Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. http://www.charismanews.com/component/content/?view=featured Wed, 04 May 2016 11:39:12 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Talk Radio Host: Bush Ally Wants GOP to Unite Behind Trump http://www.charismanews.com/politics/elections/56943-talk-radio-host-bush-ally-wants-gop-to-unite-behind-trump http://www.charismanews.com/politics/elections/56943-talk-radio-host-bush-ally-wants-gop-to-unite-behind-trump

Howie Carr, a syndicated radio host and columnist for the Boston Herald, wrote in his latest article for WorldNetDaily about a recent interview he conducted with a long-time ally of the Bush family.

Ron Kaufman is a friend of President George W. Bush and worked on the unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign of his father, President George H.W. Bush, alongside his future brother-in-law, former Transportation Secretary and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. He served as White House political director under George H.W. Bush.

The Bush insider, Carr wrote, said the "enormous surge in Republican voters this primary season" shows that Trump had "struck a nerve in American politics." And he had done so in a way candidates who had taken a more traditional campaign approach had not:

"Donald Trump is going to end up with more votes than any person who ever ran for president in a contested race, probably," said Kaufman.

Kaufman's comments came after Trump swept to victory in Massachusetts' nine Congressional district caucuses on Saturday, grabbing 23 of the 27 slots with record turnouts. In March, Trump won 49 percent of the GOP primary vote in the Bay State.

Kaufman described the Trump routs in the Massachusetts caucuses last weekend as "stunning."

Kaufman in effect broke with another of his old allies, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who earlier this year repeatedly urged GOP voters to reject Trump.

"You can't kick all those great tens of millions of voters to the side," Kaufman said. "If we're going to win in November we're going to need every one of them to show up and vote."

Kaufman, who had appeared on the HBO series The Circus also expounded on his comment on the show that Trump "understands the climate and the culture of America today better than anybody":

"Clearly, Mr. Trump understands what people are thinking out there in America better than anybody else," he said. "That's why he will be the nominee in my opinion, and I believe he'll be the president."

Carr wrote that Kaufman believes the Republican Party would eventually rally around Trump.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Wed, 04 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Why Do Christians Think They're Exempt From the Great Tribulation? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56942-why-do-christians-think-they-re-exempt-from-the-great-tribulation http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56942-why-do-christians-think-they-re-exempt-from-the-great-tribulation

While pretribulation rapture subscribers are quick to quote 1 Thessalonians 5:9 to say believers are exempt from the Great Tribulation, Michael Snyder says they aren't reading all the verse has to say.  

"This verse is not talking about the last days, but it's saying we're not going to hell because we are going to heaven. We're not condemned, because we've been redeemed," Snyder says on the Jim Bakker Show.  

But if Bible readers would flip back just a few chapters, they'd discover what we are appointed to.  

Take a look. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Wed, 04 May 2016 11:30:00 -0400
How Cruz's Dropout Exposes the Corruption of the American Soul http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/56940-how-cruz-s-dropout-exposes-the-corruption-of-the-american-soul http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/56940-how-cruz-s-dropout-exposes-the-corruption-of-the-american-soul

I know I may lose followers, readers and even friends over this article, but that's OK. As Jeremiah so concisely stated, "But if I say, 'I will not make mention of Him nor speak any more in His name,' then His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I was weary of forbearing it, and I could not endure it" (Jer. 20:9).

Here it goes:

Benny Hinn prophesied on New Year's Eve 1989 that a woman would one day be president of America and would destroy this nation. It seemed like a far-fetched prophecy then, but not so much anymore.

How could so many conservatives and Christians vote against Ted Cruz?

How could so many conservatives vote against our constitution and against principle?

Though not a perfect man, the best conservative and the most principled man according to Scripture (Ex. 18:21), and the clearest choice to help our country recover from the big black hole this administration has dug, has dropped out. Just as with the Obama election, there will come a time when the true principled conservatives will once again be able to say, "I told you so." The blame is on the shoulders of Trump supporters and the liberal mainstream media. And just as the whining soon began after Obama got elected, especially the second time, the same whining will escalate once either remaining candidate holds office.

Trumpbots, you made your bed hard and you don't even know it. Now you've got to sleep on it. And some of you actually think that this man is a spokesman for God. What you have done now is create the perfect storm. I hope I'm wrong. I really do.

It is now apparent that Ted Cruz, the man so many of us prayed for, will not be what we had hoped for. But he may have been raised up for a less favorable purpose—that the corruption of the American soul and lukewarm church would be fully exposed for what it is—rotten to the core.

The crowds clamored for Trump no matter how arrogant he got, or how much he lied, or cussed, or was exposed for his filth and fraud. He told you what you wanted to hear and you believed him. Now you will pay and be held accountable for your most unwise choice. Standing up against one of the most electable and upright candidates of our lifetime, you have continued to use your mouth as a weapon to defend your idol against the opportunity gave you.

Trump supporters, you will now get what you've clamored for, just like the children of Israel who clamored for their meat in the wilderness as the Lord gave them an abundance of quail (Num. 11). Yet, while the meat was between their teeth, a plague struck the nation. While many celebrate the apparent victory of their amoral candidate, the darkness grows and moves in yet closer.

Honestly, it's amazing to me that we've survived eight years of an anti-American and Israeli-hating Muslim president, not to mention a Christian-God mocker. I'm afraid we are heading down the same dark path Obama forged for us. Just as with the last two elections, the church could've turned the tide at the political level, and God gave us an opportunity to do so, but we blew it yet again. We are so divided in our discernment and righteousness.

People who refuse to be guided by the Lord will be ruled by tyrants. Scripture is clear on that. You have chosen your King Saul or Queen Jezebel once more. You voted like the world. You had an opportunity to vote for a true patriot, but you chose a New York liberal masquerading as a conservative. You voted for nationalism instead of righteousness. You voted for your pocketbooks instead of principle.

America may never be great again.

There is great hope, however, for the kingdom of God. It is in the darkest times that the light has potential to shine the brightest. Some might be of the persuasion that it's too late for America, and that it's too dark and she is too far gone. But let me remind you of a great principle of revival and compare it to a hurricane.

Meteorologists can forecast the strength of the winds in a developing hurricane by the atmospheric pressure. I've never studied meteorology, but as I understand it, the disparity of atmospheric pressure between the sea and the air creates a vacuum. The greater the vacuum the more violent will be the winds and the greater the water evaporation. For example, every inch of reduction in atmospheric pressure results in 13 more inches of water being lifted up by the hurricane as it acts as a mighty vacuum cleaner. The water and winds are what create devastation and destruction in a hurricane.

There is a great vacuum of despair, darkness and death in our culture right now. There is a great God vacuum of true spirituality and morality, which means hope springs eternal for an intense spiritual hurricane that could produce the biggest spiritual waves any generation has ever seen. One of those waves could be the very one that brings Jesus back to the Earth and takes us right into the shores of heaven to close out the church age. Hallelujah!

I love America, but it is not my savior. I love America, but it is not my hope. I love America, but it is corrupted to the core, and this election proved it once more.

Thank God my kingdom is not of this world. Thank God that my hope and salvation is in Jesus Christ. He will forever rule and reign, and His government will have no end.

My true Christian fellow laborers, the battle rages and is now on our doorstep. Our nation is in great peril. Let us rescue many from the ever-increasing sin, darkness and corruption that she has succumbed to. The tiny flicker of light and hope we had for her recovery has been put out. Let us put all our trust in the Lord and not in man. Truly, the gospel is our only light and victory.

May the moral awakening and Jesus revolution we've all longed for and prayed for now truly come. May the spiritual winds be violent and the waves massive.

Onward, Christian soldiers.

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Bert Farias Featured The Flaming Herald Opinion Wed, 04 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
Video Exposes Abortion Pill Lies Despite FDA Expanded Approval http://www.charismanews.com/us/56938-video-exposes-abortion-pill-lies-despite-fda-expanded-approval http://www.charismanews.com/us/56938-video-exposes-abortion-pill-lies-despite-fda-expanded-approval

Pro-life organization Live Action launched its latest video to expose the abortion industry's lies about abortion pill RU-486 after President Obama's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently relaxed its prescribing standards.

Just last week, members of Congress—concerned that the FDA's decision was based on politics instead of safety—asked the FDA to show the scientific evidence it used to justify loosening the guidelines for such a dangerous drug.

See the new video, uploaded this morning, and the LIVE Facebook reactions to it.

In this new video, Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OB/GYN who performed over 1,200 abortions, uses medically accurate animations inside the womb to show how an RU-486 abortion slowly starves a baby to death over a period of days. He also details how developed the baby is at this early stage and the pill's potentially dangerous effects on the mother.  

"Despite the euphemisms that the abortion industry uses to dehumanize them, these children aren't just 'clumps of cells.' At 10 weeks, a baby has arms and legs, and she can suck her tiny little thumb, open and close her jaw, stretch and even sigh," said Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action.

Rose added, "Contrary to what the abortion industry tells women, chemical abortion isn't a simple set of pills that make a pregnancy magically disappear. An RU-486 abortion cuts off blood and nutrients to the growing preborn baby, slowly starving her inside the mother's womb. Then the mother takes another drug that causes intense contractions and heavy bleeding to force her dead baby from her womb. She's usually laboring at home without any medical supervision."

While the FDA's expansion of RU-486's use from seven weeks of pregnancy to 10 weeks is sure to increase the abortion industry's clientele, according to the FDA's own numbers, it also guarantees TRIPLE the drug's failure rate of the old seven-week limit (see Table 4 on page 13 of link). This will inevitably lead to more women being subjected to two abortions, as abortionists must then perform follow-up surgical abortions to complete the procedure.

"This latest FDA move isn't about making things better for women, but about President Obama paying back an industry that has given him millions in campaign contributions and now wants something in return," Rose concluded. 

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Brian Gottstein/Live Action Featured U.S. News Wed, 04 May 2016 10:45:00 -0400
Obama Could Erect Nation's First Gay-Rights Monument http://www.charismanews.com/us/56937-obama-could-erect-nation-s-first-gay-rights-monument http://www.charismanews.com/us/56937-obama-could-erect-nation-s-first-gay-rights-monument

President Barack Obama is set to declare the first national monument recognizing the contributions of the U.S. gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, the Washington Post said on Tuesday. 

