Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. Mon, 30 May 2016 14:00:31 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Liberty Counsel Promises Legal Defense for Georgia City's Memorial Day Cross Display

Liberty Counsel is offering free legal defense to the city of Hiram, Georgia, for its Memorial Day display of 79 wooden white crosses, which were meant to honor 79 fallen local soldiers. The city originally displayed the crosses but, after one person complained recently, hastily took them down the same day.

The city council met on May 24, 2016, and unanimously voted to return the cross display. The city did so the next morning.

In a letter to Hiram Mayor Teresa Philyaw, Liberty Counsel Litigation Attorney Richard L. Mast Jr. said, "Liberty Counsel is aware that the City of Hiram sought to honor 79 fallen service members, all from Paulding County, Georgia, who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, by means of a roadside Memorial Day display on public property. I understand that the City's display was originally comprised of simple, white, wooden, painted crosses, in the fashion of Latin crosses similar to those marking the grave markers of American graves located on foreign soil throughout the world, which has been permanently granted to the United States. These graves and surrounding lands are administered and maintained by U.S. tax dollars, under the auspices of the American Battle Monuments Commission ("ABMC").

"Liberty Counsel would be pleased to stand alongside the City of Hiram, based on the facts as I understand them, in defense of the Memorial Day display. If a representation agreement is reached, Liberty Counsel will provide such representation at no charge to the taxpayers."

White crosses are a well-known, international symbol that have been used in overseas cemeteries for Americans for decades. In many of the 50 or more cemeteries and memorials across the world, the U.S. government pays for and maintains similar white crosses. Numerous monument and Establishment Clause court cases have upheld displays with similar elements.

"For one person to demand that the city remove the crosses displays a lack of understanding of American history and honor for the lives and deaths of our soldiers. The cross is an international symbol of the graves of American soldiers," said Horatio "Harry" Mihet, Esq., vice president of legal affairs & chief litigation counsel of Liberty Counsel. "We fully support this constitutional display and other similar displays across the country."

Liberty Counsel's letter in support of Hiram's Memorial Day display states, "The Memorial Day display is not an 'establishment of religion,' but it is an appropriate Memorial Day tribute to fallen soldiers and is just as constitutional as the cross-shaped grave markers in any American military cemetery." {eoa}

Liberty Counsel Featured U.S. News Mon, 30 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Charismatic Leaders Making Urgent Intercession Around TBN's Jan Crouch

Well-known leaders throughout the Christian community have banded together in prayer on social media for TBN Co-Founder Jan Crouch, who remained hospitalized in Orlando, Florida Sunday after suffering a massive stroke earlier in the week. 

Rod Parsley, senior pastor of World Harvest Church Columbus in Columbus, Ohio and World Harvest Church Elkhart in Elkhart, Indiana, posted this on his Facebook page Saturday:

"Please join Joni and me and our ministry staff today in interceding for a precious friend, Jan Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, who has suffered a serious stroke. Stand with us for a medical miracle for Jan and a full recovery. Jan has devoted her life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and her family, and we are praying for a quick return to full health for her."

Other ministry leaders who have posted on social media in support of Jan:

Carman, Christian recording artist: "We cannot lose her. She is as close to me as my closest family member. When Kim Clement suffered a stroke and needed a miracle, we built an army of 10,000 prayer warriors and he's still here and doing better. We need to unite as believers and pray 'one of our own' through this tragedy. ... TBN gives a voice to 1,000's of ministries. From Charles Stanley to Rod Parsley to Billy Graham to myself. Please say you'll pray her through this fatal blow into a miracle testimony. And please, please share this post. Thank You - Carman."

Pastor Phil Aguilar, founder of the Set Free Soldiers Motorcycle Ministry, on Facebook: "I'm encouraging people all over the world to unite in prayer for our sister Jan Crouch. Our whole family is joining together and we believe in miracles. Jan is the most soul-winning mama I've ever met. Let's lift her up now. We know God loves her and we love her, let's all join together now." 

Gospel music composer and performer Kurt Carr, on Twitter: "Let us keep Jan Crouch of TBN Trinity Broadcasting Network in our prayers. God Is A Healer ... I've seen Him do it!"

Ossie Mills, global director for Empowered21, tweeted: "@TBN Jan Crouch Suffers Massive Stroke, Praying for a miracle."

Roberts Liardon, founder of Roberts Liardon Ministries, on Facebook: "Please pray for Jan Crouch. She has had a massive stroke. Let's surround the family with our prayers!"

Christian artist Ami Rushes, on Facebook: "I am asking everyone who reads this post to PLEASE pray for Jan Crouch. She needs a creative miracle in her body. Doctor's report is not good, BUT thank our God that we don't go on the report of man but we stand on the Word of God. Jesus bore our sickness and carried our diseases, weakness, pain and distress. The TRUTH is greater than the facts. We send this Word to Jan Crouch this morning. I am declaring and decreeing Jan Crouch will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord. Stand with me and my family and so many other Christians that are praying for this precious saint of God." {eoa}

Shawn A. Akers Featured U.S. News Sun, 29 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
BREAKING NEWS: After Stroke, Jan Crouch Draws Strength From the Promise of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
After a life-threatening stroke from which it has been reported recovery is "unlikely," TBN Co-Founder Jan Crouch is leaning on a familiar comforting scripture, an official TBN statement said late Saturday.

 "As she has throughout her entire life, Jan continues to place her trust in God, and draws strength from the promise of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

Crouch, 78, has been hospitalized in Orlando, Florida, since Wednesday since suffering the stroke. With family by her side, Crouch is "resting comfortably as her physicians and family care for her."

On Saturday, Christian recording artist Carman, who has had a friendship with the Crouch family for 40 years, said this on Facebook: 

"The official word is out ... and after careful medical evaluation recovery of any kind is unlikely."

Crouch's sons, Paul Jr. and Matt, have petitioned the community of believers for prayer for their mother through Facebook. 

Crouch and her husband, the late Paul Crouch, founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network in 1973. She produced multiple television programs including Praise The LordThe Glory of America and Say Yes. Paul Crouch passed away in 2013.

Stay tuned to Charisma News for more updates. {eoa}

Shawn A. Akers Featured U.S. News Sun, 29 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
BREAKING NEWS: TBN Co-Founder Jan Crouch's Recovery From Stroke 'Unlikely'

Recovery from a significant stroke is "unlikely" for TBN co-founder Jan Crouch, Christian recording artist Carman posted on his Facebook page Saturday. Crouch, 78, has been hospitalized since Wednesday in Orlando, Florida.

"The official word is out ... and after careful medical evaluation recovery of any kind is unlikely," Carman's Facebook post read. 

The TBN family has been asking for miracle healing prayers for the Christian media pioneer since her hospitalization.

The Crouch's oldest son, Paul Jr., made this post on Facebook: "Please bombard heaven for my mother, Jan Crouch. She's in the hospital in Orlando and needs a miracle."

The Crouch's younger son, Matt, posted this on TBN's Facebook page Saturday: "Thank you for joining your faith with us and agreeing for our precious mother, Jan Crouch, as she receives comfort from Jesus and ministering angels from a life-threatening stroke. Thank God WE are NEVER alone. Much love, Matt and Laurie."

Crouch and her husband, the late Paul Crouch, founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network in 1973. She produced multiple television programs including Praise The LordThe Glory of America and Say Yes. Paul Crouch passed away in 2013.

Carman said the Crouches build the "greatest Christian network of preaching the gospel in history." In recent years, Carman suffered through a bout with cancer and it was Jan Crouch who supported him emotionally and financially.

 "Jan is the president and is totally irreplaceable," Carman's Facebook post read. "I've been close to her for 40 years. She is family to me. We have won countless souls to Christ together through that network. She is the best friend you can ever have when your going through a crisis and feel like everyone has abandoned you. Example: When I went through 10 months of cancer treatment and sent out 600 letters to 600 churches I've ministered at for support, and not one responded, it was Jan who paid my bills so I could focus on my fight with cancer. Her words to me was, 'Just get well.'" {eoa}

Shawn A. Akers Featured U.S. News Sat, 28 May 2016 22:00:00 -0400
Mega-Christian Leaders Rushing Into Dallas on Holy Spirit Prayer Assignment

Many of America's top Christian leaders, representing a variety of races, ages and denominations, will convene in the Dallas area Sept. 21 for The Gathering, a national solemn assembly to pray for forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our country. 

The Gathering will be held at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, with an afternoon session for leaders beginning at noon CT. The national prayer event open to the public will begin at 7 p.m. Both events will be simulcast around the country. 

Dr. Tony Evans, chief organizer of The Gathering, said the Bible calls for a solemn assembly with fasting and prayer when God's people have grown away from Him and want to renew their relationship. 

Although the event will be held less than two months before the presidential election, organizers said there will be no overriding political agenda. 

"God doesn't ride on the backs of donkeys or elephants," said Dr. Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and president of The Urban Alternative. "Christians cannot be so entrenched within political parties that we are not free to speak the truth to those in power. The church should be the conscience of the government, clearly and respectfully holding political leadership accountable for following God's principles." 

The organizers of The Gathering said there is a spiritual solution to national issues involving race, the family, immigration, government and many other topics. 

"We need to repent, come back to God, and put our trust in God alone," said Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the organizers. "America needs a great spiritual awakening." 

Other platform guests will include:

  •      Dr. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals;
  •      Kay Arthur, co-founder of Precept Ministries International;
  •      Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia;
  •      Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition;
  •      John Jenkins, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Maryland;
  •      Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary;
  •      Greg Laurie, evangelist and leader of the Harvest Crusades;
  •      Anne Graham Lotz, chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force;
  •      Max Lucado, acclaimed preacher and best-selling author;
  •      Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway Church;
  •      James Robison, founder of LIFE Outreach International; and
  •      Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Although the list is populated by some of the most prominent evangelicals in this country, they are uniting in a cause bigger than any individual. The event's website states, "No offering will be received. No books will be sold. No personalities will be promoted."

Instead, The Gathering will focus on praying for change in four areas—personal, family, communities and the nation—because widespread transformation must begin in the heart and home.

Mega-Christian Leaders Rushing Into Dallas on Holy Spirit Prayer Assignment/A. Larry Ross Featured U.S. News Mon, 30 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
The Nearly Unbelievable Truth of What America's Become

Newsweek magazine, on December 27, 1982, in an article entitled, "How the Bible Made America," made this revealing statement, "historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document."

To understand the core values of a nation, one must simply look to the beliefs set forth during its conception, and, in the case of America, during the transitional years of the American Revolution. Judge for yourself how far we have drifted from the original intent of early Americans. Consider the following:

Then: If a proposed article for the Constitution was not supported by, or rooted in the Bible, it was not considered. In their early writings, many of the Founding Fathers quoted or referenced the Bible nearly four times more than any other source.

Now: Even though creation screams "Creator," the Bible is mocked, ridiculed, and discarded. To suggest that the universe was created by random chance and that humans came from primordial ooze, is the height of arrogance. "Only fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).

Then: First introduced in 1766, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws, served as the legal reference for the Founders, as well as for many early American lawyers. Blackstone's commentaries were deeply rooted in biblical principles. It's been said that Blackstone was the first to use the phrase, "the laws of nature and of nature's God."

Now: "It is unconstitutional for students to see the Ten Commandments since they might read, meditate upon, respect, or obey them." Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980).

Then: John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, said, "Unto Him who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His manifold and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by His beloved Son."

Now: Students can't pray in the name of Jesus during school graduation ceremonies, the military is removing the cross from many base churches, and the courts are trying to eradicate God from all areas of life. God help us!

Then: Noah Webster, the Founding Father of American Scholarship and Education, said, "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. ..."

Now: Many students are criticized when they read their Bibles in public, or at school. Christianity is challenged, mocked, and ridiculed while most other beliefs are accepted and embraced. Sadly, in order to be politically correct, Noah Webster's Scripture references have been withdrawn from recent editions.

Then: The Delaware Constitution initially required that everyone appointed to public office must say, "I do profess faith in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ his only Son. ..." Many other Constitutions such as Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Connecticut all acknowledged their reliance on God.

Now: Those who run for office and profess a faith in Jesus Christ are viewed as fanatical and/or extreme, and are often criticized by the media.

Then: In 1790, Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, said this about public schools, "But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament. ..."

Now: Most public schools avoid doctrines of the New Testament. In Roberts v. Madigan (1989), for example, the court ruled: "It is unconstitutional for a classroom library to contain books which deal with Christianity, or for a teacher to be seen with a personal copy of the Bible at school." (Granted, courts have ruled that the Bible can be used, in some cases, for historical and literary purposes.) But the message is clear: "Get God out and Darwin in."

Then: "The first and primary duty of government is to protect innocent human life" (Thomas Jefferson). "Nobody has the freedom to choose to do what's morally wrong" (Abraham Lincoln).

Now: If the names of all the babies who have been aborted since the early 1970s were placed on a monument (much like that of the Vietnam Memorial Wall), it's been estimated that the monument would span over 35 miles. Although many protest guns and war, very few speak out against abortion. The womb is no longer the safest place, but one of the most dangerous. Planned Parenthood is not an asset to the community; it's a liability. It's a travesty!

It's unbelievable how far we have drifted from the truth. And we've only touched the tip of the iceberg.

Clearly, most of America's founders and early settlers wanted the Bible, prayer, and biblical principles so entrenched within society that nothing would remove them. This is why John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, rightly said, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were ... the general principles of Christianity."

The list could go on and on: From Harvard to Yale, from the Supreme Court to the local courts and the public school system, historically, the theme remained the same—God's Word was to be the foundation on which America was built!

As yet another example, consider the 1642 Rules and Precepts of Harvard University founded by Reverend John Harvard: "Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3)." The Rules continue, "and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."

What would those at Harvard say today? America—then vs. now. It's almost unbelievable.

Hear sermons at  

Shane Idleman Featured Opinion Mon, 30 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Emmy Award-Winning TV Show Commemorates the Pro-Life Message of Memorial Day

America marks Memorial Day this coming weekend, a federal holiday originating after the Civil War to remember and appreciate the sacrifice of those who have died defending our nation. Only days ago, on May 21, the lesser-known Armed Forces Day gave honor to service members and their families currently serving within the various branches of the U.S. military.

In their sacrifice, one prominent pro-life leader finds a clear message to inspire the advance of life and liberty through policies that defend the innocent. Brad Mattes, President of Life Issues Institute based in Cincinnati, Ohio, hosts Facing Life Now—an Emmy Award-winning TV show that recently transitioned to an online series.

Mattes revealed in a recent interview how many channel-surfing viewers landed on his team's pro-life TV show. "It's not an accident when people are impacted in life-changing ways—it's God directing people," he notes. "Even if the show saved one baby, it would be worth it. We are fortunate to know that God has used it to save more than that, and we're likely unaware of many more."

Continuing our dialogue, Brad Mattes speaks of his son's service in the military, how to tell stories people relate to ... and what drives him to create media revealing the value of every life. All 165 episodes of this pro-life documentary series are now available free on YouTube, along with new videos from the ongoing web show Facing Life Now.

Bound4LIFE: Facing Life Now covers a broad spectrum of issues—from special needs children to international aid. Has the show always had such a broad view of pro-life issues?

Brad Mattes: The show is broad, but we do stick with the life issues. For example, caring for Down Syndrome children is a passion God has placed on my heart, and several programs showcase how those dealing with this difficulty are a blessing to everyone around them.

Where we perhaps strayed a bit from our core focus was in my all-time favorite program called "A Lifetime Sacrifice," a two-part episode honoring the heroes we lost in combat and their families who sacrifice so much. It fits our larger theme because they are defending the most important right of all—the right to life.

I interviewed a young widow who had lost her husband in battle, then found out four days later she was pregnant with their child. We talked about the blessing her child is in her life. I spoke to a mother who, on her birthday, got word that her son had died in combat. Behind the scenes, people were praying I wouldn't break down sobbing on camera; I came close several times.

With my own son having served in Iraq, honoring our troops is very important to me. My son was deployed to Iraq for a year; now he is back stateside and going to college. People don't realize what they go through, it truly is a lifetime sacrifice.

Any time I can reach out to a soldier—in an airport, wherever—and thank them for their service, I count it a privilege. These men and women are taking many months, often longer, apart from their families to be in harm's way. And they're getting paid peanuts to do it! It really shows their passionate dedication.

Bound4LIFE: Could you share a little about your family—how does being a husband, father and grandfather factor into your work?

Brad Mattes: My wife Ellen is a great support to me in this work. I did a lot of travel in the early days when the children were small. She not only held down the fort, she nurtured the kids and juggled many things with such love and care. I couldn't have done it without her.

We have four sons, and four grandchildren—two that are living. There were identical twin boys that were lost during pregnancy about three years ago; we look forward to meeting those two in Heaven.

My involvement in the pro-life movement started very young. As a senior in high school in Billings, Montana, I gave a persuasive speech on the issue of abortion. I took a poll of the class before I spoke; their views on abortion were about 50-50.

Using materials from Dr. John and Barbara Willke, I showed my classmates the beauty of the unborn child, showed them what abortion does to the babies—graphic images which reveal the reality of what happens—then shared about the positive alternatives of adoption and foster care.

Afterward, I took the same poll of the class and it was unanimous for life. So I learned early on that pro-life education, presented in a way your audience can accept it, digest it and grow from it, is the way to be.

My passion for pro-life education only grew, and I had the opportunity to work with Dr. and Mrs. Willke for 24 years here at Life Issues Institute. I learned a lot. They always showed me that you have to watch and be aware of how your audience is consuming information. This spring marked one year since John Willke passed away.

Bound4LIFE: When you look back on the show's first season, what are the big changes you notice in terms of the production and storytelling?

Brad Mattes: We got a chuckle out of several things when we did the series finale, which features clips from the past eight seasons. I jumped into this with absolutely zero experience in TV, only with a feeling that this was where God was leading us.

There are subtle changes on the production side: the music, lighting, cameras—we have gained better equipment along the way. We went to high-definition exclusively, a big step forward. With that came the experience of our crew, which resulted in better storytelling. We were led to a production company here in Cincinnati called Zone Communication Group, founded to promote and help people share conservative and Christian viewpoints.

God really put all these pieces together, otherwise we couldn't have raised the budget necessary to produce Facing Life Head On. A standard production cost for a program like this is hundreds of thousands of dollars; we have spent far less, and obviously multiple Emmy Awards speak to the quality of the work.

The team at ZoneCG deserves as much credit as anyone involved for the success of it. They are also producing our short videos for the new online series Facing Life Now.

Bound4LIFE: There are many pro-life advocates who seek to chronicle real-life stories in compelling ways. From your decade of experience, what are some pitfalls to avoid in interviews and citizen journalism overall?

Brad Mattes: You need to have discernment and savvy to know who your audience is. Then you need to determine how you can effectively speak to them—to touch their hearts and minds. It may not be by expressing yourself as you love to express yourself; you need to speak in a way they can hear it.

With this pro-life TV show, we targeted our audience to be women of childbearing age who weren't necessarily with us on being against abortion. We presented a story and let guests persuade the viewers on the specifics of valuing life.

We interview people who make good choices, and bad choices—talking about the consequences of each. We've spoken to women who had abortions, birth mothers who placed their babies for adoption, couples who decided to adopt late in life ... we have covered a variety of issues during eight seasons on the air.

It's not rocket science: life is good, death is bad. It matters how you present it though. We always work to have guests who can relate to the viewers we are targeting.

Bound4LIFE: How does this approach affect the way Facing Life Now addresses matters of faith?

Brad Mattes: I firmly believe that within the covers of the Bible are the answers to all of man's problems. I also believe it's the final authority, that nothing supersedes Scripture. That is a message to lead with strongly in the pulpit, pairing such truth with the beauty of redemption and forgiveness.

