Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:30:05 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Gay Rights Activist Did What for Christian Bakery Owners?

As a gay man, Matt Stolhandske normally would not be expected to reach out to Melissa and Aaron Klein with generosity and kindness.

The Kleins are the Christian bakers in Portland, Oregon, who gained national attention last year after they refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

But this unassuming couple is in for a big surprise as Stolhandske, a gay man who fervently disagrees with their stance on same-sex marriage, is planning to give them a large sum of money.

"The Kleins say the $150,000 fee will bankrupt her family," Stolhandske wrote in a recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post. "I'm raising money to help offset that cost. I'll send whatever we raise along to the Klein family with a message of love and peace. I don't want them to suffer."

The Kleins, who have spoken publicly about their legal woes since refusing to make the cake in January 2013 and the subsequent loss of their shop, are reportedly facing a potential $150,000 fine—a fine they say could bankrupt them.

The Kleins were forced to close their Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery just over a year ago following intense scrutiny and furor; they're now operating out of their family home.

Additionally, the family reportedly has been harassed by those opposed to their stance on the cake matter, fielding virulent emails and phone calls.

It's clear that the debate has been a heated one, but Melissa Klein recently took to her Facebook page to address the ongoing controversy, defend her family and to reveal what she says are the "two huge lies" that contemporary culture has embraced.

"Our culture has accepted 2 huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them," she wrote. "Second is that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense."

Klein concluded, "You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate."

Mark Andrews Featured U.S. News Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:00:00 -0400
Mandisa Strikes Gold With 'Good Morning' Digital Single

On the heels of receiving her first Gospel Music Association Dove Award for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year with Overcomer (Sparrow Records/Capitol Christian Distribution), GRAMMY winner Mandisa was surprised by her record company, publisher and management backstage at a show with a plaque commemorating the RIAA Gold  Certification of her digital single "Good Morning."

Featuring a rap cameo by TobyMac, "Good Morning" has been performed on ABC's Good Morning America and used in promos by the No. 1 morning show as well as by New York City's local ABC affiliate, WABC. The song has been adopted by various morning radio programs as their theme song across the country as well.

A new remixed version of the song appears on Mandisa's newly released, first full-length remix album, Get Up: The Remixes.

Mandisa is on the Thrive Tour with Casting Crowns and Sidewalk Prophets.

Christine D. Johnson Featured Culture Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:00:00 -0400
Utah Supreme Court Sanctions Adoption by Same-Sex Spouses

The Utah Supreme Court on Thursday lifted an order that had blocked spouses in same-sex marriages from adopting their partners' children, state officials said.

The state's highest court had imposed a stay on the adoptions in May, while Utah appealed a federal ruling last year that permitted same-sex marriages for 17 days before the Supreme Court halted them pending appeal.
Earlier this month, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied appeals of same-sex marriage bans and an appeals court reaffirmed its order making same-sex marriage legal in the state, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes ordered county clerks to recognize all legally performed same-sex marriages.
On the same day, Reyes petitioned the state Supreme Court to remove its stay of the adoptions, saying the issue was now moot.
Missy Larsen, a spokeswoman for Reyes, said the high court's action on Thursday came in response to that petition.
Editing by Peter Cooney
Sharon Bernstein/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:30:00 -0400
Potty-Mouthed Princesses Dropping F-Bombs for Feminism

I am absolutely against exploiting women, but please explain to me how prancing potty-mouth elementary school-aged princesses in front of a video camera dropping F-bombs to fight feminism is anything less?

My jaw literally dropped open watching a video of five sweet-faced little girls serving as poster children in a campaign to empower feminism. The girls, between ages 6 and 13, were dressed up in princess costumes and spewing explicatives that I refuse to print here.

These little darlings were vehemently angry about the way society treats women, pointing out pay inequality, sexual assault, a hyper-focus on looks and even rape. The children, for example, cited chilling statistics that I've heard many times before: 1 in 5 girls will be raped or sexually assaulted by a man. That is tragic and disgusting. Nevertheless, filling young girls mouth with filth for shock value is not going to stop pedophiles and rapists.


Even as I write this, I am still shaking my head. Why would any Mommy or Daddy put their precious little girl in the hands of a feminist agenda that promotes sexual immorality? See, FCKH8, the company behind the offensive presentation entitled "F-Bombs for Feminism," isn't just about feminism. The for-profit firm also celebrates the LGBT agenda with T-shirts that act as "mini-billboards for change."

So, essentially, FCKH8 is making money off these little girls, using them to sell T-shirts. I'm against racism and sexism, too, and I understand the inherent logic behind shocking publicity campaigns that wake people up to injustice. But committing injustice in the name of justice is false justice. The means do not justify the end.

FCKH8's "F-Bombs for Feminism" campaign may amuse many—it's being trumpeted as "brilliant," "adorable" and "empowering" in the liberal media—but it's also hypocritical. These young girls may be making a point, but they are doing it with hateful speech and aggression in their hearts planted by an agenda that is anything but godly.

And Jesus Is Offensive?

Jesus came to set the captives free. Jesus stands against racism and sexism. Jesus loves everybody and we're all equal in His eyes. But putting offensive words in the mouths of babes, planting seeds of hateful speech in their hearts and pitting them against men is not going to ultimately produce freedom (or equality) in the next generation.

I agree that pay inequality is unjust. I weep over the realities of rape and sexual assault against young girls. I think sexism stinks and I stand against pay inequality. But setting children to launch verbal attacks against men and encouraging potty-mouths for shock value isn't going to, as the video suggests, get "society to clean up its act." If cussing up a storm would prevent girls from getting raped, I'd do it myself.

The answer is Jesus. The answer is changing the hearts of a generation—turning the hearts of the children back to the Father. The answer is preaching the gospel of truth to the masses so they can get saved, healed and set free of criminal intents, wrong mindsets and, yes, even potty-mouths. Yet somehow, some way, the gospel of Christ has become more offensive to many than a 6-year-old dropping F-bombs in the name of equality. God help us.

 Jennifer LeClaire is news editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0400
Secularism Declares Open War on Religious Faith

In case you didn't know it, if you are a conservative Christian, you are just like Boko Haram and ISIS. At least, that's what the secularists are saying. More absurd still, they actually believe this.

Of course, secularism has been waging war against religion for centuries, but more recently, in America and Europe, the rhetoric of secularism has become more extreme and shrill.

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, critics complained that the Court's eminently reasonable decision was "anti-scientific."

As noted by Jonathan Adler in the Washington Post, "The Daily Beast's Sally Kohn decried the Court's reliance on 'bunk science' and The Nation's Reed Richardson claimed the Hobby Lobby majority's opinion rested on 'specious scientific claims.'  'Alito and the four other conservative justices on the court were essentially overruling not just an Obamacare regulation, but science,' reported Mother Jones, while another MoJo  story ranked Hobby Lobby to be among the Supreme Court's four 'biggest science blunders.'  And over at The Incidental Economist, Austin Frakt simply declared 'The majority of the Supreme Court doesn't get science.'"

Adler, hardly a flaming fundamentalist, refuted the claim.

But is anyone surprised that a faith-based challenge to Obamacare would be branded "anti-scientific"?

Shades of the church's historic suppression of intellectual progress!

Still, attacks like these are minor compared to secularism's idea that all committed believers must be the same, be they Islamic extremists or evangelical Christians.

Earlier this year, "City councilors from Nanaimo, B.C. [Canada] voted . . . to ban a Christian leadership conference scheduled to be podcast at the city's convention centre because one of the sponsors of the conference was U.S. restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. According to one councilor, the chain spreads 'divisiveness, homophobia...[and] expressions of hate' because of its CEO's pro-marriage views."

But it gets worse: "City councilors condemned the event as 'hateful', compared it to the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, and said the decision to ban the event from public property was no different than if they had voted to ban an organized crime ring, too." (Ironically, the conference featured speakers like Laura Bush and Desmond Tutu, both of whom support same-sex "marriage.")

There you have it. Chick-fil-A is no different than Islamic radicals who burn little boys alive and kidnap and rape young girls, not to mention being similar to an organized crime ring.

In the same spirit, radio host David Pakman stated that he saw no real difference between ISIS and what he called conservative, right-wing extremists (a definition that he would use to describe many evangelical Christians), a charge affirmed by his producer during the show as self-evident and irrefutable.

But of course! Bible-believing Christians who affirm the sanctity of life and marriage are the same as monstrous brutes who behead the innocent in cold blood. Who can't see this?

In case this isn't clear enough for you, on October 14th, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, led by the UK gay activist of the same name, released its "Manifesto for Secularism – Against the Religious Right."

Tatchell issued a "call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism."

And what exactly does Tatchell mean by "the religious-Right"? Specifically, "The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the U.S. and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria."

Read that list again slowly.

Tatchell explicitly places conservative Christians in the US and Europe in the exact same category as the Taliban, ISIS, and Boko Haram, among others. (I'll not comment here on his reference to ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, called Haredim.)

As the manifesto declares in its opening line, "The launch of the Manifesto for Secularism is a challenge to the global rise of the Religious Right and its menacing values, which threaten women, LGBTs, atheists, minority faiths, apostates and many others."

Yes, dear believer, you are a menace, and war has been declared against you.

"We call on people everywhere," the manifesto declares, "to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism."

Among the manifesto's demands, not all of which are outrageous, are the calls for the, "Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research" and, "Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes."

Make no mistake about it.

You have been marked, and you have been classified as a dangerous extremist capable of all kinds of nefarious acts.

And you have been forewarned.

Michael Brown is the author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:30:00 -0400
What Are the Real Roots of Messianic Judaism?

We know from Scripture that the Messianic Community in Jerusalem (and Lod, the Sharon, Joppa and the Galilee) was thriving in the first decades after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem. When Paul comes back to Jerusalem to greet the apostles, they report to him:

"On hearing it, they praised God; but they also said to him, 'You see, brother, how many tens of thousands of believers there are among the Judeans, and they are all zealots for the Torah' (Acts 21:20 CJB).

There are two interesting points worth noting. First, they are Torah-honoring Jewish believers. This does not mean that they necessarily followed all the traditions of Pharisaical Judaism, but that they suddenly found deep meaning in the laws that they previously only kept out of religious guilt. This is reported to Paul as a good thing. There is no hint that they are moving away from Torah or their Jewishness, but closer.

Secondly, many translations use the English thousands for the Greek myriads. However a myriad is 10,000, so myriads plural, as is used in this verse, is correctly tens of thousands!

The congregation continued to grow under the leadership of Jacob (there were no first century Jews named James) the brother of Yeshua until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (some believe that Jacob died earlier).

Flee to the Mountains

Now this is where things start to change drastically for the Jewish believers in Israel. Yeshua had told His disciples less than 40 years before that when they see the armies surrounding Jerusalem they should flee to the mountains.

"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the middle of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein" (Luke 21:20-21, WEB).

"The Great Revolt" took place in 66 CE when the Jews rebelled against Roman rule. The Romans responded by leveling the city and destroying the Temple in 70 CE. As many as one million Jews died all over Israel.

However, the Messianic Jews, heeding the warning of Yeshua, fled. This is most likely a dual prophecy that will have a greater fulfillment before the coming of Yeshua. However, the believers in Jerusalem assumed, as many of us today, that they would see the return of Yeshua. Seeing that the prophetic warnings (Matt. 24; Luke 21) came from Yeshua as He was teaching on the end times, they were sure that His return was near.

They fled across the Jordan River and settled in a mountainous area called Petra.

"The [Messianic Jewish] community in Jerusalem escaped this terrible catastrophe by fleeing to Petra in Transjordan and the countryside of Gilean and in expectation of ... the second coming of [the Messiah]."

When the war ended and Yeshua had not yet returned, the Messianic Jews returned to Jerusalem where they suffered persecution from the Jews who had fought the Romans—they were labeled as traitors. Of course, there were many other Jews who opposed the fighting, including Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai.

How Pharisee Judaism Survived—Ben Zakkai

One main factor in the survival of Pharisaical Judaism, which became what we know today as Rabbinic Judaism, was the surrender of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. He opposed the war and would have been killed by the Jewish military leaders for treason had he not been smuggled out of Jerusalem in a coffin. He surrendered to the Romans.

"They carried the coffin to [General] Vespasian's tent, where ben Zakkai emerged from the coffin. He told Vespasian that he had had a vision (some would say, a shrewd political insight) that Vespasian would soon be emperor, and he asked Vespasian to set aside a place in Yavne (coastal city south of Tel Aviv) where he could start a small school and study Torah in peace. Vespasian promised that if the prophecy came true, he would grant ben Zakkai's request. Vespasian became Emperor within a year, and kept his word, allowing the school to be established after the war was over" (Jewish virtual library).

A Fatal Blessing

More than anyone else, ben Zakkai was responsible for the survival of Pharisaical/Rabbinic Judaism. In Yavne he put to paper the Oral Law (what Yeshua referred to as the Traditions of the Elders). In the year 80 CE, he was succeeded by Gamaliel II. On his orders, a paragraph was added to the Amidah or Shmoneh Esri (18 blessings). This is the central prayer in Jewish liturgy.

The 19th benediction was added to weed out Messianic Jews. It was a denunciation of heretics or sectarians—which the Messianics were accused of being. To pray this, the Messianic Jew would pray a curse on himself. Thus, the Messianics were further pushed out of the Synagogue.

Prayer Replaces Sacrifice

One more note on ben Zakkai. He convinced the newly relocated Sanhedrin, from Jerusalem to Yavne, to replace the need for sacrifice with prayer, quoting Hos. 6:6, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." This took away the need to rebuild the Temple for nearly 2,000 years. Before this, sacrifice was central to Judaism.

Temple ritual was replaced with prayer service in synagogues which built upon practices of Jews in the Diaspora dating back to the Babylonian exile.

Sadly one of the main arguments that Orthodox Jews use today to try and refute Messianic Judaism is that prayer and repentance are enough to atone for sin. Of course, this was not the Jewish view until after the Temple was destroyed.

"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life" (Lev. 17:11, NIV).

So what happened to the Messianic Community? Tune in next week to part 2.

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah's Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

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Ron Cantor/Messiah's Mandate Featured World News Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0400
7 Significant Lessons Churches Can Learn From the Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll Implosion

According to some reports, the aftermath of the resignation of Pastor Mark Driscoll as the lead pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle has resulted in losing about half of their 14,000 attendees. This will not only result in closing church campuses and laying off much of the staff—but, (in the opinion of some) could also result in the church declaring bankruptcy (I pray and hope not!).

There are not only lessons we can all learn as individuals, but more importantly, churches should take heed to how a church can implode so easily based on the behavior of their key leader. 

The following are seven lessons all churches can learn.

(Two of the following points are ideas I received from a conversation with a pastor friend of mine whom I will leave nameless)

1. Every lead pastor needs both internal and external accountability.  It seems as though there was a lack of real accountability, both from the church board of elders and from the outside. This is the reason why Dr. Paul Tripp, one of the key outside accountability leaders for the church, resigned.

In my opinion, every lead pastor needs to be accountable internally to the board of elders for both the spiritual and financial issues of the church. Also, a lead pastor should always attempt to function with the consensus of both the elders and trustees, especially when it comes to major financial decisions. Furthermore, every lead pastor needs at least one extra-local leader to be their overseer to hold them accountable for matters related to their personal life and family. It is very difficult, awkward and often not practical for in-house leaders to serve in that role in most cases. (It is hard for those a lead pastor has nurtured into eldership to be able to speak into the personal life of their overseer and shepherd. Thus, every shepherd needs an outside voice to be their shepherd.)

2. Church elders need an apostolic overseer to appeal to in case of an impasse. 

Often, church elders have no one to look to when they reach an impasse with the lead pastor; this is often why they vote with their feet and resign and/or cause division and attempt to start another church. Every church eldership needs to have a person they can appeal to if the elders and lead pastor hit a major wall regarding the governance of the church or personal issues with said lead pastor. This is why I am a major proponent of having an "apostolic church" template in which every local church is overseen by a lead pastor who is also submitted to an apostolic leader or bishop who oversees other associated congregations. This is the New Testament pattern and is much better than leaving congregations and leaders all by themselves. 

3. Satellite churches need their own pastor/preacher. 

The satellite model structure usually simulcasts the lead pastor's message to all the other campuses. Thus, while the church is expanding in numbers, it is not always developing leaders commensurate to their expansion. This is dissimilar to church planting in which every congregation has their own lead pastor, preacher and leadership team. Consequently, every campus is being built around the preaching, leadership and vision casting of one man who leaves them vulnerable to the kind of implosion we have seen at Mars Hill.

4. The "one man brand" of the church leaves the church vulnerable. 

Most of the time, their charismatic leader knows evangelical churches more than their congregation or vision. At Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll was their "brand." Not only that, but evangelical churches too often perpetuate a personality cult in which folks say something like "I am going to Joe Mattera's church" rather than "Resurrection Church." You get the picture.

Many people can't even remember the name of the church they visited—they just know the church by the name of the lead pastor! This is nothing new—it's the same thing that Paul the apostle had to address with the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 3:4). Although this is common with evangelical churches, it doesn't mean it is healthy, and something in our present global church culture has to change. One of the things we have done in our church for the past decade is to have a team of leaders who rotate and share the responsibility of delivering the Word on Sunday mornings so the people don't just hear the Word from one person. Also, for the past few years we have gone from topical to exegetical teaching on Sundays so that the focus is on understanding the Scriptures rather than the skilled presentation of the lead pastor. 

5. The essence of the church needs to be based upon the centrality of Christ. 

Along the lines of point four, there needs to be a drastic shift away from a congregation that comes to be entertained by a great worship leader and/or preacher to a congregation that comes primarily to worship Jesus. Every church has to ingrain its vision, mission, preaching, ministry and worship around the centrality of Christ. This is one of the advantages some of the historic mainline denominational churches have over the typical evangelical church.

In spite of the fact that Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and other denominational churches transfer their priest every few years to another parish, faithful people still attend their churches by the millions all over the world. Why? Because their congregations are committed to their parish and to their expression of the universal church more than they are to the charismatic leadership of their lead pastor. For example, in my area of NYC, a Roman Catholic might say "I am attending Saint Francis church in Brooklyn Heights; they rarely if ever say "I am attending Father Frank Mascara's church!"  

One of the reasons why I instituted weekly communion years ago in our church was because I wanted the center of the service to be about the gospel—not about my preaching. When people judge a church merely by good sermons and/or a worship experience, they are acting carnal. Their focus should be on worshipping Jesus, ministering to the saints and being empowered for the work of the kingdom in the context of the corporate vision of their local congregation

6. Every lead pastor needs an equally competent understudy who can step in. 

After Mark Driscoll resigned, there was no understudy with capacity to come in and preach (and lead?) equal to him. In my opinion, the greatest role of every lead pastor is to nurture leaders who can potentially step in to their role and do a better job than them!

7. The congregation has to be more committed to their corporate vision than to the lead pastor and/or to their social networks. 

Most people attend a church because a friend attends and/or because they like the lead pastor. We have to structure our churches so that we develop a discipleship culture in which believers are assimilated to serve their church and community. Folks have to discover their individual gifts and have their purpose ignited with a passion inspired by a compelling corporate vision to transform their city that transcends their social networking needs. 

In closing, those of us in the evangelical church will miss an opportunity for growth unless we admit that much of the leadership and character issues that led to Pastor Mark Driscoll's resignation are common issues with a large percentage of lead pastors globally. Also, many of the flaws in the structure of Mars Hill Church are also fatal flaws in a large percentage of all evangelical churches worldwide. We should allow the Lord to redeem the experience of Mars Hill as a teaching moment for us all.

May the Lord minister grace, mercy and restoration to pastor Mark Driscoll, and may the Mars Hill congregation not only survive, but also thrive in the years ahead for the glory of God.  

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

Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:00:00 -0400
The 1 Thing Missing From Many American Churches

From the 1960s to the early 80s many people exited traditional and mainline denominational churches because their needs were not being met, and they were hungry for the deeper things of God. As a result, para-church organizations were raised up and played a key role in the training and discipleship of new converts. Bible schools were established to equip pastors and leaders. I was a part of that move of God.

Many of those pastors and churches that were raised up during that time, however, have now become as structured, rigid and set on their own agendas as the churches they formerly exited.

I see a trend today that is attempting to reverse this process and avoid another mass exodus from our churches by using methods and developing programs that will either keep current members from exiting our churches, or draw new people into them (that is what spurned the seeker-friendly church philosophy). Usually this is done by planning various events or offering new and exciting programs that attempt to produce a quality in the church from the outside in. And this is not the pattern of the New Testament.

The Lord gave me a word a few years ago that further magnifies this truth: "Let the fruit grow the ministry and not the ministry grow the fruit." He went on to use the example of the woman at the well who had an encounter with Jesus that led to an entire Samaritan city being impacted with the gospel (John 4:28-30, 39-42). The fruit of that woman's testimony produced greater ministry among the men of that city. The effectual working of God's power in her heart activated her to works of service and to testify of Jesus.