The monument would designate a sliver of green space and part of the surrounding Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York City as the birthplace of America's modern gay liberation movement, the Post said, without citing a source. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The events of late June and early July 1969 marked a turning point for gay rights, when gay people in New York City took a stand against police harassment. 

The Stonewall riots refer to a week of violent clashes on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village between patrons of a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn and police who had periodically raided the bar, arresting gays under morals laws of the era. 

The crackdown was also tied up in a dispute between the Mafia, which owned the bar, and corrupt police officers seeking payoffs for protection. But it unleashed a year of protests culminating with the first gay pride parade in 1970. 

U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat whose district includes the Stonewall, is inviting people to a public meeting set for Monday to discuss the proposal with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. 

The proposal would "designate a new unit of the National Park System dedicated to the history of the Stonewall uprising that inspired the modern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement in America," according to Nadler's website. 

Nadler introduced legislation last December to establish the Stonewall National Historic Site to commemorate the uprising. 

Lacking an act of Congress, the monument could be established through an executive order. Obama has issued several orders creating monuments. {eoa}

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Mohammad Zargham, Roberta Rampton, Daniel Trotta/REUTERS Featured U.S. News Wed, 04 May 2016 10:30:00 -0400
UN to Place This Nation Under Scrutiny for Ghastly Persecution http://www.charismanews.com/world/56936-un-to-place-this-nation-under-scrutiny-for-ghastly-persecution http://www.charismanews.com/world/56936-un-to-place-this-nation-under-scrutiny-for-ghastly-persecution

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is scheduled to hold a 3 1/2-hour hearing in Geneva on Wednesday, May 4, at which U.N. member nations will examine the state of human rights in Sudan.

It promises to be an interesting meeting. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, is the world's only sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. It's also the first time Sudan has been required to answer to U.N. members for its human-rights performance since the 2011 breakup of the country, which created the world's newest nation, South Sudan. In the years since, the Sudanese government has waged a bombing campaign against restive, resource-rich southern regions on the border with South Sudan.

Sudan's Christians, who along with indigenous groups have been concentrated in the southern regions of the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country, are among the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the violence, and whose homes, crops, churches, schools and hospitals have been destroyed.

The U.N.'s formal name for the May 4 session is the Universal Periodic Review, or UPR.

How Does the UPR Work?

The U.N. created the UPR in 2006. Every member nation of the U.N. is required to go through it. It takes about 4 1/2 years to complete a cycle of all members, and a new cycle begins.

Prior to the actual meeting in Geneva, the country submits its own assessment of how it believes it is living up to human-rights obligations. Other countries can submit their own observations. The U.N. Human Rights Council may send in an "independent expert" to produce a report on the situation. External groups such as Amnesty International may submit their own testimonies.

The final report is a list of findings and recommendations from other U.N. members. Each country is required to submit reports on how they're responding to the recommendations, but ultimately there's no way to compel any country to adopt any UPR recommendations. The U.N. says the point of the process, besides surfacing human-rights issues for public scrutiny, is to ensure all nations receive "equal treatment" in the examination.

What Did the Previous UPR Say About Sudan?

Sudan has gone through the UPR once before, in 2011. [You can read that report here.]

At the time, there was concern for the future of the church in Sudan, since al-Bashir had declared Sudan would become an Islamic state governed by Sharia. Since then, life has become very difficult for its Christian minority, according to Open Doors, a ministry that provides support to Christians who live under pressure around the globe. Abandoning Islam in Sudan is a crime that carries the death penalty.

Among the scores of recommendations U.N. members made to Sudan in the 2011 report, a handful concerned religion. Condensed and paraphrased here:

Forbid the application of Sharia to non-Muslims, and decriminalize apostasy.
 
Declare an intention to guarantee the protection of religious minorities.
 
Create legal guarantees permitting free practice of religion, taking special care to safeguard minority Christians in the north, and minority Muslims in the south.

What Does Sudan Say?

Following the 2011 UPR, the government submitted its required mid-term report. Its entire response to the recommendations about religious freedom was that "religion is protected" by its 2005 constitution, and would continue to be protected in any constitution devised after South Sudan's secession.

In advance of the 2016 UPR, the Sudanese government is upbeat. Its 25-page self-assessment contains various claims that it has reformed laws and changed administrative practices to crack down on human trafficking and violence against women; expand press freedom; wind down the deadly conflict in the Darfur region; and even enhance environmental protection, among many other advancements in human rights.

The mid-term document says nothing about religious freedom. The word "religion" appears nowhere among its 12,000 words. The lone appearance of the word "religious" is in an item that claims "religious figures" are among the leaders of a campaign to eliminate female genital mutilation from the culture.

What Have Others Said About Sudan in Advance of the 2016 UPR?

Others are harshly critical of Sudan's record on religious freedom since its first UPR round in 2011.

For more than a decade, the U.S. State Department has included Sudan among a short list of countries it considers the world's most egregious oppressors of religious freedom.

Open Doors says life for Christians has become more difficult since 2011. Rev. Kuwa Shamal, a leader of a Sudan Church of Christ congregation in his town of Bahari, was arrested and released in December 2015, and now is required to report daily to the National Intelligence and Security Services. Two other pastors, Telahoon Nogosi Kassa Rata of the Khartoum North (Bahari) Evangelical Church and Rev. Hassan Abduraheem Kodi Taour, outgoing Secretary General of the Sudan Church of Christ, were arrested in December and remain in custody, the charges against them unknown and contact with them denied.

Since 2011, the government has demolished or padlocked four churches, claiming a variety of land-use violations, Open Doors says. In June 2015, a dozen women were arrested by Sudan's Public Order Police for wearing skirts and slacks. One of them was sentenced to 40 lashes before an appeals court threw out the punishment.

Perhaps Sudan's most notorious episode was its 2013 arrest of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a mother pregnant with her second child. Raised a Christian by her mother after her Muslim father abandoned the family, Ibrahim's crime was adultery, evidenced by her failure to return to Islam before she married a Christian man. She was sentenced to death, gave birth to a daughter while in prison, and after intense international pressure was released by an appeals court and left the country.

The Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries where living as a Christian is most difficult, puts Sudan at No. 8. According to the list, Christians are beset by a combination of "one of the most dictatorial regimes in Africa" that routinely whips up anger at the West, and by radical elements within the country's Islamic society.

The United Nations Independent Expert on human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, told the U.N. in his pre-UPR report that he was alarmed by the arrest of the church pastors and other abuses.

"I continue to hear about cases of arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and travel ban on human-rights defenders and political activists by security forces, including the National Intelligence and Security Service," Nononsi wrote.

Amnesty International, in its own report submitted to the U.N. prior to Sudan's turn in the spotlight on May 4, said the country "has failed to implement" the 2011 recommendations regarding religious freedom and other human rights. "There is widespread suppression of non-Muslim and Muslim minority groups as well as violations of freedom of religion in Sudan," the report says. "Freedom of religion continues to be undermined by the Sudan's legal system under which conversation from Islam to another religion is punishable by death."

Human Rights Watch noted that four Sudanese "civil society representatives" on their way to a March UPR preparation meeting in Geneva were intercepted by National Intelligence and Security Service at the airport and had their passports confiscated.

What Happens After the UPR Hearing?

The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is scheduled to distribute its final report on May 9, and vote on its adoption the following day. 

This article originally appeared on World Watch Monitor.

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World Watch Monitor Featured World News Wed, 04 May 2016 10:15:00 -0400
Trend Watch: Faith in Christ Becoming a Career-Killer http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/56935-trend-watch-faith-in-christ-becoming-a-career-killer http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/56935-trend-watch-faith-in-christ-becoming-a-career-killer

Should Christians who oppose same-sex marriage based on religious beliefs be allowed to obtain degrees in counseling?

That's the question at the heart of a lawsuit filed in federal court by a former student at Missouri State University who claims he was kicked out of a master's program in counseling  because of his religious beliefs.

Andrew Cash claims he was "targeted and punished for expressing his Christian worldview regarding a hypothetical situation concerning whether he would provide counseling to a gay/homosexual couple."

MSU spokeswoman Suzanne Shaw told the News-Leader that the "university strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or any other protected class." She would not comment on specifics of the case.

According to the lawsuit, Dr. Kristi Perryman, the counseling department's internship coordinator, confronted Cash about his views toward counseling gay people.

Cash told her he would counsel them individually on a variety of issues but not as a couple. He said he would refer them elsewhere.

Cash explained to Perryman that his approach to counseling is centered on his "core beliefs, values and Christian worldview and these would not be congruent with the likely values and needs of a gay couple, who, for these reasons, would be best served by a counselor sharing their core value system and core beliefs," the lawsuit states.

Perryman then told Cash that he "could not hold these views, which she deemed to be unethical, and which, she asserted, contradicted the American Counseling Association's code of ethics as discriminatory toward gay persons."

"It made me angry," said attorney Tom Olp with the Thomas More Society—a law firm that specializes in religious liberty issues. "She took offense at his religious beliefs and then essentially kept dwelling on those until he was drummed out of the program."

Olp is suing Perryman and a host of other university officials—including Tamara Arthaud, the head of the counseling department and faculty member Angela Anderson.

"We have this very dangerous trend toward allowing the government to shut down religious expression," Olp told me. "That is contrary to the First Amendment. A democracy requires vibrant expression of various points of view and it really needs robust religious expression."

Cash's troubles began in the spring of 2011 when he began a university-approved internship at the Springfield Marriage and Family Institute, a Christian organization. It was during a classroom presentation that the director of the Christian group was asked about counseling gay persons.

A week later, Cash was informed he would no longer be allowed to intern at the institute. He was also grilled about his personal views regarding counseling homosexuals, the lawsuit states.

In 2014 Cash was just a few courses shy of graduating with a M.S. in Counseling. He had a 3.81 grade point average and was a student in good standing with the school.

Olp told me it's not the first time Christians have been thrown out of counseling program in public universities—citing cases in Michigan as well as Missouri.

"It's an extremely intolerant and almost puritanical approach and more and more prevalent in secular universities," he said.

Cash wants to be re-admitted to the program so he can finish his studies and obtain his degree.

That's the least the university can do for a man who has been targeted and bullied because of his Christian faith.

It's unfortunate that we live in a nation where one's faith in Christ is now considered a career-killer.

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Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Wed, 04 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Donald Trump Takes Sides on Israeli Settlements Issue http://www.charismanews.com/politics/elections/56941-donald-trump-takes-sides-on-israeli-settlements-issue http://www.charismanews.com/politics/elections/56941-donald-trump-takes-sides-on-israeli-settlements-issue

For a guy who said he didn't want to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sure has an interesting way of showing it.