The approach of our show is softer, to appeal to a wide audience. If you open a fire hydrant, gushing all the gospel message you can at someone at one time, it will drown them. Give it to them in a way they can accept it and take it in—then it can nourish their spiritual bodies and help them along.

Sometimes when we have an overtly religious guest, we tell them: For the target audience of this show, we'd prefer that we not hit them over the head with Bible verses and language that would overwhelm them.

You have to change the packaging of a message with the venue so it can meet the people where they are; then they can take it in, learn from it, and perhaps change their hearts and minds.

Sometimes that involves a follow-up activity. We have a website with resources, so after every program viewers have a way to contact us—or, more importantly, the guests on the program—so they can follow-up and provide counsel.

We're not always talking to people of faith who believe as we do. We have to be able to speak to a world that is hungry for bread, but just doesn't know where to find it.

Josh M. Shepherd serves in communications at Bound4LIFE International, a grassroots movement to pray for the ending of abortion, carry the spirit of adoption and believe for revival and reformation. He previously served on staff at The Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family and in the U.S. Congress.

Reprinted with permission from Bound4LIFE.

Josh M. Shepherd/Bound4Life Featured Opinion Mon, 30 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
What to Pray When You're in Spiritual Danger

Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven!

We have all made this declaration thousands of times, and yet, there are so many insidious ways that the enemy of our souls finds to take our hearts off of God's heavenly will for His kingdom on Earth.

When I first married my husband, I was so grateful to God to the point that I unintentionally allowed Dave to become an idol in my life. This is, I believe, not an unusual occurrence when people are deeply in love with one another; however, it never occurred to me that this had become so until my husband pointed it out one day. With great humility he sat me down and explained that I was putting way too much spiritual expectation on his meeting my needs and had begun to make my relationship with him more of a focus than my relationship with God. As he opened my eyes to this very glaring fact, I knew it instantly to be true. My love for Dave had superseded my passion for the presence of God. I was becoming more and more content in depending upon my husband to meet every need and fulfill every desire and to give me guidance and counsel.

Some of this dependence is not inherently bad, but it was growing to a point of becoming spiritually dangerous for me, as well as for my husband. Dave was, of course, flattered and happy to be my "everything," but he began to see a lessening in how his wife was pursuing the presence of Christ in all things. How blessed I am to have married this man, for he was unpretentious enough to guide me back to the One my heart should always be fully captivated by. My kingdom life and work could have been damaged and/or delayed by the enemy's attempt to distract me, even with something as wonderful as my new spouse! The devil is devious and underhanded to do such a thing, but he is so successful at it that many Christians, myself included, can easily fall prey to it.

Perhaps your distraction is not a person, but might be technology, a hobby or the busyness of your life doing good and valuable kingdom things. The devil knows where we are weak and most likely to be tempted. Sometimes it doesn't take long before we are physically or mentally caught up in the presence of what is not God's intent for us. The key is to recognize when this is beginning to happen to us and to find victory. For some of us, it will mean a greater effort, for we have already become addicted or distracted. We must help one another and encourage each other to be faithfully yoked to Jesus over all other distractions (even those that seem to be kingdom-focused).

That said, how can we pray for God's best kingdom life each day? Here are several to get you started:

Father, help me to have a repentant heart for all the times I have placed others and other things above or before You! Give me a deeper desire to soak in Your perfect presence so that I will want nothing more than I want You! Forgive me for my inattentiveness and neglect. Forgive me for my wandering heart and thoughts. Forgive me for straying from Your kingdom in favor of my own!

Grace-filled God, help me to keep my eyes fixed upon Your face and my ears listening for Your voice today. Help me not to waver to the right or to the left but to walk in the way You guide me for Your kingdom's sake.

Father, protect me from the temptations and roadblocks the enemy puts in my path to "cut in on" my journey to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those You put in my path. May I never be so distracted that I am not fully aware of a divine appointment or a task You place in front of me.

Holy Spirit, help me to put on Christ daily and to clothe myself in the armor of God each day so that I might be prepared for the battle. May I be continually aware of wearing the righteousness of Jesus.

Lord Jesus, give me the strength to turn away from the things that I tend to spend so much time with that they have become or have the potential to become idols in my life. Give me quick recognition right now of anything that I need to say no to in order to say yes to You! Help my everyday life to be a reflection of Your kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven!

Kim Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries and the author of The Praying Family (c) 2015 Harvest Prayer Ministries.

Kim Butts Featured Opinion Sun, 29 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
How to Deal With Nasty Religious People

I will never forget an incident that happened in a small church my dad pastored when I was 10 years old.

Two deacons accosted my father one evening during the prayer time at the altar. One of them was big and the other was fat. The big deacon put his fist on my dad's chin and told him to resign because my dad, in their eyes, wasn't "spiritual."

My dad had not embraced some of the crazy and nonbiblical manifestations that a group wanted to bring into the church. Additionally, my dad preached from notes—a cardinal indication in their eyes of his lack of anointing!

That incident marked my first encounter with nasty religious people. It would not be the last.

My father graciously stood his ground and didn't resign until those people left and the church was stabilized with people of godly character. I admired the heroic way he responded—he didn't act like the devil in resisting the devil (see Jude 9).

Jesus also dealt with individuals who were outwardly religious but not inwardly godly. His conflict with them had been building. It started when He forgave a paralytic of his sins (Mark 2:6–7). The religious types didn't like Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, or the disciples of Jesus not fasting, or the disciples plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath, or Jesus healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 2:15–3:6).

Religious headquarters now got involved. A delegation walked the nearly 100 miles from Jerusalem to accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed. Their goal was to discredit Him. (You really have to be upset to walk that far to make an accusation!)

They couldn't argue against the wisdom of His words or the wonders of His works, so they attacked Him by alleging the source of His power came from the prince of demons.

These weren't theological liberals who debunked the unseen world of the supernatural.

No! These teachers of the Law were persons who spent their life in the "Book." But they didn't know its Author!

They had mastered theological study without knowing God. Their relationship was with the words and interpretation of the text, but their lives did not reflect the goodness and kindness of the living God.

The two deacons who nearly assaulted my dad, like the teachers of the Law, had a disconnect between their theology and their actions. Why would any person who presents himself as spiritual threaten to slug someone? Why would harsh and unkind words be said—all in the name of God?

Our culture is filled with preacher's kids, deacon's kids, and former church members who have abandoned the church—not because of the gospel but because of the poor example of nasty religious people. My heart goes out to them because the representation they saw of the gospel is not the real one.

Let's never become persons who are expert in doctrine but devoid of the character of Christ. What good is served if we are full of opinions and information but lacking in love and kindness?

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, let me never be a person who causes others to stumble and lose their way through my bad example. May my words and actions always be consistent with my confession of faith in You. {eoa}

Excerpted from Dr. Wood's book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available from Vital Resources. George O. Wood is the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

For the original article, visit

George O. Wood Featured Opinion Sun, 29 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People

Difficult people—we all know them, don't we?

At first glance, they may not look the same. After all, different people aggravate us for different reasons and in different ways. But no matter what they do or what they say that puts us over the edge, you may be happy to know that there is a way to redeem the situation!

Think back with me for a moment. When you come across someone annoying, what's usually been your first response? Remember when you had a group project in school with the kid that just wouldn't do anything? Or when there was a team presentation at work, and you had to deal with that co-worker who was just oh-so-very controlling? Or maybe you were part of a committee where the chairperson had absolutely nothing good to say about your contributions?

How did you respond? What was your reaction?

When you were in that group project at school, weren't you just counseled to do your best and get through it? Perhaps at work, with that uber-control-freak, you found yourself just backing off and letting the chips fall as they may. And didn't you feel just a tad disappointed in yourself when you heard yourself talking trash to your peers about that super critical chairperson in order to improve your reputation and feel better about yourself?

The thing about difficult people is this: We normally, at the very least, want to get away from them. At the other end of the spectrum, however, we may find ourselves wanting to do something to pay them back for the discomfort or pain they've inflicted.


One thing that you don't need too much life experience to realize is this: there will always be difficult people in our lives. There will always be people who rub us the wrong way, who "get our goat," who step on our very last nerve.

So I'd like to propose a better way to deal with those inevitable challenges. While it may not be easy or fun, I can guarantee that you will never again look at difficult people with the same attitude!

Ask yourself this:

What is this person revealing about me?

Because we will have difficult people in our lives, we will always, out of necessity, react. If we look for ways to escape the situation, we lose valuable opportunities to grow emotionally and spiritually. By taking your eyes off the other person and putting your energy instead on self-improvement, you can turn the situation around.

Let's look at the situations I presented in the beginning of this piece. I'm not a psychologist, but some of my personal experiences do suggest a few possibilities:

  • Not approaching the student who doesn't contribute to the group project may reflect a difficulty you have confronting others, standing up for yourself or estimating the value of your work or abilities.
  • Backing off from the control-freak may reflect similar issues, or perhaps a lack of self-confidence or self-esteem.
  • Trash talking your critical chairperson may indicate subtle feelings of superiority or pride, or even envy or covetousness.

And only you know in your heart of hearts what is true.

See what we did there?

By turning it around, your energies can go to working on your own issues and healing whatever hurts or pains you own, which in turn helps you grow into a healthier person who is better able to handle those very same "difficult people"!

It's not magic, but it almost feels that way.

It's not simple, but if practiced, it can become a healthier "go to" response.

It's not easy, at first, but over time and as it becomes more of a habit, it will become an effective tool for positive growth.

It certainly won't remove those difficult people from your life...but it sure will put them to good use!

Reprinted with permission from A Little R N R blog managed by Rosilind Jukic. Pat Fenner has been homeschooling her five children for 20 years, learning and changing her methods quite a bit during that time. Preparing for a soon-to-be empty nest, she shares what she's learned and encourages others in the journey over at Join them over a cup of coffee and sign up to get useful and creative parenting and homeschooling "members-only" helps.  * The basis for this post came from a sermon delivered at Greenbriar Church in Albany, GA by pastor Tim Bice on April 10, 2016

Pat Fenner Featured Opinion Sun, 29 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
What to Say to Your Child About Transgender Bathrooms

"Mom, there's a girl in my class who says she's a boy, and we're all supposed to treat her like a boy. We call her a boy name and everything. Is she a boy, Mom?"

A Brave New World?

My nephew was 9 years old when he asked his mother this question. How would you answer? Ready or not, the question is coming. With the legalization of gay marriage and Obama's recent directive that all public schools provide transgender bathrooms or risk the loss of federal funding, parents are officially swimming in uncharted territory.

It's an ocean of relativism, where absolute truth is outdated at best and offensive at worst. The only "reality" in our society is that people determine their own reality. Giving individuals the freedom to formulate their own "truth" is seen as tolerant while denying such a freedom is often viewed as arrogant and small-minded.

But it wasn't always this way. There was a time when mainstream society held to certain absolute truths, such as the biological and scientific truth that God created two genders: male and female (Gen. 1:27). Basic societal laws regarding marriage, restrooms, college dormitories, organized sports and the like supported this absolute truth.

Not anymore.

How do we raise children in this "brave new world"? More and more, I hear Christian parents making statements like "I don't want to impose my beliefs on my children. I want to allow them to find their own way. I want to raise them spiritually neutral." It sounds humble, and society applauds. "Let Johnny find his own reality! If it turns out he's really Jenny, more power to him!"

But the Bible calls such human "wisdom" foolishness.

As a matter of fact, the Bible urges parents to take exactly the opposite approach, intentionally raising their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 6:6–7, after exhorting the Israelites to love the one true God with their whole hearts, Moses issues a mighty charge:

And these words ... shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (emphasis added).

That is spiritual training around the clock! It is a lifestyle of instilling truth deeply within the hearts and minds of our children. Proverbs 22:6 reiterates, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." The book of Proverbs goes so far as to say if we withhold spiritual discipline and instruction from our children, we set our hearts on putting them to death (Prov. 19:18). Yikes, right?

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

So what should we be teaching our children when it comes to transgender policies? How can we use the Bible to answer our kids' toughest questions? I could write a theological paper, but many smarter bloggers have already done that. Instead, I want to write mom-to-mom with simple, practical words I would actually use in the lives of my own children when the time comes.

Let's tackle my nephew's question first:

Are girls who think they're boys actually boys? (Or vice versa?)

No, son, the little girl in your class is not a boy. Being a boy or a girl is not about how you feel, what you look like, the clothes you wear or the toys you like to play with. The Bible says God chooses whether we are born boys or girls. Our gender is precious and part of His beautiful plan for our lives. We cannot change it, no matter what we do. Even if someone believed he was a monkey, it would not make him a monkey. Feelings do not change the truth. The Bible says Jesus is the truth (Gen. 1:27John 14:6).

Why do some people want to be (or say they are) a different gender?

Some people don't accept the gender God has given them because we are born sinful, and we live in a broken world. Sin makes people sad, rebellious and confused. You and I are this way too. We don't want to follow God's plan. Instead we want to be the boss of our own lives. But God alone deserves to be the Boss. He is the strongest, wisest and most loving. Following Him is the best decision we will ever make (Rom. 3:23Ps. 51:51 Cor. 1:25Ps. 62:11).

How should I treat a kid in my class who says he is a girl?

You must remember that God loves that little boy very much. Jesus died to save him from his sin. One of the ways you can love and honor God is to love that boy. Treat him kindly. Do not ever make fun of him or talk about him behind his back. Instead, pray that God would teach him who God wants him to be. Always remember that just like you, he is very valuable to God (John 13:353:16Col. 4:6).

If kids ask me what I believe about this, what should I say?

Do not be afraid to tell the truth! The Bible says to speak the truth with love. You can tell your classmates that you believe God decides whether we are boys or girls, not us. Tell them that God loves us even if we are confused about our gender. Tell them He died to save us from sin and brokenness. If you get in trouble for sharing what you believe, your father and I will speak up for you. According to the law of our country, you are allowed to believe the Bible and talk about it. Never be ashamed to follow Jesus! Jesus once said that if we are ashamed of him before others, He will be ashamed of us before the Father (Eph. 4:14-15Mark 8:38).

Should I call a boy a female name if the teacher tells me to?

The Bible says we should obey people in authority, like teachers and principals, as long as their rules do not violate God's rules. It's OK to call a boy a female name if that is what your teacher says to do. It is not sin to call someone a name they want to be called. A name is just a name. It doesn't make someone male or female. But as you call this boy a new name, remember in your heart that he is still a boy and pray that God would help him realize that too (Rom. 13:1Ps. 103:19).

What should I do if the teacher says a girl can come in the boys' bathroom or locker room? (Or vice versa?)

Tell your teacher that you are not comfortable changing in the locker room with a girl present. Ask if you may use a private bathroom, and when you get home, your father and I will call the school to talk about it more. If the teacher does not let you use a private bathroom, politely say you will not go in the locker room, and your mother is happy to pick you up and take you home. At that point, your dad and I will handle the situation for you. Remember, you do not have to obey someone in authority if their rules violate God's rules. God says that we are to be pure and set apart. Part of purity means boys and girls should not see each other undressed (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Thess. 4:7).

A Starting Point

Always, the challenge in blogging is tackling a big subject in a small amount of space without dying the death of a thousand qualifications. That being said, obviously these answers are just a starting point. Obviously, they will launch us into deeper discussions. Obviously, our responses will vary depending on our child's age and spiritual maturity.

My hope in this article is not to offer "quick-fix" answers to major spiritual questions. My hope is to offer a glimpse of theology applied. My hope is to challenge parents to think carefully about how we are influencing our children's worldview. Whether we realize it or not, we always raise our kids with a specific worldview. To tell Johnny that he can believe whatever he wants to believe about God with no eternal consequences is not raising him "spiritually neutral." It is indoctrinating him with a very particular, biased worldview.

Parents, that means we have a choice to make. We can ride the tumultuous tides of culture, or we can ground our children in the God of Light, whose teaching and character does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). Either way, neutrality is simply not an option. {eoa}

Reprinted from © Revive Our Hearts: True Woman. Jeanne Harrison is a student pastor's wife and mom to three little girls. Jeanne blogs about finding contentment in the lot God has given us—be it beautiful, painful, or at times downright disgusting! Recently she published her first book, Loving My Lot: A Young Mom's Journey to Contentment.

Jeanne Harrison Featured Opinion Sun, 29 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
2 Miracle Stealers We Need to Bind and Break Right Now

I've been decreeing and declaring—and witnessing—more miracles in the past year than I've seen in the past 10 years. We saw stage 4 cancer healed at Awakening Healing Rooms, and I saw legally blind eyes opened in my recent California meetings.

Indeed, we've entered into a season of astounding miracles in America—and this is just the first fruits of a new healing movement emerging even now. I am convinced only two things are holding back a mass outbreak of God's miracle-working power: unbelief and a works mentality. The unbelief will fade away as the number of undeniable miracles increases, because faith not only comes by hearing but also by seeing. The works issue is a different story.

Even after we've witnessed miracles, many times we try to work our way into kingdom manifestations due to teachings that insist we must confess our way to breakthrough. I believe in declaring the Word, but the Lord declares, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" (Zech. 4:6). On the other end of the spectrum, we have religious spirits that deny the gifts of the Spirit still operate today (2 Tim. 3:5). Paul said we are to turn away from religion that denies the power of God.

Listen to Jennifer's podcast on receiving your miracle today!

Your Faith Does the Work

The book of Mark is action-packed with miracles. In Mark 1 we see Jesus' baptism, temptation in the wilderness, the beginning of His ministry in Galilee and the calling of the first disciples—then the miracle ministry began. Here's a list from the first six chapters:

  • Jesus cast a devil out of a man in the synagogue (Mark 1:25).
  • Jesus healed Simon's mother (Mark 1:31).
  • Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons (Mark 1:34).
  • Jesus preached in the synagogues and cast out demons (Mark 1:39).
  • Jesus cleansed a leper (Mark 1:41).
  • Jesus healed a paralytic (Mark 2:11).
  • Jesus healed a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:5).
  • Jesus calmed the storm (Mark 4: 39).
  • Jesus cast out a legion of devils from the demoniac (Mark 5:8).
  • Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:29).
  • Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mark 5:41).


When you read those accounts, you'll notice two things: (1) Jesus didn't strive and struggle to do these miracles. He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit, and (2) those receiving miracles didn't struggle unto breakthrough. They didn't get into works. They believed that Jesus was willing and able to heal them and they let their faith do the work.

Remember, Jesus told the woman with the issue of blood her faith made her whole, not her works. Still, sometimes it's hard to believe. That's why the man with the epileptic boy in Mark 9:24 cried out to Jesus with tears, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!" All things are possible with God, as I discuss in my book Developing Faith for the Working of Miracles.

Works Mentality Combats Faith

Even after Christ's disciples had seen many astonishing miracles of healing and deliverance—and even after they used His authority to do those same works with great success—the works mentality crept back in when it came time to feed the 5,000 as recorded in Mark 6.

Here's the scene: The disciples told Jesus to send the hungry crowd home to eat. "But He answered, 'You give them something to eat. They said to Him, 'Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?'" (Mark 6:37).

What happened? Suddenly, they are faced with a situation they hadn't seen before and they knee-jerked back into works. That's what we do. Some of us can believe for finances because we've received financial miracles. Others stay poor because they don't have the faith for it so they get into works. Some can believe for healing miracles because God has healed them in the past. Others stay sick because they don't have faith for healing and they get into works.

Flip to Mark 8, and the disciples are faced with another feeding miracle—and their faith failed them again. That's what we do sometimes. God comes through with a miracle in a hard situation but the next time we face that same circumstance, our faith falters because we think we don't deserve His grace. That's true, we don't deserve His grace or His mercy, but He pours it out on us anyway.