It is amazing what the effectual working of the power of God does in a human heart! This power is what energizes God's people and activates the zeal of God in them. I believe the greatest miracle is when a heart is touched by God and set on fire as the woman at the well was. Revival starts with one life—one heart—radical change and—boom—a city can be touched.

So precious are those who are on fire for Jesus in this day of gross darkness. They are the hope of the church and the world. When the saints are spiritually healthy, vibrant and full of zeal it brings light and glory into a church and a city.

This is the pattern we see throughout the gospels and the New Testament. The key to this fruit in Jesus' own life and ministry lay in the revelation, power and compassion He walked in as a result of His fellowship with the Father. All fruit grows and flows from within that fellowship. True Spirit-filled fellowship and prayer is what initially makes tremendous power available (Jam. 5:16). The fruit of this power is souls being touched for God.

We cannot produce a quality in the church from the outside in as is common in the church world today when we start a ministry or a program, embalm it with some sort of structure and then try and breathe spiritual life into it that will produce fruit. The New Testament pattern is to find out where the Holy Spirit is already moving, and where spiritual life is already flowing, and follow that. Then build just enough structure to facilitate that life. That way if the operation of the Spirit of God changes or fruit is no longer forthcoming, there is so little structure established that things can easily be shut down or changed to facilitate a new way or a new flow of life.

Conversely, changing outward forms, structures, worship styles, adding a new mission statement, new technology, new programs, new outreaches, changing the name of your church or ministry, although useful, are all false, unproductive ways to actually produce spiritual life. Spiritual life, health, and vitality flow from the fellowship we have with the Lord and of being continually baptized into the implications of who Jesus is to us.

Elaborate buildings, large numbers of people, and an increasing flow of cash is not necessarily a sign of spiritual life and vitality, nor does it guarantee the same. The church did not begin with that focus, but yet somehow modern church principles have put the emphasis on attendance, buildings and cash. Some have called it the ABCs of modern church growth. But many false religions of the world have a large following, magnificent buildings and lots of cash, too.

Although we are not opposed to any of these things in and of themselves, they are not the true indicators of spirituality. As a matter of fact, often these things serve as a sort of façade or smokescreen that hides the real problems and issues that are facing the church in this hour. They tend to thicken our deception and fool us into a false success.

The cart before the horse mentality would apply here. We've been guilty of painting and decorating the cart while neglecting the sick horse—the cart being the external workings of the church and the horse being the true spiritual condition of the people.

My younger biological brother who is a bit of a wordsmith came up with the following quote that illustrates the "cart before the horse" mentality that is so prevalent in the body of Christ today:

"Another meeting, another offering, another song, another convention, another banquet, another special speaker, another concert, another project, another program ... and so 'church life' continues, but the changed life remains scarce. If the horse is healthy the cart will be pulled. If the horse is unhealthy, making the cart more attractive is useless." —Roy Farias

There is a subtle, almost subconscious mentality in the church today that places great emphasis on the outward and external appearances of Christianity. Think about this. We are trained by example to esteem appearance, presentation, professionalism and showmanship above what is happening internally in hearts through the effectual working of the power of God. We are easily impressed by the trappings of the production of the church and fooled by its big names and big conferences. I'm afraid there is a large gap separating the culture of the modern Western church from the heart of God as revealed through Jesus in the gospels and through the early church.

The sad truth is that in much of the church world the culture of the kingdom of God has been lost to the culture of hype, greed, religious politics, a Hollywood Jesus and the professional business of the church to such an extent that many churches resemble a political machine or a corporation more than God's culture.

God's culture begins with hearts being set free by the love and power of God and impacting their family and home—making disciples through life relationships, reaching and caring for others with the power of the gospel and the love of God. And because of the effectual working of the power of God in their lives no one has to tell them to do it. The true outworking of God's power in His followers is that they become fishers of men.

In conclusion, the true disciples of Jesus are losing the taste for the shallow and superficial, and are separating themselves from those entangled in the appearance of spirituality. Many people have become disenchanted with the church because of hurt, misuse and abuse, religious politics, theological fads, celebrity lionizing, denominational traditions and leadership caught up in the things of the flesh.

Frankly, many of them are tired of the status quo and predictable routine. People are looking for depth in the Word and in their relationships, a free flowing move of the Spirit, personal empowerment and leadership that does not play political games. We need to be less concerned about the external façades and staging of modern Christianity and focus more on the spiritual lives and condition of the people.

Is the effectual working of the power of God producing mightily in them? Are they being activated from within for works of service? Are they on fire and testifying of Jesus in their spheres of influence?

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of several books, including the newly released My Son, My Sonwhich he co-wrote with his son Daniel for the purpose of training up a holy generation. He is also co-host of the New England Holy Ghost Forum, a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias on Facebook or at @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

Bert Farias Featured The Flaming Herald Opinion Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Baptist Seminary President Off the Hook After Muslim Dispute

The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have affirmed the school's president, Paige Patterson, after investigating his decision to admit a Muslim student into the school's Ph.D. program.

Patterson, one of the most revered Southern Baptist figures and an architect of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention a generation ago, faced heavy criticism from some Baptists who accused him of violating the standards of his school in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We join with our fellow Southern Baptists in appreciation for and admiration of the evangelistic heart of our president, Paige Patterson," the trustee board said in a statement Wednesday (Oct. 22) as it concluded its fall meeting.

"Any violations of the seminary bylaws were done in a good-faith enthusiasm to pursue the seminary's purpose, as set forth in its articles of incorporation."

The trustees have closed their investigation, and Patterson told Religion News Service after the meeting that the Muslim student, Ghassan Nagagreh, is no longer enrolled at the seminary.

"He wrote me a letter declining to return," Patterson said. "He was not specific about his reasons, but he had previously indicated that he had no desire to be a problem to anyone. He is one of the kindest men I know and I was not surprised at his decision, even though I was disappointed."

Patterson suspects the negative publicity probably influenced Nagagreh to make the decision.

"For many reasons this is a great sorrow to me," he said.

Patterson gave an emotional apology at the June annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention for what was considered an unusual step at an evangelical seminary.

"I made an exception to a rule that I assumed, probably wrongly, the president has the right to make if he feels that it is that important," Patterson told convention delegates.

All six Southern Baptist seminaries require students to demonstrate their evangelical belief: a profession of faith, a testimony that gives evidence of that faith, a church endorsement and three references that affirm their Christian character.

While some Southern Baptists were shocked at Patterson's actions, other prominent seminaries have students of various faiths studying side by side.

At the same June convention, the school's program within the maximum-security Darrington Unit in Texas was questioned. Patterson said that Muslim and atheist inmates were included: "Unfortunately, it is the case that you cannot discriminate and have a program in prison."

The trustees also addressed the prison program in the statement.

"While not compromising the missional purpose of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, we are taking steps to amend the seminary's bylaws to improve accountability that will allow for flexibility in pursuing ministry opportunities such as the one at the Darrington Unit," they said.

In both cases—the Muslim student and the prison program—Patterson cited his goal of evangelizing non-Christians.

In June, he described the Sunni Muslim student as "very open, at this point, to the gospel of Jesus Christ" and said of the prisoner program participants: "We have to admit them to class but the wonderful thing, of course, as you would guess, is that as they are studying in class they are coming to know the Lord."

Adelle M. Banks/RNS Featured Culture Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0400
The Truth Behind Jonathan Cahn's Best-Selling 'Shemitah'

Best-selling author Jonathan Cahn has been called America's prophet, deemed as such for the prophetic messages revealed in his blockbuster books The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah. He has been invited to speak at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast in 2013 and at numerous events across the country, as well as appearing on a variety of television programs to further sound the alarm.

Now, with his latest book The Mystery of the Shemitah, already claiming five weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, he shares some of the behind-the-scenes elements of his blockbuster books in an exclusive interview with Charisma magazine.

CHARISMA: Your previous book, The Harbinger, has sold 1.6 million copies so far and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for over 110 weeks. How do you explain the interest in that book?

Jonathan Cahn: Part of the reason is The Harbinger's nature, which is unique and hard to put in a box. On top of that, everyone is interested in what the future holds. The Harbinger doesn't give a general or theoretical idea of the future but a very precise and specific revelation of what lies ahead.

Beyond all that—and probably most important—is the same reason I can take no credit for anything about The Harbinger. From the day the mystery began, to the book basically writing itself, to this day, The Harbinger has defied natural explanation. So I believe the ultimate explanation for everything that's happened is that God wanted the message to go forth and made sure to send it. Before He judges, He sends warning.

CHARISMA: What prompted you to write The Mystery of the Shemitah?

Cahn: As with The Harbinger, I didn't plan to write it. In many ways, it was a surprise. The Shemitah is not only an ancient mystery but an event that is now upon us. Because of that, there's been an explosion of speculation and concern for what it will bring. So Charisma felt that there should be at least a booklet to help people prepare in light of it.

I wasn't intending to write another book until I heard from the Lord that it was time—as with The Harbinger. I offered to help. But as I started, I was flooded with new and unexpected revelations concerning the mystery, how incredibly big it is, how it's been affecting all of our lives—and what it reveals about the future. There was no way a booklet could contain it. The same way the writing of The Harbinger just flowed onto the pages, so too did The Mystery of the Shemitah. In less than two months it was finished, and less than two months after that, it appeared on the shelves of bookstores. So it couldn't be any newer than it is!

CHARISMA: The Harbinger is written as a narrative. Why did you choose a non-fiction format for this book?

Cahn: It's actually the opposite. The Harbinger was originally written in non-fiction form. But right after I finished it, I was led to rewrite it in the form of a narrative. People have continuously asked me about a sequel to The Harbinger, but it's not the kind of book one can just decide to write. Events have to take place, and God has to reveal. But I know there will be a sequel to The Harbinger, and I believe its timing will be linked with events yet to happen. When I write the sequel, it will be, as is The Harbinger, in the form of a narrative.

The Mystery of the Shemitah is linked to The Harbinger, and in some ways is even more specific about the future, but it's not the sequel. Rather, it's the opening up of a mystery that begins with The Harbinger and yet is so big that it opens up an entirely other dimension and world. It's distinct. Writing it in a non-fiction form allowed me to do things I couldn't otherwise do. For example, The Mystery of the Shemitah includes many visuals, illustrations, charts, graphs, etc., where the reader can actually see the phenomenon in flesh and blood—things that would not be possible if it were in narrative form.

CHARISMA: Given all the success of The Harbinger, how do you think people will receive The Mystery of the Shemitah?

Cahn: I recently spoke on Capitol Hill at an event hosted by Mike Huckabee. He departed from his text to tell the audience to read The Harbinger and used the word "stunning" to describe it. That's probably the most common word I've heard people use in describing it. So what I would say is this: What is contained in The Mystery of the Shemitah is no less stunning than that which is contained in The Harbinger. It was a total surprise. The mystery is bigger than anyone had imagined—starting with myself!

Charisma News Staff Featured Culture Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:30:00 -0400
Ben Carson: Houston Mayor Using Alinsky Tactics

You don't have to be a constitutional scholar to recognize the blatant violation of constitutional principles that's involved in the Houston City Council's power grab to subpoena the sermons of five area ministers, as well as internal correspondence dealing with social issues.

The council and Mayor Annise Parker are sensitive to what pastors are telling their congregations about same-sex marriage and a new ordinance the council passed—in the face of strident public opposition—in the name of gender equality. So, they have subpoenaed the sermon texts and other materials to try to quell dissent.

But of course, it isn't working. The Houston pastors know they are on the right side of the law. And this raises an important question: Why is it that many of those on the Left who normally would be outraged by such an egregious trampling on free-speech rights are strangely silent when it comes to standing up for the Houston pastors? Has anyone heard from the American Civil Liberties Union?

"We as Americans must guard every aspect of our Constitution and recognize when it is being threatened. One of the great dangers in America today is extreme intolerance in the name of tolerance," eminent neurosurgeon and conservative activist Ben Carson writes in a new blog.

"For example, in this Houston case, it is presupposed that the pastors in question may have said something that was objectionable to the homosexual community. In order to prove that we are tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle, we as a society allow gays to be intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them in any way."

Carson continues, "Perhaps it is time for Americans to take an honest look at what it means to live peacefully in a diverse society composed of people with many different points of view. This requires true tolerance, which includes being capable of listening to people with views that might differ from yours. Many of us who are Christians have strong beliefs that inform our thinking on many issues, but in no way should those beliefs lead us to demonize or treat others unfairly. The same applies to Muslims, Jews, every other religious group and atheists. When our universities attempt to shield students from hearing the opinions of those with whom the administration disagrees, they are not only being intolerant, but are teaching the next generation those same destructive ideas that will eventually dissolve the cohesiveness of our society and lead to our downfall."

But Carson argues that liberals' silence on the trampling of constitutional rights of pastors is no accident. He recalls the advice of community organizer Saul Alinsky:

"[I]n his book Rules for Radicals, [Alinsky] stated that you should never have a conversation with your adversaries, because that humanizes them, and your job is to demonize them. When your agenda is to fundamentally change a society, it is a much easier task when you stifle conversation and debate."

So there you have it. Free-speech rights deserve protection only when it's liberal or secular speech that needs protecting.

"Our Founders were very concerned about free speech and religious freedom because they came from countries where these basic elements of American life were compromised," Carson concludes in his post. "The First Amendment to the Constitution was carefully crafted to preclude the imposition of laws and ordinances that trample on these rights. The Houston issue goes far beyond free speech and homosexual rights. It warns us of what can happen if we are not vigilant in guarding our hard-fought freedoms. Fortunately, a firestorm of immediate protests appears to have at least temporarily rolled back this egregious assault on all Americans, whether they realize it or not.

"We can never allow civil authorities to censor or control the content of religious sermons, or we will eventually become a completely different country with far fewer rights than we currently enjoy. Freedom is not free, and those who do not zealously guard it will lose it."

Mark Andrews Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:00:00 -0400
NC Judge Resigns Rather Than Perform Gay Marriages

A North Carolina judge has resigned rather than being forced to perform same-sex marriages, because they collide with his religious beliefs.

Swain County Magistrate Gilbert Breedlove, 57, said he resigned Monday because of his personal objection to same-sex marriage. He said his Christian faith and adherence to biblical standards left him no choice in the matter.

Breedlove has been a magistrate for nearly 24 years. He started in 1990 and became ordained as a pastor in 1997.

"I was Christian when I started," Breedlove told the Citizen-Times newspaper in Bryson City for a story on its website. "Then, the law didn't require me to perform something that was against my religious belief. Now that law has changed its requirements."

North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban was struck down Oct. 10. The judgment followed an announcement made by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear the appeal of the July ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban. The 4th Circuit has jurisdiction over North Carolina.

There have been sporadic reports across the state of magistrates stepping down due to their personal objections to same-sex marriage. However, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization said there have been more than 600 licenses issued in over 60 counties.

On the broader picture, things are going smoothly, said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina.

"Certainly, our hope is not that anybody feels like they need to resign from their position," said Sgro."Our hope is that people across North Carolina will support same-sex marriage, and do their jobs and conduct same-sex marriages the same as they would for opposite-sex couples."

Breedlove says that Bryson City is a conservative, Christian-based community, and that his friends and family are supportive of his decision.

Although employed as a part-time pastor at his church, Breedlove's main source of income came from his position as a magistrate. The former staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps is not worried about the pay cut, he told the Citizen-Times.

"That's one of things about being a Christian," said Breedlove, who would not identify his church by name, saying he didn't want it to get negative attention in response to his personal decision. "You are able to serve the Lord, and the Lord will provide."

Breedlove, who also served as a deputy sheriff before becoming a magistrate, spent several years translating the Bible into the Choctaw Indian language. His wife was raised on a Cherokee Indian reservation.

Charisma News Staff Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:00:00 -0400
Civil Rights Commissioner Rebukes Houston Mayor for Pastor Subpoenas

A U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner issued a letter Wednesday to Houston Mayor Annise Parker that asks her to withdraw the city's subpoenas for 17 different forms of private communications belonging to five pastors as part of a lawsuit in which they are not involved. Alliance Defending Freedom represents the pastors in opposition to the subpoena requests in Woodfill v. Parker.

In the letter, Commissioner Peter Kirsanow calls the requested subpoenas "a blatant attempt to punish these pastors for expressing their religiously-based political views" and "an abuse of government power." The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency concerned with civil rights policies and laws.

"There's only one answer to Houston's shameful problem: Withdraw the subpoenas. We agree with the commissioner that Houston should do just that immediately," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. "Even though the pastors are not parties in this lawsuit, the subpoenas still demand from them 17 different categories of information, including their speeches and their private communications with church members. The city must respect the First Amendment and abandon its attempt to strong-arm into silence those who disagree with the city's actions."

"No government entity should be in the business of requiring private citizens to turn over private communications about the issues of the day," the letter states. "Obviously this discovery request would tend to have a chilling effect on political speech, which is the speech subject to the greatest First Amendment protection."

"The pastors' understanding of the ordinance and the petition is irrelevant to the litigation...," the letter adds, explaining that "the validity of the signatures is the only legitimate issue. If the City wants to argue the merits of the ordinance, let the referendum proceed and let both sides make their case. Thus, the discovery request appears instead to be a blatant attempt to punish these pastors for expressing their religiously-based political views. It punishes them by subjecting them to the stress of a subpoena (though they are not parties to the litigation), impairing their right to petition the government, forcing them to comply with a patently overbroad discovery request, and ... chilling future religiously-informed speech. This is an abuse of government power, and it is unavailing to claim that there is some distinction between the City and its attorneys in this instance."

The commissioner also explains in the letter that his concerns about the subpoenas "are in no way allayed by the revision ... to remove the reference to sermons. It is troubling that, given the number of lawyers involved, someone did not raise the First Amendment implications of this discovery request."

In June, the Houston City Council passed its "bathroom bill," which sparked a citizen initiative to have the council either repeal the bill or place it on the ballot for voters to decide. The public submitted more than three times the legally required number of valid signatures, which the city secretary, who is entrusted by law to examine and certify petitions, certified as sufficient. The mayor and city attorney, however, rejected the certification.

After the initiative supporters filed a lawsuit over the matter, the city's attorneys subpoenaed a number of area pastors, demanding to see what they preach from the pulpit and to examine their communications with their church members and others concerning the city council's actions. Public scrutiny of the city's actions intensified after ADF attorneys filed a motion in the District Court of Harris County to quash the subpoena requests.


Erik Stanley Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:00:00 -0400
Why is China's Government Doing This to Crosses at Night?

At 3:30 a.m., October 17, 2014, 300 people in uniforms blocked all the entrances of the Kaiyang village, climbed over the church wall, broke into the church building and forcibly removed the church cross of Kaiyang Church, Pingyang County, Wenzhou City. 

Local believers reported that there was a member of the church staff sleeping in the church, but she was awakened and forcibly removed from the church building. ChinaAid also reports that two other church crosses in Zhejiang Province were removed on the same day.

The church cross demolition campaign, under the guise of "removing illegal construction," has been carried out by China's Zhejiang Provincial government for over six months. Within Pingyang County of Wenzhou City, "only Zengshan Church's cross has not been taken down," a worshipper said to ChinaAid. 

"Believers from seven or eight pastoral regions in Pingyang are taking turns guarding the cross of Zengshan Church. Now, the only cross listed to be taken down in Pingyang County is Zengshan Church. As many as a hundred people are guarding the place."

The Zhejiang Provincial government has been showing determination in removing all "illegal" church crosses, and they claim the campaign has nothing to do with religious persecution. However, all the local believers we have interviewed are strong in their stance that "the church crosses are not against any building code." A local believer even quoted a report by China Central Television (CCTV), the official state-run media in China, that the Chinese government forbids forcible removal of any kind of construction at night.

"Look at what Zhejiang Provincial government is doing! They still tear down church crosses at night! What are they afraid of? Even if church crosses are illegal, why can't they just come during the daytime?" the local believer asked during the interview.

Sooyoung Kim, ICC's regional manager for Southeast Asia, said, "Zhejiang Provincial government must follow China's law and stop tearing down church crosses illegally at night. Your own people's hearts are hurt by the government's actions, and it is not wise to continue this campaign. ICC strongly urges Zhejiang Provincial government to stop tearing down church crosses and to listen to its own people's cry."

Sooyoung Kim/ICC Featured World News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:00:00 -0400
Pastor With AIDS Who Slept With Church Members Is Forced Out of Pulpit

Shell-shocked members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, are taking the first steps on a long road of recovery today as disgraced pastor, the Rev. Juan D. McFarland, finally left the church following a court order that he resign and cut all associations with the church. He cannot even attend services there.

The ruling earlier Thursday by Montgomery County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Charles Price brought some degree of closure to a dispute between McFarland and church leaders that erupted in late summer.

McFarland confessed that he not only had AIDS, but that he also had slept with several female church members without telling them he had the deadly disease. He also confessed to using illegal drugs and misappropriating church funds, according to a report on the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper's website.

McFarland walked quietly out of the building Thursday after relinquishing his keys to the church, where he had ministered for 24 years.

"Who does this to people, and you are the leader? Who does this?" an unnamed church member asked rhetorically when the scandal first broke last month.