In an exclusive interview with the United Kingdom's Daily Mail newspaper this week, he definitely took sides in the ongoing conflict. Asked whether there should be a halt to construction of settlements in the West Bank as a condition of any peace deal—a main point of contention and a prerequisite established by President Obama's two-state peace plan—Trump flat-out said "no."

"No, I don't think there should be a pause," he said. "Look: Missiles were launched into Israel, and Israel, I think, never was properly treated by our country. I mean, do you know what that is, how devastating that is?

"With all of that being said, I would love to see if peace could be negotiated. A lot of people say that's not a deal that's possible. But I mean lasting peace, not a peace that lasts for two weeks and they start launching missiles again. So we'll see what happens."

Trump, who authored the book "The Art of the Deal," has made it abundantly clear he thinks a lasting Middle East peace deal would be the "ultimate deal," and has made it one of his goals, if elected president. But he's also made it clear that lasting peace must be brokered honestly by both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has said she largely agrees with the Obama administration's position, which not only includes a halt to West Bank settlements but also Israel returning to its borders prior to successive wars in the 1950s and 1960s. In those wars, Israel won the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Wed, 04 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Donald Trump, The 'National Enquirer' President http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/56933-donald-trump-the-national-enquirer-president http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/56933-donald-trump-the-national-enquirer-president

It is altogether fitting that Donald Trump became the all-but-certain presidential nominee of the Republican Party on the same day that he cited the ridiculous allegations of the National Enquirer that Ted Cruz's father, Rafael, had involvement in the assassination of JFK.

This is not so much an indictment on Trump as it is an indictment on the American people. God could well be giving us exactly what we deserve.

After all, we are the generation raised on a steady diet of amoral and immoral reality TV, also feasting on shows like Jerry Springer and Howard Stern and regurgitating meaningless sound bites as though they were pearls of wisdom.

No wonder, then, that Donald J. Trump appeals to so many Americans. He is a National Enquirer candidate for a Jerry Springer generation. What a match!

Of course, there are fine people who also believe in Trump's candidacy, people of conscience, spiritual people, patriotic people.

I certainly do not condemn all of their judgments, nor is it my place to do so.

I have also listened carefully to the prognosticators who have predicted for months that Trump would be our next president—some even claimed prophetic inspiration for these predictions—and that he would be a tool in God's hand to destroy the corrupt political establishment and do good to our nation.

I fervently hope that these prophecies will prove true and that I will have to eat every word I have written—and I am writing.

I have no desire to be right; I do have an intense desire to see America blessed; and I would far rather say, "I was so wrong about Donald Trump," than say, "I told you so!"

That being said, it appears today in America that God has given us over to delusion, a phenomenon mentioned several times in the Bible when God takes away a people's moral and spiritual sensibilities as a judgment on their sin.

In other words, because people reject Him and His standards, He says, "Go ahead then. Have at it," further pushing us into our folly.

That seems to be the only way to explain how we are suddenly at the point in America where people are saying there's nothing wrong with grown men using women's locker rooms and bathrooms and where states like California have ruled that boys who identify as girls can play on the girls' sports teams and share their shower stalls and changing areas.

This is cultural insanity, yet many are too blind to see.

How else do we explain college students telling a young Caucasian man that if he identifies as a woman, he is; if he identifies as Chinese, he is; if he identifies as a 7-year-old, he is—but if he identifies as 6' 5" he is not—how else do we explain this unless we have been given over to a spirit of delusion?

I see the Trump candidacy in the same way.

Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his blatant, well-documented lying.

Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his consistent practice of vile character assassination for the purpose of political gain.

Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his vulgarity and profanity.

Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his ignorance of critical issues and his complete flip-flopping of major positions.

And among these tens of millions of Americans is a significant percentage of professing evangelical Christians, despite Trump saying he has never asked God for forgiveness, despite his failure to renounce his previous adulteries or to acknowledge the wrongness of making money off casinos and strip clubs, despite his taking offense at the distribution of the near nude photo of his wife Melania—not because he thought it was a bad picture but because it was made out to be bad.

And evangelicals continue to flock to him.

How do we explain this phenomenon?

Trump is obviously a brilliant salesman and promoter, a master of the media.

And he has masterfully appealed to American fears and anger—fears of terrorism, fears of economic collapse, anger with the political system, anger with American weakness—to the point that his supporters are looking to him as a quasi-savior figure. Only he can get the job done!

But in almost any other time in American history, Trump's negatives would have so outweighed his positives that he would have quickly disqualified himself as a candidate.

Not today.

Instead, we find ourselves with the increasingly likely possibility that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president, and to me, there is only one satisfactory explanation for this: God is giving us what we deserve and handing us over to judgment.

All the more, then, should we be on our faces, repenting of our own sins.

All the more, then, should we be asking ourselves, "How much is Donald Trump a reflection of each one of us?"

All the more, then, should we who profess to know the Lord be asking Him, "How have we failed as Your people? How have we failed in our calling to be salt and light? How did things sink so low on our watch?"

All the more, then, should we be praying for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Barring merciful divine intervention in their lives, America is on the verge of a great and fearful shaking.

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Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Wed, 04 May 2016 09:30:00 -0400
T.D. Jakes: 5 Things I Would Tell a Young Me http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56928-t-d-jakes-5-things-i-would-tell-a-young-me http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56928-t-d-jakes-5-things-i-would-tell-a-young-me

He's "America's Best Preacher," according to TIME magazine; one of Ebony's Power 100; and a movie and television presence, not to mention the winner of countless awards, according to his biography. But the man T.D. Jakes is today is not the man he was in his mid-20s.  

"During my 58 years, I've occupied several roles. I've been a student, teacher and church leader. I've been an intern, employee and boss. I'm a son, father and grandfather, as well as husband, neighbor and friend. As I approach my sixth decade, I've been thinking a lot about missed opportunities, regret and the hard-scrabble lessons I've learned along the way," the leader of The Potter's House writes in a recent blog post.  

If he could rewind the clock 33 years, he knows precisely what he would tell the younger version of himself.  

First, he offered insight into finding purpose.  

"Let your purpose guide you. Determine your purpose by taking inventory of your interests, strengths and passions. By doing this, you'll avoid cycles of wasted time and energy, your most valuable resources." 

Next, the young Jakes is advised to not let others define him.  

"Too often, you've allowed your desire for approval to determine your self-worth," the bishop writes. "The yearning to be recognized isn't the problem, it's your inability to see that some people are so embittered by their own disappointments they lack the capacity to nurture the gifts and talents that are starting to blossom in your life. Aim for self-definition. Don't let other people tell you who you are." 

Third, he warns disappointment is inevitable, but suave financial sense can ease the burden.  

"Learn to budget, and adhere to your financial plans. Your preparation will not only impact you, but the people you love. Emotional dry spells will also come. Remember, the love you pour into people will be the love you get returned to you. Prepare by loving more," Jakes writes.  

Next, Jakes says it's OK to let go of some relationships.  

"There are some people you do lunch with and others you do life with. That is to say, not everybody deserves your time," he writes. "There are toxic people whose long-term presence in your life can and will separate you from your destiny. You will know these people by their rotten fruits. Remove them from your life immediately. Save your best for those who deserve it most." 

Finally, Jakes advises to let it all out in a laugh.  

"Life is serious business, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't laugh along the way. Don't allow unsound dogma to stand in the way of taking joy in all the hilarious moments creation offers. Laughing has curative powers, so find someone to laugh alongside. Joy is contagious, so play a part in spreading it far and wide." 

Do you agree with his advice? What would you add? 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Wed, 04 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Now It's the Democrats Who Are in Disarray http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56939-now-it-s-the-democrats-who-are-in-disarray http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56939-now-it-s-the-democrats-who-are-in-disarray

With the Republican presidential nomination nearly wrapped up for Donald Trump, the question now remains: Which Democrat will be running against him?

And after Tuesday night's surprise win for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), the honest answer is that we might not know until the Democratic National Convention. The avowed socialist, who is competing with former Saul Alinsky pen pal Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, has won a number of states, but has had a difficult time picking up the crucial "superdelegates," which are currently giving the former secretary of state the overall delegate lead.

Here's how the math shapes up after Tuesday:

Hillary Clinton—1,635 "hard" pledged delegates and 2,202 "soft" total delegates

Bernie Sanders—1,275 "hard" pledged delegates and 1,455 "soft" total delegates

Needed to win the nomination: 2,383 delegates

As you can see, a huge chunk of Clinton's support comes from "soft" or "unbound" superdelegates, who are free to vote for anyone they want. Some may remember that in 2008, she thought she had the nomination locked up, but lost several hundred superdelegates late in the campaign to then-Sen. Barack Obama.

The Sanders campaign is eager to remind voters of that fact, and is pushing to pull off the same feat in 2016. As the votes were still being tallied in Indiana on Tuesday night, he was in neighboring Kentucky, giving a stump speech in which he said:

"As of today, we have now won 17 primaries and caucuses. We have received some 9 million votes. When we started this campaign, we were 60 points behind Secretary Clinton in national polls. We end up winning the vote of people 45 years of age or younger. That is important because it tells me that the ideas that we are fighting for are the ideas for the future of America and the future of the Democratic Party."

After he was officially declared the winner in Indiana on Tuesday, he said:

"I know that the Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They're wrong. Maybe it's over for the insiders and the party establishment, but the voters today in Indiana had a different idea."

Sanders is now predicting more victories in the weeks to come in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon and California. He said he would fight for the Democratic presidential nomination until "the last vote is cast."

Meanwhile, Trump and the Republicans will have time to unite, strategize and most importantly, raise money for what is likely to be a very expensive general election battle. Some experts estimate the two sides could spend upward of $1 billion combined before the November election.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Wed, 04 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
12 Signs Someone Is Manipulating and Controlling You http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-pulse/56927-12-signs-someone-is-manipulating-and-controlling-you http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-pulse/56927-12-signs-someone-is-manipulating-and-controlling-you

As a pastor, I have studied human nature for more than three decades and have come to the conclusion that some people are actually under the control of other people. It is almost like a spell (or witchcraft, to be precise)!

