave. There is a sick world that is desperately waiting for us to advance. Will you join me?

J.D. King is the director of the World Revival Network.

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J.D. King Featured Opinion Sun, 26 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0400