How to Receive Your Miracle

Always remember this: The way we received salvation is the same we receive miracles—or tap into the gift of the working of miracles. We discover this reality Ephesians 2:8-10 (AMP):

"For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]"

God is willing and able to break into your situation and bring deliverance, healing, provision or whatever else you need. If you are going to strive, strive to enter His rest (Heb. 4:11) instead of striving in works that wear you out and rob your faith. As Jesus said, "Only believe" (Mark 5:36). {eoa}

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Opinion Sun, 29 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
BREAKING NEWS: TBN's Jan Crouch Suffers Massive Stroke, Family Praying for a Miracle

TBN co-founder Jan Crouch has been hospitalized in Orlando, Florida, after a massive stroke. The TBN family is asking for miracle healing prayers for the 78-year-old Christian media pioneer.

Crouch and her husband, the late Paul Crouch, founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network in 1973. She produced multiple television programs including Praise The LordThe Glory of America and Say Yes. Paul Crouch passed away in 2013.

 According to the TBN website, today TBN and its 26 global networks and affiliates reach every inhabited continent on 80-plus satellites and more than 20,000 television and cable affiliates, as well as via the internet, Charisma News previously reported.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Fri, 27 May 2016 23:00:00 -0400
2 Ways to Position Yourself for the Miraculous

"Speech is silver; silence is golden." —Ancient Egyptian proverb

In our busy world, we are constantly fighting for our voices to be heard. But what if in some moments, the best thing we can do is be silent? There are some battles in which silence is the most powerful weapon we wield.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not talking about being arrested by fear. I'm speaking of the times when God whispers, "Leave this one to Me." In those moments, remaining still often requires more strength than striking does.

Perhaps our best biblical example of a "this one is too big for you to handle" battle is when the children of Israel left Egypt, the land of their enslavement. Even though Egypt's pharaoh had freed the Israelites, he changed his mind and sent his entire army against them.

Naturally, the Israelites were more than a little frightened as they beheld the chariots and horses bearing down on them. By all logical assessments, they were trapped with a vast sea looming before them and the world's finest army arrayed behind them. But our amazing God views ambushes without any means of escape as opportunities. Israel was right where God wanted them. Moses boldly declared:

"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent" (Ex. 14:13-14, ESV).

Of course, most of the battles we face do not include epic physical displays of power. Our enemy is not chasing us with chariots and spears. His attacks are subtler, and more likely than not he is armed with lies of distortion, isolating rumors, and immobilizing fear. Yet we are promised that God has our back because He is our rear guard. We have His assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Let's look at Moses' admonishment again from some other angles:

"Moses spoke to the people: 'Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you're never going to see them again. God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!'" (Ex. 14:13-14, MSG).

And again:

"Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still'" (Ex. 14:13-14, NIV).

There is a recurring pattern here for us to follow:

1. First and foremost, we are not to be afraid. We are to banish every aspect of fear from our minds and not allow it to muddy our thinking.

2. Next, we are charged to stand firm and hold our ground. This means we don't run, yield or back down but instead remain upright just where we are.

With these two elements in play, we are positioned to see God do the miraculous. He invites us to be amazed as we witness His deliverance and salvation on our behalf.

Are you facing a battle too big for you to fight? Ask God for the wisdom to discern when you need to assume the posture of fearless silence. As our Father promises, when He fights for you, the victory is assured—you need only to be still! {eoa}

If you want to learn more about the power of silence in spiritual battles, check out Lisa Bevere's book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero. Lisa Bevere is an international speaker, best-selling author, and co-founder of Messenger International. In her transparent style, Lisa shares God's Word woven with personal experiences to empower lives with freedom and transformation. Her heart breaks over social injustice. As an advocate for change, she rallies others to be an answer to desperate problems near and far. Lisa begins her days with mochas and ends them laughing around the dinner table. Lisa lives in Colorado Springs with the love of her life, author and speaker John Bevere, and their family. For more about Lisa, check out her website at

Lisa Bevere Featured Opinion Sat, 28 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
5 Ways to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

We don't have a perfect marriage. We are not coming at this thing from some arrival point. We are humbled by the magnitude and often difficulty of marriage. Nevertheless, we have found some things that work, so we wanted to share them with you. The list is not exhaustive, but we hope that it blesses you nonetheless.

It all began when my wife asked me a question: "If you could give one piece of advice to a couple about to get married, what would it be?" I didn't even have to think about it. "Die to self," I replied. She found the answer appropriate, if not a bit morbid. My wife is more the flowers and rainbows type, and I am the militant practical type. Our polar natures are both challenging and extremely rewarding. I still like my answer, but hers was better (though ultimately related). She said, "Make God the center of your marriage."

The reason for this question? Today is the five-year anniversary of our wedding day. God has been the focus of our marriage, and so it only made sense that we would hope to honor God in our anniversary celebration by sharing our love with the rest of His people. Certainly, we went out, ate good food and did fun things. However, we also wanted to make sure that we acknowledged God, and so we sat down on the first day of our multi-day celebration and talked—not just about the good times but also the challenges, of which there have been many. As we discussed, we thought it would be a nice to share part of our conversation with you. Without further ado, here are "Five Steps to Marital Success."

1. Make God the Center of Your Marriage

As my wife pointed out, God needs to be the foundation of everything, because God changes everything. He gives purpose, direction, and an ethical foundation. He is the source of all that is good and the solution for all that is not. Whatever you do, do it for God's glory and you will be blessed, as individuals and as a couple. Out of this relationship with God, all the other points flow.

2. Die to Self

Of course, one of the most foundational New Testament messages deals with dying to self. This gets missed so much in our modern culture, which prefers to avoid the difficult and the selfless. We live for ourselves. We die for ourselves. And, of course, we marry for ourselves. So often, in our current day, relationships are all about us. What can this person do for me? What can I get out of this relationship? If you are the priority, the relationship is doomed, because inevitably the other person's utility wears out. What are you left with then? A person, not a product. If you married them for their productive value in your life and not so that you can have your soul knit together with another, flaws and all, then you are in for a disappointing ride.

A God-centered marriage is the opposite of the above description. It is not about "what's in it for me." Marriage is an illustration of God's love for us, which is selfless, sacrificial, even to the point of death (see Ga.l 2:20, Col. 3:5, Luke 9:23-24, 1 Pet. 4:1-2, etc.). In order for marriage to succeed, we must lay down ourselves for the sake of someone else.

We become servants of one another. One simple example of this is the willingness to learn and speak the other person's love language(s). My wife likes quality time and (thoughtful) gifts. While I love quality time, I don't care much about gifts. She will spend hours writing cards to friends and relatives for any and all reasons. This makes little sense to me, but if I neglect to "die to self" and see that her language is just as valid as my own, then I will miss out on a key component of being able to reach her and bless her. (By the way, here is a short article on the 6th Love Language.)

We hear it at just about every wedding, but take a moment to actually consider the Bible's definition of love: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love flaunts not itself and is not puffed up, does not behave itself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails."

Spend some time contemplating those descriptors. Does this mirror your definition of love? Is this how you view your relationship with your spouse (and others for that matter)? If this is not the attitude you have going into your marriage, adjust now! It will save and strengthen your marriage and your relationship with God. For more on defining love, check out this short video: Redefining Love.

3. Communicate in Love With Truth and Grace

Disagreement is healthy. Conflict grows us. It shapes us. However, it can also break us. Conflict is part of the territory in relationships. The goal is not to avoid conflict, but rather to face it head-on, with love, grace and truth.Learn how to express your grievances in a way that honors your partner. Be quick to share, and don't let things build up to the point that you explode at one another.

The New Testament gives some valuable insight, "Therefore, putting away lying, let every man speak truthfully with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give place to the devil" (Eph 4:25-27). Always work to calm things down before you go to bed. That doesn't mean that you will have all the details of your problems worked out, but making an effort to forgive and love one another through disagreement will bring peace to your relationship and guard against doorways that the enemy may seek to exploit!

4. Connect with Community

We all need support. It can't just be two against the world. Surround yourself with honest men and women that fear the Lord. Friends, family and a solid community of believers are invaluable. Whether it's someone to lean on during the hard times, someone to celebrate with during the good times or just a group of people that you can build a life with, community is crucial to marriage. Quite often, we truly are who we surround ourselves with. Therefore, surround yourselves with godly men and women who will help you grow in the Lord and one another.

5. Be Open About Your Sin

This one has been huge for us. There is a tendency to want to put on our best face for those we care about. We are aware that our sin hurts those around us, especially our spouse, and especially when the sin is against that person. Being open with one another does several things. It shares each other's burdens. It keeps us from concealing and being divided. It gives opportunity for grace and forgiveness. It gives an opportunity for prayer and wisdom. It keeps us vulnerable with one another. It knits a special bond that is shared privately between two people. When we know each other's weaknesses, we know each other deeper than the rest of the world, and we create a special, unbreakable bond.

Closing Thoughts

We are excited to reach five years. We look forward to the future. We hope that these thoughts bless you! If you have any friends that this message may bless, we would be honored if you would share it with them. Comment below. What has helped you in your marriage? As always, feel free to subscribe to this blog through the form to your right.

Chris Townsend spent the first 26 years of his life as an atheist. He now leverages that background to help reach the lost and disciple the found. He has studied supply chain management & business information systems at Texas Christian University, theology at Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), church history at Liberty University and apologetics at Biola. Chris is the president of Redeemed Royalty Ministries, a professor at Christ for the Nations Institute, and an itinerant apologist for Chris has written several books including Prove It: The Art and Science of Understanding and Articulating Why You Believe What You Believe and Ekklesia Rising: The Organization Formerly Known as Church. Connect with Chris at

Chris Townsend Featured Opinion Sat, 28 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Can You Bring Your Dry Bones Back to Life?

Do you have any dead bones lying around in your life? 

Perhaps you have dreams that are dead in the water ... or hopes that have been senselessly harnessed ... or desires that are now moldy and dusty.

What has expired in the recesses of your heart?

We all have plans and dreams that have gone awry and opportunities that have dried up with the passing of time. There are failures and disappointments that seem to define every waking hour of every quickly passing day.

Look around you. What do you see? Do you see a valley filled with the dry bones of unmet goals and finish lines that you have never crossed?

Do you believe that your particular mountain of dry bones is able to come back to life again? Do you believe?

The prophet Ezekiel was faced with such a problem; God took Ezekiel to the valley that was filled with dry, brittle bones. There was absolutely no life left in these bones! These bones were dead-dead bones.

God told Ezekiel to look at the mountain of dry bones and to prophesy over them.

"Again He said to me, 'Prophesy over these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you so that you live. And I will lay sinews upon you and will grow back flesh upon you and cover you with skin and put breath in you so that you live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 37:4-6, MEV).

When Ezekiel obeyed the Lord and spoke words of life over the dead-dead bones, do you know what happened next?

The bones began to rattle! What? The deceased bones began to show signs of life!

As the bones rattled with the possibility of new life and purpose, they began to grow back together and then sinews grew on them! A miracle was taking place before Ezekiel's very eyes! Flesh then became evident and skin began to cover the once dead bones.

How did this happen? It happened because Ezekiel spoke the Word of the Lord over the cold and lifeless bones! It happened because an ordinary man spoke the extraordinary words of His Maker.

But there was still no breath in these new bodies that were once dead. These bones that were once extinct and cadaverous now had now become like mannequins in the desert sun.

God spoke again to this incredulous prophet, Ezekiel, and declared, "Then He said to me, 'Prophesy to the wind; prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain so that they live.'" (Ezek. 37:9, MEV).

Ezekiel once again obeyed the Lord and the breath of life came into these once dead-dead bones. A mighty army rose in the midst of this valley that just minutes ago only housed dried up carcasses and petrified pieces of bones.

The Word of the Lord, an obedient child and the wind of the Holy Spirit will always conspire together for a miraculous ending.

It's time for your dreams to come out of the grave of disappointment and failure! Today is the day to speak the word of the Lord over the dreams of your youth and the hope of yesterday.

I hear some bones that are rattling. Do you hear it?

All of the dead places of your life have the potential to become a mighty, roaring and valiant army when you obey the Lord and speak life over that which is deceased and wasted.

Rather than being paralyzed by dead dreams and defunct hope, start speaking the Word of the Lord over the dead bones of your life.

"Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves. And I shall put My Spirit in you, and you shall live" (Ezekiel 37:13 & 14a, MEV).

It's time for the dreams of your life that have been the casualties of failure and disappointment to rise up like an energized and lively fighting machine. The dead bones of your past are the vibrant and victorious strategy for the Spirit of God to inhabit.

I hear some rattling bones that are shaking off death and receiving the life of the Holy Spirit. Are they your bones? {eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at

Carol McLeod Featured Opinion Sat, 28 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
When Your Pastor Sins

My first pastor, "Frank,"* who was like a big brother and father to me, is in prison. I don't want to say why he is in prison, but the reason shocked me. When I found out he was in prison, my first response to was to cut off every connection to him and banish him from my life.

Then a close friend of mine convicted me. My friend Bob* deposits money into his prison account every month so he can purchase stuff he needs. Bob told me that he deposits money into his prison account because Frank was the only leader in his life at that time that cared about him as a person.*

"He was the only one who asked me if I had a 401K set up," he says. "He was concerned that I was in the full-time ministry and not taking care of my future." This same pastor called some of his friends when I couldn't pay for my tuition that semester.

Pastor Frank also helped me when I was writing one of the biggest speeches in my life. He gave me advice that I follow to this day, which is: "Speak from the heart." He gave me my first "job" in the church and trusted me to become the leader I didn't believe I could ever become. He invested in me, and I banished him from my life because he sinned.

Looking back on that episode when the news broke, I remember wondering why there wasn't any way he could get help for this problem. I don't know what efforts Frank took to seek help, but knowing the church in general, there isn't a lot of help he could have received.

Pastor Frank's sin caused some people to doubt the validity of the church and their faith in God. I've continued to follow God but realized after reading Danny Silk's Keep Your Love On how I judged him and kicked a servant of God out of my life. Even though Pastor Frank is in prison, he is still a child of God whether I like it or not.

Danny Silk talks about "the sin problem" in the book. I've never heard anyone explain what has disturbed me over the 30-plus years I've been a member of various churches. I've done what he says:

"If you happen to burst this bubble of delusion by making a mess, then you are punished—usually by people turning their love off and disconnecting from you. Or your home group leader or pastor or some random church lady will tell you to knock it off and get your act together so the image of 'spotless' can be maintained for the public. You quickly learn that if you want to preserve 'relationship' in the church, then you cannot show people the truth of who you are. You must submit to control by hiding, performing and agreeing."

"Church leaders have to pretend that they don't ever sin. If you ever expect to move up the ladder of church leadership, then you have to become pretty fabulous at keeping secrets. 'This next level here, this is where we put you in charge of stuff. Now, this one right here is when you have a toilet in your house, but you have to act like you never use it. And people at this level here, well ... they don't use the toilet. Finally, this level would be senior leadership. That's when they actually come to your house and remove the toilet."

"Maintaining the illusion that absolutely no sin exists at the top of the ladder creates ridiculous gap between regular people, who sin, and leaders, who supposedly do not. It turns leaders into liars, because they are not allowed to be real people anymore. This only sets them up for isolation and a fall" (Keep Your Love On, p. 153).

I've fallen into the pattern of hiding, performing and agreeing. I've worked for pastors, and I know the load and expectations they are forced to live up to is inhuman. I've wondered if Pastor Frank had a safe place to admit his struggle if he would have ended up in prison? Or maybe he did find a safe spot to get help but refused it? I don't know the back story of his struggle, but I know regular church folk like me need to let our leaders sin.

Yes, you heard me right. Let your leaders be human and sin.

Your pastor or leader is going to disappoint you and offend you. They are going to freak you out or make you mad. But what we do with the disappointment, offense and being freaked out determines the depth and longevity of your relationship with God.

I'm convinced that God is far more gracious with His servants than I am. Let's look at some of the leaders that He called. King David had a guy killed and married his wife. Samson liked pretty women. Abraham's father, Terah, made idols. When Abraham's wife told him to sleep with her servant, he did not hesitate. God is a Father through the good, the bad and ugly in their lives. Most of the leaders God picked would not be selected by the church search committee for a pastor.

After all, Pastor Frank isn't God. He is a flesh-and-blood man who answered a call to plant a church in a city that he had never been in to reach a group of punk college kids like me who had never stepped in a church. He helped me find my first apartment. He helped me with my first ministry job. I thank God for sending Pastor Frank into my life when I was an unstable, worldly 18-year-old beach bum. He was the first leader who believed in me, and I tossed him out of my life.

After reading Danny Silk's book, I'm going to correct that. If you're a church member, I encourage you not to be offended, disappointed or freaked out when you see your pastor lose their temper or their humanity. Let them be human because you are human. Pray for them and stand with them even if they end up in prison.

*Names changed to protect their privacy.

Leilani Haywood is the online editor for SpiritLed Woman and contributes to Charisma, Christian Retailing and Ministry Today. She is an award-winning writer and author of Ten Keys to Raising Kids That Love God. Follow her on Twitter or on Facebook.

Leilani Haywood Featured Opinion Sat, 28 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Jennifer Eivaz Shares Dramatic 'Tornado' Dream: What Does This Mean for the Church?

One year ago, the Lord gave me a clear word for California while traveling to the Carmel coast. He said, "The drought is over, and the rains are coming back to California" (read it here). Thank God the rains have come, giving needed relief to this dry and thirsty land! 

A Dream of 30 Tornadoes

After the massive prayer effort in Azusa last month, my heart is stirred for what is to come, and I'm passionately seeking the Lord on these matters. When I received the word in Carmel last year, I was also given a dream. Here it is again:

"I was in a two-story educational facility in the middle of a well-watered lush valley and hillside. The facility didn't belong to me, but in the dream, I held authority to provide counsel within this building. I only saw one room on the top floor, but it needed some attention! It was dusty and the furniture was all out of place. I looked out the window and watched a white tornado hit a home about 1/3 of a mile away. It flattened the garage and then went through the interior and gutted the inside. I also knew there were 30 tornadoes coming toward this educational facility very soon. The facility leader was a pretty red-haired woman who had a small company of followers with her. I warned her in the dream about the coming white tornadoes."

I initially understood this dream as saying to expect white "storms," more like movements of glory to launch out of California. These moves of God would emphasize holiness, evangelism and glory. And then being true to natural weather patterns, these movements would pick up force as they headed east across the United States. I realize now that the dream was set in a well-watered lush valley and hillside, which could be the time frame of these moves.

These moves seem to be clocked to emerge as the physical rains saturate and heal the dry land. California land isn't there yet, but it's on its way. Like Elijah did on Mt. Carmel, we too are to pray boldly for the things God has said will come (1 Kings 18:41-43; Is. 45:11). 

Declare with me now: "Thank You, Jesus! We bless the rain in California, and we ask You for more!"

In the dream, there were 30 tornadoes. Why did I see the number 30? Again, I didn't account for it until now—the significance of this number. First of all, it means the beginning of rule and ministry. For example:

  • The priests did not begin their priesthood until age 30 (Num. 4:23).
  • Joseph began his leadership in Egypt at age 30 (Gen. 41:46).
  • David began his kingship at age 30 (2 Sam. 5:4).
  • Jesus began His ministry at age 30 (Luke 3:23).

Prophetic interpretation: Get ready for powerful new beginnings. Get ready to lead out in this glory movement. You've been prepared in secret, but you won't stay a secret. God will shine His light on you and reveal you to the others.

Promotion and Betrayal: Identify With Christ and Be a Glory Carrier

With promotion there always comes betrayal. Joseph and David, both being a type of Christ, experienced significant betrayal from friends and family. Even Jesus was betrayed by His teammate Judas for 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave and not a king. 

The number 30 is about significant promotion from God, but also a number for betrayal. Betrayal will come, but it carries a dual purpose and comes as the "sifter." It sifts wrong people out of your life, but it also sifts out your true heart identity. Who do you identify with more? Do you identify more with Jesus or do you identify with your friends, family, denomination or movement?