Whether it is a wife who stays in an abusive relationship with her husband or a mother who allows her drug-addicted child to continually take money from her, there are many people in the world who manipulate others for their own satisfaction, caring nothing for the other person. Although I have just mentioned some extremes, most cases of control are far more subtle and do not involve a person physically abusing another person. In fact, it could be a petite woman controlling a large, strong man! In many cases, the issues presented in this article can be true in a marriage.

The following are some signs you are under the unhealthy control of another person:

1. The controlling person you are in close relationship with doesn't allow you to prove your point when in disagreement.

In many cases, people controlling others will not allow a conversation to go a certain way or to continue if they think they are going to lose the argument. This is because they can't bear to lose their place of power, which comes from making the other person think they are always right. Many controlling people cannot handle it if you disagree with them. At first, they may even act like they want your input. But the moment they see the conversation is not going their way, they twist things around or pick on one little thing said and go on a rabbit trail with the intent of derailing the conversation, never letting it come to a conclusion that deviates from their position.

2. The controlling person manipulates you with temper tantrums and threats.

Often, controlling people will go into fits of rage and temper tantrums when they are not having their way because they will do anything, even to the point of violence, to have their way and manipulate people into obeying them.

3. The controlling person constantly tries to make victims feel guilty or bad about the way they treat them when the opposite is really true.

Even though the controlling person may be an abuser of the one they control, they will try to make the victim think that they are the abuser so that, by using reverse psychology, they are able to fool the controlled, naïve person into thinking the abuser is really the victim. Thus, they get the victim to apologize, resulting in letting the abuser continue to abuse and control them.

4. The controlling person is always expecting more from you and is never satisfied.

Another subtle form of control is when a person gives you the impression that whatever you do for them is never good enough, that you are always falling short. This makes the victim feel indebted and obligated to continue to try harder to please, satisfy and serve the controller.

5. The controlling person is always questioning your motives.

Another not-so-obvious way to control is for the controller to continually question the motives of the person they control, so the victim is never sure of themselves and, thus, always on shaky spiritual and emotional ground. This can result in the victim actually looking up to the controller as a role model for godliness and purity, putting the controller in the driver's seat once again!

6. The controlling person is constantly putting you down.

Another form of control is when a person continually puts you down, calling you names and questioning the wisdom in the decisions you make. This can make the victim feel obligated to try harder to please the controller and trust their wisdom, so they are always letting the controller make the important decisions!

7. The controlling person is used to always having their way.

Usually in a healthy marriage or friendship, there is give and take; sometimes the husband has his way and sometimes the wife has her way. But in a controlling relationship, the controller is always jockeying to have their way. Or they will allow you to have your way in many minor things so that in all major things, they will always have the final say.

8. The controlling person walks away from their responsibilities as a way to manipulate others.

Another way controllers have their way is to actually walk away from their responsibilities at the worst possible time if they don't get their way, thus almost blackmailing a spouse, business partner or fellow minister into letting them have their way. For example, when walking away or threatening to walk away right before or in the midst of an important meeting, the victim will agree to almost any demands so as to complete the task at hand to avoid humiliation. This is a very common form of control.

9. The controlling person finds ways to impose their will in every situation.

The underlying essence of all controllers is their desire to impose their will and agenda in every situation they deem meaningful. They may have numerous different ways they do so, but the end result is always the same: Ultimately, they get their way!

10. The controlling person threatens to end the relationship.

Especially in a marriage or dating situation, a controller continually threatens divorce or to walk away from the relationship once they see that the victim will cave in! This is especially true when the controlling spouse is married to a pastor or prominent elected official who could have their career go down the tubes if their controlling spouse actually follows through and walks away, which doesn't really happen in most cases.

11. The controlling person threatens to commit suicide.

In extreme cases, a spouse, close friend or family member may threaten suicide if they deem that it will get them care or attention or enable them to have their way. In most cases, they will never kill themselves if given the real chance, but they will play on the emotional strings of the victim who loves them and will continually give in to them to stop them from seemingly ending their life.

12. The controlling person withholds physical affection.

Many times a woman in a relationship with a man will use the power of sex to manipulate and get what they want from a man. Women usually aren't stupid enough or as desperate for sex as men are to fall for this old-fashioned technique!

In conclusion, it is not always clear if the person controlling another person is fully aware they are doing it. In some cases, I am sure it is intentional, and in other cases, it could just be something done instinctively that they learned growing up as a survival mechanism.

The first step for victims of control to be set free is to be honest and self-aware regarding their unhealthy relationships. Victims of control and abuse need to speak to a professional counselor and get mediation, especially if they are married or in a business relationship. The first step for a victim of control is to base their identity fully on Christ and not in their work, their marriage or any relationship. This alone can give them the courage to walk out of this bondage. Victims need to learn to stand their ground and call the bluff of the controller, even if it means the relationship will be forever altered!

Those with issues of control will never let go of their power easily; many would rather sacrifice their relationships and ministries rather than give up control, because having control, in their perspective, is their greatest payoff.

To subscribe for a weekly teaching click here.

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Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Wed, 04 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Did John Kasich Get the GOP's Message? http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56934-did-john-kasich-get-the-gop-s-message http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56934-did-john-kasich-get-the-gop-s-message

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in suspending his campaign, said it. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said it. Even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said it.

"It's time for the Republican Party to unite."

But Ohio Gov. John Kasich is having none of it. Despite remaining officially in fourth place in the delegate count, and nearly 900 delegates behind Trump, he's still campaigning for an open convention, where he plans to make the case he's the only candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton.

"Sen. Ted Cruz just dropped out of the presidential race and it's up to us to stop Trump and unify our party in time to defeat Hillary Clinton," Kasich campaign manager Beth Hansen wrote to the governor's supporters Tuesday night about an hour after Cruz bowed out. "Seventeen polls in a row show the same thing: Gov. John Kasich is the only Republican who can defeat Hillary Clinton."

To even have half a chance to securing the nomination, Kasich would first have to prevent Trump from reaching 1,237 delegates before the convention, which is highly unlikely to happen. Then, he would need to have delegate majorities in at least eight states to qualify for nomination.

Currently, he has just one—his home state of Ohio. There are just nine states left to vote, meaning he would need to not only win most of them, he would have to win most of the delegates in each one, which is even more unlikely than preventing Trump from securing the support of 1,237 delegates ahead of the convention in July.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Wed, 04 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
2 American Missionaries Found Dead as Number of Christian Martyrs Grows http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/56926-two-american-missionaries-found-dead-as-number-of-christian-martyrs-grows http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/56926-two-american-missionaries-found-dead-as-number-of-christian-martyrs-grows

You expect to hear about persecution in North Korea or Iran, but it was surprising to discover two American missionaries dead in Jamaica this past weekend.

Harold Nichols and Randy Hentzel died exalting the Christ they served. The duo went out on a trail in the Albion Mountain area Saturday, according to the Jamaica Observer.

"Reports from the St. Mary police are that the two men rented motorcycles in Ocho Rios and went on the trail," the paper reports. "Residents stumbled on Hentzel's body after 12:00 p.m., and the police were summoned."

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"Deputy Superintendent of Police Dwight Powell said Hentzel's body was found face down with his hands bound with a piece of cloth believed to be torn from his shirt. One of the motorcycles was seen beside his body," the Jamaica Observer continues. "The second motorcycle was found approximately three chains away. However, there was no sign of the second missionary."

Nichols was found a day later with his head bashed in. The men of God had been making missions trips to Jamaica for 14 years and were known for their home Bible studies and outreach to children as well as for building homes for indigenous people.

The motive for the violent murders is yet unknown. Unfortunately, missionary deaths are not uncommon. All told, at least 105,000 people die each year because they believe in Jesus Christ, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

That's about one Christian every five seconds—and that doesn't even include accidental deaths. We're talking about martyrs here, people who died for the cause of Christ.

This shouldn't surprise us. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us, "Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."

Of course, persecution is one thing. Having your life in this age taken away is another. Still, Jesus told us, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28).

The reality is thousands of Christians die standing for the gospel every year. These are true martyrs—and it's a true privilege to live and die for the Lord. Jesus said whoever loses his life for His sake will find it (Matt. 10:39). Most of us will probably never have to die for what we believe, but we should be willing to lose our lives.

As for Hentzel, Nichols and the 100,000-plus who give up the ghost for the gospel every year, they will ultimately be vindicated. But there will also be more martyrs. Revelation 6:9-11 spells it out:

"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony they had held. They cried out with a loud voice, 'How long, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers should be completed, who would be killed as they were."

We can pray for the comfort of Hentzel's and Nichols' families. We can pray for the persecuted church. And we should. But ultimately, we can't pray away end-time prophecy. We should not seek martyrdom, for that is seeking our own glory, but we should be willing to glorify God with our lives even unto death.

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Wed, 04 May 2016 07:00:00 -0400
Why Ted Cruz Dropped Out http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56932-why-ted-cruz-dropped-out http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56932-why-ted-cruz-dropped-out

Many conservative Christians were shocked and saddened Tuesday night when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced he was suspending his campaign.

In his concession speech, Cruz said he was dropping out because he no longer saw a viable path, leaving many to wonder what had changed in just seven days' time. The answer, quite simply, was that after taking all 57 Indiana delegates Tuesday, the delegate math was completely on now-presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's side.

By winning the Hoosier State in such convincing fashion, Trump's delegate total hovered somewhere between 1,050 and 1,065—depending on which count you used—although most reliable counts have him at about 1,057. That puts him at just 180 delegates away from 1,237 with 445 delegates left to be awarded.

He was already guaranteed at least some delegates from West Virginia, which has direct-election of delegates, as well as Oregon, Washington and New Mexico, which allocate delegates proportionally. Estimates from those states varied greatly, but 75 delegates is a round, conservative estimate, which would leave him just 105 away from securing the nomination on the first ballot.

Trump was also very likely to win New Jersey, a winner-take-all state, which has another 51 delegates. Even if he won no other delegates leading up to California next month, he would have likely needed just 54 of the Golden State's 172 delegates to lock up the nomination. His lead in the polls there was more than 26 points—and growing—on Tuesday.

The other factor to consider was the Cruz was, more or less, working alone to prevent Trump from accumulating delegates. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has only won his home state, and despite picking up a few delegates in eastern states, he was still officially in fourth place in the total GOP delegate count.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Wed, 04 May 2016 07:00:00 -0400
Boycott Backfire Proved Deadly in France Attacks http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/56919-boycott-backfire-proved-deadly-in-france-attacks http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/56919-boycott-backfire-proved-deadly-in-france-attacks

As many of you know, there is a movement of anti-Israel activists, even in the church, that encourages boycotting Israeli products, pulling out of any investment in Israel or Israeli companies and sanctions against Israel, known as Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS).