"I know a young lady who is a member of the church who says she has slept with him and that she didn't want this to go public, and she is running out now trying to find out if there is anything wrong with her. And my heart goes out to her, because she's been a wonderful church member, and then for something like this to happen. The fact that he didn't tell them at all. That's a crime in itself."

Lee Sanford, chairman of the church's board of trustees, said the meeting during which McFarland returned his keys was "tense" but not combative. Sanford said the church has always acted in a spirit of forgiveness toward McFarland.

"It was extremely reluctantly that we took the action that we did, but we have to look [out] for the spiritual welfare of the members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist in moving forward," Sanford told the Advertiser.

Sanford said the church will move in "a studied fashion" to find a new pastor, but for now the Rev. Arthur Green, the church's associate pastor, will lead services.

Nathan Williams, chairman of the church's board of deacons, said the confessions began when McFarland admitted to being HIV-positive during an Aug. 31 service.

Then, on Sept. 14, he confessed to having had sex with female church members inside the church, using drugs and misusing church funds. On Sept. 21, he admitted that he had full-blown AIDS. On Sept. 28, Williams said, he "started dismissing folks," The Montgomery newspaper reported.

After the Sunday service when there was the vote to remove McFarland, the pastor changed the locks on the church and changed who could access the church's bank accounts, Williams said.

At the most recent Sunday service, there were guards at the doors of the church to ensure that no unauthorized people could enter, Williams said.

Church members seemed happy that the ordeal was over, with many smiling and voicing their approval of the ruling as they walked out of the courtroom. Outside the church, they formed a circle and prayed before leaving, the Advertiser reported.

Judge Price set a second hearing for Dec. 1, but Julian McPhillips, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that by then, it will "probably be a moot point," and that McFarland most likely will have moved on and will no longer contest his removal.

McPhillips said the only issue that could remain is the possibility that money had been siphoned out of church accounts. He said that does not appear likely.

"I think we stopped it at the last moment," McPhillips said.

A case involving Wells Fargo Bank remains unresolved for the time being. The bank sent a check for the more than $52,000 in a church account to Montgomery Circuit Court and asked that the court decide who should have access to it, the newspaper reported.

The court sent an order to Regions Bank to allow the original signers of the account there to access it again.

Sanford said that for the church and its congregation, it is time to begin healing. He said church leaders will begin reaching out to any other churches that might have had to deal with similar rifts.

"We have to move to repair the damage," Sanford said.

Charisma News Staff Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:30:00 -0400
Millennials May Be Skeptical About Bible, But They Still Do This

Historical. Symbolic. Story. Sacred. Testimony. These are the top five words millennials use to describe the Bible. The new study Millennials and the Bible , co-commissioned by American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, dives deeper into the perceptions millennials have about the Bible and their engagement with the best-selling book of all time.

The study, conducted by Barna Group, found most millennials (ages 18-30) believe the Bible to be the actual (21 percent) or inspired word of God (44 percent), while only 18 percent state the Bible is another book of teachings written by men. And while the split of opinions on the Bible between Christian millennials and non-Christian millennials is not surprising (45 percent of non-Christians believe the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men), it may surprise many to learn that non-Christian millennials may still turn to the Bible for comfort. For example, when non-Christian millennials do read the Bible, many do so to feel closer to God (21 percent).

"The good news is that, while more millennials are turning skeptical toward the Bible, we still see them reaching out to God during times of difficulty and to feel closer to God. For Christian ministries like American Bible Society, this means there is still an opportunity to encourage more millennials to engage with the Bible and experience its life-changing message," said Drew Hood, managing director of communications at American Bible Society.

Earlier this year, American Bible Society's annual State of the Bible research found that, among all American adults, the percentage of Bible skeptics equaled the percentage of Bible engaged for the first time. Millennials continue to drive the shift toward Bible indifference or skepticism. Of all millennials surveyed, 10 percent are considered Bible engaged, while 25 percent are considered Bible skeptics. While approximately a third of all millennials have positive feelings when they see someone reading the Bible in public (29 percent are happy, 29 percent feel encouraged, 27 percent feel joyful and 26 percent are grateful to see the Bible is still important to people), the division between Christians and non-Christians is clear. Many non-Christians have a negative view those who engage with the Bible.  

When non-Christians see someone reading the Bible in public they:

  • Assume that person is politically conservative (22 percent)

  • Figure they don't have anything in common with the person (21 percent)

  • Think the person is old-fashioned (17 percent)

  • Think that person is trying to make a statement or be provocative (15 percent)

  • Think the person is naïve and feel uncomfortable (both answers at 14 percent)

  • Yet for all the negative perceptions of the Bible and Christians, non-Christian millennials believe that the Bible teaches forgiveness (70 percent), patience (62 percent), generosity (64 percent) and social justice (41 percent).

    "There is a tremendous opportunity to engage non-Christian millennials with the Bible. Despite their misgivings about it, they still believe that the Bible promotes things they care about such as forgiveness, patience, generosity and social justice. We need to figure out what will motivate and enable them to read the Bible for themselves," said Lindsay Olesberg, Scripture engagement director at InterVarsity.

    But the reality remains that more millennials are leaving the Bible on bookshelves, with 32 percent never reading the Bible, compared to 26 percent of all U.S. adults. And only 26 percent of all millennials are reading the Bible at least once a week, compared to 38 percent of all U.S. adults. Still more millennials, 26 percent, said they have increased their personal use of the Bible in the past year than did the average U.S. adult (18 percent). The reason for the increase is in part due to seeing how the Bible changed someone they knew for the better. Even non-Christian millennials recognized this change in someone they knew (27 percent of non-Christians who increased their Bible reading in the past year said it was as a result of seeing how the Bible changed someone they knew, while 31 percent of all millennials said this and only 15 percent of all U.S. adults).

    At the same time, more millennials have also decreased their personal use of the Bible in the past year compared with all U.S. adults—15 percent decreasing Bible use compared to 9 percent of all U.S. adults. And 46 percent of non-Christian millennials said the reason they decreased their Bible use in the past year is because they became agnostic or atheist, while 21 percent of all millennials surveyed said this is why they decreased their Bible use, compared to just 15 percent of all U.S. adults.

    The survey also found:

  • The average amount of time millennials spend reading the Bible is 30 minutes, keeping pace with all U.S. adults.

  • 27 percent of non-Christian millennials hold very negative views of the Bible, stating that they believe the Bible is a dangerous book of religious dogma used for centuries to oppress people.

  • Only 32 percent of all millennials agree strongly that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, compared to 50 percent of all U.S. adults.

Survey Methodology

The Millennials and the Bible report contains the findings from a nationwide study commissioned by American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and conducted by Barna Research (a division of Barna Group). The research methodology included 1,000 online surveys conducted among a representative sample of young adults ages 18 to 30 in the continental U.S. The survey was conducted from Aug. 18-22, 2014.

For full survey information, please contact Christine Cape or Katie Rouse.

Christine Cape Featured Culture Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:00:00 -0400
We Can't Blame the Gay Agenda for This Troubling Marriage Trend

More and more Americans are staying single longer, or choosing not to wed at all, and American Family Association says the trend is alarming and harmful to the bedrock of the American institution of the family—the cornerstone of any society.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that more young people are waiting to marry, and the percentage of adults who have never been married has hit an all-time high. For example, in 1960, about one in 10 adults over the age of 25 were single; in 2012, that same statistic jumped to one in five.

"This disturbing trend works against the family," said AFA President Tim Wildmon. "It has negative implications for adults because God designed marriage for companionship and as a way to show His love to our spouses. And it's detrimental for kids, as God created marriage and family so that we could raise children in godly, loving homes. On a cultural level, numerous studies have shown that those in traditional, healthy marriages and families fare far better that those who are not."

Researchers and experts don't know exactly what's driving the declining marriage numbers, though many have theories, including economical reasons, financial security and the fact that out-of-wedlock cohabitation and childbearing are more accepted today. Some even point to government policies involving taxes and assistance that make staying single more attractive than getting married. A sociology professor recently wrote on that women may be choosing to stay single longer for a variety a reasons, such as career success, an unwillingness to take on the traditional role of a wife, avoiding cheating men and waiting for "the one."

The redefinition of marriage could also play a part.

"Same-sex marriage is a counterfeit version of marriage that diminishes the value of the 'real thing,'" Wildmon added. "Living together before getting married or instead of getting married altogether is counterfeit as well and cheats people out of the best that God has designed for them."

Wildmon added that issues such as marriage will be important on Election Day on Nov. 4. AFA is encouraging voters to take their values into account at the ballot box.

For more information on American Family Association, visit

Deborah Hamilton Featured Culture Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0400
Paralyzed Man Becomes Walking Miracle

After being paralyzed from the chest down during a 2010 knife attack, Darek Fidyka is walking again, thanks to a groundbreaking new cell-transplant therapy. 

The treatment was pioneered by British doctors and carried out by surgeons in Poland.

It involved taking cells from Fidyka's nasal cavity and injecting them into the gap of his damaged spinal cord. These transplanted nerve fibers are constantly regenerating and researchers hoped they would stimulate repair and re-growth.

The result is astounding.

Professor Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London's Institute of Neurology, led the U.K. research team.

He says the success of this treatment is "more impressive than a man walking on the moon."

Fidyka is now walking with the help of a frame, but he says he's able to feel movement and sensation slowly returning to his lower body.

"When you can't feel almost half your body, you are helpless. But when it starts coming back it's like you were born again," Fidyka said.

Details of the new treatment are published in the journal Cell Transplantation. Researchers say their goal is to develop this procedure to a point where it can be rolled out worldwide.

Caitlin Burke/CBN News Featured World News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:30:00 -0400
Phil Robertson, Mike Huckabee Join Forces Against Houston's Holy War

As far as Glenn Beck is concerned, the biggest threat facing Texas isn't Ebola. It's Houston's holy war against free speech.

"This is more dangerous to the republic of Texas than any virus is. This is more dangerous than anything I've ever seen," the talk host warned. "This is not about equal rights. ... This is about shutting people down." And not all religious people—but Christians.

Like us, Glenn thinks one of the most stunning things about this Left's anti-faith crackdown is how selective it is. "God forbid you say, 'This mosque has radical Islamic imams preaching hatred,'" he said on his show. "You have a bag of bricks fall on your head, and they immediately shut down everyone from even saying, 'Wait a minute—the bombers came from that mosque.' ... The president immediately sends a team of delegates to apologize to that mosque, as it happened in Oklahoma."

But in Texas, where a bully of a mayor is intent on gagging local pastors, the president and his party are nowhere to be found. "We have become a very anti-religious group of people," Beck went on. "It was the Christians that were leading the way to man's freedom. And if the Christians don't do it this time, we'll never do it. We will lose it." With nearly 52,000 signing our petition to the Houston mayor, I'd say many are in agreement.

Fortunately, Glenn wasn't the only familiar face sounding the alarm on Houston. Chuck Norris had a message for the tyrants in Texas: nobody messes with religious liberty in his state and gets away with it. Angry that any elected leader would try to strip the power of the pulpit, Norris was blunt about the mayor's legal demands. Instead of combing through pastors' personal emails and messages, Norris thinks Houston officials should try reading the Constitution instead. "If the city attorney and Mayor Annise Parker need a primer on the First Amendment, then let them know that America's founders drafted it even to protect the political speech of preachers!"

And if it's "speeches" the mayor is interested in, then she can expect plenty on November 2, when FRC and other organizations link arms with local churches and rally Christians and churches from around the nation to stand for our Christian faith as we host I Stand Sunday. Like these local pastors, our speakers have a little experience sticking up for their values under pressure. Phil and Alan Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" have taken plenty of fire for standing by their biblical beliefs—and they'll be at Grace Community Church with us to encourage Houstonians to keep the faith. David and Jason Benham lost a national show on HGTV for their convictions—and haven't regretted it a single minute.

Hear from them as well as conservative heroes who are never tired of tackling the tough issues like Governor Mike Huckabee, Southern Baptist Convention President Dr. Ronnie Floyd, pastors of the targeted churches like Dr. Ed Young, Pastor Steve Riggle, and the man responsible for breaking his share of these outrageous stories, Fox News's Todd Starnes.

"We have become a very anti-religious group of people," Beck warned. "And we better wake up right now." Help us rouse the nation by joining us November 2 at 6 p.m. (CT) for I Stand Sunday. If you can't participate in person, do the next best thing: encourage your church or small group to host the simulcast. For details on both, click here.

Tony Perkins Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:30:00 -0400
Oklahoma Judge Stands for Life Despite Pro-Abortion 'Risk' Threats

An Oklahoma judge said on Wednesday he will allow a law that bans abortion-inducing drugs to take effect as planned on Nov. 1, over the objections of abortion-rights advocates who said the measure is poor public health policy that could put women at risk.

Oklahoma District Court Judge Robert Stuart turned down a request by abortion-rights groups to halt the measure from taking effect. Stuart also allowed a provision that would limit liability claims against physicians due to the law.
According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Reproductive Services in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Services this month, the measure would lead to increased use of surgically induced abortions for cases where drugs can be used.
"This law is contrary to protecting women's health and will force doctors to use an outdated and less safe medical procedure," said Autumn Katz, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The defendants said the use of the drugs could cause harm to pregnant women because they can be used for procedures not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Earlier this year, lawmakers in the heavily Republican state approved new restrictions on abortion clinics they said were aimed at protecting women's health, but abortion rights advocates said were actually intended to shut clinics.
Additional writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Eric Walsh.
Heide Brandes/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0400
After Fatal Attack at Capital, Canada's PM Vows Crackdown

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to redouble the country's fight against "terrorist organizations" abroad after a reported convert to Islam rampaged through parliament, shocking the usually tranquil capital city.

Shortly after a gunman shot dead a soldier at the National War Memorial in central Ottawa on Wednesday morning, a man armed with a shotgun burst into the Center Block of Parliament, pursued by police. He died after dozens of shots rang out a few yards away from where Harper was talking to his legislators.
Ottawa police said it was too early to say whether one person was responsible for both attacks. The killing of the Canadian soldier was the second this week with a possible link to Islamist militants.
Harper said it was too early to know whether the gunman had accomplices but insisted Canada would never be intimidated.
"This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats," he said in a televised address to the nation late on Wednesday.
A convert to Islam on Monday ran over two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal.
Both attacks took place after Canada announced this month it would send six jets to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.
Harper said Canada would now "redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores".
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada's deployment to Iraq would go on unimpeded.
The two attacks in quick succession could push the Canadian government to pause and rethink before introducing a planned bill to change the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, said Wesley Wark, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who is an expert on national security and intelligence issues.
The bill to boost the powers of Canada's main spy agency, CSIS, was slated to be introduced in parliament this week.
"What the government is now confronting is a choice with going forward on whatever its original, probably small-scale changes might have been, or sitting back and thinking about whether there is something more that needs to be done," he said.
Canadian police were investigating a man named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as a suspect in Wednesday's attack, said a source familiar with the matter.
Court documents show he previously faced a robbery charge in Vancouver and multiple drug-related charges in Montreal.
U.S. officials said they had been advised the dead gunman in Wednesday's shootings was also a Canadian convert to Islam.
Officials said Parliament would reopen at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement tweeted that he would convene a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday and added "#terroristsbedamned".
Clement and hundreds of legislators had spent about 10 hours locked up in the Parliament as police searched the building.
Ottawa police warned the public to expect an increased presence by officers in coming days in the national capital.
Additional reporting by Randall Palmer in Ottawa, Euan Rocha in Toronto and Julie Gordon in Vancouver; editing by Robert Birsel.
David Ljunggren and Leah Schnurr/Reuters Featured World News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:30:00 -0400
Pro-Lifers Urge Civil Disobedience Against Obamacare Tyranny

To the dismay of California's people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a "basic health service" under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical abortions immediately. Even churches are not exempt from funding abortions.

Operation Rescue opposes this policy that forces men and women who deeply oppose abortion on religious grounds to fund surgical abortion in violation of their faith, and encourages others to oppose it as well.

"Since Obamacare was first introduced, we warned that the day could come when Christians would be required by the state to violate their consciences through forced payments for abortion," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. "Now, with this mandate in California that imposes forced abortion funding on churches, it has come time for men and women of faith to stand against this tyranny and refuse to comply with this unjust law that would make us accessories to the taking of innocent human life."

Last year, Operation Rescue launched the "Pledge for the Preservation of Life and Liberty," which has been signed by most of the nation's best respected pro-life leaders.

This Pledge has been carefully crafted to stand as a 'line in the sand' regarding any scenario in which the Affordable Care Act forces individuals to participate—whether directly or indirectly—in the destruction of human life. In short, the pro-life movement has chosen one answer to being forced to fund abortion through healthcare: We will not comply.

"I have made the decision not to comply with any unjust law that would force me to pay for abortions—no matter the personal cost to me," Newman said. "Instead, I have chosen to engage in peaceful civil disobedience rather than violate my faith and conscience. Those in California need to understand that this assault on our religious liberties is just the beginning. It will never end if we do not stand firm today and refuse to fund abortions. Religious freedom and the lives of babies that would be lost if we capitulate are more than worth the personal sacrifice. I invite Californians to join me in resisting this evil mandate."

Cheryl Sullenger Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:00:00 -0400
Puerto Rico Judge Stands Up to Gay Marriage Onslaught

U. S. District Court Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez upheld the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's definition of marriage as a union of "a man and a woman" and "husband and wife."

Judge Pérez-Giménez, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, ruled that the Supreme Court's own 1972 dismissal of a Minnesota case claiming a constitutional "right" of same-sex couples to "marry," Baker v. Nelson, constitutes a binding precedent that can only be overridden by the Supreme Court itself, not by the district or circuit courts.

FRC President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"Judge Pérez-Giménez serves as a model of judicial restraint in the face of an epidemic of federal judges legislating from the bench on the issue of marriage. It is time for other courts to follow his example, and the Supreme Court shouldn't allow activist lower courts to redefine states' marriage laws.

"Judge Pérez-Giménez not only rejected the constitutional arguments for redefining marriage, but succinctly made the case for natural marriage, noting that 'the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.' He is correct in saying that this is among the 'principles of logic and law that cannot be forgotten.'

"In my recent Fox News Sunday debate with attorney Ted Olson, I challenged him to articulate what boundaries may be placed if 'love' is the only criteria for marriage. He refused to do so. Judge Pérez-Giménez offered the same challenge, asking, '[A]re laws barring polygamy, or, say the marriage of fathers and daughters now of doubtful validity? ... [T]hose seeking sweeping change must ... articulate the principles that they claim will limit this newly fashioned right.'

"Every judge considering a marriage case—and every public official charged with administering or enforcing his or her state's laws on marriage—should read and take guidance from this ruling," concluded Perkins.


J.P. Duffy Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Defrocked Pastor With Three Gay Children Faces Methodist Piper

A U.S. pastor who was defrocked after officiating at his son's same-sex wedding ceremony, and later reinstated, made an appeal to hang onto his ordination before a Methodist judicial council on Wednesday.

The church punished Reverend Frank Schaefer, who has three gay children, last December by defrocking him when he refused to say he would never perform another gay ceremony. But an appeals panel reversed the decision last June.

Wednesday's hearing in Memphis, attended by dozens of Schaefer supporters wearing rainbow scarves, was before the nine-member Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church, the church's highest judicial body.

Schaefer, former pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., was charged under United Methodist Church law for having officiated at the same sex-marriage ceremony of his son in 2007.

The appeals decision overturning Schaefer's removal from ministry "sends a message to the church that it's OK to ignore and violate the discipline," said the Rev. Christopher Fisher, counsel for the church's Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, who argued against Schaefer's reinstatement at Wednesday's hearing.

Schaefer's counsel, Scott Campbell, called the appeals decision, "wise, faithful and just."

 Schaefer said after the hearing that he felt "cautiously optimistic," and that he has no regrets.

"I did what I did based on my heart and my conscience," Schaefer said, adding that he thought the church's stand against gay marriage thrust his son into depression.

The judicial council's decision is not expected to be announced until "several days" after its meeting concludes on Saturday, the church said.

Bianca Phillips Featured Culture Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0400
The 7 Worst Parenting Mistakes Ever

I'm sure you heard about the 4-year-old girl in Delaware who gave tiny packets of cocaine to her daycare classmates—because she thought it was candy. Her mother, who was arrested earlier this month, said she gave her daughter the wrong backpack and couldn't tell police how 249 packets of cocaine ended up in her possession.

Every week I hear similar stories of children suffering because their parents used horrible judgment. Like the Ebola virus, bad parenting seems to be spreading—and the church is not immune. We had better get busy teaching Christian parents how to raise their kids the old-fashioned way, because recent trends are scary.

I made a list of some of the most disturbing trends in modern parenting. I am sure you can add a few more:

1. Whacky names. We joke about the ridiculous names some film and music stars give their kids: Pilot Inspektor, Denim, Camera, Blanket or Diva Thin Muffin. Yet the common people come up with even stranger names for their babies: Facebook, Hashtag, Aquafresh, Cheese, Chlamydia, Random and—get this—Felony. Do these parents want their kids to be bullied? I'm all for creativity, but if you name your child after a dairy product, social media or a sexually transmitted disease you are setting them up for abuse.