If your identity is firmly in Christ, your heart will remain in Christ even when wounded. If your identity is in someone else, you will lose your identity and not overcome your season of sifting. You have to know who you are and whose you are or you will stumble at this point and fail to carry the glory.

As a prophet who carries an intercessory burden from the Lord for this state (California), I often live out such prophetic words and become the message as much as I proclaim the message. Last October, I had a series of dreams that told me the things to come in my life. The dreams had similar themes with slight differences throughout. I only realize now that what followed these dreams in my life was actually mirroring, more like forerunning, this prophetic word for California.

First of all, I dreamed about changing rivers. I went from one river to another, and in my dream that new river was called the Stanislaus River. This river does physically exist in my area, but the dreams were really about an upcoming transition. I also found out what the word Stanislaus means. It means "becoming glorious." I also dreamed about a specific betrayal that did play out within days of this dream occurring. Again, this just follows the pattern connected to the number 30 as I mentioned earlier.

More Sifts and More Shifts

Going back to last year's original dream, there was a need to clean up and put things in order in the top places. This is about pruning, transition and significant change. I felt strongly then and even more strongly now that this is also about the reordering of relationships.

Prophetic word: More sifts and shifts coming ahead! Some were removed from you, but now people will be added to you. It's all part of a realignment to strengthen the body of Christ, which includes you. You need to run with those who are running in the same direction.

The glory of God is weighty, and He is doing what is needed to prepare individuals and groups of people to carry His glory. This glory is something we carry in our flesh. Since the Bible describes our flesh as being at war with the things of the Spirit and the Spirit being at war with flesh (Gal. 5:17), we have to put down our flesh and pay the price to carry what is costly.

We are to cultivate, expect and prophesy an "uncommon devotion" to Christ and His church. Raise your expectations and see it happening in the masses and not the few!

I've had the privilege of ministering throughout California in different organizations and churches consistently, and I've noticed one thing everywhere I go: hunger. People are hungry for the Spirit and to experience the move of God. I've witnessed the level of hunger to be much different this year than in previous years. There has been a shift. Let's go for more!

To the prophetic intercessor: You might feel like you are "spinning." The other morning, I woke up feeling like I was spinning. I knew it was spiritual and not physical. and the entire day seemed to be a whirlwind of issues. There were things spinning together and there were some things spinning apart. I felt this to be a sign in connection to these movements of glory and the shaking that comes with it.  

Spinning does a few things: 1) It shakes out what is not anchored to you or God, and 2) it creates momentum and force. If you want the momentum and force, then you need to accept the shaking. 

If you are spiritually sensitive and begin to experience bouts of "spinning," ask the Lord for discernment, but consider that it's a prophetic word from the Lord and something to prophesy and pray into.

California Starts Things

California has historically started things in the nation. Each state has its own glory, and California is no different. She is going to start something for good and push into the nation what is pure and powerful.

With that said, prepare yourself in prayer and:

  • Put things in order
  • Accept realignments
  • Reposition yourself for glory
  • And get moving! {eoa}

Jennifer Eivaz is a vibrant minister and international conference speaker who carries the wisdom and fire of the Holy Spirit. She presently serves as an executive pastor with Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, and is focused on raising up a passionate and effective prayer community that is tempered with love and hears the voice of God accurately. Jennifer loves the presence of God and is a prophetic voice to her church and to others. She is married to HCC Senior Pastor Ron Eivaz, and she's a featured writer for several online publications, including the Elijah List.

Jennifer Eivaz Featured Opinion Sat, 28 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Can the Amish Swing the Election?

Will the bearded, the bonneted and the barn-building Amish vote for the clean-shaven, combed-over, casino-building Donald Trump?

A new political action committee is betting $41,000 they will.

Called Amish PAC, the new organization will target Amish voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Vice News reported earlier this month. The PAC is not affiliated with a single candidate but has Republican roots.

"The purpose of Amish PAC's Plain Voter Project is to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by turning out a deeply conservative and often forgotten block of voters concentrated in two key swing states — the Amish," its mission statement reads.

The Amish, an Anabaptist group with German roots who refer to themselves as "plain folk," eschew many forms of technology, so the PAC will reach them mainly through newspaper ads and billboards, spending about $20,000 on each.

Donald Kraybill, a professor of sociology and religious studies at Elizabethtown College and the author of several books on plain folk, told LancasterOnline he has never heard of any top-of-the-ticket candidate aiming for the Amish before.

The new PAC is the work of two long-time Republican activists, Ben Walters, who worked on Dr. Ben Carson's campaign, and Taylor Swindle, a former aide for Newt Gingrich and graduate of Liberty University.

Both men live in Washington, D.C. — where Amish are rare — but have hired a Lancaster, Pa., local who owns a barn-building business as director of outreach.

The PAC is betting the conservative Amish — who number about 60,000 in Pennsylvania as well as in Ohio — will vote Republican as they did in 2012.

But Kraybill said that goal may be a long shot with Trump heading the ticket.

"I think on the one hand they respect business leaders and they view him as a successful business leader," Kraybill told LancasterOnline. "On the other hand his personal style and his sense of hubris and vanity are completely antithetical to Amish values of humility and so on."

© 2016 Religion News Service. All rights reserved.

Kimberly Winston/Religion News Service Featured Elections Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Christian Woman Accused of Blasphemy Does the Unthinkable

A young Pakistani Christian woman accused of blasphemy chose not to flee from her home, so that her Christian neighbors wouldn't be targeted in her absence.

The accusations against Sonia Gill, 23, were eventually withdrawn, but not before she had refused to leave the "Christian Town" settlement near Gujrat.

Dozens of Pakistanis have been murdered and Christian settlements attacked after blasphemy accusations. In all recent examples, Christians fled their homes in the wake of the accusations, but Gill refused to do so, despite angry protestations outside her home.

"If I flee, what would happen to my Christian neighbors and their houses?" she said. 

The accusation came less than a month after another Christian was accused of blasphemy in the village of Chak 44, just 100km away. On 16 May, an angry mob of about 70 people gathered outside Gill's house, led by Muslim cleric Khubaib Jalali, who used to live in Mandi Bahauddin, the nearest city to Chak 44.

At least 150 Christian families live in Christian Town, which has three churches.

How events unfolded

Gill's neighbor, Sharjila Komal, known as "Poma", accused her of using an advertising banner bearing the name of Prophet Muhammad as a floor covering. But Gill said the banners bore only the names of politicians and that her neighbor had another motive for the accusation.

"About three years ago, Poma's sister-in-law eloped with my cousin, Khalid," Gill said. "A police case was registered against Khalid, but the matter was settled after the woman returned. But that is why Poma had a grudge against us.

"Poma stitches clothes and lives next door to us. That morning, she came to our home to say that my niece's uniform had been stitched and could be picked up from her at any time. She saw an advertising banner spread on the floor, which had pictures of politicians and their names. My brother, Shaukat, has a keen interest in politics. These banners were used in November last year, during local elections, and now they were of no use, so we were using them to cover the floor."

Shaukat Gill added: "It was about 8 p.m., when about 70 people reached our home and demanded that the banner 'bearing sacred Islamic names' be handed over to them. I invited the prominent persons – who were about 18 in number – to come in and inspect the banners they believed bore the sacred name of the Prophet.

"After seeing the banners, these angry protestors said that they were not satisfied and that they would consult among themselves in the nearby mosque."

As the mob departed to discuss the matter at Mosque Gulzar-e-Habib, Shaukat Gill called the police.

"I suspected that the mob would return and may attack us," said Gill, who works as a driver in Gujrat. "The police arrived in a short while and brought the situation under control. In the presence of the police, banners were once again shown for examination, but nothing blasphemous was found."

However, Jalali filed a complaint against the Gills at the local police station and asked for a case to be registered under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The situation remained tense the following morning.

"Christian girls who returned from school told us that they heard in the street that a protest would again be taken out," Sonia Gill explained. "Poma said that she would go to any extent to teach me a lesson. I told her that nothing could take place without the will of my God. Several Christians and Muslims suggested that I should flee the place, but I said that if I did, angry protestors would harm other Christians and their property. Whatever they want to do, they should do it to me and not to others."

Accusation withdrawn

Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper reported that Sonia Gill had "begged pardon", even though the police said she was "innocent".

"My friends Mushtaq Butt and Allah Rakha Sahotra tirelessly worked with various communities in the city," said Shaukat Gill. "Although we were still very much worried, we believed that God would do a miracle. The next day after the incident, Butt told me that the matter had been resolved."

He added that Butt had been asked to swear on the Qur'an that the Gills hadn't committed blasphemy and would never do so. Butt stated this on oath, after which all accusations were dropped.

The cleric officially withdrew his complaint, writing the following statement: "It is submitted that I [the speaker] in the Gulzar-e-Madina Mosque. I had earlier submitted an application against Shaukat Gill and others regarding committing blasphemy against the Prophet. I have investigated the matter. No occurrence of blasphemy could be verified. As for now, I don't seek any legal action on my application."

"The situation of law and order is under control and the family is living peacefully in their home," said local policeman Ghulam Abbas Dogar.

Emergency hotline agreed

Punjab parliamentarian Mary Gill told World Watch Monitor that after hearing about the incident, she had travelled to meet the Gills and other local Christians. She then reported the case to the district police.

"The police have played a very crucial role in restoring law and order in both instances of blasphemy accusations in Mandi Bahauddin and Gujrat," she said. "It is very encouraging that at least in this instance Sonia did not have to flee the situation.

"As the second blasphemy accusation in less than a month surfaced in the same area, I directly informed the Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, about the situation and then went to ensure the safety of the Christians.

"On the instructions of the Chief Minister, the matter was discussed in a high-powered cabinet meeting on 19 May.

"I suggested establishing a minorities' protection cell, where quick information about such incidents could be provided and law-enforcement agencies could be mobilized to deal with such situations. I am happy that the cabinet meeting decided on establishing a cell that could deal with such untoward situations." {eoa}

This article originally appeared on World Watch Monitor. 

Asif Aqeel/World Watch Monitor Featured World News Fri, 27 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
What Caused Republicans to Storm Out of Their Own Policy Meeting?

Once upon a time, the Republican Party was viewed as the "party of God, Guns, and Glory," but there's growing evidence that stance may be weakening.

In the wake of a vote earlier this week to add an amendment to the energy and water budget bill that would strip faith-based military contractors of their religious freedom, a new report suggests the issue was far more contentious than originally thought. According to The Hill newspaper, one Republican congressman caused an uproar at a House GOP policy meeting held prior to the vote on the overall bill.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen's alleged offense: reading a piece of Scripture from his Bible that addresses the sin of homosexuality. While the specific book, chapter, and verse aren't known—and the Georgia Republican's office has not responded to media inquiries about the alleged incident—he also reportedly admonished his colleagues who were supporting what was viewed as an amendment that promoted an anti-Christian agenda.

According to the report, "several Republicans walked out of the room in disgust." And at least one of them, who didn't want to be named, expressed his frustration with a profanity-laced tirade afterward.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has not yet responded to the report.

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Franklin Graham Makes Prophetic Call for Daniels to Arise

At the 26 Decision America prayer rallies to date, many have been asked, Why are you here?

The answer is often one form or another of, "I'm concerned about the next generation."

And so is Franklin Graham.

"Daniel, in the Bible, lived in one of the most heathen, pagan countries in the world, but became prime minister under seven kings and two empires," Franklin said from the steps of the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck on Wednesday.

"We need Daniels today."

Several teachers at Williston Trinity Christian School are doing their part in raising "Daniels"—godly people who will stand up and stand out in a secular society.

When Lois Johnson, the 7th grade Bible teacher, heard Decision America was coming to her state, she knew it would be worth the four-hour drive from Williston.

"I just see the need for prayer in our country," she said. "I thought it was a great opportunity for our students to experience this, especially since it's such a pivotal year in America."

Word got around that Johnson planned to bring her Bible class; before long, the entire middle school was planning a field trip.

Some of the parents—and even the school's principal—came to stand with roughly 3,100 other North Dakotans.

"It is very special—in our country—to have this opportunity," said principal Cory Fleck.

"We are also aware that these freedoms could be taken away from us. I think that's why I felt the importance to come here. And if the students don't understand their rights as Americans—and as Christians—we'll be overrun, eventually," Fleck said.

As a social studies teacher, Angela Nible wanted her students to exercise the freedom they have as Americans to attend a public prayer rally and remind them of the blessings of choice when it comes to education.

"It's so important to have educational options—whether it's public school, Christian school or home school," Nible said.

"And to be able to come together like this and meet with the whole family of God is a freedom I don't take for granted," she added. "I hope this freedom continues. It's really important."

Nible's colleague Traci Shirk wanted Wednesday's rally to remind the students that God is ultimately the only reason America is free and blessed.

"We talk a lot about politics, and we study the history of our country," Shirk explained. "But we as Christians need to define who we are. Our founding fathers were Christians.

"We need to speak up and remind (the students) that our country is founded on faith and that's what will keep us strong, and that's what will keep our country blessed. These students need to experience what it's like to pray for our country, represent our country and have a voice for our country and our God."

Andrea Black, a 5th and 6th grade Bible teacher, said another benefit of the Decision America Tour rally was giving students a closer look at the life and ministry of Billy Graham.

"I have talked about Billy Graham in class, and I explain to the students that he has lived an uncompromised life of ministry," Black said.

"When someone can live that long and not compromise, we should listen to what he has to say," she added. "And now, to see his son here carrying on that legacy is a wonderful thing."

Black's hope after attending the Decision America Tour is that her students will be encouraged to be more than "Daniels." She wants to see them raise believers who will carry the torch of faithfulness—just like Billy and Franklin Graham.

"I want them to understand their parents have put them in a Christian school because it's important to them," she said.

"It's up to them to carry on that legacy to the next generation." {eoa}

This story originally appeared on

Joy Allmond/BGEA Featured U.S. News Fri, 27 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Why Are So Many Muslim Refugees in Europe Suddenly Finding Jesus?

Hundreds of Pakistanis and Afghans have been lining up at a local swimming pool in Hamburg, Germany, to be baptized as Christians. In the Netherlands and Denmark, as well, many are converting from Islam to Christianity, and the trend appears to be growing. Indeed, converts are filling up some European churches largely forsaken by their old Christian flocks.

All of which raises a question, not least, for the United States: If American presidential candidate Donald Trump gets elected and bars Muslims from entering the country, as he says he will, would the ban apply to Christians who used to be Muslims? How would one judge the quality of their faith?

For the moment, that quandary is a ways off for U.S. Homeland Security, but in Europe even now the phenomenon is fraught with echoes of the past, problems in the present, and omens for the future. Forced conversions of Muslims and Jews during the Spanish Inquisition were a dark page in Europe's history. More than a little suspicion surrounds some of the current conversions, seen by some to be cynical bids to improve the chance of getting asylum. And, looking forward, it's potentially quite dangerous for those who embrace the gospel to return to homelands where abandoning Islam for another faith can be treated as a capital crime.

Still, many preachers are pleased. The German pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran church in Berlin calls the conversion phenomenon "a gift from God." In his modest community a staggering 1,200 Muslims, mainly Afghans and Iranians, converted in just three years. 

In Hamburg, where German ARD TV showed the Pakistanis and Afghans lining up to be baptized by the pastor of the Persian Church community, more than 600 people reportedly were received into the congregation.

There is no reliable overall figure for converts in northern Europe, but judging by reports from different media outlets, it is safe to assume the number runs into the thousands, maybe even tens of thousands who say they want the gospel, "the good news," offered by Jesus Christ.

Click here to read the rest of the story. 

Nadette De Visser/The Daily Beast Featured World News Fri, 27 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Why Are People Setting Fires to Washington Churches?

 Authorities in southwest Washington were investigating on Thursday fires at two churches they believe were deliberately lit over the past two days and put places of worship in the area on high alert, police said. 

The suspicious fires occurred at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Vancouver, Washington, early Wednesday morning and at the Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene on Thursday morning, the Clark County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. 

Authorities "are investigating these two incidents as intentional acts of arson," the sheriff's office said. 

The Clark County Fire Department said authorities had yet to determine whether the two acts of suspected arson were committed by the same person. 

Sheriff Chuck Atkins "is asking that all churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship, remain vigilant," the sheriff's department said. 

Washington state media reported that the fire at the First Congregational United Church of Christ caused $2 million in damage. The fire at the Liberty Bible Church of the Nazarene was set when an object was thrown through a window and was quickly doused by the church's sprinkler system, media reported. 

No possible motive was known yet, the sheriff said. 

Vancouver, Washington, is a community of 160,000 people about 10 miles (15 km) north of Portland, Oregon. {eoa}

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Brendan O'Brien/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 27 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Should Congress Censure the President for His Hiroshima Speech?

As promised, President Obama didn't apologize to the Japanese for America's use of the atomic bomb to end World War II, but what he did have to say during the first visit to Hiroshima by a sitting U.S. president has many outraged.

"On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold, compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal," he said. "Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.

"The world war that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art. Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

He later suggested humanity's "material advancement" and "social innovation" blind us to the "truth": "how our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will ... also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction." Humans "easily learn," he added, how to "justify violence in the name of some higher cause."

"Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill," he said. "Nations arise telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats. But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different."

Joel B. Pollak, the Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News, wrote afterward that Congress must censure the president over those comments. Comments meant to cast doubt on the "sacrifices and motivations of the Americans who fought the Second World War — on the eve of Memorial Day, no less."

"Obama, a native of Honolulu who grew up near Pearl Harbor, said nothing about the fact that Japan started the war; nothing about the fact that the Japanese were responsible for the slaughter of millions of civilians throughout Asia and the Pacific; nothing about the fact that the Japanese refused to surrender after hundreds of thousands had already been killed in conventional bombing," he wrote. "He described the moral dilemmas of nuclear warfare as if no president, and no American, had considered them before. But he left out the moral case for ending the war, and the hundreds of thousands of deaths avoided because of Hiroshima ... As he has done before, Obama cast a moral equivalence between different civilizations, implying that Americans were just as bad as the Imperial Japanese, or anyone else."

It must be made clear—and only Congress has not only the authority, but the duty, to do so—that "Obama represented no one but himself" at Hiroshima, he added.

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Puff Daddy Combs: God Is My Best Friend

Though it might seem oxymoronic, the founder of Bad Boy Entertainment says God is his best friend.  

In an interview with Ebony, Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy, aka P. Diddy, aka Puffy, revealed his heart for God.  

"So, what does a label associated with weed smoking, Moet drinking, booty shaking and Big Willydom know about making a gospel album?"
Without missing a sampled beat, Puff answered, "First of all, God is my best friend; the reason I wanted to do a gospel album was to give thanks. Over the years, Bad Boy has made a lot of things cool, from the way we dress, dance, the sunglasses that we wear, and the designers we endorse. Well, now God is something we're going to endorse. A lot of kids think it's cool to spark a blunt in front of people, but they won't nod their heads to pray in front of those same people. Now, we want to make God cool." 

Combs was raised in Catholic Church and schools. The entertainer even sang in the choir and served as an altar boy.  

The New York Times reports Combs even has Psalm 23 tattooed across his forearm and "God's Child" on his neck. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Fri, 27 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
'No Hell' Rob Bell: We're Way Beyond One Particular Religion

Controversial author and former pastor Rob Bell appears to have moved completely away from John 14:6 if a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times is any indication.  

"And I think for many people, spirituality, religion, God, Jesus, whatever has been trivialized. I think we're way beyond one particular religion; we're about 'What does it mean to be human?'" Bell says

The focus on the human experience over pursuit of God and the supernatural—also known as humanism—is a step further than the universalism argument Bell presented in Love Wins.    