They seek to punish Israel because we built a fence that stopped terrorism, or maybe because we didn't allow Egypt and Syria to destroy us in 1967, or possibly because we rebirthed our homeland on the ancient land of Israel—a land that never housed a country called Palestine and a land that was never highly populated by Arabs until the Jews began to return.

But their problem is that so much of the world's good, groundbreaking technology and medical breakthroughs come from Israel—from Intel chips to SMS texting—from drip irrigation to the fact that Israel's TEVA Pharmaceuticals is the largest producer of generic drugs in the world.

Our good friend, IDF soldier Hananya Naftali, pointed out in his viral video regarding all the different things that BDSers would have to give up, if they truly enforced their bans.

However, it appears that boycotting Israeli products may have been a deadly mistake for France since we in Israel are leading the movement in inventing equipment to confront terrorism. Many countries, like India, covet their partnership with Israel in fighting extremism, but leftist Europe wants to cut off its nose despite its face.

Not long after the Charlie Hedbo terror attacks in France (Jan. 7, 2015) an Israeli company pitched anti-terror software to the French government. The software could have helped them identify the terrorists who recently killed 130 people.

"French authorities liked it, but the official came back and said there was a higher-level instruction not to buy Israeli technology," a well-placed Israeli counter-terror specialist familiar with the technology and the company behind it told foxnews.com. "The discussion just stopped."

Days after the Brussels attacks, Belgium police wasted no time in purchasing advanced surveillance and rapid view technology from briefcam.com, an Israeli company. According to Fox News, this system is being utilized at the Statue of Liberty and other airports in the U.S.

Sadly, France allowed political correctness and the typical anti-Israel bias that has gripped Western Europe to keep them from protecting their citizens with the latest anti-terrorism technology.

What will their people say when they find out that such biases may have resulted in 130 deaths and many more injuries? {eoa}

Ron Cantor is the lead pastor of Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv (along with an anointed team of leaders). Yeshua found him when was an 18-year-old agnostic. You can read about it in Leave Me Alone, I am Jewish!—his testimony. He has also written a novel about the first Jewish believers called Identity Theft. Both books are available on Amazon.

For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.

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Ron Cantor/Messiah's Mandate Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Wed, 04 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
Franklin Graham: Is the Handwriting on the Wall for America? http://www.charismanews.com/us/56922-franklin-graham-is-the-handwriting-on-the-wall-for-america http://www.charismanews.com/us/56922-franklin-graham-is-the-handwriting-on-the-wall-for-america

When we began our Decision America Tour on a bitterly cold January day in Des Moines, Iowa, I didn't know exactly what to expect as we kicked off a nine-month tour of all 50 state capitals.

I wasn't sure how many people would be able to come to an outdoor prayer rally in the middle of the workday. I wondered how the call to pray, vote and engage in the political process would be received across the nation.

Four months and 19 states later, I've been amazed at how the Holy Spirit is working and moving.

At every stop, thousands upon thousands have turned out at midday to stand for an hour and call on God to heal our nation. In spitting snow, shivering cold and intense heat, people have stood shoulder to shoulder on Capitol grounds and steps to worship God, confess their sins and intercede for America.

In Nevada, we had the largest crowd ever assembled at the Capitol grounds in Carson City. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the crowd began spontaneously singing hymns a half-hour before the event. In Sacramento, a group of LGBT protesters had called for a meeting at the Capitol, only a short distance away from where our rally was to be held.

When I heard about their plans, I thought about how God shut the mouths of the lions when Daniel was thrown into the lion's den. I prayed that the Lord would quiet the mouths of the protesters as we came together to pray.

Their event was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., and our rally did not start until noon. However, thousands of people assembled hours beforehand for Decision America, so we didn't hear a thing from the protesters. Despite their very public call for people to join them, only about 100 gay activists came. Our rally drew nearly 8,000 people.

One extraordinary result of our tour across the nation has been the large number of people who have come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Through March, 2,021 people had indicated their decisions to follow Christ via text message. They come to Decision America because they are angry or dissatisfied with the way things are going in our country. Then they hear the gospel preached, they fall under conviction, repent of their sins and turn to Christ. Praise God!

There is no doubt that the tens of thousands who have attended know that America is in deep trouble and on the verge of total moral and spiritual collapse—unless God intervenes.

Like me, they have no hope in either the Democratic or Republican party. They know our only hope is in Almighty God. Unless we repent and turn quickly to Him for forgiveness and restoration, our nation will no longer be the city on the hill that has helped bring the illuminating light of biblical truth to the world.

Never before have I seen such a sharp rift in the moral and spiritual fabric of our country. The cross of Christ has become the deep divide between a growing segment of our population that no longer fears God and those who follow Christ as Lord and Savior.

In this secular age, the influence of biblical principles and values has diminishing impact on education, government and politics. More young people than ever before claim no religious affiliation at all. We Christians are not just simply tolerated—we are under constant, unrelenting assault for our beliefs and practices.

The cross of Christ is the dividing line between the righteous and the unrighteous, between the deceitfully dark powers of evil and the liberating light of the gospel, between the virtues of godly living and the unfettered lusts of corrupt, debased passions. The wisdom and power of the cross appears as more and more foolishness to those who suppress the truth and rebel against its claims.

Not long before Daniel was cast into the lion's den by the Persian King Darius, he was called into the presence of the last Babylonian king, Belshazzar, after the king witnessed the fingers of a human hand writing on the wall in his palace. This sudden, divine event occurred as the king and his court were reveling in debauchery and idolatry, drinking wine from the golden vessels that had been carried away by the Babylonians from the Jerusalem temple.

As the king saw a hand writing on the wall of plaster, he instantly was alarmed and frightened. Daniel interpreted the meaning of the strange inscription Belshazzar had seen, telling him that his kingdom was about to come to an end, that he had been weighed in God's divine balance and found wanting, and that his vast kingdom would be handed over to a new world power, the Medes and Persians.

That very night, Belshazzar was killed, and the Medes and Persians entered Babylon.

I wonder if the handwriting is now on the wall for America. Has God decided that our idolatry, immorality and godlessness have become such a stench in His nostrils that we as a people will experience a harsh form of divine judgment? Have our iniquities grown so foul and vast that we will reap the bitter harvest of our wickedness and rebellion against Almighty God?

I don't know the answer to that, but I do believe that God is able to restore and heal us if we repent of our sins—personal and corporate—and turn to Him in humility and reverence. The Bible tells us that the Lord is patient toward us, "not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" 
(2 Pet. 3:9).

We are a people and nation in imminent danger. We mock God, ridicule His Word and 
His ways, and flaunt gross 
immorality.

Only Almighty God can deliver us, and it is our fervent prayer as we go across America in the months to come, that He will hear our prayers and heal our land.

He is our only hope. 

This article originally appeared on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Website. ©2016 BGEA. 

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Franklin Graham/BGEA Featured U.S. News Wed, 04 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
Bill Ted Cruz Co-Authored Would Address H-1B Fraud and Abuse http://www.charismanews.com/politics/opinion/56931-bill-ted-cruz-co-authored-would-address-h-1b-fraud-and-abuse http://www.charismanews.com/politics/opinion/56931-bill-ted-cruz-co-authored-would-address-h-1b-fraud-and-abuse

The misuse and abuse of H-1B visas was exposed in a hearing held on Feb. 25 before a Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator Jeff Sessions. The subcommittee heard from one of the 250 skilled technical employees of the Walt Disney Company in Florida who were laid off after being forced to train foreign replacements recruited under the H-1B program.

Sen. Sessions pointed out in his opening statement that "technology companies will cut out at least 330,000 jobs this year. There is no shortage of highly qualified working American professionals, nor is there a shortage of American engineering college graduates each year."

Only about half of our science, technology, engineering and math graduates find STEM jobs in those fields.

Ted Cruz recently called for suspending all H-1B visas for 180 days, and he co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Sessions that would impose stiff new requirements on companies that use them. Cruz's bill, called the "American Jobs First Act," would open job opportunities for American college graduates by eliminating visas for foreigners who don't have a Ph.D. or at least 10 years of "relevant experience."

Marco Rubio, on the other hand, remains a co-sponsor of the I-Squared bill (S. 153), which would relax requirements and triple the number of H-1B visas to 195,000 a year. Cruz's bill would eliminate the current per-country cap, which means that workers from India would get many more of the visas than they already do.

The wages of working Americans have been stagnant for many years, and part of the reason is our high level of immigration (both legal and illegal) and the many different guest worker programs. Tell your member of Congress to tighten up or eliminate those programs, and support presidential candidates who put American workers first.

Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the publication of her best-selling 1964 book, A Choice Not An Echo. She has been a leader of the pro-family movement since 1972, when she started her national volunteer organization called Eagle Forum. In a ten-year battle, Mrs. Schlafly led the pro-family movement to victory over the principal legislative goal of the radical feminists, called the Equal Rights Amendment. An articulate and successful opponent of the radical feminist movement, she appears in debate on college campuses more frequently than any other conservative.

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Phyllis Schlafly/The Eagle Forum Featured Opinions Caucus Wed, 04 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
BREAKING: Ted Cruz Suspends Campaign For President http://www.charismanews.com/politics/56930-breaking-ted-cruz-suspends-campaign-for-president http://www.charismanews.com/politics/56930-breaking-ted-cruz-suspends-campaign-for-president

Republican Ted Cruz suspended his campaign for the nomination after a defeat in Indiana, according to reports Tuesday.

Donald Trump was projected to take well over 50 percent of the vote in the Hoosier state, eclipsing Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas. Ohio Governor John Kasich was running a distant third. Kasich is still campaigning for the nomination. 

"The movement you have started is extraordinary and I love each and every one of you. From the beginning, I've said I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight, I'm sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed," Cruz said in his concession speech.

"... Together we left it all on the field in Indiana," Cruz said. "We gave it everything we had. But the voters chose another path, and so, with a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign."

Cruz, a pastor's son, was among the final three candidates for the Republican nomination. After his victory in Indiana, Trump appears well on his way to garnering the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright. {eoa}

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 20:52:48 -0400
EXCLUSIVE: Best-Selling Author Rabbi Jonathan Cahn Unveils Cover of Latest Book http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56929-exclusive-best-selling-author-rabbi-jonathan-cahn-unveils-cover-of-latest-book http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56929-exclusive-best-selling-author-rabbi-jonathan-cahn-unveils-cover-of-latest-book

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn unveiled the cover for his latest book, The Book of Mysteries, in a Facebook Live event earlier today.  