2. Allowing kids to "explore" their gender. Our culture today has gone insane when it comes to gender rules. In some schools, teachers are urged not to "impose" gender on boys or girls but to let them "decide" which gender they are, regardless of reality. And there are parents who insist that their fourth-grade boy be allowed to go in the girls' restroom because he "feels" he is a girl. Am I the only person who believes that the "psychologists" responsible for this trend need therapy themselves?

3. Sexualizing children. Back in my day kids really didn't think about sex until hormones started kicking in at age 13. When I was 9, I was playing with Lincoln Logs, watching Johnny Quest cartoons and learning how to tie square knots. Today, experts say children show sexual interest and engage in sexual behavior earlier than ever. Much of this is fueled by pornography, but television, music videos (think Miley Cyrus' influence on tween girls) and even toys are also to blame. The popular Bratz dolls feature young girls dressed in fishnet hose and miniskirts and wearing heavy makeup. And why did Victoria's Secret produce underwear last year featuring the words "Eye Candy" and "Wink Wink"—and then market them to pre-teen girls? Parents who expose their kids to sexually charged media or clothing simply invite trouble. Learn to put guardrails around the media your child is exposed to.

4. Showcasing kids. At the risk of offending church moms who put their daughters in pageants: Please stop it. We all know there's only one reason a mother would force her three-year-old daughter to wear mascara and tons of hair spray to compete with other toddlers in a beauty contest: It's all about the mothers. The girls are the victims. It has already been proven that girls who are subjected to these expensive pageants suffer from eating disorders and other self-image issues. Forcing your child to live out your fantasies is cruel. (FACT: Did you know that some American families spend more than $75,000 a year on child pageants, and that the entry fees are often priced higher than the awards given?)

5. Not showing affection. I can't tell you how many times I've asked a group of grown men how many of them had fathers who hugged them during their childhood. Often not one hand goes up. The concept of a loving dad who wrestles with his kids or bounces them on his knee has become a fairy tale to many people—and the lack of affection shows up later in insecurity, depression and a host of other psychological problems. Doctors have proven that human beings need seven expressions of meaningful touch every day. Depriving kids of wholesome affection is as serious as withholding food and water.

6. Abandoning your kids. One-third of all children growing up in America today don't have a father in the home. And the U.S. Census shows that this number continues to climb. Children who grow up in single-parent families face higher risk of poverty, and many end up delinquent, addicted to drugs or alcohol or in jail. This crisis represents a huge mission field for churches today, but we can't fight the abandonment epidemic unless we can convince more parents to consider the kids before they break up a family.

7. Giving your kids everything they want. Author Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in The New Yorker two years ago that American kids are "the most indulged young people in the history of the world." The word discipline has become a dirty word in our lexicon. Children today have all the toys and expensive gadgets they want, but they are not expected to share in household chores and don't even want to tie their own shoes or take out the garbage. It's no wonder some 30-year-old men end up living with their parents and playing video games all day: They never learned adult responsibility, so they are stuck in perpetual adolescence.

Ps. 127:3 says: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord." I'm afraid we've squandered the privilege of raising them. What we need today is a massive movement to reclaim biblical principles of protective love and strong discipline—along with a huge dose of common sense.

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

J. Lee Grady Featured Culture Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:00:00 -0400
Who Will Speak for Brittany Maynard's Life?

The hype is everywhere. A multitude of news stories, a segment on 60 Minutes and a multi-page spread in People magazine are all celebrating Brittany Maynard's decision to kill herself on Nov. 1. But who is telling her the truth?

Yes, Brittany has a very touching, yet tragic, tale to tell about her terminal brain cancer, but she has an opportunity to witness to a faith in God and a submission to His will for her life. This acceptance could be a shining example to her generation that life is precious and we all need to use every moment we have to give love and encouragement to others in similar situations. Instead, she is delivering one message: When the going gets tough, give up.

Brittany has now been victimized twice—first by the cancer, and now by those in society who will have facilitated her death and even pressed for it by various methods and self-interests, those who mistakenly proclaim that a human being is in complete control of his own life when it is well known that the Bible confirms that man is created in the image of God. Therefore, an attack on an innocent human being with the intention of ending that person's life—even by the person herself—is a direct attack on God Himself.

This is the truth that Brittany needs to hear. We pray that, in these final days, Brittany finds Christ, reaches out for His caring hand and learns the joy that comes from giving one's life completely to the Creator and accepting whatever happens with a true resignation to His will. And from that new knowledge may Brittany proclaim: I will not go quietly into the night! I will not vanish without a fight! I'm going to live on! I'm going to survive! I will live every minute of every day until God calls me home!

Judie Brown is president of American Life League.

Judie Brown Featured The Pulse Opinion Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:46:03 -0400
'God's Not Dead 2' Getting Ready to Rock Atheists' World

After the breakout success of God's Not Dead, faith-based film studio Pure Flix Entertainment is gearing up to produce a sequel. Pure Flix CEO and managing partner Michael Scott said his studio has a number of projects in the works for next year, including God's Not Dead 2.

"We've got a full slate next year. You'll see Do You Believe?, which is coming in the spring ... we're looking at late March for the release [and] next year possibly either fall or the following year you'll see God's Not Dead 2," Scott said.

God's Not Dead took the world by surprise following its March release. Despite the film's small $2 million budget, Scott said it earned $9.2 million in its first week in theaters, finishing fifth in the U.S. box office. The film earned another $8.5 to $9 million the following week, holding on to its fifth place spot and eventually jumping to fourth in U.S. box offices.

The cast for new film has not been announced.

Scott said making God's Not Dead was an "incredible journey." Even before the movie came out in theaters, he said the trailer "exploded onto the web" with millions of views. "We became the Number 1 page (on) Facebook in the world during the week of the trailer's release," said Scott. The movie's popularity also was bolstered by the hit song with the same name as the film by Christian contemporary-music group the Newsboys.

The story revolves around a college freshman by the name of Josh Wheaton (played by Shane Harper) who enrolls in a philosophy class taught by an infamous dictatorial Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). In order for each student to pass the class, they have to sign the declaration that "God's Dead." Josh refuses, and he goes all the way to defend his faith. With his grades, his reputation and his relation to other students at stake, Josh engages in a series of debates with the professor. 

The reasons this movie is must-viewing for every Christian are twofold: First, this movie will give affirmation to many of our young adults that it is not uncool to take a stand for Jesus. Just because Christians are in the minority, doesn't mean it's plebeian, something to be sneered at. Second, Christianity is not a crutch for the unthinking. The Christian faith in fact invites scrutiny; it can be examined, questioned and tried. And it will still come out strong, reliable and trustworthy. These are two themes running right through the movie.

Prior to God's Not Dead, the Arizona-based film studio had produced 25 to 30 movies and distributed 75 films worldwide. Many of those were direct-to-DVD or TV movies. God's Not Dead was Pure Flix's second theatrical movie following the 2010 film What If.

The studio is currently filming Do You Believe? in Michigan, according to a report on The film follows a group of characters: a pastor who is re-examining his faith, a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a gangbanger who is fighting against belief, among others, who all struggle with various problems.

The characters' stories intersect in a way that reveals the "redemptive power of the cross." The cast includes Cybill Shepherd, Lee Majors, Ted McGinley and UFC Champion Mavrick von Haug. Pure Flix hopes to finish filming Do You Believe? by the end of this month.

Charisma News Staff Featured Culture Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:00:00 -0400
Are the AFA and FRC Really Hate Groups?

"You're a 'Hate Group!' ... Na-nana-naa-nah!"

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls the American Family Association (AFA) a "hate group" because AFA promotes traditional biblical views on homosexuality and marriage. SPLC does not have a standard for who they label as a "hate group." They apply the label to whomever they want to dehumanize and attack. Surprisingly, President Obama stated the same position on homosexual marriage that AFA holds when he first ran for President, but SPLC did not call him a hater.

I am writing this blog so that you can evaluate for yourself whether AFA is a hate group, here are:

  1. A background sketch of the SPLC;
  2. A list of AFA's views regarding homosexuality that SPLC disagrees with, and therefore defines as hateful lies;
  3. Some of the consequences of SPLC's name calling; and
  4. Information about SPLC's leader Morris Dees that you can use to evaluate his hostility toward AFA.

(1) Multi-millionaire lawyer Morris Dees co-founded the SPLC in 1971 and developed a successful litigation strategy to financially destroy the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups which had perpetrated racial violence. During this period the SPLC developed a data base of information on white supremacist groups that the FBI and other federal agencies sometimes consulted. As racial violence ebbed in national focus, Dees moved on to contesting the death penalty. Later, to keep the SPLC relevant, Dees added homosexual rights to its agenda.

(2) AFA promotes the following views that SPLC calls lies:
     (a) Homosexual behavior is sinful, and a perversion of human sexuality.
     (b) Christ offers forgiveness and freedom from bondage to homosexuality or any other sin (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
     (c) Feeling homosexual urges does not require a person to act on them. 
     (d) God ordained marriage as a union of one man and one woman in a pattern that has the potential for producing children. 
     (e) No relationship between same-sex couples is really marriage, no matter what the law may say.
     (f) An intact family, with a father and a mother, is the best environment for raising a child. 
     (g) Although a same-sex couple may love a child, they inevitably give the child a perverted view of sex.
     (h) Youthful partners are highly prized by homosexuals, posing a potential threat to vulnerable minors.
     (i) Homosexuals target Christians who refuse to affirm them in their sin, such as the Methodist campmeeting reception facility, the baker, the photographer, the florist and the wedding chapel operator who have been sued for not wanting to participate in homosexual wedding celebrations.

(3) By calling AFA and the Family Research Council "hate groups" the SPLC has confused the public, making them think that those conservative family organizations advocate either violence or harassment of homosexuals. We do not.

By including AFA and FRC on its list of hate groups, SPLC has aroused suspicion of conservative Christians among law enforcement and military personnel when SPLC materials are used for training purposes.

Floyd Corkins told the FBI he felt that the hate map on the SPLC website gave him license to kill anti-gay targets when he entered FRC headquarters and shot four FRC employees in 2012. FRC and AFA remain listed on the SPLC hate map.

(4) Morris Dees personal life puts him at odds with the values of AFA. After four divorces, Dees is on his fifth marriage. Dees' second divorce left ugly allegations of sexual misbehavior, including serial adultery, forcing his wife to participate in group sex and engaging in incest, pedophilia and homosexuality. The biblical Christian values championed by AFA and FRC undoubtedly pose a stinging rebuke to Dees' personal lifestyle.

Please respond to this ugly blog by praying that AFA will be gracious and winsome as it defends biblical teachings on sexuality and marriage. Pray that God will defend His Name. Pray that Morris Dees and the other folks at SPLC will come to repentance and find grace and healing.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

Patrick Vaughn Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:17:36 -0400
Pastors Flood Houston Mayor's Office With Sermons

You've no doubt heard of the classic Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Well, it's time for a new movie and it's just starting. It's called, The Pastors Strike Back.

Fresh off the stunning attack on religious liberty down in Houston where pastors were told by Houston's Mayor to hand over their sermons, there is now an effort underway by pastors across America to VOLUNTARILY send Bibles and their sermons to the mayor of Houston.

Mike Huckabee called for it and so has influential Christian author Eric Metaxas. Metaxas tells The Brody File, "Never in our history has religious freedom been so brazenly defied. A bold red line has been crossed. The Houston mayor's inexcusable demand to see the sermons of pastors is an outrageous and shocking affront to all Americans and to liberty itself. If the American church does not rise up and stand against this, there is no American church."

The Brody File obtained a home video of Pastor Brad Atkins of Powdersville First Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina sending his sermon off to the Houston mayor. You can watch it here.

Sources tell The Brody File that pastors from Canada, Australia and Germany are also sending the Houston mayor Bibles and sermons. There are also big events planned around what happened in Houston. On Nov. 2, The Family Research council is hosting a huge simulcast event in Houston at a big church.  Guests will include Mike Huckabee, Phil Robertson, the Benham brothers, Dr. Ronnie Floyd and others. In South Carolina, the South Carolina Pastors Alliance is staging an event called, "The Stand" to be held on the statehouse grounds.

Folks, we are beginning to see pastors rise up. Will it last? In the evangelical community, this is at critical mass. Will the flock respond?

David Brody is the chief political correspondent for CBN News.


David Brody Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:00:00 -0400
Facing Execution, Asia Bibi Stands Firm in Her Faith

 She's a committed Christian.  A mother of five.  A loving wife.  A servant of all.

But will she also be a martyr?

That's Asia Bibi. She has been sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan's Shariah blasphemy law.  She was targeted as a member of the sole Christian family in her small Pakistani village.  She was falsely accused of "blasphemy" – for supposedly speaking against the prophet Muhammad.

Last week an appeals court in Lahore, Pakistan upheld her execution sentence.

Here's how this valiant Christian woman describes her plight, in her own words:

I'm the victim of a cruel, collective injustice.

I've been locked up, handcuffed and chained, banished from the world and waiting to die. I don't know how long I've got left to live. Every time my cell door opens my heart beats faster. My life is in God's hands and I don't know what's going to happen to me. It's a brutal, cruel existence. But I am innocent. I'm guilty only of being presumed guilty. I'm starting to wonder whether being a Christian in Pakistan today is not just a failing, or a mark against you, but actually a crime.

But though I'm kept in a tiny, windowless cell, I want my voice and my anger to be heard. I want the whole world to know that I'm going to be hanged for helping my neighbor. I'm guilty of having shown someone sympathy. What did I do wrong? I drank water from a well belonging to Muslim women, using "their" cup, in the burning heat of the midday sun.

I, Asia Bibi, have been sentenced to death because I was thirsty. I'm a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.

That day, June 14, 2009, is imprinted on my memory.

It's as simple and devastating as that.  For five years, she's been imprisoned on death row over a cup of water.  But what's really at issue here is her Christian faith.

To her radical Islamic community and under Shariah law in Pakistan, her Christian faith is her "crime."  It's her death sentence.

Her family is in hiding, fearing for their lives.  In addition to the death sentence, Asia Bibi has a price on her head.  A radical cleric has implored the Taliban to carry out her execution sentence before the Pakistani government does.  Two Pakistani government officials who have spoken out on her behalf are now dead, murdered in cold blood for standing up for her human rights.

This atrocity cannot stand.  No one – anywhere – should ever be put to death because of their religious beliefs.

All of us who have the freedom to speak out have the responsibility to speak out.  It's incumbent upon all of us to demand her freedom.

Though she has one final appeal at Pakistan's Supreme Court, it is often public pressure and not a legal argument that wins freedom in these cases.

We've seen it in the case of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who is now free from a death sentence in Iran for his Christian faith, and we saw it just a couple of months ago with another Christian mom freed from death row in Sudan.  Meriam Ibrahim had been convicted and sentenced to death for her Christian faith, much like what Asia Bibi is now facing.  Meriam is now free because of the international outcry of hundreds of thousands around the world.

It's time to raise our voices once again and #FreeBibi.  In just 24 hours, over 100,000 people have signed that ACLJ's petition for Asia Bibi's freedom at

Were mobilizing through our international offices, in Pakistan itself, here in Washington, and at the United Nations demanding her release.  We must pray, but we must also act.  Asia Bibi must not be allowed to die for being a Christian.

This article originally was posted here on the ACLJ website. It also is crossposted on Red State.

Matthew Clark Featured World News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:30:00 -0400
Remove Painting of Kid's Praying Or Else, Atheists Threaten

A middle school in Oklahoma is being threatened with legal action unless it removes a painting that depicts two children praying, which has hung at the school for more than 18 years.

To its credit, the Putnam County School District has flatly refused to remove the artwork. District officials said no one had ever complained about until a letter was received from the secularist Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which is based in Wisconsin.

Even though school officials insist that no specific religion or message is promoted through the print that hangs in Kenneth Cooper Middle School, the FFRF claims the painting discriminates against children who choose not to pray, according to a report Wednesday on

"It is our information and understanding that in the Kenneth Cooper Middle School office hangs a religious poster with an image entitled, 'Faith in America' by Donald Zolan," stated FFRF staff attorney Andrew Seidel to begin his plea for the print's removal. "The image features two children with their hands clasped in prayer, with an American flag background."

Justifying the removal?

Seidel contended that even if the young boy and girl portrayed in the painting are not actuality praying—but merely clasping their hands together—the existence of the painting at the school would still violate the First Amendment, calling for it to be purged from campus.

In response, a lawyer for the school district pointed out to the FFRF attorney that his atheistic organization, which is generally opposed to religious freedom, stands alone in its contention that the painting poses a problem on campus.

"The poster complained of has hung in the school office for 18 years without a complaint, prior to your letter," declared Putnam County School District Attorney Anthony Childers on behalf of the entire district. "To date, the district has not received any complaint from any resident, student or patron of the district who believes that the image conveys an improper religious message."

Not giving in to the threat

This order for removal was utterly refused by the Putnam County School District, which had no intention of getting rid of the painting that has been enjoyed by faculty, staff and students alike for nearly two decades.

"We cannot agree that the poster displayed in the office is a per se violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution," Childers was quoted as saying in the report. "Though, as you've pointed out, the title given to the artwork by the original artist is labeled 'Faith in America,' there is no text displayed with the poster which imputes the artist's intent, theme or title."

The print in question shows a young boy and girl reverently praying with the Stars and Stripes as a patriotic backdrop. The district's attorney argues that in no way does this artist's rendition constitute the endorsement of any type of religion, as he made clear in his response to the FFRF's demand letter.

Childers attempted to put everything into perspective from both a logical and legal standpoint, implying that FFRF's argument is based on intimidation and misinformation to get the school district to acquiesce to its demands out of fear of an impending costly lawsuit.

"We believe that a neutral viewer of the poster would not find that the image attempts to proselytize or promote any particular faith, and does not create coercive pressure on students who may see the image," Childers concluded. "At this time, we do not believe that the image violates the Establishment Clause and the District will not agree to remove the image from its office."


Charisma News Staff Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:00:00 -0400
Secularist Mocks Holy Ghost While Defending Halloween

It always intrigues me how far beyond mainstream Christianity—or Christianity at all—is The Huffington Post's Christianity section. I consistently see articles that mock, contradict and otherwise distort the Christian faith—all in the name of Christianity.

The latest is a piece called "The Evangelical War on Halloween" by Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. I have no idea if Zuckerman is a professing Christian or not—and I won't judge his salvation—but at least some of his views are way off the Christian mark.

As Zuckerman tells the story, when he was 5 years old he was a wizard for Halloween. Ever since then, Halloween has been his favorite "holiday" and his "spirit is tingled" by the scary lawn decorations. He loves the haunted houses, spooky stories, witches and the laughter of Vincent Price.

A Mocking Spirit Rises

"To be sure, most Christians in America enjoy Halloween. But a significant minority of them—primarily evangelical Christians—have been waging a war against Halloween for some time now," Zuckerman bemoans. "They urge their fellow citizens to abandon trick-or-treating, to eschew spooky costumes, to resist the lure of jack-o-lanterns and instead attend 'Harvest Festivals' on church grounds. To these pious souls, bobbing for apples is kosher, but not wearing a skeleton getup. They even lobby public schools—sometimes successfully—to ban the wearing of costumes on October 31. And of course, Pat Robertson routinely rants about the Druidic/Satanic evils of the holiday."

From there, Zuckerman tries to draw parallels between Christianity and Halloween. Yes, really. He points to zombies—humans that died and came back to life—and compares that to the resurrection of Christ. Yes, really. Then he essentially mocks Christians who are filled with the Holy Ghost, saying, "For Pentecostals, the Holy Ghost literally enters their bodies and causes them to shimmy and shake and speak in tongues." Yes, really. Next, he touches on the topic of demons and says Christianity is rife with them. Yes, really. He goes on and on and lands on Satan.

And that's where Halloween ultimately lands. For all of Zuckerman's mocking—even shamelessly mocking the Holy Spirit in a section of HuffPo that's supposed to cater to Christian readers—I'm at least grateful that he brought the conversation to where it belongs. Halloween is a demonic holiday.

Christians Should Not Practice Demonic Rituals

Here's the rub: Bible-believing Christians would no more dress their kids up like a witch or zombie than they would encourage their kids to smoke weed. 2 Cor. 6:15 (AMP) asks this question: "What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]?" So make fun of Pat Robertson all you want. He's right about Halloween.

"Halloween is a festival for demonic spirits. The whole idea of trick o' treating ... the Druids would go to somebody's [house] and ask for money and if they didn't get any money they would kill their sheep. That was the trick ... and it was serious stuff," Robertson says.

"All this business about goblins and jack-o'-lanterns all comes out of demonic rituals of the Druids and the people who lived in England at that particular time. I think churches can have Halloween parties. You can bob for apples ... and turn it into a Christian festival, and that's what we ought to do. We need to redeem these days, but that day was given over to Satanic things." Amen.

Click here to download a free chapter of Jennifer's new book, Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft.