"Do you ever feel like you're skimming the surface of your own existence? Like you have more options and technology and places to go and things to do than ever and yet it feels at some level like you're missing out? Like you're busy, but it's not fulfilling? That's why I've written How to Be Here, to help us live like we're not missing a thing. Because that's what we all want, right—to feel like we're fully present, here and nowhere else, creating a life worth living," according to the book website

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Fri, 27 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Man Gets a Glimpse of Heaven in Near-Death Experience

His heart shut down. His blood pressure plummeted. What started as a routine procedure catapulted Dean Braxton's body into multi-organ failure.  

As doctors worked furiously to restore Braxton's life, his wife, Marilyn, began to pray.  

"I did say to the Lord, I said 'Lord, You said in Your Word that you've come to give Dean life, and life abundantly. And I claim that abundant life for him,'" she said. 

Watch the video to see what happened next. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Fri, 27 May 2016 11:30:00 -0400
Islam Once Commanded Respect for 'Holy' Transgenders, HuffPo Argues

The Huffington Post's religion "experts" strike again, this time with the claim that transgenders were once considered Islamic royalty.

Last week, in a poor effort to justify transgenderism in the eyes of Christians, an article appeared in the Huffington Post claiming that Jesus was the first transgender man. Now the publication is trying to do the same with Islam.

The article's author, Liaquat Ali Khan, claims that before the "self-righteous Anglican males of the self-assessed superior civilization" (a.k.a. British colonists) arrived in India, transgenders were actually well-respected members of the Moghul society. They "were called 'Khawjasaras,' a designation of respect and dignity." They "served as courtiers and councils" and as "security officials in charge of female quarters." Ali Khan doesn't offer any historical documentation to prove this, but plenty exists that show eunuchs fulfilled these roles. Yeah, those guys who were forcibly castrated so that they had no choice but to live their lives in servitude. That's not the same as a modern voluntary "transgender."

Ali Khan goes on to write that "in most parts of the Muslim world, transgenders commanded respect and were considered holy and special in the eyes of God." He thinks that "the Prophet of Islam treated transgenders with respect, prohibited their ill-treatment, and had good things to say about spiritually inclined transgenders."

That's interesting, because the Hadith, a collection of supposed quotes from the Prophet Muhammad, says things like "the Prophet cursed effeminate men and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, 'Turn them out of your houses.'" But details, like Islam's own religious writings aren't important when pushing a political agenda.

What does matter is that when the terrible, awful, white British men arrived in India in the 18th century, they were "repulsed by the sight of Hijras (transgenders)." These men invoked "the power of criminal law and associated prisons and penalties" in order to "[attack] the dignity of the transgender community." Ali Khan says that the British passed the 1871 Criminal Tribes Act in order to persecute transgenders specifically. The act, however, gave 150 different tribes criminal status. Not one transgender specific tribe. 150. And the intent behind the law was to bring groups like the Thugs, who murdered a million people between 1740 and 1840, to justice. But no, transgenders were definitely the Brits' main concern.

Today, Muslim transgenders are still suffering persecution—"the damage done to transgenders was irreparable." In Pakistan, "Transgenders are ridiculed and insulted. Popular TV shows, such as Khabarnaak and Khabardaar, make cruel jokes against the transgender community." Not cruel jokes, the horror! Conservative Christians in America wouldn't know what that's like. 

All of this is due to the legacy of the terrible, awful, British white men colonizing India. Not because Islam is politically incorrect and teaches that there's something wrong with transgenderism.  

In fact, Islam is so friendly to deviant sexual orientations that homosexuality is punishable by death in at least 10 countries, and punishable by other means in at least 37 other Muslim countries.

"Transgender Dignity in Islam"? Try again, HuffPost, maybe this time with the Buddhists. Liberals would love if transgenderism could be the height of nirvana. {eoa}

This article originally appeared on

Maggie McKneely/MRC Newsbusters Featured Culture Fri, 27 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
6 Giant Corporations Control the Media, and Americans Consume 10 Hours of 'Programming' a Day

If you allow someone to pump hours of "programming" into your mind every single day, it is inevitable that it is eventually going to have a major impact on how you view the world.

In America today, the average person consumes approximately 10 hours of information, news and entertainment a day, and there are six giant media corporations that overwhelmingly dominate that market. In fact, it has been estimated that somewhere around 90 percent of the "programming" that we constantly feed our minds comes from them, and of course they are ultimately controlled by the elite of the world. So is there any hope for our country as long as the vast majority of the population is continually plugging themselves into this enormous "propaganda matrix"?

Just think about your own behavior. Even as you are reading this article, the television might be playing in the background or you may have some music on. Many of us have gotten to the point where we are literally addicted to media. In fact, there are people out there who become physically uncomfortable if everything is turned off and they have to deal with complete silence.

It has been said that if you put garbage in, you are going to get garbage out. It is the things that we do consistently that define who we are, and so if you are feeding your mind with hours of "programming" from the big media corporations each day, that is going to have a dramatic affect on who you eventually become.

These monolithic corporations really do set the agenda for what society focuses on. For example, when you engage in conversation with your family, friends or co-workers, what do you talk about? If you are like most people, you might talk about something currently in the news, a television show that you watched last night or some major sporting event that is taking place.

Virtually all that news and entertainment is controlled by the elite by virtue of their ownership of these giant media corporations.

I want to share some numbers with you that may be hard to believe. They come directly out of Nielsen's "Total Audience Report," and they show how much news and entertainment the average American consumes through various methods each day.

Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes

Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes

Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes

Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes

When you add all of those numbers together, it comes to a grand total of more than 10 hours.

And keep in mind that going to movie theaters, playing video games and reading books are behaviors that are not even on this list.

What in the world are we doing to ourselves?

The combination of watching live television and watching time-shifted television alone comes to a total of more than five hours.

If you feed five hours of something into your mind day after day, it is going to change you. There is no way around that. You may think that you are strong enough to resist the programming, but the truth is that it affects all of us in very subtle ways that we do not even understand.

And as I mentioned above, there are just six giant corporations that account for almost all of the programming that we receive through our televisions. Below is a list of these six corporations along with a sampling of the various media properties that they own.


Universal Pictures
Focus Features
USA Network
The Weather Channel
Golf Channel
Esquire Network
Universal HD
Comcast SportsNet
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Studio Home Video

The Walt Disney Company

ABC Television Network
The Disney Channel
Marvel Entertainment
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Disney Mobile
Disney Consumer Products
Interactive Media
Disney Theme Parks
Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Miramax Films
Touchstone Pictures

News Corporation

Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox News Channel
Fox Business Network
Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports 2
National Geographic
Nat Geo Wild
FX Movie Channel
Fox Sports Networks
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Post
20th Century Fox
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Blue Sky Studios

Time Warner

The CW
Cartoon Network
Turner Classic Movies
Warner Bros.
Castle Rock
DC Comics
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
New Line Cinema
Sports Illustrated
Marie Claire
People Magazine


Comedy Central
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Home Entertainment
Country Music Television (CMT)
Spike TV
The Movie Channel
TV Land

CBS Corporation

CBS Television Network
The CW (along with Time Warner)
CBS Sports Network
CBS Radio, Inc.
CBS Television Studios
Simon & Schuster
Infinity Broadcasting
Westwood One Radio Network

Fortunately, those enormous media conglomerates do not have quite the same monopoly over the Internet, but we are starting to see a tremendous amount of consolidation in the online world as well. Just check out these numbers:

Overall, the top 10 publishers — together owning around 60 news sites — account for 47% of total online traffic to news content last year, with the next-biggest 140 publishers accounting for most of the other half, SimilarWeb found.

The biggest online news publisher for the U.S. audience was MSN, owner of, with just over 27 billion combined page views across mobile and desktop, followed by Disney Media Networks, owner of ESPN and ABC News, with 25.9 billion.

The battle for the future of this nation is a battle for the hearts and minds of individuals.

And it is hard to see how things will be turned in a dramatically different direction as long as most of us are willingly feeding our hearts and minds with hours of "programming" that is controlled by the elite each day.

The good news is that there are signs of an awakening. More Americans than ever are becoming disenchanted with the mainstream media, and this is showing up in recent survey numbers. Here is one example:

Trust in the news media is being eroded by perceptions of inaccuracy and bias, fueled in part by Americans' skepticism about what they read on social media.

Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public's view of other institutions.

As Americans (and people all over the world) have lost confidence in the mainstream media, they have been seeking out other sources of news and entertainment. This has greatly fueled the rise of the alternative media, and the dozens of websites all over the Internet where this article will ultimately be published are examples of this explosion.

You can only enslave people for so long. Ultimately, they will want to break free of the chains that are holding them back and they will want to find the truth.

In this day and age, it is absolutely imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves. If you find that you are still addicted to the "programming" that the giant media corporations are feeding you, I would encourage you to start unplugging from the matrix more frequently.

In the end, you will be glad that you did.

Michael Snyder Featured Opinion Fri, 27 May 2016 10:30:00 -0400
Marco Rubio Sticks to His Promise

For weeks, it appeared that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was among those who would remain a #NeverTrump voter to the very end.

Some of the worst vitriol of the presidential primary season was spewed back and forth between the Florida senator and GOP nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump. Until this week, Rubio had insisted upon holding onto the 173 delegates bound to him during the early stages of the campaign.

That all changed, however, after Rubio's interview Thursday with CNN's Jake Tapper. During that interview, he said that not only will he attend the GOP national convention in mid-July, he would also be willing to speak on Trump's behalf while he's there.

"I want to be helpful, I don't want to be harmful because I don't want Hillary to be president," he said.

Rubio was among the candidates who had pledged to support the eventual nominee, even if it was Trump. And while others have completely ignored that pledge, the Florida senator has followed through, even though they have a number of differences of opinion on policy issues.

Because of those differences, however, he doesn't feel he would be a good choice as Trump's running mate.

"In my view it wouldn't be the right choice for him," he told Tapper. "He deserves to have a running mate that more fully embraces some of the things he stands for."

Shortly after the interview aired, Trump took Twitter and suggested Rubio needs to stay in politics:

Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!

Rubio responded, as he has from the onset of the campaign, that he will not seek re-election to his Senate seat. Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a close personal friend, is already running in the crowded GOP primary field and has the senator's endorsement.

"He's focused on his campaign and I think he's doing well, you know, he's a good friend and I think he'd be a good senator," he told Bloomberg News.

Should Rubio have a change of heart, however, he still has time to get in the race. The filing deadline for the primary is June 24. And, according to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has asked all of the Republican senators to convince him to get in the race.

Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Relationship Between the United States and China Officially Going Down the Tubes

What happens when the two largest economies on the planet start fighting a trade war with one another? Well, we are about to find out. As you will see below, the U.S. has gone "nuclear" on China in a trade dispute over steel, and the Chinese response is likely to be at least as strong. Meanwhile, events in the South China Sea have brought tensions between the Chinese government and the Obama administration to a boiling point. The Obama administration strongly insists that China does not have a legal right to those islands, and in China there is now talk that it may ultimately be necessary to confront the United States militarily in order keep control of them. Most Americans may not realize this, but the relationship between the United States and China is officially going down the tubes, and this is likely to have very significant consequences during the years to come.

Let's start with the trade war that has erupted. About a week ago, we learned that the Obama administration had decided to "go nuclear" on China by imposing a 522 percent duty on cold-rolled steel from China that is used in certain kinds of manufacturing.

In some regard, China has reason to be angry: the US unleashed what is nothing short of a nuclear bomb in its rapidly escalating trade war with China, and recently imposed duties of 522% on cold-rolled steel used in automobiles and other manufacturing. In doing so it has rendered Chinese exports to the US unsustainable and will force even more excess Chinese production to remain landlocked within China's borders, making the domestic glut, and price collapse, that much worse.

Subsequently, it was announced that a 450 percent duty will be imposed on corrosion-resistant steel from China.

Corrosion-resistant steel from China will face final U.S. anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties of up to 450 percent under the U.S. Commerce Department's latest clampdown on a glut of steel imports, the agency said on Wednesday.

Needless to say, the Chinese are less than amused, because these "shock and awe" trade duties were clearly designed to punish China.

And of course the truth is that China has been abusing us for years, so there is definitely a case to be made that they deserve even harsher treatment. However, we need to keep in mind that the Chinese will retaliate for this. And when they retaliate, it will likely be quite painful for us. But for the moment, they are just issuing vague threats.

China's Commerce Ministry said it was extremely dissatisfied at what it called the "irrational" move by the United States, which it said would harm cooperation between the two countries.

"China will take all necessary steps to strive for fair treatment and to protect the companies' rights," it said, without elaborating.

Meanwhile, events in the South China Sea continue to push the United States and China toward conflict. Let me summarize a few of the most important things that we have seen over the past month.

  • In early May, Chinese authorities refused to give permission to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis battle group to make a routine port call at Hong Kong. The Chinese had not turned away a U.S. aircraft carrier in almost a decade, and many believe that this was in direct response to comments that U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had made regarding China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
  • Subsequently, the Obama administration sent the U.S.S. William P. Lawrence sailing within 12 nautical miles of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. This was the third time that Obama has sent naval vessels cruising by those islands, and it provoked an extremely angry response from China.
  • Just last week, two Chinese fighters and a U.S. spy plane nearly collided in mid-air approximately 50 miles away from Hainan island. This incident made headlines all over the planet.

Most Americans seem to believe that the Chinese are our "friends," but in China the perspective is completely different.

The Chinese consider the United States to be their No. 1 long-term strategic adversary, and they have been working feverishly to prepare for a future conflict with us.

For example, China just conducted a successful test of a new hypersonic glide vehicle that we do not have any defense against. The following comes from the Washington Free Beacon:

China successfully flight tested its new high-speed maneuvering warhead last week, days after Russia carried out its own hypersonic glider test, according to Pentagon officials.

The test of the developmental DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle was monitored after launch Friday atop a ballistic missile fired from the Wuzhai missile launch center in central China, said officials familiar with reports of the test.

The maneuvering glider, traveling at several thousand miles per hour, was tracked by satellites as it flew west along the edge of the atmosphere to an impact area in the western part of the country.

In addition, just today there were global headlines announcing that China is poised to send subs carrying nuclear missiles into the Pacific for the first time ever.

The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arguing that new US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing's existing deterrent force that it has been left with no alternative.

Chinese military officials are not commenting on the timing of a maiden patrol, but insist the move is inevitable.

They point to plans unveiled in March to station the US Thaad anti-ballistic system in South Korea, and the development of hypersonic glide missiles potentially capable of hitting China less than an hour after launch, as huge threats to the effectiveness of its land-based deterrent force.

Let us hope that a full-blown shooting war with China does not erupt any time soon, but the reality is that we are already locked in a conflict with the Chinese on a number of different levels.

In a recent piece, XKeyscore summarized some of the ways in which China is already seeking to gain the upper hand.

Economic warfare: purchase and/or sale of U.S. treasury bills, Yuan manipulation, government subsidized output (consumer goods), and trade/tariff manipulation.

Cyber-warfare: Engaging in data theft, backdoors, viruses, hacking

Cyber-kinetic warfare: The creation and deployment of Stuxnet-type viruses, and hacking which lead to physical damage of infrastructure such as power grids, nuclear facilities, hydroelectric and telecommunications systems.

Socio-political warfare: establishment of "Confucian Centers" in the US and around the globe, and the funding of US universities in exchange for roles in university policy-making processes, which often in turn promote communist ideology.

Territorial: China runs port operations in many of the worlds largest and most strategically valuable ports and SLOCs (Sea Lines of Communication). The best example is the Panama canal. Both ends of the canal are controlled by China.

To most Americans, our rapidly deteriorating relationship with China is not much of an issue right now, and very few of our politicians are even talking about it.

However, I am fully convinced that this is an extremely ominous development, and that it will have very, very serious implications for our country during the years to come.

Michael Snyder Featured Opinion Fri, 27 May 2016 09:30:00 -0400
Do These 43 Republicans Really Support President Obama's LGBT Agenda?

When 43 Republicans voted for U.S. Rep. Sean Maloney's and House Democrats' amendment to strip faith-based military contractors of their religious freedom on Wednesday night, it raised a number of eyebrows.

Did they really mean it?

According to at least some, they supported the amended version of the "policy rider" because it still ensured constitutional protection by referencing Article I and the First and 14th amendments. But there were others who were openly supportive of the measure.

That caught the attention of Ryan Anderson, the William E. Simon senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He researches and writes about marriage and religious freedom for the conservative think tank.

In a piece he wrote for The Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal, he stated:

Congress should not be ratifying Obama's radical transgender agenda and imposing these outcomes on private employers just because they contract with the government.

All Americans should be free to contract with the government without penalty because of their reasonable beliefs about contentious issues. The federal government should not use government contracting to reshape civil society about controversial issues that have nothing to do with the federal contract at stake.

Obama's executive order and the Maloney Amendment treat conscientious judgments about behavior as if they were invidious acts of discrimination akin to racism or sexism.

But sexual orientation and gender identity are not like race. Indeed, sexual orientation and gender identity are unclear, ambiguous terms. They can refer to voluntary behaviors as well as thoughts and inclinations, and it is reasonable for employers to make distinctions based on actions.

By contrast, "race" and "sex" clearly refer to traits, and in the overwhelming majority of cases, these traits (unlike voluntary behaviors) do not affect fitness for any job.

As for the argument for "constitutional protections" offered in the amended version of the policy rider, Anderson noted that liberal activist judges have and will continue to "do all they can to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity policies will trump religious liberty protections." Congress, he added, should never elevate sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes that garner special legal privileges.

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
How 'Drug-Bear, Iron Man' Dr. Michael Brown Found Jesus

The man behind AskDrBrown radio program fiercely argues for Jesus and against the rise of cultural perversion.  

But etched into his inviting face are the lines of a life before God.  

"When I was in high school, I earned the nicknames drug-bear and Iron Man," Brown says in a new video produced by ONE FOR ISRAEL Ministry.  

"I would take massive quantities just to see how far I could go," Brown says.  

But then, his friends told him about the book of Revelation and the end times. Brown was hooked.  

Watch the video to see his full testimony. 

Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Fri, 27 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Will Joe Biden Make a Run for President?

While the Republican presidential primary process seems to have been settled with the news Thursday that Donald Trump secured the 1,237 necessary delegates to become the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, the Democratic side hasn't quite been so neatly tied up.

But financial expert and national radio and television host Dan Celia, who leads Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries, says it doesn't matter which candidate you supported during "this agonizing season of primaries." The reality is that we are faced with Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton general election in November.

"Because of that reality, many need to stand back and re-evaluate their stance," he said. "But conservatives should stop foaming at the mouth, waiting for the FBI to indict Hillary Clinton. Let's wait until after the elections. My biggest fear is that she will finally step aside in July or August and we will have Joe Biden as president. I am not a conspiracy-thinking kind of person, but I said a year ago that this might be our current president's plan all along."

Celia said, instead of being preoccupied with whether or not there will be an indictment, we should instead focus on which candidate would be better for America. From a financial standpoint, he added, Trump would be better for the economy and would "bring back a strong middle class."

"Can Donald Trump beat Hillary?" he asked. "Yes! If conservatives can refocus on the differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We may have some conservative moral and ethical issues with Donald Trump, but let's look long and hard at our options."

Bob Eschliman Featured Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Should We Vote for the Lesser Evil of Donald Trump to Avoid the Greater Evil of Hillary Clinton?

When it comes to elections, people, especially Christians, more often than not, vote for the candidate who most represents their character, principles and values.

Now that the field of presidential candidates has been reduced to two likely choices representing each of their parties, many Christians are now promoting Trump in order to stop Hillary. This includes those whom Trump was not their first choice. They call it voting for the lesser of two evils.

Here's an example of the rallying cry these Christians are making for Trump:

They say President Barack Obama has brought our nation literally to the edge of death and destruction, which is true. They say that if Hillary Clinton is allowed by the American people to follow him, she will double down. They say if there is a Hillary presidency, there will be full-blown socialistic fascism in America within the next several years—we're talking Hitler-Mussolini style fascism.