"I've actually never done anything like this before," Cahn says of his book revealing. "It's really the first major, original book since The Mystery of the Shemitah, which is linked to The Harbinger, so it's the first since The Harbinger of a totally new work." 

The cover is based off of the design of an antique Bible. The title shows light emanating from inside the book, representing the treasures that are held within. 

"The previous book covers were very ominous and foreboding," said Justin Evans, executive design director for Charisma House Book Group. "The prior covers served as wake-up calls to the nation and the world. The Book of Mysteries is very personal and serves as a treasure trove of spiritual insight and revelations that can transform your life to joy, success, and blessing."   

According to the book's websiteThe Book of Mysteries opens up with a traveler and his encounter with a man known only as "the teacher." In the narrative, the teacher takes him an on odyssey through desert mountains, valleys, gardens and plains, encounters with nomadic tent dwellers, caverns and ancient ruins, chambers of scrolls and vessels, and more.  

"The prophetic writings of Jonathan Cahn have reverberated through the halls of our public square to the pulpit and impacted millions," Charisma House Publisher Tessie DeVore said. "The Book of Mysteries is very unique and will be the catalyst for those same readers to glean from Jonathan Cahn's insightful teachings."

The reader is taken along to partake in the journey and in all the teachings and revelations. The traveler keeps a journal in which he writes down each of the mysteries given to him by the teacher in his one-year odyssey—365 different mysteries—one for each day of the year, according to the book website. 

Thus, on top of everything else, The Book of Mysteries is also a daily devotional unlike any other. And each mystery contains a special mission for each day of the year, a mission that takes the revelation and applies it to reality for a life-changing journey. 

The book is currently available through pre-order and will release Sept. 6, 2016. 

The Book of Mysteries, Cahn's third book, complements the success of his previous teachings, which have garnered national attention. Collectively, Cahn's books and ancillary products have reached over 3 million units in sales.

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Tue, 03 May 2016 17:15:00 -0400
Is dc Talk Reuniting? http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56925-is-dc-talk-reuniting http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56925-is-dc-talk-reuniting

It's simple: A black square. White text. Four numbers. Will 2017 be the year dc Talk reunites? Releases a new album? What does it mean? 

Social media fans are clamoring for answers.  

"NO DON'T TOY WITH MY EMOTIONS," writes Mike Denison on Facebook.  

Rapzilla said: "YOU GUYS BETTER RAP!" 

On Instagram: "Is @dctalkofficial coming back together in 2017??? Please say yes!" posted user joshparades.  

Brarig219 says: "@dctalkofficial please guys. Just please. The world needs this! Would be more excited than I can tell you!" 

It should be noted most pictures on their Instagram are album covers. 

Thus far, no members of the former band—Toby Mac, Michael Tait or Kevin Max—have officially commented on social media about what the picture may mean.  

The trio did lay down a track on Mac's latest album This Is Not a Test. 

"But I think more than likely something might brew up in the future. I think there's something out there for us to do that would be really fun and collaborative, maybe some type of reunion thing. I think it would be fun. I'm not against it. I'm for it. I'm just waiting for the right time in each of our lives where the schedule opens up enough to go take a shot at something," Mac said in February. 

What do you think? Sound off! 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Tue, 03 May 2016 16:30:00 -0400
Why Ray Comfort Is Storming an Atheist Event With $25,000 in Giftcards http://www.charismanews.com/us/56924-why-ray-comfort-is-storming-an-atheist-event-with-25-000-in-giftcards http://www.charismanews.com/us/56924-why-ray-comfort-is-storming-an-atheist-event-with-25-000-in-giftcards

Thousands of atheists attending the Reason Rally 2016 at Washington Mall on June 4 will be greeted with a Subway gift card and a free book. The gifts are courtesy of best-selling author and co-host of the award-winning The Way of the Master TV show, Ray Comfort. 

With the new book's provocative title—Fat Chance: Why Pigs Will Fly Before America Has an Atheist President—Comfort believes the "freethinkers" at the rally will find it of interest. "Most atheists don't know that there's never been an atheist president; that no member of Congress is an atheist; that in some states, it's illegal for atheists to run for office, and that recent surveys show that atheists in America are about as popular as rapists," he explains. "It's a fascinating read." 

Along with each book, Comfort's Living Waters ministry will be including a Subway gift card. The author added, "The $25,000 worth of gift cards are a little something for them to chew on (we are hoping to feed 5,000—it's been done before). This is a small token of our love for atheists, and when we run out of books and gift cards we will give them millions of dollars." 

Rally organizers expect more than 20,000 atheists to attend, with speakers such as actor Johnny Depp, Professor Lawrence Krauss, Penn Jillette and Bill Nye. During the rally, Comfort's group will be at the other end of the Mall, filming an open-air preaching session for his TV show. "It should be interesting," Comfort noted, "because we are bound to get a lot of hecklers." 

Comfort's group needs help to give out the literature and is encouraging Christians to come to Washington, D.C., for the Saturday event. Details can be found at livingwaters.com/dc-outreach.

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Christian Newswire Featured U.S. News Tue, 03 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
He Hasn't Even Read the Redacted Pages of the 9/11 Report http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56923-he-hasn-t-even-read-the-redacted-pages-of-the-9-11-report http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56923-he-hasn-t-even-read-the-redacted-pages-of-the-9-11-report

It is generally accepted that the president of the United States should have access to the nation's most sensitive information so that he is best equipped to handle any situation the country may face.

That doesn't mean the president necessarily avails himself of that information.

During the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted President Obama has not yet read the 28 redacted and classified pages of the 9/11 Commission Report. Congress is currently weighing a bipartisan effort to lift the ban on the information, which reportedly connects the government of Saudi Arabia with the Islamist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; and rural Pennsylvania that killed nearly 3,000 and injured 6,000 more.

Earnest said the president didn't have any objection to reading the 28 pages, but just "hadn't gotten around to it." He repeated claims that U.S. intelligence officials were likely to release the pages sometime next month.

"The president obviously reads a lot of material on a day-to-day basis," he said. "I'm not sure that he felt that it was necessary for him to read those 28 pages."

Some intelligence officials have said it would be "dangerous" to release that information, with CIA chief John Brennan saying any direct connection between the Islamist suicide attackers on 9/11 and the Saudi kingdom were "very, very inaccurate." Meanwhile, the kingdom has reportedly put pressure on Congress to keep the information secret.

More recently, however, representatives of the Saudi government have said those reports were "ridiculous." But in nearly the very next breath, they have suggested any act that would make Saudi Arabia legally responsible for those deaths would hurt the U.S. economy.

The Senate is considering a bill—with broad bipartisan support—that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government by removing its immunity from prosecution. The White House has said it may veto such a bill, despite having signaled its intent to release the 28 pages of the report.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
He Wants Marco Rubio's Senate Seat ... and He Wants This http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56921-he-wants-marco-rubio-s-senate-seat-and-he-wants-this http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56921-he-wants-marco-rubio-s-senate-seat-and-he-wants-this

Carlos Beruff isn't the most widely known candidate aiming to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate, but comments he recently made at a candidate forum are certainly making him more well known, even outside of Florida.

According to the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Broward County, Beruff was asked about his position on "Muslim immigration," prompting the following reply:

"I think our immigration department is broken," he said. "And I don't think it's safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country ... until they fix it."

The answer resulted in the crowd of more than 200 to "erupt" into applause and cheers, the newspaper reported. Afterward, a reporter asked Beruff to clarify his remarks. It included those comments in its report:

"I think it's pretty simple. We have a system that doesn't work. When they fix that, I don't care. But right now, we have a terrorist threat that's very real. You want to ignore it, but I don't."

He said he would apply the ban to people from many countries. "Pretty much anybody that's got a terrorist organization in it, which is pretty much all the Middle East." Asked about Israel, he said the ban wouldn't apply to people from that country. "I think Israel's security measures are pretty strong," he said. "Israel is an exception."

Although the original question from the audience member was about "Muslim immigration," Beruff said in the interview that his ban would apply to Christians and Muslims. "Unless you can tell me how you get the system to be able to do that correctly, I think it applies to everybody."

Those comments seem to align with Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who knocked Rubio out of the GOP presidential primary race. The senator had argued early on in the campaign that Trump's proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. was unconstitutional, adding the proposal was "wrong" and "immoral."

"It violates the Constitution. It places a religious test. And it isn't the best way to do this," he told radio host Hugh Hewitt last December. "I think a better way to address this threat is to look carefully at the processes we use to vet people, understand that there are people that no matter how often you vet them, you're not going to be able to allow in, because we lack information on that part of the world."

Beruff, who is chairman of the Florida Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, is one of nine Republican candidates vying to fill Rubio's seat in the Senate. Among his primary opponents are U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
3 Ways Abortion Robs America's Mothers—and All of Us http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56920-3-ways-abortion-robs-america-s-mothers-and-all-of-us http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56920-3-ways-abortion-robs-america-s-mothers-and-all-of-us

We put in our application to adopt in February, announced our plan to adopt on Mother's Day, and became "home study ready" on Sept. 11—in 2014. It's now been two years of waiting and praying.

Mostly patient, I'm finding myself becoming less serene and more frustrated at this wait—with its end yet to be determined. A prepared adoptive family may wait years for a placement. The abortion clinics are full; why aren't adoption agencies teeming with children?

Our society makes abortion so easy. It's cheap, it's accessible and it has even become glamorized (thanks to Planned Parenthood's extensive Hollywood outreach). We hear all the time how abortion is so common, and it is. But that doesn't make it right.

When I think of all that is lost as a result of abortion, it breaks my heart. Much has been said on the horrors of abortion, yet we rarely focus on how abortion robs us all of the blessings of adoption. Here are three ways abortion robs from adoption:

1. Abortion robs the birth mother.

When a woman realizes she's pregnant, she has three choices: she can raise the child herself, she can place the child for adoption, or she can abort the child. Let's be honest, all too often we're talking about 13-, 14- or 15 year-old girls here. While teen pregnancy and abortion rates are at the lowest they've been in 40 years—thanks in part to effective pro-life laws—abortions still take place seven days a week.