Jennifer LeClaire is news editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale and author of several books, including Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraftand The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0400
After Resigning Mars Hill Pastorate, Mark Driscoll Speaks Out

Days after stepping down as head of Seattle's Mars Hill megachurch, Driscoll spoke briefly Monday (Oct. 20) at the Gateway Conference in suburban Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Initially, he and conference organizers agreed that he would not give a formal address at the conference.

But Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church near Dallas, said Driscoll requested to come to the conference as an attendee. "That was big of him to just come and be ministered to," Morris said.

"We could crucify him, but since someone's already been crucified for him ... " Morris said, his voice trailing off. "It's very sad that in the church, we're the only army that shoots at our wounded. And I'd like you to stop it."

Driscoll's resignation came in the wake of accusations of plagiarism, bullying and an oversized ego that alienated some of his most devoted followers. Conference attendees gave Driscoll a standing ovation as Morris handed him the microphone.

"What do you want me to do?" Driscoll asked, teasing about the dangers of giving "a microphone to a preacher who's been gone for a while."

Driscoll spoke for three minutes, telling the crowd that he's praying for Jesus to show him "blind spots" where he could grow.

"There are a lot of things I could say that would make me feel better. I don't know if it would make me look better, but I don't think it would make Jesus look better," he said.

Driscoll asked the crowd for prayer for his family of five children, ages 8 to 17. "I've cried a lot lately," he said. "It's been a rough season for the family."

Driscoll said his family has moved three times, people have been arrested at his home and he has received death threats. Recently, he said, he found rusty nails on his driveway.

When his children wanted to camp in the backyard, the family "woke up in the morning about 6:30 or so, and huge rocks about the size of baseballs come flying at my kids," he said.

Days later, Driscoll said, media flew over his house in a helicopter. He said his 8-year-old son came down wearing a military jacket, loading up his Airsoft rifle, asking if his jacket was bulletproof. "He didn't have any concept of media coverage," Driscoll said. "He thought it was bad guys coming to kill his family."

Addressing a conference of pastors and church staff, he said: "Every pastor needs a pastor. You pastors, your family needs you to be their pastor."

Morris said that Driscoll had been preaching 50 times a year, sometimes six times a week, which was not healthy. "I'm glad he's saying, 'Help me learn to do it differently and do it better.'"

Morris joked about how he invited both Driscoll and North Carolina megachurch pastor Steven Furtick to the conference, both of whom "got bad media this year." Furtick, who was already under fire for buying a $1.6 million house, came under the spotlight for "spontaneous baptisms" that turned out to be not nearly so spontaneous. Driscoll and Furtick smiled and shook hands.

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Sarah Pulliam Bailey Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0400
15 'Signs of the Times' Indicating Judgment

 The Bible warns us about saying "everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation" (1 Pet. 3:4) when judgment is at hand. We know that God is "patient not wanting anyone to perish" (v.9), but there comes a time when the gavel falls!

After Hurricane Katrina, I spoke with a former resident of Louisiana. He told me he grew up hearing warnings of levies breaking but folks simply tuned it out when nothing happened. This describes America today.

If you fell asleep like a Rip Van Winkle for 30 years and awoke today, imagine how shocked you would be at what happened to America.

1. Divorce: Increased from 4% to 51% in one generation.

2. Cohabitation: 65% of "altar-bound" singles live together, a euphemism for lifestyle fornication.

3. Abortion: 57 million unborn babies aborted, some with taxpayer funding and now part of socialized medicine.

4. Marijuana: Being legalized in several states.

5. Euthanasia and Infanticide: Being legalized under camouflage names.

6. Pornography: Rampant, graphic, just a "click away" on hand-held devices.

7. Homosexuality, lesbian and transgender lifestyles: Promoted even by our president along with gay marriage and homosexual ordinations.

8. Movies and music: Standards almost nonexistent with graphic nudity, profanity and blasphemy commonplace.

9. Out-of-wedlock births: 1st time in U.S history – more than 50%.

10. Sexually transmitted diseases: Over 110 million in our population infected.

11. Economic insanity: $18 trillion national debt; millions unemployed deriving benefits; $60 billion in annual Medicare fraud and waste.

12. Illegal immigration: Over 11 million and politicians pushing open borders and amnesty.

13. Political leaders: Corruption, incompetence and deception at all levels.

14. Radical Islam and terrorism: Exploding in regions of the world with an increasingly vulnerable America dismantling militarily and docile politicians calling it a "peaceful religion."

15. Should we add illiteracy... crime... catastrophic fatherlessness... human trafficking... adultery... profane ignorant and low information populace? How about the ongoing erosion of our religious freedoms and secularism taking over society? And last but not least, how about a Laodicean, apostate church compromising and lacking the courage to address the defining issues of our day with clarity and conviction while defining success in terms of happy sermons, attendance, offerings, number of staff, programs and square footage?

Do we see the "handwriting on the wall" that we are at an unprecedented tipping point? Are we aware that America is rapidly spiraling into a lawless culture similar to Germany of a generation ago?

My wife and her parents are German and they will tell you an educated and civilized nation moved from democracy to dictatorship and then demise in less than six years! A once-thriving nation can have its heritage and faith so decimated that history records it as a tragic collapse.

Our Only  Hope for Turnaround is a Heaven-sent Awakening That May Require A Calamity to Jumpstart

As long as things continue to run somewhat smoothly on the surface, we have an amazing ability to cope and carry-on, all the while making flimsy excuses for compromise and a comfortable "Christianity."

• "I don't like what's happening in America on so many issues, but it's not      really affecting me or my family."

• "I prefer they not schedule soccer games on Sunday morning but I guess we can live with it. As a family we try to make it to church at least twice a month unless we need to catch up on our rest."

• "I wish our pastor would address these critical issues but his role model is Joel Osteen so he avoids controversy."

• "I grew up with Sunday school, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services but times have changed and I guess we can get by with a brief Sunday service."

• "Our worship leader is gay, I think, and the primary singer is living with her boyfriend but it's probably best not to stir up problems."

• "I wish our church gave out voter guides so we knew where candidates stand but since we're in a building program, leadership said they don't want to jeopardize fundraising."

  • "Our pastors tell us they don't put out any lawn signs for candidates or  speak about anything political because of separation of church and state."
  •          "We got the evite for the citywide gathering to pray for transformation in our city but it's the same night of Dancing With the Stars finale and we just can't miss it."

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Rev. 3:15-17).

           8 Potential Disasters to Awaken Us?

Will it take another stock market crash, severe financial recession or, God forbid, global economic collapse to get our attention?

Might it take a series of beheadings and coordinated Islamic terrorist attacks in malls and cities by ISIS supporters slipping through unprotected borders to wake us up?

Would a massive power outage shutting down computers and canceling NFL games nationwide strike fear into the hearts of citizens and sober us to the urgency of the hour?

How about an airborne Ebola virus outbreak and the "pestilences and diseases" (Matt. 24:7) Jesus predicted at the end of the age? Maybe a mass migration of infected Central Americans streaming through our porous Southern border?

Perhaps the beginning of war in the Middle East as Jerusalem is surrounded by enemies (Luke 21:20) and Iran launches the "bomb" on Israel causing catastrophic disruption in the Straits of Hormuz (where 20% of the total world's gas supply passes)? Recall the long gas lines of 1973?

Friends and family "handed over to be persecuted and put to death...hated by all nations because of Me" (Matt. 24:9)? Imagine us saying what a Chinese pastor, Huang Yizi, said this week upon being arrested in a government crackdown: "I am grateful to God for the opportunity to go to jail."

Perhaps the very real, dreaded, catastrophic EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack causing unimaginable devastation by paralyzing America as all power lines burn out and all goes dark instantly? USA Today stated: "Cities darken, food spoils and homes fall silent. Civilization collapses." Cause: One terrorist A-bomb or a severe solar storm.

Massive earthquake(s) as Jesus foretold (Matt. 24:7). Scientist Dr. Lucy Jones issued a dire warning on Oct. 15 to the L.A. City Council of the effects: "Infrastructure crippled; power grid and communications knocked out; water supply disrupted; 1,800 fatalities, 53,000 injured and ½ the buildings unusable." [Note: This is not the inevitable "Big One" set for San Francisco.]

                                 Awakening From Spiritual Coma

After the disaster of 9/11, people flocked to church buildings, prayer meetings mushroomed and streets were lined with marquees calling for God's blessing on America. We got our wake up call and people were motivated to seek the living God as atheists and the ACLU were silenced.

Unfortunately, we hit the snooze button and fell back asleep. African pastors gathering in D.C. stated it this way just a week ago: "America is in a spiritual coma!"

Providentially, the same week over 100 churches gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in our Nation's Capital to cry out to God for one thing - spiritual awakening in the United States of America.

In the time of Esther, things looked bleak and God's people were very discouraged at the prospect of a national disaster. But through prayer, fasting, seeking God and Spirit-led action, God intervened to save the day. "Who knows if you've come into the Kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14) was spoken over one believer. As the clock is ticking, can you hear God issuing you and me the same challenge?

This is the second installment of a two-part series. Part one was posted yesterday.

Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:30:00 -0400
Teenager Dies After Collapsing at Haunted House Attraction

A teenage girl who died after collapsing at a haunted house attraction in Ohio had a pre-existing heart condition, an official said on Tuesday.

Christian Faith Benge, 16, collapsed over the weekend when she visited the Land of Illusion complex with friends and family in Middletown, Ohio, 20 miles south of Dayton. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
"It's a natural death," said Doyle Burke, chief investigator for the Warren County Coroner's office. He said Benge had a heart condition and went willingly to the haunted-house complex.
Unlike amusement park rides or portable inflatable devices, haunted houses are not subject to state regulations, said Brett Gates, a spokesman with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Land of Illusion said in a statement on Tuesday that Benge had gone to the complex to listen to her father's band play a concert. It said she then went into one of the attractions and that first responders on site attended to her when she collapsed.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for information about whether it posts warning signs at the haunted houses.
Reporting by Steve Bittenbender in Louisville, Ky.; editing by Fiona Ortiz, Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney.
Steve Bittenbender Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:30:00 -0400
Bishop's Book Plays 'Fast and Loose' With Scripture

A review of Alan Wilson's 'More Perfect Union? Understanding Same Sex Marriage'

In his book on "Understanding Same Sex Marriage," Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, begins "This book describes a stage in an ongoing journey towards equality" continuing, "All over the world marriage is being opened to people." And it is this idea that the Church of England must urgently embrace and indeed celebrate same-sex "marriage" as part of the world's "ongoing journey to equality" that drives More Perfect Union.

It's arguable that this idea might have had some merit were it not for one thing, and that thing is the Bible. Despite having three chapters called variously "Scripture 101," "Things Gays are Liable to Read in the Bible" and "Biblical Marriage," one of the things that stands out most clearly and sadly in the book is a lack of regard for the clarity, authority or weight of Scripture.

Bishop Alan's categorical statement "that very few theological problems ... can be solved definitely directly from the Bible ..." helps the reader grasp how he can repeatedly disregard and misread it, despite speaking of the importance of reading it "seriously and literally." At different points Bishop Alan describes both the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul as "playing fast and loose" with the Old Testament whilst repeatedly doing just that himself and confirming that "people who are for or against homosexuality develop self-consistent readings which are wither pro or anti-gay...."

In his curious, though by no means original, reading of the Bible's teaching on marriage as being somehow "beyond considerations of sex, gender or children," Bishop Alan omits the foundational texts in Genesis 1 and 2 on God's creation of humankind in his image as male and female, texts to which the Lord Jesus and Paul refer to as they clarify God's teaching on marriage. This might seem odd until we grasp how central to Bishop Alan's argument for same sex "marriage" is the idea that, despite all biblical, empirical and scientific data to the contrary, "gender identity is largely a matter of the mind." The book repeatedly and contemptuously dismisses "simplistic Janet and John" (male/ female) binarism when it comes to gender identity, using specious arguments based around, for instance, the tiny proportion of babies born each year of indeterminate sex.

Here as in other parts of the book, Bishop Alan makes assertions and draws conclusions according to "science" which when footnotes are followed up reference research no more robust than, in one case, a "Facebook conversation" with someone. Perhaps realising that he is on shaky ground here Bishop Alan asserts, "Of course contemporary science is not definitive."

Accompanying Bishop Alan's lack of regard for the Bible's clear teaching, is a lack of regard for those who take it seriously as God's clear, definitive loving word. Whilst claiming that "it is wrong to label people with terms they do not own," Bishop Alan proceeds to do just that with anyone within the Church who does not agree with him, often misrepresenting their viewpoints in the process. Those who disagree with him are variously labeled as "enraged new model conservatives," those on a "1950s high horse" and "a tiny minority of conservative zealots."

At one point Bishop Alan cheerfully belittles his fellow Bishops, the Anglican Primates of the Majority World, by speaking of how at the 1998 Lambeth Conference "a tiny clique of reactionary activists played on the largely ignorant fears and fantasies of third world bishops like violins." As an assertion, it manages to be patronising, offensive and borderline racist in its unsubstantiated and imperialistic suggestion that these "third world bishops" with their "largely ignorant" concerns are unable to think for themselves.

"How can the church find true unity?" Bishop Alan asks, concluding that it can do so only as it embraces same sex "marriage." Any other kind of unity—for instance around the truth of Scripture—would be "narrow and stunted" because, according to Bishop Alan, "Equality"—not God's goodness or love or holiness or justice or plan of salvation in Christ—is the most fundamental concept in the Bible's story from the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem. And it is Bishop Alan's obsession with his idea of equality rather than the wonderful God of the Bible and Creation who made men and women in His image to reflect something of His character as they come together in marriage, that lies at the heart of the sad confusion and muddled thinking that runs throughout this polemical and poorly argued book.  

Christian Concern Featured Culture Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:00 -0400
White House Confirms US Citizen Released From North Korea

The White House said on Tuesday that detained American tourist Jeffrey Fowle had been released from North Korea and was on his way home to be with his family.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States welcomed the move but pressed North Korea to release two other U.S. citizens as well.
"While this is a positive decision ... we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK to immediately release them," Earnest said, referring to North Korea. The United States will continue to work actively on those cases, he said.
North Korea made it a condition of Fowle's release that the U.S. government transport him out of the country. The Department of Defense provided that transportation within the time frame that was set, officials said.
Fowle, 56, a street repair worker from Miamisburg, Ohio, was arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a club for foreign sailors in the North Korean city of Chongjin.
Miller was arrested in April for a separate incident.
Bae, a missionary who was arrested in November 2012, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.
The United States expressed thanks to the government of Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, for its efforts on Fowle's case. Sweden acts as a "protecting power" for the United States there.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason; editing by Bill Trott.
Reuters Featured World News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:30:00 -0400
Barna and Barton: America is Doomed If We Don't Do This

The United States became a unique, prosperous and admired nation because of its faith in God and the willingness of the people to abide by God's standards and principles. Over time, however, the urge to glorify oneself rather than God has seriously eroded the strength and potential of the nation.

Based on shocking new research and compelling interviews, FrontLine's newly released book, U-Turn, combines George Barna's and David Barton's unique insights and cultural analysis to demonstrate the moral and spiritual underpinnings that made the United States great, its decline over the past forty years and a detailed road map for the future.

U-Turn examines current cultural trends and historical patterns to reveal that America cannot sustain its strength if it remains on its current path.

"Unless we invite God to be at the center of our process and operate in strict accordance with His principles, we are doomed to continue our downward slide," Barna and Barton write. "Because He has proven Himself to be a merciful ruler, though, if we will humble ourselves before Him, there is hope. U-Turn will describe the radical action Americans must take in partnership with God to restore the nation."

Barna is the executive director of the American Culture & Faith Institute. He is also the founder of The Barna Group and the best-selling author of 49 books. He has filled executive roles in politics, marketing, advertising, media development, research and ministry. Hailed as "the most quoted person in the Christian church today," he has sold more research-based books related to matters of faith than any author in American history.

Barton is the founder and president of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America's forgotten history and heroes. Named as one of America's twenty-five most influential evangelicals by TIME, he is the author of numerous best-selling books.

The authors provide a unique view of the moral and spiritual condition of Americans and provide specific insights into how Americans can turn the nation around by focusing on the restoration of the family, the restoration of the Christian church and the future activity of our government

Althea Thompson Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:00:00 -0400
How Should the Church Respond in Perilous Times?

The times in which we live are unprecedented in the history of America. Every generation thinks the cultural decline is worse than in prior times. These times are clearly unprecedented—at least in American history. But the threats we face today are not unprecedented in Judeo-Christian history, a point I will address later.

Let me give just two examples. For the first time in world history, the citizens of a country are being forced to participate in genocide. No government has ever forced its citizens to participate in genocide until now. Yet, that is what is happening in America with the ObamaCare law, which forces employers to provide and/or pay for abortion-inducing drugs or devices. And many individuals are now being required to make a monthly payment separate from their insurance premiums to fund abortion.

The second example is the deconstruction of marriage. Until 2000, no government in world history had every officially sanctioned same-sex unions. Norway, Denmark and Sweden were the first to do so. In 2004, Massachusetts was the first state in America to put the government's sanction on same-sex "marriage." Throughout all of world history, we are only 14 years down this road and only 10 years in America.

When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear five cases involving same-sex marriage, the immediate result was that same-sex marriage became "legal" in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. But the impact was much broader than just five states. Since June of 2013, multiple federal and state courts have struck down statewide constitutional marriage amendments passed by overwhelming margins of the voters.

Prior to June 2013, over 60 lawsuits were filed across the country seeking to have the courts force same-sex marriage on the people. Liberty Counsel was involved in more than 50 such cases. We won every case except one in California by a 4-3 vote, but that decision was quickly overturned by Proposition 8, a statewide marriage amendment.

In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 opinion stated that the federal Defense of Marriage Act that affirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes was "unconstitutional." This was the match thrown on gasoline that spread fire across the country. Then in 2014, the Court stood by to watch marriage burn.

The implications of same-sex marriage on the church and the culture are staggering. As a policy matter, same-sex marriage is bad for children. The policy sends the message that moms and dads are irrelevant to the well being of boys and girls. Same-sex unions forever deprive children from having a mom or a dad. Children do best when raised by a mother and a father. The complimentary genders are important to the well being of children.

I cannot in this limited space go list all the reasons why and how same-sex marriage will have a negative impact on marriage, personal health and children. But I do want to focus on one area of concern—religious liberty and freedom of conscience. The agenda behind same-sex marriage is aggressive and intolerant. We are witnessing a clash of worldviews and this is a zero sum game, meaning that co-existence is not possible. This is not because Christians are intolerant, but because the agenda will not tolerate an opposing worldview.

When same-sex marriage came to Massachusetts in 2004, Catholic Charities' adoption ministry was forced to shut down after decades of placing orphans in homes with moms and dads. The government required the adoption ministry to cease operation because the ministry refused to place children in same-sex households. This same tragic story is repeated in other states where same-sex marriage has been sanctioned by the government.

In New Jersey, same-sex unions caused a Christian denomination to lose property tax exemption on a facility when it refused to allow it to be used for a same-sex ceremony. In New York, a farm owned by Christians was fined $10,000 for refusing to allow a same-sex ceremony on the property. In New Mexico, a Christian wedding photographer was fined and forced to cease photographing weddings unless and until she agreed to photograph same-sex weddings. And in Oregon, a baker was forced to stop baking wedding cakes because she refused to bake a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex union.

HGTV breached a legally binding contract with Jason and David Benham for a reality TV show called "Flip it Forward" when a homosexual publication pressured the cable channel to drop them because they publically supported natural marriage. And of course, you have heard about Chick-fil-A and Duck Dynasty.

The list of similar conflicts is endless. Same-sex marriage will affect everyone. From what is taught to your children and grandchildren (and I am not just talking about "alternative" families), to your profession, business, business license and more—everyone will experience the intolerance of the agenda.

The church is about to enter rough waters. We are not witnessing a bump in the road that will soon pass. The threat to the family and religious liberty will exponentially increase. The church cannot compromise on this critical issue. Marriage predates religion and government. It is part of God's natural created order. God made male and female and ordained marriage. From this union, and only from this union of male and female, another human is created in the image of God. You can no more change the natural created order of marriage than you can change gravity. It is what it is no matter what anyone thinks about it.

The church needs to rise up and pastors need to be bold. Christians may soon face the same choice that Martin Luther King Jr. faced—whether to obey an unjust law. When confronted with that question, King relied upon thousands of years of Judeo-Christian doctrine. He said some laws are just and these you must obey. But there are times when the government passes unjust laws. These are laws that are contrary to God's natural created order and natural law. When a law of man directly collides with a law of God, believers have the duty to disobey the earthly law. And for this, King found himself in jail. He had no other choice.

Same-sex marriage is contrary to God's natural created order and natural law. Until recently, sodomy was called a "crime against nature." When you are forced to affirm same-sex unions or sexual relations outside of natural marriage, then you must decide to obey God or man. That time has come. It is not in the distant future. It is now.

As I said, these times are unprecedented in American history. But in Judeo-Christian history these times are not unprecedented. The children of Israel faced far worse times in Egypt. While being crushed by the most powerful nation in the world, God liberated the Israelites, and today we celebrate Passover. Esther and Mordecai faced even greater threats. The King of Persia issued an irrevocable decree to kill every Jew on March 7. It cannot get any worse than to face total annihilation on a day certain. Yet, when the people prayed and then acted, God intervened. Instead of the end of the Jewish people, today we celebrate the Feast of Purim.