Here are some of their talking points:

1. Hillary will come after our guns as she said she would, even with executive orders if necessary.

2. Christians will be persecuted and prosecuted for standing and speaking their convictions, period.

3. The IRS, Homeland Security, and the Health and Family Services will become the American Gestapo (to a great degree they already are—the clerk in Kentucky going to jail is just the beginning).

4. The LGBT is already materialistic, but they will be more emboldened under Hillary. They have a completely galvanized and streamlined strategy to bring wholesale perversion to and through the school system.

5. Democratic socialism will continue to transition into full-blown communism.

6. The Muslim brotherhood will entrench deeper into Washington, D.C., and across the entire USA.

7. Our southern border will be completely open and unrestrained.

8. Our national debt will continue to skyrocket.

9. Our military will continue to be degraded, demoralized and incapacitated.

Here is a direct quote from one of them:

"With another round of Democratic 'leadership' in the White House you will not even know what country you are in. It simply cannot happen. That's why those saying 'Never Trump' are not using sound judgment or reasoning."

"Oh really?"

We who disagree with this supposed logic might as well put a gun to our own heads, right?

Pretty convincing argument, though, isn't it? Personally, I'm not buying any of it.

Many Christians made their bed hard already by not voting for any of the principled leaders that represented the Republican party. They refused to vote the way the Bible tells us to vote.

"Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens" (Ex. 18:21).

Now they want true conservatives to vote for the lesser of two evils. Ha! The lesser of two evils is still evil! How can anyone in good conscience vote for evil? I've made that mistake before, and I refuse to make it again.     

This is what the evangelicals have done election after election with the Republican Party. Though we do not condone its sins, we keep enabling them with our votes, much like unwise parents enable their children to get away with disobedience and rebellion until it becomes a monster in their teenage years that is most difficult to slay.

Here is what a new and upcoming young Christian conservative voice recently articulated so well, which I believe is worthy of prayerful consideration.  

"In the same way, we criticize this sort of behavior on the left when black voters voted for Obama in mass because of the fear and guilt of betraying their party line; we are guilty on the right of the same situational ethic, the same enabling of evil and compromise, and bad behavior. We argue and scream: 'You have to vote for Trump to stop Hillary!'

"The reality is that we enabled the problem when we got in line behind John McCain, who after becoming the Republican candidate, laid aside his 'conservative' credentials and adopted Democratic Party talking points all the way to the end of his failed candidacy. Four years later, we enabled the problem again when we got in line behind Mitt Romney, who after becoming the Republican candidate, demonstrated his 'etch-a-sketch' flip-flopping skills as he ran even further left than McCain, even running pro-choice ads in the general election. Guess what? He failed as a candidate as well.

"Today we face an election with the binary option of choosing between two progressives: Hillary or Trump. Has there ever been a worse Republican candidate? Have we ever so utterly abandoned conservatism to be on the winning team choosing between two scandalously awful candidates? Have we ever so utterly abandoned the Bible, the Constitution, right-and-wrong, etc., to win an election? It is a disgrace! A disgrace we enabled and created with our lesser-of-two-evils voting logic.

"Today there is no candidate in the two major parties who represents Christians, (or even conservatism, the biblical application of a Christian worldview). Why? We have enabled sin and tolerated evil in our political parties, instead of drawing a line in the sand and saying 'No more!!!'

"The journey we have been on illustrates this political as well as spiritual reality: Nothing will make America great again short of the full conversion of its people. Some pastors are waking up to the reality that our churches are full of unconverted people because we have tolerated sin to boost church attendance. Now our churches are so biblically illiterate, if the pastor were to reverse course and stand for righteousness, he loses his seat at the table of his full-blown pagan congregation of idolaters. The mob has taken over and the pastor is just a hireling.

"In the political world, we have pet the demons within our party instead of exposing them and casting them out. We have adopted and constantly chant the mantra of: 'We aren't electing a pastor-in-chief'; because we are foolish enough to compartmentalize our faith, believing that we convert people politically in a different manner than what the Bible prescribes for conversion in general.

"In this election, the reason I am not voting Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is simple: I will not enable America's destruction. I care more about converting its people to Christ and true conservatism, character and principle than abandoning my core convictions to join with evil. There may be short-term pain as a consequence for my decision, but I'm not going to stare at my feet this election cycle. There is a bigger picture and a more long-term turn-around process that is required and it has to begin with a righteous standard.

"Christians, we have already failed this election season. It's time to stop playing the enabling-game. It's time to say no to both evils and take our stand." –Rev. Chace Gordon (paraphrased)

Bert Farias Featured The Flaming Herald Opinion Fri, 27 May 2016 07:00:00 -0400
Get Prepared for the 'Greatest Youth Awakening the World Has Ever Seen'

The time has come for another Great Awakening! In 1967, a youth revival called the Jesus People Movement started and it swept across the country, exploding in colleges and coffeehouses.

People were being saved everywhere. It was radical. At the time I was young and caught up right in the middle of it while attending Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri.

Now, close to 50 years later, we are crying out, "Do it again, God! Way beyond the Jesus People movement! Way beyond the charismatic movement! Do it again, God! Do it again in this generation!" With youth-oriented prayer movements like The Call chaired by Lou Engle and IHOP led by Mike Bickle, united by scores of prayer networks globally, we have more prayer today for a youth awakening than any previous time in church history.

I can feel it. I can smell it. I know it. Yes, we're turning the corner towards the greatest youth awakening that the world has ever seen. It has happened before. It can happen again. It's time for another shock wave of signs and wonders from the Holy Spirit to hit the church and cause the body of Christ to awaken. Why not now?

Frankly, I believe I have been saved from death almost four times to be alive for this hour. He has preserved my life so I can be one of the many fathers to a generation in need. I have the honor of participating in a new church planted in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, called "The Belonging." What a joy on Tuesday nights to be among hundreds of young people radically praising God. Consider the revival occurring in a high school auditorium in West Virginia today, or the glory outpourings in San Diego, California, called the West Coast Rumble, going into their 100th straight night.

These are the rumblings and beginnings of the new wine of His presence being poured out into new wineskins once again! At a 50-year mark of Jubilee, it is time for the captives to be set free and good news to be preached to the poor. Praise the Lord!

Revolution Almost Always Begins with Young Adults

Almost every revolution has started with students on a college or university campus. Throughout history, both bad and good revolutions frequently begin because student-aged young people are hungry for change and willing to lay down their lives for a cause, whether political, social or spiritual. Think of revolutions such as Marxism, Nazism and Communism, or even Pentecostalism and the Jesus People movement.

Campuses are where future leaders are collected together in one place and are being trained. They are influenced by powerful voices and trends, and they influence each other. Educational institutions also host many young people from other countries. In fact, there are more than 550,000 international students currently attending American universities. 

Young adulthood is a time of great change. Statistics show that more than 77 percent of all Christians made their decisions for Christ before they turned 21. A spiritual awakening among young adults is a prophetic promise for an entire generation.

If Christians can reach campuses for Christ, God can, in turn, reach cities and nations. The words that the apostle Paul wrote to the young man Timothy can apply to young adults on campuses today:

"This command I commit to you, my son Timothy, according to the prophecies that were previously given to you, that by them you might fight a good fight" (1 Tim. 1:18).

Throughout Christian history, spiritual battles result in spiritual awakenings, and young people are clearly at the center. Here is a taste of some of these mighty moves of God, detailed more fully in my book Prayer Storm.

Campus Ministry, Cambridge-Style

In 1799, an evangelical move of the Holy Spirit began at King's College in Cambridge, England. It began with the conversion of a student named Charles Simeon. This movement progressed slowly but surely for years until there was enough evangelical activity that, by 1877, students from across the 17 colleges of Cambridge organized the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU), which in turn caused an increased interest in salvation and missions. An evangelistic campaign led by D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey resulted in a noticeable increase in enrollment in theology schools and missions involvement, including the launching of the "Cambridge Seven" to China, led by well-known cricket player C.T. Studd.

More than a century later, CICCU still exists as Cambridge's longest-tenured student group, and CICCU has helped with the formation of InterVarsity organizations across Great Britain and North America. Campus ministries such as InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Navigators have helped immeasurably to spur the growth of evangelical faith over the past 50-plus years.

Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival of 1904

Young Evan Roberts began to seek the Lord when he was only 13 years old. By the time he was 26, his earnest prayerful efforts brought revival to his hometown in Wales. In a short time, the Spirit of God came so powerfully that 100,000 people across the country gave their lives to Christ. The effects of that Welsh Revival are still being felt today, especially because of its contributions to the birth of Pentecostalism in the United States and across the world.

Evan Roberts' simple prayer was "Send the Spirit now for Jesus Christ's sake," and "Send the Spirit now more powerfully for Jesus Christ's sake." He was a young man, but people of all ages responded to the gospel message because of his revolutionary zeal and his humble, prayerful obedience to the Holy Spirit.

The Role of Prayer in Student Revivals

In order to understand revival, we must understand the role of prayer in the history of revivals. J. Edwin Orr, the famous revival historian, said, "Young people in student-led prayer cells have been at the forefront in almost every awakening."

For example, the Moravian 24/7 prayer and missionary movement that was started in 1727 by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was built on his youthful zeal. By the time he graduated from the equivalent of high school at the age of 16, Zinzendorf had started no fewer than seven different student prayer groups, and he continued his prayer disciplines while he was a student at the University of Wittenberg from 1716 to 1719.

The First Great Awakening in North America and Europe was ignited by a Yale University graduate named Jonathan Edwards and by Oxford students John Wesley and George Whitefield. The Second Great Awakening was sparked by Timothy Dwight, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, at Yale University. After his 1797 message to Yale students, nearly half of Yale's student body came to Christ in a few short months.

Samuel Mills was a freshman at Williams College in Massachusetts in 1806, when he met with four friends for prayer about revival and world missions. When a rainstorm hit, they took refuge under a haystack and continued to pray (thus becoming known as the "Haystack Five").

"When the rain subsided, Mills stood up, slammed his fist into his hand, and announced 'We can do this, if we will!'" wrote Jaeson Ma. "These five young collegians stepped out in faith and not only initiated the first nationwide student movement, but also began the first six mission agencies from North America. Although there were just 25 colleges in America (averaging about a hundred students each) at the time, the "Haystack Five" helped launch small world mission study and prayer clusters on many of them."

About 80 years later, Luther Wishard, a 20-something young man who had just been appointed as a leader in the YMCA, heard the story of the Haystack Five. Inspired by the story, he committed himself to a revival of the same vision and went on to found the Student Volunteer Movement, which became the largest missions movement of all time. Over the next generation, students on every campus in the U.S. committed themselves to the "evangelization of the world in this generation." Over 20,000 of them sailed to the foreign mission field, and over 80,000 others had personally committed themselves to prayer and to financially support those being sent out. These are just a few examples of the phenomenal revival zeal that has come out of the college-age generation.

The Law of Night-and-Day Prayer

Anyone who signs up for Prayer Storm already appreciates the value of 24/7, day-and-night, night-and-day prayer. This Scripture is a familiar one:

Luke 18:7-8 says, "And shall not God avenge His own elect and be patient with them, who cry day and night to Him? I tell you, He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

This passage portrays night-and-day prayer. Why are we convinced that this is what's called for and that it is going to be effective? I have assembled the following list of reasons:

  • 24/7 worship and prayer is what is done in heaven. Let it therefore be done on earth!
  • 24/7 worship and prayer releases God's justice on the earth.
  • 24/7 worship and prayer fuels the Great Commission (see Matt. 28:19).
  • 24/7 worship and prayer hinders the plans of the devil.
  • 24/7 worship and prayer releases revival breakthrough.
  • 24/7 worship and prayer prepares the way for Christ's Second Coming.

As I have often said, a sustained move of God is comprised of three generations, because God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—three generations walking together as one generation. We need the wisdom of the older, the resources of the middle and the zeal of the younger. We need the synergy of all three.

Regardless of which chronological generation you are currently a part of, there is one thing every one of them must do, and that's pray. You might not be able to do anything else except pray. Pray up a prayer storm. Pray!

I declare that the greatest youth awakening that the world has ever seen is coming upon the stage of time. Now is the time. This is the generation. The joining of the generations is upon us. My people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power (Ps. 110:3).  Let another historic awakening begin now for Jesus Christ's sake.

I have personally dedicated my life and ministry to this purpose, and I fully expect to witness the greatest youth awakening the world has ever seen with my own eyes. Let's pray the way Jesus taught us. Let's pray to the Lord of the harvest that He sends forth laborers into the field. It will happen. It is already here.

"Lord, we call forth in our day and in this generation the greatest youth awakening that the world has ever seen. You have done it before, now do it again—even better and bigger and more powerfully. Release Your Spirit and send Your angels to usher in one billion more souls for Your Kingdom, for Jesus Christ's sake. Send revival! Send it now! Move quickly, Holy Spirit, and raise up the greatest youth prayer army of all time. We declare that these prayers are in agreement with Your prophetic purposes for this generation, and we praise Your holy name. Amen and Amen!" {eoa}

For the original article, visit

James W. Goll Featured Opinion Fri, 27 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
Tony Perkins: Obama Is Making His 'Final Drive to Fundamentally Transform America'

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is warning Americans that President Obama is now engaged in a "final drive to fundamentally change America"—and not for the better.

He released an official statement Thursday applauding 11 states for suing the federal government over the president's transgender mandate to public schools. He said the president's locker room and bathroom decree "sacrifices the privacy and safety of children."

"In President Obama's final drive to fundamentally transform America, he has pushed aside the concerns of parents and schools, the privacy and safety of students, and ignored the boundaries of his constitutional power," he said. "If the White House can dictate the policies for every school locker room, shower, and bathroom in America, what could possibly be beyond its reach?"

FRC released an ad earlier this month calling out Obama for skewed priorities (see the ad below):

While ISIS is infiltrating America...President Obama seems confused about human biology.

While Russia taunts our military...President Obama is fighting for men to access to women's locker rooms.

While Iran and North Korea fire ballistic missiles...President Obama is demanding grown men have the right to use women's bathrooms.

Who knows what's next? President Obama could issue an executive order wiping out single gendered bathrooms in national parks...or in federal buildings...or tell the TSA to stop requiring those who fly to declare their biological sex.

Perkins also noted the "scores of state leaders" who are standing up to Obama's "unilateral redefinition" of federal law.

"It is now time for Republicans in Congress, who have the constitutional authority as a coequal branch of government, to support these state leaders and bring the imperial White House under control," he said.

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 07:00:00 -0400
It's Time to Get Over Our Reservations About Donald Trump

Now that it has become almost a certainty that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee, many voters will be forced to narrow their focus before November.

Dr. Alex McFarland, in an op-ed written for The New York Times earlier this year, predicted Christians would have to come to terms with a possible Trump presidency. The evangelical faith, he said, is built around the good news that spiritual salvation is possible through Jesus Christ.

"We strive to promote the wonderfully positive difference he makes in the lives of all who trust him," he wrote. "This does not mean that we expect perfection from America's political leaders. Piety and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive, but, by and large, America's current elected leaders and political and cultural elite have neither."

McFarland said the diminished condition of the U.S.—with low wages, job losses and stagnant opportunity—has given Christians incentive to "support an imperfect man," like Trump. He said they find the businessman electable, and they believe he loves America and is willing to stand up for what has made it so remarkable in the past.

"To put it simply, many evangelicals are supporting Trump not because he is the best Christian, but because he is the leader best suited to defend them," he wrote. "Trump's candidacy and popularity are a referendum on the Ivory Tower elite, including those Christian leaders who want to dictate what the man in the pew must think.

"Many of them have responded viscerally to Trump, saying that he has led a lifestyle of narcissism and hedonism. But they are not being honest about human nature or the pragmatic needs of their flock. They are demanding 'theological perfectionism' at a time when evangelical Americans, who also must be responsive to economic hardship, are sick and tired of career politicians who don't seem to understand the value of a dollar."

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Fri, 27 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
'Israel Fellows' Work to Counter Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

In today's climate on college campuses, Jewish students often face a fight-or-flight choice in the face of increasing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, discrimination, and even physical violence.

There are numerous ways that Jewish advocacy groups advise students to counter the hatred on campus, ranging from holding demonstrations to simply ignoring the threats. 

Promoting a positive connection to Israel is instrumental in countering anti-Zionism, according to The Jewish Agency for Israel, which together with Hillel International created the Israel Fellows program—a network of 75 Israeli young professionals serving as "ambassadors" at more than 100 North American university campuses. The fellows come from Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, Indian, European and central Asian backgrounds.

According to the Jewish Agency, the goal of the program is "to promote connections to Israel and Israelis, create positive Israel-related experiences and educational opportunities, and combat rising anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism on campuses."

The Israel Fellows focus on demystifying Israel for those who have little knowledge about the country.

Shachar Levi, an Israel Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), told that the program is not about "positive or negative" views of Israel, but about "variety" in terms of providing students with a more nuanced connection to Israelis and their diverse culture. 

Levi, 28, was raised in Tel Aviv, served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and studied government, diplomacy, and counter-terrorism. He said each fellow can share a personal narrative about Israel to students who simply "don't have enough knowledge" about the Jewish state. Levi hopes that sharing personal stories will provide a more realistic picture of Israelis in lieu of one-sided, negative portrayals in the media—both for Jewish students who aren't very connected to Israel and for the wider campus community.

The Israel Fellows aim to organize events in which students from different cultures can discover shared values, fostering a climate of mutual respect. One of Levi's events, for instance, brought together Indian students celebrating the Diwali festival and Jewish students celebrating Hanukkah around the same time. Both holidays are known as their culture's festival of lights.

Rabbi Daniel Septimus, executive director of Texas Hillel, said Levi's efforts have made a significant difference for the discourse about Israel on campus.

"Shachar's creative spirit is exciting and inspiring to our students," Septimus said. "He provides an informal way to learn about Israel through one-on-one conversations, and helps students navigate their personal relationships to Israel by providing the cultural and historical context only an Israeli can offer."

Rebecca Avera, the Israel Fellow at Stanford University in California, is an Ethiopian Israeli from Haifa. Her parents were Jewish refugees from Ethiopia who raised nine siblings with a strong Jewish identity.

Realizing that many students who meet her are seeing a black Jew for the first time, Avera has successfully built connections with not only Jewish students, but also African-American and Asian students, particularly by collaborating on events with the campus associations representing students of color.

Last December, during Hanukkah, Avera centered an event around the Ethiopian-Jewish holiday "Sigd." The event taught more than 200 attendees about Ethiopian-Jewish dress, dance and food. Avera shared her family's story, highlighted by her mother's journey to Israel, in which she walked hundreds of miles across northern Africa to Sudan and was ultimately rescued by the IDF.

Avera's outreach to other student communities is enabling more people to learn about the realities of Israeli life. In a coffee date with a freshman student from Stanford's Black Student Union, Avera said she spoke about her personal challenges related to being black in Israel. The student was so impressed that she now wants to organize an event about Avera's life story.    

In reaching out to campus minorities, Levi and Avera attempt to use diversity to Israel's advantage on campus, countering anti-Israel groups' usual recruitment of minority students to support the Palestinian cause—most often through comparing Israel to apartheid-era South Africa and eventually convincing black students to support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Avera said she has noticed a decrease in the aggression of the anti-Israel voices on her campus, explaining that the pro-Palestinian student group at Stanford now tends to focus on educational and cultural issues rather than BDS. While a resolution encouraging the university to divest from Israel passed last year in Stanford's student government, this year "they don't want to focus on [divestment]," she said.

Levi believes many college students participate in anti-Israel protests because there is "a lot of pressure to build strong opinions." Students tend to embrace the anti-Israel movement because they mistakenly "think it's a human rights issue," he said.