Whether choosing an abortion or forced into it by another, women are robbed of the blessing of adoption. In an extremely difficult place in life, she feels her only option is to choose death. Yet for years, perhaps decades, this woman will face trauma and even grave health issues as a result of post-abortive stress.

Through adoption, women have an amazing opportunity to redeem a bad decision or unintended consequence. Yes, this choice carries its own difficulty. One birth mother shares in the New York Times how, despite a painful decision to place her child for adoption, it comforts her to see the child with his adoptive family. She would be robbed of this consolation if she had chosen abortion.

To be clear, adoption is not the only—or even always the best—alternative to abortion. Sometimes the right choice is for the expectant mother to parent. No woman should feel forced to place a child for adoption that she can care for. The point is: When a women or couple cannot provide a good home for their child, regardless of the reasons why, abortion is not the answer. Adoption is!

2. Abortion robs families of the opportunity to adopt.

Wouldn't it be amazing if every child was born into loving and capable families? I would love to see the unplanned pregnancy rate and national abortion rate go to zero. Any pro-life advocate would be perfectly content if there were no babies to adopt, because there was no need!

But the reality is, as long as women are still heading to abortion clinics, there is a need for adoption. Thousands of families nationwide have been making life changes so they can be ready to adopt.

Sometimes they bring unique strengths to the adoption process, like having raised several children; others, like my husband and I, bring a love for children we've nurtured through staying engaged in child sponsorship.

For both birth mother and adoptive family, adoption represents a great sacrifice of time, tears and treasure. When God uses adoption to save a life—or perhaps change a family's entire storyline—the beauty and value that adoption brings into the world cannot be denied.

3. Abortion robs our society and communities

When one third of a nation's population is wiped out through the genocide of abortion, there is a huge financial and emotional cost. It's estimated that our nation has lost $16 trillion dollars in federal revenue as a result of abortion, according to former liberal activist Mark Olson.

But that is nothing compared to the destinies we've lost. I cannot help but wonder what our society might look like were it not for abortion; would a cure for cancer have been developed? Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, was raised in an adoptive family after his birth mother Joanne Schieble bravely brought him into the world. Think about her next time you check your iPhone.

Whether an aborted child was diagnosed in the womb with cerebral palsy, or whether they would have faced other challenges, their life had a story the world will never know.

There are practical economic issues too. "Babies are essential," reports family trends expert Glenn Stanton. "Economic growth, debt retirement and support of an increasing population of elderly requires young workers, and these young creators, providers, inventors, consumers—not to mention taxpayers—only come in one original size: babies."

So I will keep waiting and praying for the day a brave woman makes the very difficult, but incredibly honorable, decision that she will choose life for her child ... and that she has chosen us to parent that precious baby.

And I'll keep praying that every woman in a crisis pregnancy who cannot parent makes the same decision. Because we must not allow abortion to rob us all of the joy and blessing of adoption. {eoa}

Dr. Laurel Shaler is a chair at Liberty University in the Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies. She is a former social worker for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Laurel writes on the intersection of faith, culture and emotional well-being at DrLaurelShaler.com. She and her husband, Nick, are in the adoption process; follow along with their journey via Facebook.

Reprinted with permission from Bound4LIFE.

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Dr. Laurel Shaler/Bound4Life Featured Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 15:45:00 -0400
Religious-Freedom Report Urges Government to Add Countries to Worst-Offenders List http://www.charismanews.com/world/56918-religious-freedom-report-urges-government-to-add-countries-to-worst-offenders-list http://www.charismanews.com/world/56918-religious-freedom-report-urges-government-to-add-countries-to-worst-offenders-list

The primary U.S. government agency on global religious freedom issued its annual report this week.

It says "religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault" during the past year, and says America should add seven countries to its list of worst offenders:

Central African Republic
Egypt
Iraq
Nigeria
Pakistan
Syria
Vietnam

Also, the report includes Western Europe among a list of places that deserve monitoring because of worrisome developments.

The Report

It was written by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an advisory council to Congress and the president. It covers Feb. 1, 2015, to Feb. 29, 2016. [Get a copy here]

It recommends that the president designate the seven countries as "countries of particular concern."

A year ago, the commission's annual report made the same recommendation about the same seven countries, plus Tajikistan. The State Department accepted that recommendation to add Tajikistan on April 14.

What Are 'Countries of Particular Concern'?

U.S. law defines them as those whose violations of religious freedom are "particularly severe," which means:

"Systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, including violations such as

(A) Torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
(B) Prolonged detention without charges
(C) Causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction or clandestine detention of those persons
(D) Other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty or the security of persons."

About the U.S. law

The president is required to maintain a list of "countries of particular concern," considered the worst offenders of religious freedom, taking the commission's annual report as counsel. The law directs the White House to "take action designed to encourage improvements in those countries," the commission says. Those actions can range from nothing to mutually negotiated treatments, to unilateral sanctions.

The law requires the State Department to report on religious freedom in each country, as part of its annual assessment of human rights around the globe.

The U.S. already had formally designated nine countries as "countries of particular concern": Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan's recent addition brings the list to 10.

Selected Report Findings

The 12-month period covered by the report was a year when the commission said a bad situation got worse.

"By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission's last Annual Report in 2015," it begins. It contains documentation of restrictions upon Christians, Muslims, Jews and other religious minorities.

Among the report's examples of Christian persecution:

China

"Over the past year, the Chinese government has stepped up its persecution of religious groups deemed a threat to the state's supremacy and maintenance of a 'socialist society.' Christian communities have borne a significant brunt of the oppression, with numerous churches bulldozed and crosses torn down."

Pakistan

"More people are on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy in Pakistan than in any other country in the world. Aggressive enforcement of these laws emboldens the Pakistani Taliban and individual vigilantes, triggering horrific violence against religious communities and individuals perceived as transgressors, most recently Christians and Muslim bystanders on Easter Sunday 2016 in Lahore."

Nigeria

"Boko Haram continues to attack with impunity both Christians and many Muslims. From bombings at churches and mosques to mass kidnappings of children from schools, Boko Haram has cut a wide path of terror across vast swaths of Nigeria and in neighboring countries, leaving thousands killed and millions displaced."

India

"Since the [Bharatiya Janata Party] assumed power, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by BJP politicians and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by affiliated Hindu nationalist groups."
 
"India is on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom. USCIRF will continue to monitor the situation closely during the year ahead to determine if India should be recommended to the U.S. State Department for designation as a 'country of particular concern.'"

World Watch List

The seven countries that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommends be classified as "countries of particular concern" also are prominent on the Open Doors World Watch list.

The World Watch List ranks the countries where life as a Christian is most difficult. It is published by Open Doors, a global charity that supports Christians who are pressured because of their faith.

[See the entire World Watch List]

Watching Western Europe

The report includes "Western Europe" on a list alongside five individual countries that the commission says should be monitored, though it has not recommended them for government sanction. The region was not included in the previous year's report.

In several Western European countries, according to the report, governments have banned the wearing of religious symbols, including crosses. Some have been monitoring religious groups they deem as "cults" or "sects," including some evangelical Protestant groups. And Christians have found themselves answering charges of hate speech or avoiding public education by homeschooling their children.

But most of the basis for the commission's inclusion of Western Europe among areas to monitor is related to anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment that has been rising along with the number of refugees from the Middle East and Northern Africa.

This article originally appeared on World Watch Monitor.

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World Watch Monitor Featured World News Tue, 03 May 2016 15:15:00 -0400
Miracle Baby Pulled From Rubble 3 Days After Building Collapse http://www.charismanews.com/world/56917-miracle-baby-pulled-from-rubble-3-days-after-building-collapse http://www.charismanews.com/world/56917-miracle-baby-pulled-from-rubble-3-days-after-building-collapse

Rescue workers pulled a six-month-old baby girl out of the rubble of a building in Kenya's capital on Tuesday and reunited her with her father, more than three days after it collapsed following days of heavy rain.

At least 23 people have so far been confirmed dead after the six-storey residential block in Nairobi's poor Huruma district crumbled on Friday night. Police are questioning the owners after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered them detained.

"The child, who had been buried for about 80 hours, was found in a bucket wrapped in a blanket. She appeared dehydrated, and with no visible physical injuries," the Kenya Red Cross said in a statement.

The baby, named as Dealeryn Saisi Wasike, was identified by her father after she was taken to hospital for treatment, the Red Cross said. A Red Cross official said the fate of her mother was still not clear.

The collapse of the building was the latest such disaster in a fast expanding African city that is struggling to build homes fast enough.

Like many other cities in Africa, the population of Nairobi has climbed dramatically in recent years. The Kenyan capital had almost 3.5 million people in 2011, about a third bigger than a decade earlier, according to U.N. figures.

Governments have struggled to provide basic infrastructure and bureaucratic processes to ensure planning rules are met.

Many Kenyans who come to the city in search of work end up in one of several slums, such as Kibera, made up of makeshift homes of wood and corrugated iron sheets.

Others live in slightly better off but still poor districts, like Huruma, where concrete buildings have risen rapidly amid potholed roads and ropey power supplies. Heavy rains have caused other collapses in Nairobi but without such high death tolls.

The Interior Ministry said the Huruma building had been earmarked for demolition as it was built close to a river, but the order had not been carried out by local officials. It urged developers to adhere to safety standards.

After visiting the site on Saturday, Kenya's president ordered other buildings to be surveyed to ensure they were safe.

Rescue workers had said on Monday that the chances of finding more survivors was unlikely.

Nairobi County police commander Japheth Koome told Reuters the death toll stood at 23 while 136 people had been saved from the wreckage. He said the number of deaths could rise as the search continued.

Dozens of other people are still listed as missing, Red Cross spokeswoman Arnolda Shiundu said, adding it was not clear how many of those had escaped but had not yet been traced.

Similar disasters have afflicted other African conurbations. In 2014, a church in Lagos, one of Africa's biggest cities, collapsed killing 115 people. A Nigerian coroner last year blamed poor construction.