God will do the same in our generation if His people pray, repent and seek His face. He will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land. Make no mistake—troubled waters are ahead. The question is, what will the righteous do? The answer to that question will determine our destiny.

Mat Staver is the founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel,

Mat Staver Featured Culture Wed, 22 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0400
Is Islam Really a Religion of Peace?

Exactly one year after he stood before the United Nations General Assembly and asked for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, President Obama again in September addressed the violent conflict in the Middle East—this time calling for a combined global effort against Islamic terrorism in that region.

In his speech, the president made this baffling comment about Islam: "Islam teaches peace. Muslims all over the world aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice. And when it comes to America and Islam, there is no us and them—there is only us, because millions of Muslim Americans are part of the fabric of our country."

While I commend President Obama for deploying U.S. military forces to fight this vile and wicked threat, I also believe our president is completely and fundamentally mistaken about the intolerant and violent nature of hardened Islamic followers.

The day after the president's speech, I stood at Lafayette Square—just across from the White House—and spoke at a prayer vigil for Saeed Abedini, the Iranian American who has been imprisoned in Iran for two years.

Saeed is incarcerated simply because of his Christian faith, beaten and tortured for the sake of Christ by the hostile Islamic regime.

Islamic terrorists are indiscriminately and brutally killing all who stand in their way, as evidenced by the gruesome, demonic images of recent beheadings of American and British journalists. For Muslims, peace comes only through submission to Islam. When they speak of peace, they mean submission to their religion. Worldwide, tens of thousands of men, women and children have been slaughtered in the name of Allah, under the bloody flag of Islam.

This is why, as we prayed for the release of Saeed and persecuted Christians, I spoke to the president via the media and loudspeakers in Lafayette Park:

"Mr. President—followers of a peaceful religion do not cut off the heads of innocent people in the barbaric fashion the world has watched recently.

"Mr. President—believers in a peaceful religion do not kidnap 300 young schoolgirls as Boko Haram did in northeastern Nigeria in April and reportedly [sell] them to men to be sex slaves.

"Mr. President—men who practice a peaceful religion do not detonate bombs on an American street during a marathon race to kill and maim innocent people.

"Mr. President—no one who belongs to a peaceful religion would even consider hijacking jet airliners and flying them into buildings occupied by thousands of innocent people beginning their workday, as happened in this country and in this city on 9/11.

"Mr. President—no peaceful religion would tolerate, let alone practice, female circumcision, require a woman to have her husband's permission to leave her home and take up employment and restrict her ability to receive justice in the case of sex crimes.

"Mr. President—a peaceful religion would not condone and allow a father to drown a daughter in a swimming pool in front of the family in the name of family honor because she might have stayed out late in the evening with her boyfriend.

"Mr. President—why haven't the 3.5 million Muslims in North America rejected this gross, barbaric and despicable behavior by their fellow Muslims on American soil?"

Even President Bush in the previous administration called Islam a peaceful religion. Both men have done a great disservice to the American public by not understanding Islam and its teaching in the Quran.

Now, I realize that these terrible acts have been carried out not by peaceful Muslims, but by radicalized extremists. Certainly there are many Muslims who peacefully coexist with adherents of other faiths.

However, my question is why haven't many, if not most, of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world condemned these violent crimes against innocent humanity as they have occurred? Why would 23 percent of the world's population stand by and allow their fellow Muslims to define them by violent behavior if this is truly a religion of peace?

If someone who claims to be a Christian commits a violent act, mainstream Christians quickly and unanimously rise together to condemn it. I cannot recall a single instance of violent behavior supposedly done in the name of Christianity that was not immediately repudiated by the Christian community.

President Obama said that groups such as al Qaida and Boko Haram are guided by an ideology that "will simply wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted and refuted in the light of day."

That simply is not the case. Islam is not a simple ideology or philosophy. It is a false religion. While it may contain some elements of human moralism, it is nonetheless guided and characterized by treacherous deceit.

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). Any faith—Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism—that denies the deity of Jesus Christ and seeks salvation by any means other than saving faith in Him is a false religion.

The blinding lies of Satan himself are the dark and sinister force ultimately behind any false religion. When the Pharisees of Judaism questioned Christ's claim as the Eternal Truth, Jesus answered them with this startling rebuke: "You are of your father the devil ... He was a murderer from the beginning ... he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44-45).

It is impossible for a false religion to be a true religion of peace, since it can never reconcile a holy God and sinful man, and it can never bring lasting peace between men or nations.

Obviously not every false religion is marked by the barbaric behavior we see today. Some may seem serene and harmless on the surface, but none can deliver from the damning power of sin. Christ alone, the Son of God, saves from sin, Satan and death. He died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose again from the dead.

My earnest prayer is that the Lord will use the chaotic and frightening events we see happening on the world stage to drive people, including followers of Islam, to the only solution—personal, transforming faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.

© 2014 BGEA. Reprinted with permission from BGEA. Click here for the original post.

Franklin Graham Featured World News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:00:00 -0400
'Houston Five’ Pastor Steve Riggle Makes a Bold Call

Mayor Annise Parker may have thought she could subpoena the sermons of Houston pastors without much of a battle but the lesbian politician has opened the flood gates of resistance freedom-loving Americans from sea to shining sea.

Some are calling it extremism. Others are calling it tyranny. Others are refusing to let Parker "put us in the closet."

But Steve Riggle, senior pastor of Grace Community Church and one of the so-called "Houston Five," isn't leaving it there.

"Those we elect to lead our government are charged with stewarding the public trust. When elected officials abuse the power of their office by denying the people the basic right to vote, we must stand against that action whatever the cost," Riggle told Charisma News.

As he and other Bible-believing Christians see it, Parker and her city attorney have denied citizens of the fourth-largest city in America a right to vote yes or no.

"All citizens—on both sides of the issue—should be outraged," Riggle says. "Her blatant actions to subvert the referendum process of the Houston City Charter must not be tolerated with impunity."

Riggle is making a bold statement and a bold call:

"If her actions are allowed to continue without being investigated for violations of our voting rights, we will have failed ourselves, each other, our children, and devalued the price many have paid for our 'process' of freedom," he says. "As one of the 'Houston Five' whose sermons and any comment ever made about Mayor Parker have been subpoenaed, I call for her actions and those of the city attorney to be thoroughly investigated."

Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:21:58 -0400
'Infidel' Keyword to Understanding Risks of Islamic Radicalization

In recent history, genocides have often been accompanied by the preparatory dehumanization of victims.

In 1994 in Rwanda, for example, the Hutu interhamwe labelled the Tutsis as "termites" or "cockroaches" before they killed more than one million (mainly) Tutsis. Similarly, before World War II, the Nazi regime in Germany often featured illustrations of Jews in cartoons and other propaganda materials looking decrepit or sub-human and forced Jews to wear yellow stars saying "Achtung Juden (Warning: a Jew)." In other cases, such as in the predominantly Ibo region of Biafra in 1961, the northern Nigerian military used terms such as "gwadai gwadai" (mosquitos) to refer to the Ibo, who suffered up to one million deaths as a result of the military's putting down of the rebellion.

Each generation, each region and each group of victims has seen different terms and methods used against them, but the one common factor behind all genocides or mass killings is that the victims are dehumanized before the violence can take place. One of the more recent challenges in preventing a possible next genocide or mass killing is that, for the first time in recent memory, the perpetrators of such attacks are using and citing religion to justify their violence. From Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon, to the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to al-Qaeda in its global operations, the religious ideology to justify the kidnapping, killing and rape of tens of thousands of people is takfirism.

Etymology and Background of 'Takfirism'

The word kafir in Arabic—incorporated into almost all languages that Muslims speak—translates most closely to "infidel" in English. Takfir is based on the root word kafir and most closely means the "act of labeling another person an infidel." Takfirism therefore refers to the doctrine in Islam of labeling other people as infidels, usually non-Sunni Muslims who comprise more than 80% of Muslims around the world and maintain that their religious belief and practice is truer than other sects, such as the Shi'a. However, also assumed under the concept of kafir in Islam are "apostates," or those who have disassociated from their Muslim background and no longer consider themselves Muslims (in many cases, they have adopted Christianity or another religion). The doctrine of takfirism is broad enough to include the labeling of all non-Sunni Muslims as kafirs, therefore including those Muslim background believers who left their religion.

Since the U.S. and Allied war in Iraq in 2003, the doctrine of takfirism has been increasingly used to target Muslims who are perceived to collaborate with the U.S. and other "infidel" powers by, for example, enlisting in Iraqi security services, participating in democratic elections or migrating to Iraq to work for companies involved with the U.S. forces. Abdul Basit, the pseudonym of a scholar for a Taliban media wing called "Neda ul‐Jihad" ("call of jihad" in Arabic) even advocated that ordinary Muslims (who are not linked to the government or indeed to foreigners) are also kafir, simply on the basis that they did not actively participate in jihad.

View of Scholars (Ulema)

The Qur'an's 
original Arabic 
text is 
considered by 
Muslims to be
the final 
of God
The Qur'an's original Arabic text is considered by Muslims to be the final revelation of God

(Flickr/ Creative Commons / Özgür Mülazımoğlu)

The overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars (ulema) hold that the punishment for those who are kafir is, for individuals, the death penalty. But there is not consensus as to whether it is applicable to entire groups. In other words, one individual who leaves Islam for another religion, or becomes an atheist, would be subject to the death penalty, but if an entire group in a previous generation left Islam for another religious belief, such as the Bahais or the Ahmediyas, they as an entire group are no longer subject to be killed en masse.

This is nonetheless contradicted by the fact that whether or not their predecessors left Islam, in this life they are still seen as kafir for being non-Sunni Muslims and are, therefore, according to the harshest of takfirists, subject to the death penalty.

An alternative to killing people labelled kafir is nonetheless available; namely if the kafir pays jizyah, or tax, to the Muslim rulers, then this will afford them "protection." In recent years, takfirist organizations such as Boko Haram, the Islamic State and the Taliban have employed jizyah to pressure minorities, such as Christians, Shias or Sikhs, to pay them money for "protection," or to justify rape and enslavement or expulsion—as justification or compensation in cases where such jizyah is not paid.

An issue of debate is whether takfirism is a spin-off of Salafism or a separate doctrine altogether. Salafism is an interpretation of Islam rooted in Saudi Arabia (there known as wahabbism) that calls for Islamic practice based on the ways of the salafs, or devout followers of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. It is hostile toward mystical Sufism and syncretic brands of Islam that combine elements of local tradition—and it allows followers to practice takfir.

The Syrian-born Spanish national and Al-Qaeda ideologue (with a focus on "jihad") Abu Mus'ab al‐Suri, for example, argued that "some prominent men from the SalafiJihadi wave, or at least those scholars ... who followed them, offered interpretations which were either extremist, or were articulated in such a general manner that some ignorant jihadis took them a step further and widen[ened] the concept of takfirism".

As a result of this, according to al-Suri, the difference between mainstream jihadism and takfirism has become so narrow that the two are nearly inseparable today.

(al-Suri is believed to have been captured by Pakistan and sent to Syria in 2011 and then either freed by President Bashar al-Assad at the start of the Syrian uprising in 2012, or is still in a Syrian prison).

Others have argued that "the concept of global jihad and takfir" was developed on the basis of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood founder Sayyid Qutb's ideology, whose main notion was that the Muslim community (umma) was dead so long as it was not fighting to extend Sharia everywhere in the world.

Yet others argue that takfir is a "stepping stone" to engaging in violence against secular Muslim rulers and those who are perceived to be supportive of those rulers, such as Christians, foreigners or those who participate in elections. Still others suggest that takfirism is merely a product of strictly textual interpretations from Islam itself, such as Qur'an (4:89), which says: "[Infidels] wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper."


by Boko 
near Mokolo 
on October 
Christian refugees displaced by Boko Haram violence in Cameroon near Mokolo on October 4

(Courtesy of Open Doors)

Whatever the outcome of these debates, it is clear that almost all of the most violent actors in the global jihad, such as al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and IS in Iraq employ takfiri ideology. We need to understand this concept of "infidel" to understand militant Islam.

Al Shabaab's leaders, for example, state that Western citizens and their allies are kuffar (plural of kafir) and that it is halal (lawful) to kill and rob non-Muslims. Boko Haram similarly states "that we shall make the country ungovernable, kill and eliminate irresponsible political leaders of all leanings, hunt and gun down those who oppose the rule of Sharia in Nigeria and ensure that the kafir does not go unpunished."

The Islamic State has forced Christians to leave their homes, burned their churches and raped or "forcibly married" Christian women, all in the name of takfirism.

As a result, it can be said that following takfirism is the means by which these jihadist groups justify their attacks on their enemies, who include anyone who is not a Sunni Muslim and possibly even Sunni Muslims who do not side with them. With Christians and other non-Sunni Muslims increasingly becoming the targets of murders en masse by takfirist groups, it raises the concern that the next mass genocide—or, more likely, religicide will be—or is already—being carried out by takfiris. It would appear that this doctrine and ideology must be confronted before the world experiences another "never again" moment. We need to understand this concept of kafir or "infidel" to understand violent extremist tendencies infiltrating Muslim populations today.

One method of confronting the threat from takfirism is to prohibit speech and advocacy in support of this ideology because it infringes on the rights of others. This is especially imperative in countries where it is not yet so prevalent that the takfiris could launch their jihad in response, such as Central Asia or Europe. Some countries are likely already late in confronting the threat, while others are on the cusp of being too late, such as Cameroon, where Salafist-sponsored mosques and madrassahs emerged in the late 1980s and 1990s, which is about 10 years later than its neighbor, Nigeria, which is now struggling greatly with takfirism. It is important for governments and civil society to de-legitimize takfirist ideology.

Another key way to stop takfirism is through protecting freedom of religion. Since takfirism calls for the punishment of death to non-Sunni Muslims, it is inherently a violation of the freedom of religion. Any preacher that espouses such ideas would be subject to prohibition or bans. Thus far, it seems that only in countries like Uzbekistan, Chad and Kazakhstan is the threat of takfirism being taken seriously, but these are the same countries that human rights groups often criticize most vehemently for violating religious rights, although they are trying to protect their own religious identities and freedoms. This is an issue that requires further understanding, discussion and resolution.

The world must take notice of the doctrine of takfirism before it is too late. If any continent should recognize these signs, it should be Europe, given its history and understanding of how a small and seemingly marginal group of people can within a decade's time manage to become extremely powerful. While history will not repeat itself the same way as in World War II, history does, in the words of Mark Twain, "rhyme," and this is what we are seeing across the European, African, Middle Eastern and Central Asian landscapes today.

(The author writes in a personal capacity; his report was originally commissioned by the World Watch Research Unit, Open Doors International, which works to support Christians under pressure for their faith worldwide.)

Jacob Zenn Featured World News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:00:00 -0400
Derick and Jill Duggar Dillard Reveal Sex of First Baby

In August, Charisma News reported Jill Duggar, now officially known as Jill Dillard, is expecting her first baby. Dillard, of course, is best known for her role on the TLC reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting.

Now, Dillard has revealed she's having a baby boy.

"I was really excited," Derick Dillard told People magazine. "As a new dad, to have a firstborn son to be our first child and be the leader of his siblings, it is very special."

Jill is 23, and her husband, Derick, is 25. They got married on June 21, People reports, sharing their first kiss in front of more than 1,000 family and friends.

"Oh yes, there was some screaming in the room," says, Jill. "I thought all along we were having a girl. Everyone made their guesses."

Also in August, Charisma News reported that Jill's sister, Jessa, is getting married. She is engaged to marry Ben Seewald. Seewald and Duggar have been courting for 11 months.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Culture Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:30:22 -0400
8 Potential Disasters That Could Jolt Us Into an Awakening

The stillness of the morning calm was about to be shattered by a series of explosions that would alter the course of human history. The time: 7:50 a.m. The date: Sunday, December 7, 1941. The place: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

More than 300 Japanese airplanes were swarming toward the harbor. Within a short time, the bombers damaged eight battleships, destroying three – including the USS Arizona, which sank with 1,102 sailors on board. The Hickam and Wheeler air bases lost 177 planes. More than 2,400 servicemen and women lost their lives. The infamous, surprise attack would launch an entire nation into World War II.

But was this disaster really a surprise?

While the Japanese warplanes were still almost an hour away, two American soldiers on a small island in the Pacific scanned their radar and saw dots begin to fill their screen, representing the first wave of more than 180 bomber planes. The men notified their supervisor who unfortunately was an inexperienced novice. He shrugged off the situation with a ho-hum, "Don't worry about it."

Twenty-nine years earlier, a gargantuan "unsinkable" ocean liner left her British port on her maiden voyage to New York. Just before midnight on April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg. Two-and-a-half hours later, the "unsinkable" vessel slipped beneath the icy waters with most of her passengers.

Such a large loss of life also didn't have to be. At the time of the disaster, less than 20 miles away and in sight of each other, another ship, the Californian, sat stationary in the Atlantic Ocean. With the time and capacity to save multiple hundreds of the Titanic's victims, what happened?

Someone on the Californian, who should have known better, ignored the potential for danger and simply decided to turn off the radio that night contributing to the loss of 1,513 lives.

Here's the deal: Scripture exhorts us to "make the most of every opportunity" (Col. 4:5).  As strange as it may sound, I believe disaster is coming to our shores to help bring us back to God. Yet in the face of America's imminent judgment (although probably not the final one), multitudes go on with business as usual instead of readjusting priorities and better investing time to prepare for what's ahead.

Is it ultimately going to take a nightmarish calamity to jolt multitudes out of complacency and passivity in Christendom today? Remember what Jonathan Edwards in America's first Great Awakening said: The primary hindrance to revival is spiritual pride, and nothing obliterates this vice like being humbled and brought to new dependence on God alone amidst a disaster.

Remember Psalm 107:39, "Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow."

This is the first installment of a two-part series. Part Two will appear on this website on Wednesday.

Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:00:00 -0400
Brian Houston, the Golden Rule and the Golden Calf

It was wise old Solomon who said, "There is nothing new under the sun."

Megachurch leader Brian Houston's response to the LGBT issue talks about "the world we live in, there's the weight we live with, and there's the Word we live by." The present world we live in is no different than the world of the past. Jesus made it abundantly clear that the world of Noah's day was no different than the world of today or that of the future. "As it was during the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man." That being the case, then the weight we live with has not changed either. The issue of sin and depravity is as old as the fall of man. Likewise the Word we live by is just as relevant today as it ever was. God is not in catch up mode when it comes to being abreast of current trends, trials, and temptations.

What every spiritual leader needs to remember is that God chose His first priesthood on the basis of their willingness to separate themselves from the idolatry and immorality that the rest of His people were condoning and practicing. Allow me to jog your memory for a moment. God had originally planned for the head of every household to function in a priestly calling. We see this in operation at the first Passover when the children of Israel did not have to wait for a delegated priest to preside over the sacrificing of the Passover lamb. The responsibility was given to the head of each house. This today we refer to as the priesthood of all believers.

What brought about the change in leadership happened at the time of the golden calf. Israel, you recall, became anxious about Moses who had left the camp to meet with God. Following his departure the people pressured Aaron into giving them a god that would go before them and lead them. Aaron bowed to the pressure and created the golden calf. What followed was nothing less than a sexual orgy. Israel gave themselves over to every base and degrading sexual passion imaginable. During the height of this sex feast God issued a challenge through Moses who had now returned to the camp for anyone and everyone to separate themself and stand with God against all the carnality, immorality and idolatry. Out of the twelve tribes, only the tribe of Levi responded and answered God's call.

God told Moses on this occasion that because the Levites had sided with God, and in the case of some, resisting the pressure of their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, He was going to bestow upon them the blessing of the Priesthood.

While there is so much more that could be said concerning this, it is vital here that we don't miss the essential foundation for all spiritual leadership. That of separation from sin! God will not align Himself with sin or compromise in any form or fashion. You recall that later in Israel's history Balaam deceived them into another sexual orgy, this time with the Moabites. During the height of their brazen sexual rebellion, Phinehas rose up, spear in hand, and thrust it through an Israelite man and Moabite woman who were unashamedly having sex before the whole congregation. Because Phinehas had displayed such zeal for God, not to mention his hatred of sin, God promised him and his descendants the covenant of a perpetual priesthood. (Num. 25)

Let's fast forward now to the present. I believe God is once again looking for spiritual leaders who will not waver or compromise in anyway with the present LGBT agenda. Modern day Moabites and Balaamites are pressurizing the Church to partnership with the gay movement. God on the other hand is looking for leaders who will rise up and in no uncertain terms make clear to the world their hatred of such practices. Anything less than this will ultimately disqualify them from the ministry, not to mention God's pleasure and purpose.