Last year, UT Austin's Palestinian Solidarity Committee student group disrupted a lecture by a visiting professor who was speaking about Israeli military culture. After protesters shouted "free, free Palestine" and "long live the intifada," the confrontation became physical and the police needed to intervene.

Israel Fellows, according to the Jewish Agency, have been able to respond in a proactively positive way to more than 100 incidents of campus tension through hosting discussion groups, speakers, cultural programs and leadership development opportunities. While anti-Israel groups at UT Austin "try to separate people," said Levi, Israel Fellows "try to bring people together." {eoa}

For the original article, visit

Shalle’ McDonald/ Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Fri, 27 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
How God Healed a 5-Year-Old's Mangled Arms

It was a typical afternoon in late September for David Castleberry. He needed to mow the lawn after work, so he sent 5-year-old Brett inside the house. David was mowing under the plastic playhouse with the lawn tractor as he usually did when he realized something was wrong.

"I pushed the playhouse to where I hadn't mowed yet," David recalls, "And the mower tried to die. And I knew that by me pushing it—that it shouldn't have bogged the mower down like that. I looked down all I seen out from under the mower was Spongebob crocs. His whole body was between the wheels and the deck. I jumped off the mower, and I picked up the mower and just chucked the mower off of him. I looked down and I could see that there was no skin between his wrist and his elbow on either arm.  The skin was just wadded up on both sides. And I could see his left hand hanging; it was cut almost in half or more. I picked him up and I carried him across the yard and there was a trail all the way, the sidewalk was soaked with blood, the steps, the porch. I got him to the house and I thought, I need some help."

David called 911 on his cellphone and ran to his neighbors, Tim and Janice Helms, for help. 

"When I was running across the driveway, he stood up on that porch, and was hanging on to that top rail hollering, "Daddy, it hurts,"" David says.

Tim and Janice came immediately but they weren't prepared for what they saw. 

"The first thing I saw was Brett's face, which was just covered with dirt, mud, and so it just took a second to try to comprehend what's wrong with him," Janice says, "And when I looked down, that's when I saw his arms.  It looked like nothing was left.  It just—it was horrendous, like what you would see in a horror movie."

Brett's dad had second-degree burns from touching the muffler when lifting the mower off of Brett, but that wasn't what hurt him most.

"At one point he was, you know, saying, 'I killed my son,'" Janice recalls, "And that's where I was saying, 'No, he's alive, he's alive.  Worst case scenario, David,' I said, 'if he loses his arms, you've got your son still.'"

Watch the video to see what happened next!

Reprinted with permission from  Copyright The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., All rights reserved.

Amy Reid/700 Club/CBN News Featured Culture Thu, 26 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
State Department Knew About Hillary Clinton's Email Server Sooner Than It Told Congress

For Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the hits just keep on coming.

Less than 24 hours after the State Department's Office of Inspector General released a report that the former secretary of state had violated government policies with regard to email—and refused to cooperate with the IG's review—The Daily Caller reported that State Department staffers knew about her private email server much sooner than they told Congress. Her email address was discovered as part of an investigation into the Islamist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

According to the report, it calls into question the level of cooperation Congress is getting from the Obama Administration with its ongoing investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that claimed the lives of four Americans. It also suggests Clinton wasn't entirely truthful when she was questioned about her cooperation with that investigation, as well.

The IG report released on Wednesday added that the June 2013 discovery prompted a debate within the State Department in the ensuing weeks in which senior Department officials "discussed the Department's obligations under the Federal Records Act in the context of personal email accounts."

That debate appears to have done nothing to further the release of Clinton's emails. She did not hand them over to the State Department until December 2014.

The June 2013 discovery — which was made while staffers were responding to a subpoena request from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — is key because it shows that the State Department was aware that emails to and from Clinton likely existed which could have provided valuable insight to Congress about the Benghazi attacks.

Clinton's troubles appear to be far from over. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made it clear Wednesday night he is not happy about the latest news. He released an official statement to express his anger:

"The Inspector General's report doesn't surprise me at all and substantiates what I've been seeing in the media. Not only does the report undermine Secretary Clinton's claim that the email system was approved, but it paints a pretty clear picture of obstruction and a desire to circumvent federal records laws. Sadly, Secretary Clinton and her staff refused to cooperate with the Inspector General despite her claims of transparency and a willingness to answer anyone's questions.

"Just as disturbing is that there appears to be several key documents referenced in the report that the State Department has withheld from the committee and some new witness testimony that clearly contradicts what former State Department staff have told the committee. I'm worried that key claims to the committee made by the State Department and attorneys for the former Clinton aides have not been accurate."

Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Will This Bible Translation Bring Millennials Back to Church?

Apparently some millennials failed to read the Word of God because it wasn't in a language they understood—until now.  

Behold, the Bible Emoji, or Scripture 4 Millenials. The book will be available for download May 29. 

The creator, known only as 8-), told The Memo the emojis allow users to access their feelings in conjunction with Scripture.  

"Emojis are emotional, and allow people to express feelings in a visual way within the structure of 'normal', written language," 8-) said. "What's made them so successful, is that they're language-agnostic—they allow you to convey an idea to anyone, regardless of what language they speak." 

8-) tweeted a few samples. There's even an option to translate your favorite Bible verse. 

8-) continued: "A major goal of this whole process was to take a book that I think is very non-approachable to lay readers and try to make it more approachable by removing a lot of its density."

Well then.

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 26 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Former President Jimmy Carter Makes Serious Accusation Against Donald Trump

Former President Jimmy Carter this week suggested that Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric had tapped into "waiting reservoir there of inherent racism."

During an interview with The New York Times, the nation's 39th president suggested Republicans' opposition to President Barack Obama held a "heavy racial overtone." He said his New Baptist Covenant—launched in 2007—will hold a summit in Atlanta this fall to bring together white, black, Hispanic, and Asian Baptists to "work on issues of race and social inequality."

Carter, a Southern Baptist, is often referred to as the "first born-again president" due to his evangelistic roots. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 his work with the Carter Center in promoting human rights and democracy around the world.

The Times said of its interview:

Mr. Carter said the election of Mr. Obama was a hopeful sign, but he added, "I think there's a heavy reaction among some of the racially conscious Republicans against an African-American being president."

He said recent reports showing high unemployment and incarceration rates among black people, "combined with the white police attacks on innocent blacks," had "reawakened" the country to the realization that racism was not resolved in the 1960s and '70s.

He said Mr. Trump had violated "basic human rights" when he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals and called for a ban on Muslims' entering the country.

"When you single out any particular group of people for secondary citizenship status, that's a violation of basic human rights."

Buying into the notion that self-professed evangelicals who vote for Trump aren't really evangelical, Carter said the term—as used by the media—is a "misnomer":

"I consider myself an evangelical as well. And obviously, what most of the news reporters thought were evangelicals are conservative Republicans," he said. "They have a heavy orientation to right-wing political philosophy, and he obviously is a proponent of that concept."

Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Here's Why Perry Noble Says He Won't Meet With Donald Trump Next Month

When Donald Trump meets with several hundred Christian faith leaders in meetings next month in New York City, at least one prominent voice says he won't be there.

That's not to say he doesn't wish the presumptive GOP presidential nominee well.

In blog post Tuesday titled "Why I Am Not Going to NYC To Meet Trump," megachurch pastor Perry Noble said he wasn't going because he didn't think it was necessary. Calling it the "Trump Inquisition," he said it would be hypocritical of faith leaders to demand such a meeting with Trump if they didn't also have one with Mitt Romney in 2012.

I would bet if you took a survey of many of these same evangelical leaders that are going to the "Trump Inquisition" next month ... concerned about his lack of morality and stance on certain issues ... that you would find many of those same leaders did not have to have such a meeting with Mitt Romney.  

Mitt Romney - a Mormon!  

(Stop it with the hate speech - I do NOT hate Mormons. It's just that the differences between evangelical Christianity and the Mormon religion are vast!  And ... just so everyone is clear, I voted for Mitt, so there's that. I hope that calms SOME people down!) 

What's the problem?  Honestly, I see it as a bit of hypocrisy for a group of people to ask Trump to "prove himself" when the same group were leading the Romney bandwagon!

Noble, who is pastor of NewSpring Church, a megachurch located in Anderson, South Carolina, said he devoting his entire sermon July 17 to "how the Gospel should impact our worldview ... and how that translates into what a follower of Jesus should consider when choosing someone to vote for." The timing of the message will coincide with the Republican National Convention that will be taking place in Cleveland, Ohio.

In the meantime, he said he hopes "the meeting where Trump has to 'prove himself'" goes well. If not, he concluded, those evangelical leaders will have to "decide if they are feelin' the Burn [sic] ... or if the Clintons get the keys to the White House again."

Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Democrats Renew Fight Over Faith-Based Contractors

Democrats really don't want faith-based military contractors to be able to perform their work while protecting their religious freedom.

After failing to stop Republicans from adding a provision to do just that in the National Defense Authorization Act, they have now tried twice to use "policy riders" in budget bills to "defund" that measure. Their latest attempt came Thursday morning, when they attached the rider to the controversial water and energy appropriations bill.

President Obama was adamant that he would veto the legislation because it included a Republican rider to curtail his administration's ability to enforce its "Waters of the U.S." regulations. It was expected to pass the House, where Republicans had pledged to pressure their Senate colleagues to keep the measure through the reconciliation process.

Democrats have been trying to get their provision passed so that an executive order made by President Obama in 2014 would become law. Conservative Republicans, led in this case by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have pulled out all stops to prevent it from passing.

A number of Democrats voted Thursday against the spending bill because of the Republican policy riders already contained in it. With a majority of Republicans opposed to the Democrat policy rider, it ultimately failed on a 305-112 vote.

According to news reports from Politico and The Hill, the House Republican Conference met Thursday morning with the intent of hammering out differences over the proposed Puerto Rico bailout bill, but instead spent their entire time bickering over the Democrat policy rider. Some had hoped a last-minute change to its wording would make it more palatable to conservatives.

Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
WATCH: How the Chewbacca Mom Received the Gift of Tongues

Worship leader Candace Payne is now one of the most recognized viral figures, and she's going to use that to glorify God.  

In the last week, the mom, aka Chewbacca Mom, made her rounds from Good Morning America to The Late Late Show with James Corden to the Facebook headquarters. In doing so, she's brought the Holy Spirit with her.  

Two-and-a-half years ago, Payne encountered the Holy Spirit and received the gift of tongues.  

"We started singing these lyrics: 'Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by Your presence Lord,'" Payne shares. "And as we sang that, I've just got to tell you I felt a deep conviction in my soul that I was not a welcoming place for the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, I was quenching the Spirit of God, which I really really loved. So I just started to say to Him, 'God, I'm just so sorry. I'm so sorry." 

And while she was praying, she realized the words coming out of her mouth were not the English words running through her brain.  

Watch the video to see her powerful testimony. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 26 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
How Donald Trump Has Already Locked Up the GOP Nomination

The Associated Press made headlines all around the world Thursday morning by reporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has now secured the support of more than 1,237 delegates—the "magic number" needed to win the GOP nomination.

Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them is Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

"I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn't like where our country is," Pollard said. "I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump."

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

And while the headline alone is likely to send Trump supporters into a tizzy, it should be noted that numbers based on unbound delegates aren't the most reliable means of keeping count. Other outlets have reported higher and lower delegate counts for the likely GOP nominee.

Officially, however, Trump has 1,139 delegates bound to him for the first ballot of the national convention in July. There are 127 uncommitted delegates, who may vote for whomever they wish. Various states' delegate allocation rules will likely be triggered at some point prior to the convention, as well.

And there are 303 delegates up for grabs in five states next Tuesday, the overwhelming majority of which will go to Trump, based on current polling data. That Trump will have more than 1,237 delegates' support by the time he arrives in Cleveland in July is now a given.

How he got there depends largely on which version of the story you choose to believe.

Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Did Pope Francis Really Take Another Step Toward a One World Religion?

Despite Pope Francis' literal embracing of a top Islamic cleric and declaration that their "Meeting is the message," his top aid said Christians must apply Matthew 28 to everyone, including Muslims.  

"We have a mission to convert all non-Christian religions' people [except] Judaism," Cardinal Kurt Koch said. "And what is very important for us is that we can make mission only with a credible witness and without any proselytism." 

READ: "The Vatican Is Wrong: Jews Do Need Jesus"

The Jews are God's chosen people, he continued. Christians should view them as a "mother" figure. But Islam and Christianity are vastly different.  

"I don't think that we have the same relationship with Islam that we have with Judaism.

"It is very clear that we can speak about three Abrahamic religions but we cannot deny that the view of Abraham in the Jewish tradition and the Christian tradition and the Islamic tradition is not the same. In this sense we have only with Jewish people this unique relationship that we have not with Islam." 

Koch's comments were reported the day after Pope Francis welcomed Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib to the Vatican.

"If you have not see this video, it is one of the creepiest things that I have ever seen on YouTube. It has become exceedingly clear that Pope Francis believes that all major religions are completely valid paths to the same God, and there is virtually no uproar over this," Charisma News' Michael Snyder says of the Pope's actions. "This just shows how late in the game we really are. The one world religion that was prophesied nearly 2,000 years ago in the book of Revelation is starting to come to life, and we are witnessing the events of the last days begin to unfold right in front of our eyes."

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Thu, 26 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Will Glenn Beck Get Another Visit From the Secret Service?

In March, nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck got a visit from the U.S. Secret Service over a perceived threat to the well-being of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Founded or not, after Wednesday's show, he can likely expect another.

Beck had author Brad Thor—a frequent guest on his program—on to discuss a wide range of topics, one of which included a "what if" scenario in which Donald Trump became president and overstepped his constitutional authority. Thor, whose "thrillers" frequently feature controversial subject matter, said the subject took him to an admittedly dark place.

"With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as president?" he asked. "If Congress won't remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitution-mandated authority as president, I should say.

"If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? And I don't think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office, because you won't be able to do it through Congress."

Beck agreed with Thor's assessment, which immediately resulted in a flurry of complaints that Beck and Thor were advocating for Trump's assassination. It's not the first time those two have brought that subject up, though.

Also in March—unrelated to the widely reported Secret Service inquiry—Beck and Thor discussed the potential for assassination attempts against Trump. In fact, Thor predicted "unprecedented assassination attempts," which prompted a request of Beck's audience.

"I want to right now ask everyone who is listening to pray for the men and women of the Secret Service who are charged with protecting Donald Trump and his family," he said. "May God protect them and may God protect the Trumps."

The Secret Service has not yet officially responded to the comments.

Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Pastor and His 3 Sons Die in Devastating Crash After Bible College Graduation

A pastor and his three sons died in a car wreck over the weekend as they drove home from the father's Bible college graduation, according to multiple reports.  

Israel Avelar and sons Kevin, Daniel and Matthew died in the crash while the pastor's wife, Hilda, and daughter Kimberly are listed as in critical condition. Israel Avelar's mother, Lazara Abaraca, was also injured in the crash but is expected to recover.

"When I got on scene what I initially saw was quite a mess of an accident; probably the worst I've ever seen, several fatalities and several people injured and a lot of the vehicles that were involved you couldn't even really make out what kind of vehicles they were before the accident happened," Blake Holland, a reporter told WKYT

Avelar planted a small Spanish-speaking congregation out of Clay Mill Road Baptist Church in Kentucky, according to Lexington Herald Leader. 

"I may be a pastor, but I am asking the same tearful questions other people are asking. Why this family that was just a great example of a family that loved and served God? Why all of them? I may be a pastor, but I don't have the answers to those questions," neighbor Pastor Tanya Tyler said.  

Our prayers are with the family as they deal with this horrible tragedy. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 26 May 2016 11:30:00 -0400
Don't Tell People How to Do Things—Really?

I'm reading Bill O'Reilly's latest book, Killing Patton. Bad reviews aside, the book reminded me of a classic quote from General George Patton ...

"Don't tell people how to do things; tell them what to do and let them surprise you with results."

Well, the good general has one thing right in his thinking: There is a surprise coming.

I suppose the General forgot about boot camp, otherwise known as basic training. The essence of basic training is to teach men and women HOW to do what needs to be done. "How" must precede "what."

Aren't you regularly surprised by what people don't know how to do?

I truly believe that every business problem I have seen in my years in consulting and leadership could be traced back to a nexus of poor or nonexistent training. Leaders may speak about culture and policies during on-boarding, but a vacuum exists, in general, in the teaching of "how."

Remember Lombardi's classic opening to his training camps for the Green Bay Packers ... "Gentlemen, this is a football." His first few days of camp ... for an NFL team ... consisted of blocking and tackling drills. How many games were lost in the NFL this past season because of miserable blocking and tackling? Most players know WHAT to do but have perhaps forgotten HOW.

Our millennial leaders and those in development learn from YouTube and Google. If we pay close to attention to the training being delivered online, we will probably conclude the video creator was well aware of the HOW-GAP. YouTube has become a how-to library.

So leaders, how much time per week do you spend teaching the younger members of your team on how to do what you expect them to do? Please consider the following tips for training:

  • Frequency. I recommend no less than one specific training class per week. How would your ministry be changed with 50 training sessions this year? Transfer the HOW to your team with sustained, consistent effort.
  • Basics. Teach blocking and tackling. Do you have a "how-to-greet-visitors class?" Handshakes and eye contact seems to be a declining skill set. Start all training with the basic assumption that your team doesn't know the basics. And of course, there's nothing wrong with reminder training.
  • Train the trainer. Leaders frequently delegate training to someone who hasn't been trained in the topic or teaching methods. Invest resources in the development of trainers.
  • Curriculum. Certainly, great libraries are available for training content. Be careful to review and edit ALL outside material. It's much better for the leadership team to develop, write and conduct in-house training.
  • Read and write. Reading should be a significant component of all training. Since all of your team can probably use writing help, I recommend a written assignment be included at the conclusion of every class. Ask open-ended questions and review the content of the answers as well as the writing. My prophecy is that you will quickly see that training needs to happen twice each week.

And what's a training session without a good devotion? Find a Bible lesson to tie in to every class. Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach the hearts and minds of your team.

The efficacy of your ministry will ultimately depend upon know-how.


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Today's Scripture

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (John 14:26).



Do you want to learn more about developing your personal platform?

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Dr. Steve Greene Featured Marketplace Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:15:00 -0500
Franklin Graham Decries 'Misgender' Complaint That Won Trans Teacher Big Bucks

Evangelist Franklin Graham is fed up with the gender perversion waves that crash over America.  

The speaker decried a recent situation in which a teacher claims coworkers refused to accept her as a man. 

"Misgendered? A transgender 5th grade teacher in Oregon was awarded $60,000 from the school district after she complained that she had been harassed and 'misgendered' by coworkers, despite an official investigation stating differently," Graham wrote.  

According to The Oregonian, Leo Soell kicked off the recent school year as a transgender man. Fellow teachers referred to the teacher as "Miss" and "she," while Seoll preferred to be labeled as the gender-neutral pronoun "they." 

She demanded the school board pay out because fellow teachers didn't identify her by her preferred pronoun. The board complied and awarded Soell $60,000 in damages. 

"The school's principal emailed the staff new policies which require that all staff address transgender or gender non-conforming employees with their correct names and pronouns. The email also contained this threat, 'If you are found to be in violation of these policies, you will be subject to discipline to and including dismissal.' That's incredible! Use 'correct' pronouns? Doesn't a person's DNA or birth certificate count for anything? Shouldn't fact override fantasy? God created people male and female," Graham wrote. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 26 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Elderly Christian Woman Stripped Naked and Paraded Through Streets by Mob

A 70-year-old Christian woman was stripped naked, beaten and paraded through the streets by a mob of around 300 Muslim men in a village in southern Egypt.

The mob also burned down seven homes belonging to Christian families, according to an unusually outspoken statement issued by the local Orthodox Coptic church, after rumors circulated in the village that a Christian man was having a relationship with a Muslim woman.