Some no doubt will takes issue with me on this point, stating that I lack God's love, compassion and mercy. Try telling that to God who destroyed 24,000 of His own people who refused to separate themselves from the Moabites during the time of Phinehas. ( Incidentally you recall that the Moabites sprang from one of Lot's daughters who gave birth to a son after having sex with her drunken father. (Gen.19) There is nothing more the LGBT movement would love, than to win the sympathy and support of God's people, while at the same time continuing to practice their sinful, selfish and degenerate sensual lifestyle.

One final note to all mega church leaders; If in taking this stand you lose some of your public persona, not to mention members and their money, know for certain that you will gain God's approval, blessing and anointing.

Jesus still asks, Do you love Me more than these?

David Ravenhill has served the Lord for more than 40 years as a missionary, pastor, teacher and itinerant minister, having worked with the late evangelist
David Wilkerson, Youth With A Mission, pastor Mike Bickle and the late
evangelist Steve Hill. He is the author of several books, including 
For God's Sake, Grow Up! and Welcome Home.

David Ravenhill Featured World News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:30:00 -0400
Obama Finally Admits His Same-Sex Marriage Agenda
President Obama said the U.S. Supreme Court's recent move to uphold lower-court rulings allowing gay marriage in several states may be its most significant decision during his time in office, he told the New Yorker magazine in comments published on Monday.
In declining to decide whether states can prohibit gay marriage, the court last week rejected seven different appeals of court rulings striking down gay marriage bans, effectively giving the go-ahead to same-sex marriage in 11 states that previously outlawed it.
"In some ways, the decision that was just handed down to not do anything about what states are doing on same-sex marriage may end up being as consequential — from my perspective, a positive sense — as anything that's been done," Obama was quoted as saying in an article about his legal legacy.
Among major Supreme Court decisions during his six years in office was a 2012 ruling upholding the constitutionality of Obama's healthcare reform law, known as Obamacare.
Obama, who in 2012 became the first U.S. president to publicly express support for gay marriage, told the magazine he now believed the Constitution required all states to allow same-sex marriage.
"But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that's pretty rare," Obama said, citing the landmark 1954 decision banning racial segregation in schools.
"Given the direction of society, for the court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting," he added.
Obama said he had no retirement advice "whatsoever" to offer senior court liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who some liberal activists say should step down while Obama has a chance to name her successor.
"Justice Ginsburg is doing a wonderful job. She is one of my favorite people," he said. "Life tenure means she gets to decide, not anybody else, when she chooses to go."
Asked if he would ever consider following William Howard Taft's example and eventually join the Supreme Court after leaving the White House, Obama said that while he loved the law intellectually, "being a justice is a little bit too monastic for me. Particularly after having spent six years and what will be eight years in this bubble, I think I need to get outside a little bit more."
(Writing by Peter Cooney; editing by Diane Craft)
Peter Cooney/Reuters Featured U.S. News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:20:00 -0400
Fearing Jail, Two Pastors Sue City Over Gay Marriage Law

Two pastors in Idaho, who fear they could be penalized for refusing to perform newly legal gay marriages at their private wedding chapel, have filed a lawsuit, saying an Idaho anti-discrimination law violates their right to free speech and religious liberty.

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who run the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d'Alene, are asking a federal judge to temporarily bar the city from enforcing a local ordinance that bans discrimination tied to sexual orientation in businesses that are used by the public, their attorney said on Monday.
The couple, both ordained Christian ministers, say that under the ordinance, they could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine each time they decline to wed same-sex couples in line with their religious beliefs.
"The government has no business compelling ministers to violate their beliefs and break their ordination vows or risk escalating jail time and fines," said the Knapps' attorney, Jeremy Tedesco.
The U.S. Supreme Court surprised observers this month by leaving intact lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage in five states. A day later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada were unconstitutional, and same-sex marriages are now proceeding there.
The Coeur d'Alene city attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but City Attorney Warren Wilson has told the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper that the Hitching Post would likely be bound by the ordinance.
The lawsuit said the city contends that because the chapel is not a church, it is not exempt from the ordinance and must afford gays the same rights as other couples seeking to wed.
The Knapps on Friday "respectfully declined such a ceremony," Tedesco said. By Monday, they had not been charged with violating the non-discrimination ordinance, he said.
The Knapps said in the lawsuit filed on Friday in U.S. District Court that their business was formed as an avenue to exercise their religious beliefs, which include helping people "create, celebrate and build lifetime, monogamous one-man one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible."
Their chapel, technically a for-profit corporation, has hosted roughly 35,000 weddings since opening in 1989.
Tedesco, senior attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom which focuses on religious freedom issues, said ceremonies performed there for a fee include prayer, traditional wedding vows and biblical sermons.
Laura Zuckerman Featured U.S. News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:45:00 -0400
Details Emerge on Death of Steve Hill's Son

Ryan Michael Hill, son of the late evangelist Steve Hill, died Saturday in Orlando, Fla., at the age of 27.  Ryan had attended Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., where he was pursuing his dreams in the field of TV and Media Production.

Born in Argentina on October 8, 1987, Ryan was given little chance of living more than just a few days. He was seven weeks premature, weighing just 3 lbs., 15 oz. at 16" long. His parents, Steve and Jeri Hill, adopted this precious child as their own, believing even a baby with a few days to live deserved a loving mom and dad. Miraculously, Ryan survived and grew up to be a strong and healthy young man who would later enjoy strenuous sports such as hockey and football.

Ryan was with his family as they pioneered works around the world in Argentina, Spain and Russia. When Ryan was seven, his family moved to Pensacola because of the Brownsville Revival. It was there he developed a fascination with media. He loved working behind the camera. Ryan went on to work with Daystar, GodTV and Fusion Production Company where he worked on programs for the Food Network, NASA and other major companies. But his favorite thing to do was to film his dad as he preached. Together they dreamed of creative ways to touch the world with the gospel through media.

Ryan graduated from the Teen Challenge Men's Program in the spring of 2012. He then served as an intern with the Muskegon Teen Challenge, the Boston Teen Challenge and Vero Beach Boys Ranch. During this time Ryan was able to use his media skills to produce several videos that capture some of the testimonies of those who've gone through Teen Challenge and a promotional video for the Vero Beach Boys Ranch. He also filmed the footage for, a website that his father, the late Steve Hill, developed to help prodigal sons and daughters find their way back home to Christ.

Ryan is survived by his mother, Jeri Hill, and sisters, Shelby Hill Levy and Kelsey Hill. He is preceded in death by his father, Steve Hill.

Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated as the entire family mourns their tragic loss.  Those wishing to leave their thoughts and comments with the family can visit Jeri's Facebook page

Jeri Hill recently posted a picture of Steve and Ryan together stating "My heart is broken to lay him to rest this week near his daddy. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I2 Cor. 5:8."

Many have asked how they can help. A Memorial Fund has been set up with Go Fund Me to help Jeri and the family cover the unexpected expenses of the funeral and arrangements. 

More details will be posted soon regarding dates and times of funeral services.

Daniel Norris Featured U.S. News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:20:30 -0400
5 Drug-Free Ways to Overcome Chronic Exhaustion

A "human energy crisis." That's how Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., describes the devastating symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and its close physiological cousin fibromyalgia—two commonly misdiagnosed conditions that can leave sufferers feeling exhausted, in pain, or worse.

Dr. Teitelbaum, author of a new book, The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution, notes that we all feel exhausted sometimes—from job stress and the day-to-day challenges of family life and making ends meet. But for many people, those feelings are symptoms of something more serious, he tells Newsmax TV's Meet the Doctors program.

"The research shows that 31 percent of adults suffer chronically with fatigue," he notes. "So this is a big, big problem. And we have the makings of a perfect storm ... for a [human] energy crisis with poor nutrition poor sleep and a host of other problems. And then it gets to the point where it gets so severe that it triggers chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, in about 2 to 4 percent of the population."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a million Americans have CFS and millions more suffer from fibromyalgia—making these conditions more common than multiple sclerosis, lupus, and many forms of cancer.

Hallmarks of both conditions are feeling exhausted, being unable to sleep, "brain fog," and pain, Dr. Teitelbaum explains. The pain comes from having too little energy, which causes muscles to lock in a shortened position, he says. For most sufferers, the conditions are the same illness, but some people have fatigue but not pain, while others have pain but not fatigue. 

The illness is devastating," he notes. "It will often be very crippling to the point where people can't even function. Some people are bedridden with the disease. Other people are what I call the walking wounded—they can straggle to work, kind of make it through the day, but when they get home they have nothing else [in terms of energy]."

Health problems and deficiencies can trigger fibromyalgia and CFS by putting stress on the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that produces hormones and regulates bodily systems. Complicating the issue is the fact that many mainstream doctors do not take the two conditions seriously—skeptics once derided CFS as "yuppie flu." Consequently, many physicians don't know how to treat them.

The good news is that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are highly treatable conditions, he says. Following a protocol known as SHINE—sleep, hormones, immunity, nutrition, and exercise—helps people improve their quality of life and feel better, he says. The treatment calls for optimal sleep, addressing hormonal deficiencies, detecting and treating underlying infections, achieving proper nutritional balance, and exercising as much as you're able.

The good news is that some relatively simple strategies have been found to be effective in treating both CFS and fibromyalgia. Dr.  Teitelbaum has developed a 5-point, drug-free protocol known as the SHINE program — short for sleep, hormones, immunity, nutrition, and exercise — that has been shown to help the majority of sufferers improve their quality of life and feel better.

SHINE stands for the five strategies that are central to the program.

Sleep: Making sure to get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep each night.

Hormones: Getting tested for deficiencies and seeking treatment, if necessary.

Immunity: Seeking treatment for any underlying inflections that can be contributors to CFS and fibromyalgia.

Nutrition: Eating a healthy diet including lots of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and low levels of processed, sugary foods that can increase inflammation in the body.

Exercise: Engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

"There absolutely is effective treatment available," Dr. Teitelbaum tells Newsmax TV. "Our published research ... showed that 91 percent of people improve with what we call the SHINE protocol ... The average improvement win quality of life using the shine protocol is 90 percent."

For the original article, visit

Nick Tate/Newsmax Health Featured Culture Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:00:00 -0400
Beyond Ebola Judgments, John Hagee Said This About Israel

As Faith Bible Chapel in suburban Denver celebrated its 36th annual Israel Awareness Day Oct. 19 with a Holocaust exhibit, Jewish-style music and dance, an Israel display, Mediterranean cuisine and high-caliber speakers from the United States and Jerusalem on Sunday, the keynote address by a Texas pastor was sobering and optimistic.

In the week leading up to the event in Arvada, Colo., keynote speaker and Pastor John Hagee told an international audience that the first case of Ebola in his home state, the teetering economy and sputtering financial markets, as well as warnings from "rational voices" of an attack on the U.S. by radical, jihadi Islamists, are troubling.

Faith Bible Chapel Pastor George Morrison struck a festive tone at the culminating event, "A Night to Honor Israel," welcoming Holocaust survivors, members of local, national and international Jewish communities, state representatives and candidates for political office in November.

Morrison and his wife, Cheryl, the church's elders and members recognized in the 1970s the biblical mandate to bless Israel and the Jews and, for nearly 40 years, Faith Bible Chapel's annual observances have attracted 1000s of secular and religious Jews and Christians to the Colorado congregation.

 "The battle for Jerusalem has begun," Hagee, the founder and national chairman of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), told a worldwide audience Oct. 14.

The pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Hagee cited a Wall Street Journal report of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barak Obama in which the two leaders "vigorously disagreed over giving east Jerusalem to the Palestinians."

"Americans need to recognize the historical fact that the Palestinians have absolutely no historical claim to the land of Israel. There has never been, historically, an autonomous group of Palestinians who ever existed," Hagee says.

Before 1948 they were Arabs living in Arab nations, and Yasser Arafat fabricated the need of the Palestinians to have a part of Jerusalem as part of their capitol, according to Hagee.

"Now why is Jerusalem so special? Because in the Bible Jerusalem is the city of God and, according to Second Chronicles, the sixth chapter, God has chosen that city for Jesus Christ to sit upon it and to rule the millennial kingdom."

On the other side is the kingdom of darkness that wants the antichrist to have part of that city so he can put his image up to have the world worship him, Hagee says.

"I want every American to hear this very clearly. The prophet Joel says in the third chapter, 'I (God) will bring all nations,'—and hear that phrase 'all nations' which includes America—'into judgment ... for they have divided up my land'—the land of Israel.

"God says when any nation divides up the land of Israel, it is subject to judgment. And dividing up Jerusalem is dividing up the land.

"Our president is dead set on dividing up Jerusalem. God is watching, and He will bring America into judgment.

"There are grounds to says judgment has already begun because the president has been fighting to divide Jerusalem for years now," Hagee says, pointing to Ebola, the economy and terrorist threats as signs of judgment.

Hagee points to a recent poll that indicates 72 percent of Americans support Israel and a mere 16 percent the U.S. Congress. Put another way, Israel is five times more popular than the Congress, according to the poll.

"I think it would be a wonderful thing if that 72 percent of Americans would go to the polls and bring us some new leadership in Washington that would stand up with Israel, speak up for Israel and not harass Israel to give up the land that God has given to them," says Hagee, who recently published Biblical Positions on Political Issues.

Morrison is a CUFI regional director who connected with Hagee after traveling to his first "A Night to Honor Israel" event in San Antonio. CUFI today has 1.8 million members and is the largest, pro-Israel organization in the U.S.

A news analyst and commentator based in Washington, D.C., Erik Stakelbeck, says he's excited by Faith Bible Chapel's support for Israel, inviting members to a July CUFI Israel Summit in the nation's capital.

"I don't want to end the night on a somber note talking about Ebola, a teetering economy, Iran and its nuclear ambitions," Stakelbeck told the audience. "So I'll say this is an exciting time to be alive; you are seeing prophecy fulfilled and headlines reflect the Bible's predictions."

Shaul Amir, who served two terms as Shaliach to Denver from Israel directing the Allied Jewish Federation's Israel Center for seven years until 2009, spoke about current events in the Middle East and in Gaza.

The International President and CEO of Bridges For Peace, Rebecca Brimmer, urged Christians to pursue relationships with Jews through education and benevolence, as well as express the love and mercy of God to Israelis.

Broadcast in the U.S., 249 nations and globally on,  Hagee urged American Christians to cast ballots in November's elections with pro-Israel candidates and issues in mind.

An offering for CUFI on Campus, a college and university arm of the pro-Israel organization, educates students from a biblical justification for supporting the Jewish state. An offering from the Colorado event is earmarked for CUFI on Campus.

Steve Rees Featured U.S. News Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Actor Stephen Collins Needs to Hear This Message

Stephen Collins, an actor who played an exemplary character on 7th Heaven for 243 episodes between 1996 and 2007 has reportedly confessed to inappropriate sexual behavior with three young girls.

Stephen provides a lesson for parents and for boys and men. You can be involved in all sorts of good things and still fall prey to evil.

Only ten percent of children who are molested are molested by strangers. Sixty-eight percent of molested children are molested by family members. Forty-eight percent were molested by stepfathers and uncles. Ninety-three percent of child molesters are religious. This is partly because being religious reduces suspicion and provides greater opportunity. Building trust is part of the operating procedure of those who want private access to children.

Wise churches have strict guidelines regarding the interaction of adults and children. These guidelines actually protect both the children and the adults. They include:

  • Background screening of youth workers
  • Six months minimum church involvement before assignment to youth activities
  • Two or more adults present at all youth activities
  • No physical horseplay between adults and children

Both temptation and the possibility of false accusations are reduced by avoiding situations where adults are alone with children. Child molestation is almost never a group activity. The typical pedophile has opportunity to be alone with a child and gradually introduces inappropriate behavior. It's wise to avoid allowing your child to be alone for repeated visits with an adult; even with adults you consider trustworthy.

The most important lesson from Stephen's story is for boys and men who want to avoid following in Stephen's footsteps. The behavior that can ruin your reputation and your life begins with lust, usually fed by pornography.

Lust is not your friend. It's your mortal enemy. It can become a driving force that takes you places that will hurt others, including children. The earlier you resist lust the easier it is to defeat. To recognize that all pornography is destructive, and to reject its use, is the wisest way to avoid becoming a child molester. Guard your heart in the private moments when God is the only one who knows what you're doing.

Stephen Collins and many other men who wind up exposed for inappropriate behavior toward children do many noble things. Their lives become double. Lust drives their dark side. They become enslaved. They know their dark side is evil, but they have a compulsion they can't control.

The heartbreaking news about Stephen Collins is not the beginning, or the end of his story.

Stephen apparently took a wrong path; a path taken by many young men. These stories don't begin with inappropriate behavior toward children. They begin with the most basic of sexual desire.

God actually created sexual attraction and called for it to be properly enjoyed in the bonds of marriage. Throughout Proverbs God warns again and again about the dangers of lust luring young men into sex outside of marriage. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches it's better to pluck your eyes out so you can go to heaven than to lust your way to destruction. He even advises cutting off your hand if it would cause you to stumble. The typical pornographic experience usually involves both the eyes and the hand. Between the two, you wind up with a hormonal rush that impacts the structure of your brain. Your brain literally builds patterns of desire.

Teenagers don't think, "Someday I'd like to become a child molester and go to jail. I'd just love to be on sex offender locator maps the rest of my life." They just think some magazine or website enables them to experience sexual stimulation. That stimulation leads to a desire for more stimulation and, over time, requires variation to reduce boredom. The path is treacherous and can take unexpected turns, such as attraction to children, to violence or to homosexuality. Even by today's lowered standards, there are things people get into that most people would consider perverted.

Typically, the pornographic experience can be like having a meal. One's hunger is satisfied and you can get back to daily life, perhaps even to noble deeds. Then, as the hours go by, the hunger returns. You become distracted from daily life. The brain screams for a new thrill. You wind up looking for an opportunity to get satisfaction. If your desire is for children, you can find yourself meticulously planning opportunities.

Stephen Collins would probably tell you, blessed is the young man who never gets on that path.

Here's the good news. Stephen Collins' story is not over. Neither is yours. God can use the most horrible things in our lives for good if we will totally surrender to Him. God can take away lustful desires and replace them with love and compassion. God can use disgrace as part of a testimony that will save others from disgrace.

Jesus Christ paid the price for our forgiveness. When that forgiveness is understood, and accepted, it makes healing possible. It makes freedom possible. It doesn't negate the consequences of sin. Someone can be sent to prison for their criminal behavior while experiencing a wonderful spiritual freedom.

If you're on the wrong path, you don't have to stay on it. You can turn to God now. You can take the right path. This is true for Stephen as well. Yes, he took a wrong path, but there is a right path he can take even now.

Please pray for Stephen and for all those children who were hurt by his behavior. Pray as well for the others in Hollywood who are on the wrong path but have yet to be exposed. They too can be set free. Hollywood does not have to have a reputation as the pedophilia capital of the world.

Finally, pray for the many young men who can learn from this sad story and avoid repeating it. The more young men who reject the path to which lust drives them, the more children who will grow up unmolested.

David Outten and Dr. Ted Baehr Featured Culture Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:00:00 -0400
‘Kosher Rachael Ray’ Unveils Super Foods of the Bible

Known as the "queen of kosher" and the "Kosher Rachael Ray," Jamie Geller is the founder of the Kosher Media Network. An energetic American from Philadelphia, Geller immigrated to Israel with her husband and five children two years ago and still had time to write a book and start a cooking show.

"Well, everyone's got to eat. The kids are hungry," Geller said.

CBN's Scott Ross and his wife, Nedra, met Geller in the City of David during a recent trip to Israel. She pointed out the nearby biblical sites and taught them how to make a special kosher recipe using what she calls "the seven super foods of the Bible."

The City of David is an 11-acre area just outside the southern walls of Jerusalem's Old City.  It's believed to be the original site of King David's Jerusalem. From a lookout point there, it's possible to see Mount Moriah, the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion.

"The Old City Walls are 470 years old, but here at King David's palace we're talking about 3,000 years, so Mount Moriah is the site of the binding of Isaac, the site of the holy temple," Geller told CBN News, adding that "...the City of David, Jerusalem, Israel bring people together, much like food."

Seven Spices Salad

Standing on a porch with thousands of years of history all around, she told the Rosses about her recipe, the Seven Spices Salad.

"We're doing a recipe inspired by the seven species, the seven foods that are [the] super foods of the Bible and of the Land of Israel," Geller said. 

"Super foods? Will this make me a super person?" Scott asked.

"It will make you strong like Popeye," she responded. "It will make you healthy. Your doctor will be happy, your wife will be happy, you'll be good."

"In Hebrew, [it's] shivat haminim, which translates [into] the seven species. So this is the shivat haminim salad," she explained.

The seven species are mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:7-8: "The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land ... a land of wheat and barley, of vines [grapes] and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey [dates]."

These foods are eaten particularly at three Jewish holidays, including the seven-day Feast of Sukkot, which Jewish people around the world are celebrating through Wednesday of this week.

"The way that I cook is quick and kosher," Geller continued. "So that means it's easy, anyone can do it and all I need are people that like to eat."

Kosher explains biblical and traditional Jewish dietary laws, which prohibit some foods like pork and shell fish and don't allow mixing meat and dairy products in the same meal. But the Rosses learned it's tasty all the same.

Date Honey, Pomegranates

Geller started with bulgur, which is cooked like rice, and whisked together a sauce of olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and date honey.

"Now what we have here is one of the special foods of the Land of Israel, date honey," Geller continued. "Silan they call it. Dates are one of the sweetest fruits in the world. It's tons of high in fiber. That's what we're talking about these super foods, and date honey has been used for thousands of years to sweeten things naturally."

The chopped dates and figs, sliced grapes and pomegranate seeds and sauce are added.

"Pomegranates are the 'superist,' right," Geller said. 

"My husband just came back from the doctor. The doctor said he had cholesterol. So the doctor said one glass of 100 percent pomegranate juice a day," she said. "So that's what we're talking about, the super foods—right out of the Bible onto our beautiful salad."

Geller's book The Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh, Family Recipes, is full of Israeli and international recipes like hummus, falafel and lamb kebabs spiced with cinnamon and cumin. She's also included pictures of her children and family in the cookbook.

"I may end up going kosher, you never know," Nedra said after tasting the salad and seeing the book.

"Well you know what, you don't have to be kosher to love kosher," Geller said.

"I feel like food brings us together; we were saying that Israel brings us together; Jerusalem brings us together, and I thought that if people could see pictures of my family, they'll realize we're all more alike than we are different, you know," she said.

"And so don't be scared it's kosher, don't be scared it's Israel," she said.

Scott Ross and Julie Stahl/CBN News Featured Culture Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:00:00 -0400
Beyond Ebola: 3 More Infections You Need to Protect Against

As of this writing, more than 2,600 people have been afflicted by the Ebola outbreak, and it has killed at least 1,400 people in West Africa alone. And since the first U.S. case of Ebola was recorded in Texas, Americans were once again given a reason to panic. In fact, there has been an obsession to fear that the virus will sweep across the country and apparently, this is not a healthy kind of fear.

The Ebola case in Texas is an exception. This Ebola outbreak is a threat in any place where airplanes can land, although most countries—particularly the United States—already have the means to prevent the virus from spreading. Also, the incubation period is only two to 21 days, which means it is unlikely to spread undetected and kill thousands of people instantly.

The truth is there are other types of viruses and infections you should be worried about than Ebola. Yes, it may be hard to predict which bacteria and viruses you should be alarmed about, but there are those already existing that pose an ongoing threat. And these include:

1. Influenza/flu virus. There may be a flu vaccine, but did you know that it is still a major killer in the U.S.? In fact, Dr. Robert Schooley, chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, said that more people will die during the winter from flu than Ebola.

Unfortunately, flu poses a serious threat, which is more than fever and muscle pain. In 2009, a different strain of the virus emerged that was not covered by that year's version of the vaccine and has affected not just the young and old but mostly those who are in their prime. Dr. Liise-Anne Pirofski, chief of Infectious Diseases at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explained that there are cases where young, healthy people's immune system may respond to the flu virus, and the resulting inflammation may worsen the illness.

2. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA. MRSA is a strain of staph bacteria that does not respond to antibiotics, which are traditionally used in treating infections. Based on the CDC Tracking Data, there are 75,309 cases of MRSA infection in the U.S. right now as opposed to the two current Ebola cases reported. Thankfully, this virus is slowly declining. However, there is no reason to be complacent since the resistant bacteria can still cause life-threatening infections.

According to Dr. Pirofski, antibiotic resistance is a major threat since these organisms cannot be controlled using existing therapies. At the same time, you don't have to go to West Africa to contract this virus since it is already present in hospitals and health care-provider settings, including the most advanced hospitals.

3. Resistant Gonorrhea. There is a way to treat gonorrhea, of which approximately 820,000 people in the U.S. are afflicted. But did you know that there is a form of the bacteria that does not respond to treatments? Sometime in 2000, strains of gonorrhea that were resistant to cephalosporins, the antibiotics used to treat this type of STD, showed up in East Asia. By 2013, the CDC reported an estimated 246,000 cases of resistant gonorrhea every year in the U.S. alone.

Why is it alarming? Resistant gonorrhea doesn't show any symptoms, allowing it to spread easily. It may not kill people, but it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women. Worse, the virus can spread to your blood, which can lead to disseminated gonococcal infection—a condition characterized by arthritis, inflammation covering tendons and dermatitis.

Don Colbert, M.D. has been board certified in Family Practice for over 25 years and practices Anti aging and Integrative medicine. He is a New York Times Bestselling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million copies sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida where he has treated more than 50,000 patients. He is also an internationally known expert and prolific speaker on Integrative Medicine.

For the original article, visit

Don Colbert, M.D. Featured Opinion Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:00:00 -0400
The Houston Pastors' Subpoenas: What Can It Teach Us About How Christians Should Be Responding?

It started when Fox News broke the explosive story: "The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, or gender identity. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court." 

The Houston Chronicle reported it began with Houston's new non-discrimination ordinance driven by Annise Parker, Houston's first openly lesbian mayor, and approved by the city council in June. A group of Houston pastors opposing the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures—far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

But in a controversial turn the city unexpectedly tossed out the petition in August over alleged "irregularities." The opponents of the non-discrimination bill (which originally included, among other things, that men could use women's restrooms and vice versa—but that point was pulled early over the criticism) filed a lawsuit, and the city attorney responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The Christian response was wide-ranging as usual, and offers an interesting look at how to respond publicly during a controversial LBGT issue like this.

Among the responses, the nonprofit group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) wrote from a legal perspective and reminded its readers of the constitutional and legal issues surrounding what they called a "witch hunt" and reminded its readers (and the Houston Mayor's office) that, "Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment."

The Interfaith Alliance wrote an open letter to the mayor and city attorney denouncing the subpoena from the perspective of the many faiths they represent.

Russell Moore from the Southern Baptist Ethics and Liberty Commission took the opportunity to give local pastors some excellent tips on responding, as well as teaching their congregations how to navigate these challenging issues.  

He also urged the novel approach to, "Give them what they want! Print out your sermon manuscript or notes from a sermon on marriage or sexuality, snap a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #4Houston5, and mail it to the Mayor's office at: Mayor Annise D. Parker, City of Houston, P.O. Box 1562, Houston, TX 77251." 

Moore knows that sometimes, going overboard with what the opposition wants is the best way to expose their folly.

Jonathan Bock, founder of Grace Hill Media—which works closely with Hollywood studios and media companies to help them understand the Christian audience—agreed with Russell Moore: "I think it would be awfully gracious of every pastor in Houston to supply a hard copy of every sermon they have given in the last five years. That would be 250 sermons per pastor times the probably 10,000 churches in the greater Houston area. That would be 2.5 million sermons. Feel free to review, Mr. Lawyer!"

The "outrage" end of the spectrum used to be owned by the American Family Association. For years they were quick to urge petitions and boycotts against a wide variety of issues, causes and groups. But possibly because a strategy of outrage rarely changes anything, they seemed to have softened lately—which is probably why that space has been taken by a relative newcomer called "Faith Driven Consumer."

In the last year or so, Faith Driven Consumer has been quick to launch petitions against a wide range of issues—mostly centered around Hollywood. Rebecca Cusey, Entertainment editor at Patheos, responded to the campaign: "Are they ever not outraged? I picture them as interns in a basement somewhere scouring the internet every day looking for something to rile the masses and add to their mailing list."

As is typical of their approach, they go to extremes right off the bat, writing an "open letter" criticizing the mayor's actions using terms like "bullying," "un-American" and "the very height of hypocrisy." True or not, going straight to Def-Con 5 as your first volley makes it obvious that the letter isn't really for the mayor; it's to rally the group's supporters.

As in their other campaigns, they seem more concerned about self-promotion (in the opening paragraph of their email blasts they never forget to tell you how awesome they are), and for them, everything is driven by collecting names and email addresses. At best it's terribly self-serving, plus a harsh approach like this makes it difficult for the other side to save face, and we all learned in school that when you take an accusatory approach and call people names up front, they rarely ever come over to your side.

From my perspective, one of the most effective approaches was from Houston pastor Chris Seay. A lifelong resident of the city, he wrote an open letter that was gracious and yet direct, and from the perspective of working together to make a better city. It was a very thoughtful letter. He didn't criticize the mayor personally, but pointed out the significance and gravity of her actions. He knows the mayor, and in these types of situations, that personal relationship counts a great deal.

Then, in a breaking development Wednesday, the mayor appeared to back away from the initial requests. Janice Evans, a city spokeswoman, told Law Blog in a statement:

"Mayor Parker agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department's subpoenas for pastors' sermons. The subpoenas were issued by pro bono attorneys helping the city prepare for the trial regarding the petition to repeal the new Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in January.

"Neither the mayor nor City Attorney David Feldman were aware the subpoenas had been issued until yesterday," Evans continued. "Both agree the original documents were overly broad. The city will move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing. Feldman says the focus should be only on communications related to the HERO petition process."

Whether the mayor really directed the subpoenas or they were sent by pro bono attorneys working for her, it was a serious breach of religious freedom. Who in their right mind in America thinks it's OK to force pastors and faith leaders to hand over their sermons and other content for the state to review?  

One Houston local told me that it's an example that while the left is constantly criticizing the right for supposed "intolerance," it's actually the left who most often attempts to silence the opposition when in power.

Either way, my concern is how the Christian community engages these challenging situations. We can go for the short-term hype, capture names and email addresses and throw our weight around like bullies. But that approach results more often in hardening the opposition, making the culture far more divisive, and accomplishing very little.

Or we can take a more thoughtful approach with a longer goal in mind. But that involves the hard work of developing relationships, reaching out, thinking strategically, creating dialogue with those we disagree with and doing our homework.

Chandler Epp, public relations expert at The DeMoss Group, said, "Is our goal to change hearts and minds on the issue (specifically those of the mayor and her staff/attorneys), or is our goal to stir up a media frenzy, incite anger towards the mayor's office or send a message the mayor will never forget? How we answer that question will lead us down radically different roads and will inform the tone we take in unfortunate situations like these."

Rebecca Cusey from Patheos summed it up: "We're not called to love those who mistreat us in the abstract, but in the here and in the now. This mayor. These protestors. This city. How we treat those who rise against us is more important, I think, in Jesus's book, than whether we win or lose the issue."

This issue in Houston isn't over, so it's too early to say how serious a response it will eventually take. But in the past, Christians have too often won the battle, but lost the war. That's why I believe it's not about "winning" as much as presenting Christ to the culture—because that's how lasting change happens. And for what it's worth, I've yet to meet a single person who came to Christ because they were embarrassed or humiliated into it.

In these challenging times, the stakes are too high to get it wrong.

Phil Cooke is a media consultant focused mainly on the Christian market, as well as a vocal critic of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian culture. Click here to visit his website.

Phil Cooke Featured Opinion Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:00:00 -0400
Evangelist Steve Hill’s Son, Ryan, Passes Away

Ryan Hill, the son of the late Steve Hill and Jeri Hill, has passed away. Charisma News learned of the tragedy this morning and will report on further details as they emerge.

Please pray for Jeri, Ryan's mother. Perhaps best known as the evangelist for the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Fla., evangelist and pastor Steve Hill went home to be with the Lord on in March.

Hill passed on to glory after a long battle with melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer and the leading cause of death from skin disease.

Fueled by his own dramatic deliverance from drugs, alcohol and crime in 1975, Hill dedicated his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. His passion to help those who are hurting and his pursuit of genuine, God-breathed revival continued to intensify after years of missionary work, church planting and evangelistic crusades.

From 1995 to 2000, Hill served as the evangelist of the Brownsville Revival. The meetings drew more than 4 million from more than 150 nations through the doors of the Brownsville Assembly of God Church.

During the five-year revival, hundreds of thousands wept at the altars, repented of sinful lifestyles and gave their lives to Jesus. Lives were dramatically changed, marriages were restored and addictions were broken as the gospel of Jesus Christ was presented with clarity. After Brownsville, Hill and his evangelistic team continued to hold arena and stadium crusades around the world.

Hill also founded and served as senior pastor, along with his wife, Jeri, of Heartland World Ministries Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Hill founded Heartland School of Ministry, a soul-winning, presence-driven ministry school, as well as, a website that encourages people to come back to God.

Click here for an update.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:00:00 -0400
'Rihanna Too Raunchy for My 5-Year-Old,' Says Pop Star

Former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm has called on female pop stars such as Rihanna to have "more dignity" and stop being so overtly sexual.

Mel C, widely known as Sporty Spice, says she has banned her 5-year-old daughter, Scarlet, from seeing images of Rihanna because of their provocative nature.

"There is little footage of Rihanna that I'm happy for her to see. It's a shame that a talented, successful woman expresses herself in such an overtly sexual way," she said.

Speaking to the Radio Times, the singer raised concerns about "society's obsession with celebrity."

"It's vulgar and narcissistic, and I worry about how it affects young girls," Chisholm commented. "There are some great artists out there, but sometimes we could just do with a bit more dignity."

The former Spice Girl urged female pop stars to be mindful of their responsibility to young fans.

The singer's comments come in the wake of the prime minister's announcement in August that online music videos will be given age ratings in order to protect children.

David Cameron unveiled a pilot scheme with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and YouTube which will rate videos if they are deemed to have inappropriate content.

A survey in November last year revealed that most parents fear sexually provocative pop stars such as Miley Cyrus and Rihanna are having a damaging effect on their children.

In a Netmums poll of 1,500 members, more than 80 percent said their children had repeated sexually explicit lyrics and copied overtly sexual dance moves after being exposed to inappropriate pop music.

The Christian Institute Featured Culture Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:00 -0400
After Boko Haram 'Truce' Breached, Nigerians Doubtful of Kidnapped Girls' Release

A wave of violence hours after Nigeria's government announced a truce with Boko Haram raised doubt on Sunday about whether more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militants will really be released, deflating the new hopes of their parents.

Nigeria's armed forces chief Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh announced the ceasefire on Friday to enable the release of the girls, who were abducted from the remote northeastern village of Chibok in April.

But Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce and there have been at least five attacks since—blamed by security sources on the insurgents—that have killed dozens. Talks were scheduled to continue in neighboring Chad on Monday.

"We were jubilating. We had every reason to be happy ... but since then the ceasefire has been broken in quite a number of places already," Lawan Abana, a parent of the one of the missing girls, told Reuters by telephone.

He added that there were doubts about the credentials of the reported Boko Haram negotiator Danladi Ahmadu, who was unheard of before. "Can we trust him that he can deliver on this promise of releasing the girls when he has not delivered on the promise of the ceasefire?" Abana said.

The government says the attacks may not have been Boko Haram but one of several criminal groups exploiting the chaos of its insurgency. Analysts point out that Boko Haram is anyway heavily factionalized, so what matters is whether the faction the government is talking to has control over the girls' fate.

"Boko Haram is deeply fractured. The Nigerian government has had a ... difficult time identifying a Boko Haram representative who could make compromises and guarantee the entire group will observe them," risk consultancy Stratfor said in a note.

"It is quite possible that Abuja has reached an agreement with a legitimate representative of a specific cell ... that holds the kidnapped schoolgirls captive," it said on Saturday.

Quest to Carve out Islamic State

Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly as "Western education is sinful," has massacred thousands in a battle to carve an Islamic state out of religiously mixed Nigeria.

Its only known method of conveying messages is via videotaped speeches by a man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau, its leader whom the military last year said it had killed.

Ahmed Salkida, a Nigerian journalist who was once close to Boko Haram and shared a jail cell with its founder Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, tweeted that whoever Ahmadu is, he is not a member of Boko Haram's senior "Shura council" nor does "he speak for them, as far as I know."

A swift release of the girls would bode well for the campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan for Feb. 2015 elections. Jonathan has faced relentless criticism for failing to protect civilians in the northeast or resolve the Chibok girls crisis.

Boko Haram is regarded as the worst threat to the future of Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy and oil producer.

Jonathan is expected to declare he is running for a second elected term soon, and the opposition is keen not to allow him to capitalize on efforts to free the girls.

"It's interesting the timing comes as Jonathan is about to announce he wants to run for a second term. Is it by sheer coincidence?" the spokesman for the main All Progressives Congress, Lai Mohammed, said by telephone.

But Nigeria's military has scored some successes against Boko Haram over the past two weeks, wresting back some territory near the northeast border with Cameroon.

Oby Ezekwesil, whose "Bring back our girls" campaign has highlighted daily protests in Abuja, told Reuters she was "cautiously optimistic" but "extremely anxious, not knowing what the details of this ceasefire really are.

"If it happens, it would be the best news in decades."

Editing by Mark Heinrich

© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Tim Cocks/Reuters Featured World News Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:00 -0400
Houston Pastor Subpoenas Shows Extremism Already on the Shores of America

Pastors around the country saw an unthinkable scenario play out in America last week—one many never thought they'd see in their lifetime. In a country built on freedom, five pastors in Houston were served subpoenas, and attorneys demanded the submission of sermon notes and conversations with congregation members relating to homosexuality or transgenderism.

Sam Rohrer, a longtime legislator and president of American Pastors Network, says the recent news out of Houston proves there are three distinct extreme movements happening simultaneously in America—all aimed at stripping freedom of religion and freedom of speech from Christians.

"This disturbing news about our fellow pastors in Houston has far-reaching implications," Rohrer said. "I see three sectors of the American culture which, by their own actions, are demonstrating hatred toward God, Christianity, Jesus Christ, religious freedom, morality, decency, the Rule of Law and the Constitution.

"While their intentions and goals are different, the extreme tactics and messaging of Islam, Communism/Marxism/atheism and the well-organized, well-funded homosexual agenda have frightening similarities: all demand agreement with them, or else. This is where political correctness and forsaking God has brought this nation. It's time that all those who would not subscribe to the ideologies of these three groups stand together, or we will hang separately.

"The issue in Houston began last year, when the city elected its first openly lesbian mayor. This spring, Mayor Annise Parker and two City Council members pushed an ordinance that gave special rights to homosexuals and the transgender individuals. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) allowed men to use women's restrooms and vice versa, all in the name of 'equal rights,'" he added.

"The people of Houston protested and gathered more than 50,000 signatures on a petition opposing the ordinance—well over double the number necessary to put the issue in front of voters. But Parker and the Council threw out the petition, citing irregularities. The mayor and the city are facing a lawsuit over the ordinance, and while fighting it, attorneys subpoenaed five pastors for their sermon notes dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Parker herself. Last week, Parker admitted that the subpoenas may have been 'overly broad,' but they have yet to be recalled.

"While the issue in this case is homosexuality," Rohrer continued, "the underlying philosophy of thought policing is exactly the same as what we see with Islamic Sharia law. In each case, dissent is not permissible. This is yet another reason Sharia law is incompatible with our U.S. Constitution. Under our Constitution, religious leaders are free to teach against Christianity, but Sharia law would mean pastors would be targeted for preaching Christ. And already, this is happening, as pastors are facing pressure by groups who have their own extreme agendas."

How long will it be, Rohrer asked, before pastors will be quieted about educating their churches on the dangers of the infiltration of Islam and Sharia Law in America? One pastor was already censored in August when his videotaped sermon on ISIS was removed from YouTube and his account was frozen. YouTube has since reversed its ban on Pastor Daniel Ausbun of First Baptist Church in Moreland, Ga., and his account is live again.

Alliance Defending Freedom is helping the Houston pastors, and one of its attorneys, Christina Holcomb, said in a statement that "political and social commentary is not a crime. It is protected by the First Amendment."

Deborah Hamilton Featured U.S. News Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:00:00 -0400
Perform Gay Weddings or Face Jail, City Tells Pastors

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife, Evelyn—both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel—are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its "non-discrimination" ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho's voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

"The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. "Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that's what is happening here—and it's happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple's freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.

"The government exists to protect and respect our freedoms, not attack them," Tedesco added. "The city cannot erase these fundamental freedoms and replace them with government coercion and intolerance."

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk's office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry.

They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God's blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d'Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city's public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

"The city somehow expects ordained pastors to flip a switch and turn off all faithfulness to their God and their vows," explained ADF Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. "The U.S. Constitution as well as federal and state law clearly stand against that. The city cannot mandate across-the-board conformity to its interpretation of a city ordinance in utter disregard for the guaranteed freedoms Americans treasure in our society."

Charisma News Staff Featured U.S. News Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0400
Hillsong's Brian Houston Clarifies Stand on LGBT Issues

At a news conference for the Hillsong Conference in New York City Thursday, Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Pastor Brian Houston to clarify his church's position on same-sex marriage, RNS reported. Houston reportedly said it was "an ongoing conversation" among church leaders, and they were "on the journey with it."

Now, Houston is clarifying those comments.

"I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference.

"Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage. I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.

"I was asked a question on how the church can stay relevant in the context of gay marriage being legal in the two states of the USA where we have campuses. My answer was simply an admission of reality—no more and no less. I explained that this struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ.

"I made the point that public statements condemning people will place a barrier between the church and the world (and I note that Jesus came to save and not to condemn), which is why at Hillsong, we don't want to reduce the real issues in people's lives to a sound bite.

"This, like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have, and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world."

Charisma News Staff Featured World News Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0400