The violence started at around 8 p.m. on May 20, and the local diocese said it was two hours before police responded, by which point the mob had already dispersed.

The woman who was stripped naked was reported to be the mother of the man involved in the rumored affair. She has since met with church leaders, the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qirqas said.

The violence is representative of the tensions between the two religions in the province south of Cairo, where extramarital affairs between Muslims and Christians are strictly taboo.

But it appears the Coptic church has finally had enough of what they say is unfair treatment from the authorities over such cases. Christians only make up around 10 percent of Egypt's population, the majority being Muslim.

And speaking in an uncharacteristically candid TV interview on Wednesday night, Minya's most senior cleric Anba Makarios said the response if it had been a Muslim man having an affair with a Christian woman "would not have been anything like what happened."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Adam Withnall/The Independent Featured World News Thu, 26 May 2016 10:30:00 -0400
The Next Wave: 'Puppy Play,' 'Ecosexuals' And 'Polyamory'

In an era when "anything goes," some people are pushing the envelope to shocking new extremes. At one time, most of the debate was about one or two of the "alternative lifestyles" that are out there, but now there are a multitude of rapidly growing "communities" that are into things that would have been unheard of in previous generations. We have gotten to a point where a large portion of our young adults are completely rejecting traditional values regarding marriage and family, and they are seeking out other paths that they hope will lead them to the fulfillment that they crave.

Let's talk about "puppy play" first. There is a growing community of people in the western world that are absolutely obsessed with dressing up like cats or dogs and behaving just like them.

For some, being a "furry" is not about sex at all, but others do like to combine the two. The following comes from the Daily Mail:

Furries are people who dress up in animal costumes and take on the persona of that animal. ...

Earlier this month nearly 3,000 people attended the annual Biggest Little Fur Con convention in Reno, Nevada, including around 700 people in fursuits.

Another alternative lifestyle that is starting to make some waves is called "ecosexuality." Here is how one source defines this movement:

According to, where the movement appears to have originated online, an "eco-sexual" is defined as "someone who finds nature sensual, sexy." Some ecosexuals engage in sex acts with things in nature, according to blog posts from the website.

Yes, I know that this sounds very weird.

But this is a real thing. In fact, there are people that actually engage in "ecosexual performance art."

It would be easy to make lots of jokes about this sort of thing, but that is not the intention of this article.

Rather, the goal is to get people to understand just how radically our culture is shifting. Huge segments of our society are completely discarding traditional notions of morality and are engaging in behaviors that our grandparents never even would have imagined.

Another example is the explosive growth of polyamory.

According to Google, polyamory "is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships involving more than two people, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved," and in a previous article I discussed how colleges and universities all over the United States are holding events and workshops to promote polyamory as "an acceptable lifestyle choice."

And this is not just being discussed on the fringes of society. For instance, the following comes from an article that was published in the Washington Post:

The man rubbing her shoulder had other girlfriends. But here, his attention was laser-focused on her. He watched her with adoration, and I found myself feeling envious of that emotional attachment.

About 15 people sat in our circle — some came alone, others with partners. There was a transgender woman in a long black dress and dark makeup; a middle-aged couple in business attire, their legs crossed conservatively. There was a woman in her early 20s and some couples in their 60s. But each person in this wide spectrum listened and discussed their polyamorous lifestyle in similar terms. They all believed that love could be limitless, and that they deserved as much of it as they could find.

Of course the Obama administration is doing all that it can to promote "alternative lifestyles" these days. To say that "things have changed" in the White House over the past couple of generations would be a massive understatement.

Just consider this parallel for a moment:

In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced that we would put men on the moon.

In May 2016, Barack Obama announced that we would put men in women's restrooms.

And while most of the focus has been on the bathrooms, many people have not even considered some of the other very disturbing implications of Obama's recent move.

The most offensive part of the new policy is that, under the Obama administration's federal guidance:

  • School districts must allow biological males and females to spend the night together in the same hotel room on field trips;
  • Colleges must let men who say they are transgender be roommates with one or more women; and
  • School officials cannot even tell those young women or their parents in advance that their new roommate is a man, without risking a federal lawsuit.

The plain wording of the Obama administration's diktat is clear enough, yet it has not been reported, even by conservative news outlets.

Needless to say, a lot of parents are going to feel compelled to pull their children out of public schools just based on these new "guidelines" alone. But the truth is that our public schools have not been good environments for our children for a very long time. Just consider what just happened down in Florida.

Florida sheriff's detectives are investigating a cellphone video purportedly showing a 15-year-old girl having sex with as many as two dozen boys in a public high school bathroom after school.

A school security camera captured 25 boys entering the restroom on May 17, news media outlets reported.

Lee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tony Schall said Tuesday that authorities originally decided not to pursue any criminal charges from the incident.

I know that I threw a lot at you in this article, and I know that a lot of it was quite graphic.

The goal was not to shock you or to upset you. In the end, we need to face the reality that we are not a "good" nation. Evil is rising in literally thousands of different ways, and yet very few people are standing up for the truth.

How bad do things have to get in America before people will finally be willing to stand up and do something about it?

Michael Snyder Featured Opinion Thu, 26 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
A Spirit of Violence and Civil Unrest Is Rising in America

It was only a matter of time before our deeply divided nation was going to start coming apart at the seams. Waves of anger, frustration, violence and civil unrest are starting to sweep across the United States, and political rallies for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have become a focal point for releasing some of that energy.

The angry mob that threw rocks, bottles and burning T-shirts at police and Donald Trump supporters on Tuesday night wanted to get the attention of the national media, and they got it in droves. Now that the election is less than five months away, this kind of scene is going to be repeated over and over, and this is something that I warned about back in March.

Millions upon millions of our young people have fully embraced the radical left, and they have already made it exceedingly clear that they are not afraid to use violence to advance their cause.

Never before in my lifetime have I seen America so divided. Our politicians and the mainstream media have been endlessly pitting various groups against one another for years, and wherever you look hearts are growing very cold.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. I believe that this is going to be the most chaotic election season that we have ever experienced, and the chaos and violence that are going to be unleashed over the next five months are going to shock the entire world.

On Tuesday night, the angry mob that gathered outside of the Albuquerque Convention Center didn't seem to care who they hurt as they unleashed their anger. According to Fox News, some of the protesters even tried to set police horses on fire:

The rampaging gang was made up of anti-Trump goons—waving the Mexican flag and burning a Trump banner.

"Viva Mexico," protesters shouted, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The rioters even targeted police horses—knocking one down—and throwing burning T-shirts at others. Who tries to burn down a horse?

How sick and twisted do you have to be to try to set a horse on fire?

But this is what happens when a spirit of violence descends on a group of people. The consequences can quickly spiral out of control in unexpected ways.

Here is how CNS News described the chaotic scene outside of the Albuquerque Convention Center:

In one of the presidential campaign year's more grisly spectacles, protesters in New Mexico opposing Donald Trump's candidacy threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, injuring several, and toppled trash cans and barricades.

Police responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

According to at least one report, rocks thrown by some of the rioters were actually flying through the convention center windows, and a number of innocent people got hurt.

What would make people act like that? This isn't what America is supposed to look like. But when fundamental institutions such as the family and the church start to crumble, this is how people start to behave. You can see a clip that includes footage of protesters jumping on police cars last night in Albuquerque right here.

And of course the spirit of violence and civil unrest that is rising in America is not limited to Donald Trump rallies.

In major cities all over the nation, violent crime is rising by double-digit percentages. In Chicago, the number of people that have been shot so far in 2016 is 50 percent higher than during the same period last year:

This past weekend in Chicago saw another five killed and 40 wounded in shootings, slightly down from Mother's day weekend when eight people were killed and 42 wounded. The two weekends are indicative of what's taking place in the homicide riddled city, in which the number of people shot so far this year is running an astonishing 50% above this time last year – what's worse, summer is not even here yet, which is traditionally the city's most violent period.


Other big cities are seeing similar spikes in violent crime. The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the New York Times:

Experts cannot agree on what to call a recent rise in homicides, much less its cause, but new data on Friday that showed a sharp spike in homicide rates in more than 20 cities rekindled debate over whether it was time for alarm.

The data showed particularly significant increases in homicides in six cities in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year — Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, Fla., Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Memphis.

If this is happening now, with the stock market soaring and unemployment a bit lower than it was during the depths of the last recession, what is going to happen when things start getting really bad in this country?

Desperate people do desperate things, and if people are willing to hurl rocks and set horses on fire because they are upset at a political candidate, what are they going to do when there is no food for their families?

Just look at what is happening down in Venezuela. People are hunting down dogs and cats because they don't have anything to eat. There have been at least 107 mass looting events so far in 2016 alone, and crime is completely and utterly out of control.

What is happening down there is eventually coming to America too, and the chaos and violence that we will see during the coming months will be a small preview of that.

The funny thing is that none of these political protests are going to matter anyway. It remains my contention that the elite will move heaven and Earth to do whatever is necessary to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. They have already spent tens of millions of dollars against him and they have continuously had their media outlets put out "hit pieces" in an attempt to destroy him.

But their bag of tricks goes a lot deeper than that, and this is not a game to them.

I know that a lot of people out there have some very high hopes for Donald Trump, and we should be praying for him and for his family.

However, the time when the people determined the direction of this nation is long past, and the elite guard their monopoly over the political process very zealously.

Michael Snyder Featured Opinion Thu, 26 May 2016 09:30:00 -0400
Details Announced for Donald Trump's Meeting With Faith Leaders

As has been widely reported earlier this week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will be meeting with more than 500 conservative Christian faith leaders next month in New York City.

But now new details are emerging about the closed-door June 21 event, which will reportedly feature Dr. Ben Carson as moderator. According to a press release issued by United in Purpose and My Faith Votes, Carson, who serves as honorary chair of the latter, will lead a "guided discussion" between Trump and the faith leaders.

The goal of the event is to help conservative Christians better understand Trump as a person, his positions on important issues, and his vision for America's future. The groups also hope the event will enable him to "better appreciate matters of importance" to the Christian faith community.

"This moment is perhaps the most critical in the history of our nation, and people of faith can make a crucial difference for our children and grandchildren by exercising their civic duty to cast an informed vote based on a biblical worldview," Carson said. "The goal is that coming out of this meaningful 'conversation,' the faith leaders and Mr. Trump will be more informed about each other and would know one another better, and that he would see their unity in seeking God's direction for the future of America."

The meeting will be closed to media. There will be no fundraising or campaigning and no debates. Carson will reportedly open the event with a brief address on the importance of unity.

"Christian leaders are deeply concerned about the state of our nation after years of government policies and political correctness that have begun to radically and adversely affect the ability of Christians to live out their faith within America's political and cultural landscape," United in Purpose CEO Bill Dallas said. "Our hope is that as we gather together there can be unity of spirit within the church in America, even as each individual makes his or her own decisions as to who will be the future leaders in our government."

"Our priorities for this meeting are to strengthen relationships and build unity, with an objective to simply have a conversation about the prospects of our nation and the continuing influence of Christian believers and their biblical worldview," My Faith Votes Chairman Sealy Yates said. "We wish to talk with specificity to Donald Trump about issues of faith and the role of faith in the civic arena. And, we wish to assure him of our prayers for his family and him. This will be a friendly meeting of people of faith who are genuinely, prayerfully concerned about the future of America."

Having a direct, private conversation with Trump is part of an ongoing process of hearing and being heard by him about issues of faith that affect all people, the organizers said. After the meeting, there not be any joint or collective endorsements, decisions or statements.

Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Hell Exists for People Like This

People wind up in hell because while on Earth, they exchanged the love of Christ for something—money, sex, power, happiness—they thought would be more valuable, John Piper says.  

"This is the infinite outrage in the universe, that human beings prefer something else to God," Piper said

Hell exists, Piper said, because once the exchange is made, nothing worse can be done.  

"What we call evil, hurting each other, that is just little expressions of that," Piper said. "All the rottenness that we do to each other is deriving its rottenness from the ultimate rot of exchanging God, saying to the infinite Creator and the most beautiful reality in the universe, 'I don't want you. I don't prefer you. You are not attractive to me. You are not satisfying to me. I get no pleasure from you. This is my desire. This is my treasure.' 

"That is evil. That is the meaning of evil. And all other evils get their evil from that, including the evils of money, sex, and power, which Paul is going to make crystal clear." 

To pretend hell is merely abstract fulfills Romans 1:22-23. If we yearn for something more than God, everything else will be destructive in our hands as we squander wisdom.  

Even some professed Christians will fall prey to the lucrative deception of false power.  

Verses from Matthew 7:15-20 to Romans 16:17 to 2 Peter 2:1-3 warn believers to seek the Truth about all else and to not be deceived by smooth-talking teachers who promise an easy life for followers.  

Other Christian writers have tackled the reality of hell, as well.  

"In fact, there are some very well-known ministers in this country that purposely avoid ever using the word 'hell' because it might offend someone. It turns out that 'happy church' can be a very lucrative business model, and many people seem to love the 'me first' prosperity gospel that has infected virtually all of the major denominations at this point," The Economic Collapse Blog's Snyder writes

"So there are countless messages about 'blessing,' 'breakthrough' and how God can make your life better, and very, very little preaching about sin, judgment, the cross and the urgency that we should feel to reach lost souls with the gospel of Jesus Christ," he says.  

Piper's solution is to discussing hell is to evaluate a person's heart: 

There are two kinds of heart condition in the world: the one that values God over all and the one that values something else over all. But the main issue you are going to be facing as we are meeting together here is whether your hearts are treasuring God supremely above everything else: everything evil and everything good, all the good things God has given you, all the evil things that the devil is tempting you with. And I am saying that, more than the good things and more than the evil things, is God your treasure? Is God your satisfaction? Is God your delight? Because if he is, money, sex, and power will turn into remarkable potentials in your life. And if he is not, money, sex, and power will become unbelievably destructive in your hands.
Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 26 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Is Newt Gingrich the Key to Ending #NeverTrump?

Conservative blogger and radio host Erick Erickson was one of the earliest signees to the #NeverTrump cause, voicing extreme displeasure with Donald Trump's candidacy long before there was any organized effort to swear off the New York reality TV star's presidential campaign.

I recall last August when Erickson pulled Trump's invitation to the influential RedState gathering over the candidate's "blood from her wherever" comments on Fox News personality Megyn Kelly after the first Republican debate. At the time, Erickson said he liked Trump personally but didn't think what the Donald said was appropriate for the national discourse.

I think most of us agreed Trump went way over the top in dealing with Kelly. Longtime adviser Roger Stone even left the campaign shortly after the incident. Trump's said a lot of things he shouldn't have and hasn't exactly been contrite in taking the utterances back. But reality also says Trump's the voters' choice and going to be the official figurehead of the Republican Party in two months.

Erickson certainly hasn't changed his mind on Trump, but he did see fit to comment on the rumors of Newt Gingrich potentially becoming the presumptive nominee's running mate. Writing in The Resurgent, Erickson said, "Gingrich is the one guy Trump could pick who would ameliorate a lot of the concerns of the establishment, the donors, and the grassroots. ...

"Though Newt has had a rocky relationship of late with some of the GOP Establishment, the man who got the GOP out of the wilderness in 1994 is someone to whom they would not turn up their nose.

"Gingrich would be a smart pick for Trump."

It almost sounds like Erickson is coming around to the possibility of joining the winning side, though he did double down on his opposition to Trump just the other day. If Erickson's so adamant against Trump, why is he weighing in on Gingrich as a possible VP choice? Why would he care?

The post was positive sounding too.

I wonder if Trump made one of his famous overtures to Erickson if the latter would at least consider chiseling out of his #NeverTrump prison cell. Something to consider, I guess.

Or perhaps Erickson is sending a signal that Gingrich would be the key to unification with a portion of the #NeverTrump folks. Trump might not be able to talk them back into the fold, but Gingrich likely could. We'll have to keep an eye on this one to see how it develops.

Jeffrey A. Rendall Featured Opinions Caucus Thu, 26 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
My Dad Was Transgender: Why I Still Think Gender Can't Be Changed

Maybe parallel universes really do exist. Maybe, as my husband and I hiked through the deep, dark forest a few years ago, we somehow crossed through a portal, a stargate into another dimension—a universe that, superficially at least, looks quite similar to the one I'd known most of my life.

I almost hope that's true. I'd like to believe it, because in the world I now inhabit—which outwardly resembles the one I remember—everything seems to have been turned inside out and become utterly bewildering.

Yes, I find myself wanting to believe that weird matrix explanation and to resist the more likely truth that the world I grew up in could have changed so completely.

I'd like to believe that somewhere back there, the world I accidentally exited still exists—that world where gender was a fixed biological fact, determined at conception.

But no, this is not the Twilight Zone; it is not an inexplicable parallel universe.

This is 21st-century America, and, according to an ABC News article on guidelines recently handed down by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education:

There is no obligation for a student to present a specific medical diagnosis or identification documents that reflect his or her gender identity, and equal access must be given to transgender students even in instances when it makes others uncomfortable, according to the directive.

Yes, we really do live in a nation in which our government tells us girls and boys should be able to share restrooms and locker rooms. We really do live in a culture that values transgender rights over basic morality and children's safety.

But the very hard reality in this topsy-turvy world is that transgender people are hundreds of times more likely to attempt suicide than the general U.S. population.

And what does our enlightened culture do about this very sad statistic?

Well, we make it easier for people to transition to this sad and depressing lifestyle. Helping them struggle down the hard road of facing reality is just too judgmental; it's better to let them move into a make-believe life in which they face a 4-in-10 chance of attempting suicide.

My father gave in to his make-believe transgender impulses and became Becky. He'd spent most of his life dreaming of making that transition. When he finally left his family and got what he'd long desired, he still wasn't fulfilled.

He considered suicide, but, thankfully, resisted. But later, pumped full of unnatural hormones and chemicals and adorned in women's clothing, he died a sad, confused, forgetful and regretful old man.

I missed Harold, the one who, during his periods of resisting his impulses, treated me as a father should treat his daughter.

I miss him dancing with my little feet placed on top of his, his big hands reaching down to clasp my little 5-year-old hands. I miss those days of his sexual sobriety when we worked together at his father's seed company and went to lunch together. I miss all those times when he accepted the reality that he was Harold, a man—a husband, father and grandfather.

I don't miss Becky, or those transition times when my father gave in to his transgender impulses. I don't miss him telling me, when I was just 9 years old, of his desire to become a woman and then requiring me to keep that confession a secret. I don't miss the fanciful alternate world he transported into, leaving my mother emotionally distraught and financially destitute.

My father was the one who had entered another dimension, a make-believe dimension. And rather than returning to the real world, he wanted the real world to accommodate his make-believe world.

That's what this small but vocal minority and their enablers want from the rest of the real world.

I'd like to believe that world in which truth is objective, and children's modesty and safety is more important than being politically correct still exists and somehow I might find the portal to return to it—back to that world where adults looked out for children's best interests, even if doing so meant saying no and then dealing with rather than succumbing to the resultant temper tantrum.

I'd like to think that, in that parallel universe I inadvertently ambled out of, women and children's safety is still more important than appeasing a tiny but very vocal minority.

But it appears I'm no longer in that universe. I'm in one where choices—no matter how illogical—trump obvious facts.

I find myself in a world in which stating a very plain and evident biological fact is now considered a form of hate speech.

I'm now in a world that tells me I must not only tolerate but also celebrate behaviors that in just a relative eye's blink before were condemned as detrimental to society. {eoa}

Denise Shick is author of My Daddy's Secret, When Hope Seems Lost and Understanding Gender Confusion. She serves on the Academic Council of the International Children's Rights Institute and also directs Help 4 Families Ministry.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Signal.

Denise Shick/The Daily Signal Featured Opinion Thu, 26 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400