Poor and illegal construction has also often been blamed for the crumbling of apartment blocks in Egypt, where almost all Egyptians are crammed into the crowded Nile Valley and buildings are often extended with extra floors piled on top. {eoa}

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Edmund Blair/Reuters Featured World News Tue, 03 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
College's LGBT Group Launch Shame Campaign Over Hastert Admissions http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56916-college-s-lgbt-group-launch-shame-campaign-over-hastert-admissions http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56916-college-s-lgbt-group-launch-shame-campaign-over-hastert-admissions

A group of LGBT students and alumni of the Wheaton College is now engaged in a shame campaign of the evangelical college that was the alma mater of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Wheaton College was formerly home to the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy. Last year, prior to his indictment for banking fraud, Hastert resigned as a member of the center's board of directors, and the college issued the following statement:

Wheaton College has received and accepted the resignation of Wheaton alumnus and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert from the Board of Advisors of its J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy.

The Center was established to pursue goals compatible with the mission of Wheaton College. Specifically, the mission statement of the Center is "to advance the training of Wheaton College students and the greater community in the understanding of market economies, representative democracies, limited government, and the redeeming effects of the Christian worldview on the practice of business, government and politics."

The Center will continue to serve these purposes in conformity with the highest ethical and academic standards of excellence and integrity, in conformity with our institution's identity.

The College respects Mr. Hastert's distinguished public service record and the due process being afforded him pursuant to the charges that have been filed against him.

Two days later, following the former student's indictment, the center was renamed, removing Hastert's name. It now goes by the permanent name "Wheaton Center for Faith, Politics and Economics." But at the time of the indictment, Wheaton officials made the following statement:

It is with sadness and shock that the Wheaton College community learned of the indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice of alumnus and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert, and of his resignation from the Board of Advisors of the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College.

In light of the charges and allegations that have emerged, the College has re-designated the Center as the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at this time.

The Center will continue in its mission "to advance the training of Wheaton College students and the greater community in the understanding of market economies, representative democracies, limited government, and the redeeming effects of the Christian worldview on the practice of business, government and politics."

Wheaton College serves Jesus Christ and advances His Kingdom through excellence in liberal arts and graduate programs that educate the whole person to build the church and benefit society worldwide. The College has not been implicated in or associated with any of the allegations in this matter.

We commit ourselves to pray for all involved, including Speaker Hastert, his family, and those who may have been harmed by any inappropriate behavior, and to continue the work and mission of the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy.

Hastert later admitted he had made $3.5 million in payments as "hush money" to former wrestlers he said he sexually abused while a high school coach before he entered politics. He admitted to trying to hide those payments by means of bank fraud and has been sentenced to federal prison.

In response to these developments, Wheaton officials issued another official statement:

Wheaton College serves Jesus Christ and advances His Kingdom through excellence in liberal arts and graduate programs that educate the whole person to build the church and benefit society worldwide. All students, faculty, staff and administration agree annually to our Community Covenant, which calls for Christ-like love, pursuit of holiness, and treatment of our bodies and those of others with honor. Scripture calls on all followers of Christ to seek righteousness, mercy and justice, particularly for the helpless and oppressed; to love and side with what is good in God's eyes; and to abhor what is evil.

Sexual abuse is clearly and fundamentally incompatible with Christian ethics. This includes the sexual abuse of minors that Dennis Hastert has publicly acknowledged. The College is grieved by these revelations, respects the legal process that has led to accountability for Mr. Hastert's acknowledged crimes, and continues to pray for the people and victims he harmed.

That's not enough, the LGBT group OneWheaton said over the weekend. It demanded a much stronger statement of condemnation from the college.

"In the wake of Dennis Hastert's admission of guilt and subsequent sentencing, with the details of his abuse now public, we call upon Wheaton College to issue an unequivocal statement strongly condemning Hastert's abusive and deceptive behavior and expressing solidarity and support for Hastert's victims," OneWheaton demanded. "When powerful Christian institutions, like Wheaton College, fail to denounce the abusive behavior of their community leaders and instead praise, protect, or excuse the abuser, they are complicit in that abuse and the profound suffering and irreparable damage incurred. When the abuser is a Christian or represents key Christian institutions, this damage is not only psychological but spiritual."

Wheaton College has not yet responded to OneWheaton's statement.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Why Philly Jesus Was Behind Bars http://www.charismanews.com/us/56915-why-philly-jesus-was-behind-bars http://www.charismanews.com/us/56915-why-philly-jesus-was-behind-bars

Michael Grant, aka Philly Jesus, spent a half-day behind bars after refusing to leave an Apple store, according to reports

The 29-year-old was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Twelve hours later, he tweeted, "i AM FREE!!!!! i'M FREE AT LAST!! THANK GOD ALMiGHTY!!! i AM FREE AT LAST!!!! BLESS UP."

Grant says he refused to leave because the store was discriminating against him. 

"The same way an African-American human being in the 1960s would be singled out in a white only store and asked to leave, I 'Philly Jesus' was singled out in the Apple Store because of my visual faith I portray—dressing up like Jesus holding my cross," said Grant. "An Apple employee who was offended by my appearance and by my cross asked me to leave because of who I am and what I represent—because of my faith.

"Nearly every day I go into the Apple Store to charge my phone on their 15-minute-use limit computer open to the public. Never once have I had a problem there over two years. After being in there for only a minute, an employee asked me to leave because of who I am and me carrying my cross. I told him no. I know my rights. I am allowed to use the laptops and charge my phone like everyone else there who was next to me doing so—so me standing my ground, he brought the cops over and I told the cops the same thing: I am allowed to be here like anyone else on their 15-minute-use products to charge my phone and use their laptops. Then they locked me up, then I raised my voice freedom of religion!"

Last year, Grant was seeking $70 million to turn his life story into a movie.

He's hoping to use his story for God's glory.  

"From being completely ran over by a mini-van by a ex-girlfriend in 2005, to being a local Philadelphia satanic music artist named Opal Weaver (YouTube) who practiced witchcraft and addicted to shooting up heroin and smoking crack/cocaine living a dark evil selfish lifestyle of the devil for years, which eventually caught up to me," Grant begins on GoFundMe.  

"(I was put away ) in a court-stipulated program for 73 days where I hit rock bottom, while put away I found out that The Source of Existence Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the rock at the bottom, so I repented of my sins and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God." 

Grant says he is now nearly three years sober and wants to use his talents, which he says includes rapping, singing, painting and dancing, to put on a production of the gospel. He says his goal is to make a movie or a theatrical play.

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 03 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Cruz Campaign Releases Indiana Election Day Hype Video http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56914-cruz-campaign-releases-indiana-election-day-hype-video http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56914-cruz-campaign-releases-indiana-election-day-hype-video

Over the lunch hour Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released a "hype video" for the Indiana Primary.

In the one-minute-48-second-web video, titled "#ChooseCruz in Indiana!" the senator's campaign laces in images from on the campaign trail throughout the Hoosier State with a speech made by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Monday. In it, the governor says:

Is it a great time to be a Hoosier or what? It is a time for choosing and all of America is looking to the people of Indiana to make a choice. I've made my choice and I choose to support Senator Ted Cruz as the Republican nominee for president of the United States of America.

Polls close in Indiana at 6 p.m. local time. The Hoosier state is in both the Eastern and Central time zones.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Education Department Helping LGBT Activists in Their Latest 'Shame Campaign' http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56913-education-department-helping-lgbt-activists-in-their-latest-shame-campaign http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56913-education-department-helping-lgbt-activists-in-their-latest-shame-campaign

Title IX is a federal law under which high school and college students are meant to be protected from sexual discrimination, but it has now become another means for the LGBT movement to "shame" those who seek religious liberty.

Colleges deemed to be "under the control" of a religious organization are exempted from Title IX's provisions, if they would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization. If any of the following conditions apply, a school is considered to be under the control of a religious organization, according to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR):

  • It is a school or department of divinity, defined as an institution or a department or branch of an institution whose program is specifically for the education of students to prepare them to become ministers of religion or to enter upon some other religious vocation, or to prepare them to teach theological subjects;
  • It requires its faculty, students or employees to be members of, or otherwise espouse a personal belief in, the religion of the organization by which it claims to be controlled; or
  • Its charter and catalog, or other official publication, contains explicit statement that it is controlled by a religious organization or an organ thereof or is committed to the doctrines of a particular religion, and the members of its governing body are appointed by the controlling religious organization or an organ thereof, and it receives a significant amount of financial support from the controlling religious organization or an organ thereof.

Last month, however, the OCR released a comprehensive list of educational institutions that claimed Title IX exemptions. It was done after the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT "rights" advocacy organization, put pressure on the federal government to make the list available.

In a report titled "Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk," the HRC has accused Christian colleges, in particular, of systemic discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. HRC wants the government to "do more to hold these colleges accountable."

Thus begins the "shame campaign."

"We commend the Department of Education for answering our call for greater transparency and helping to ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them," HRC President Chad Griffin said after the ORC's release of the list. "The alarming and growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly, is what spurred our call for greater transparency. We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination."

So, what exactly does HRC want?

The organization believes that while the Department of Education has little discretion to deny Title IX religious exemptions, "religiously controlled educational institutions should not be exempt from full transparency." To that end, it has demanded the following:

  • The Department of Education to require schools to publish comprehensive information about the scope of the exemption they received, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies, and the way in which Title IX still protects students;
  • The Department of Education to regularly report which educational institutions have been granted Title IX religious exemptions, the scope of those exemptions, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies; and
  • Congress to amend the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) governing statute to require OCR to annually report the number of Title IX exemptions that were requested, granted, and denied.

HRC wants to keep tabs on "colleges that discriminate," by virtue of claiming a Title IX exemption. It also wants to know the limits of those exemptions, which will provide it with useful information to formulate its shame campaigns against individual institutions.

And it wants the taxpayers to pay for it.

Based on the ORC's recent capitulation, it seems it's only a matter of time before that could be a reality. Title IX doesn't specifically provide protection on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather on biological sex only.

President Obama unilaterally issued an executive order declaring that it does.

As Andrew Walker, director of policy studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote Tuesday for National Review, the colleges expected a day like this might come. And that is why they have sought these exemptions, which are a part of the Title IX law.

Walker wrote:

Let's dispel the myth that LGBT students are being discriminated against: LBGT students aren't under any threat of being denied access to education, let alone at Christian schools. All that Christian schools ask is that if a student—heterosexual or homosexual—voluntarily applies to a school that has expectations for how sexuality is to be channeled, it expects these students live up to these expectations. No student is being forced to apply to Christian colleges that uphold these expectations. Nevertheless, the Human Rights Campaign wants Christians schools to lay down their Christianity on the altar of sexual freedom.

All of this points to the need to find a resolution to protect dissenters from the sexual revolution's growing power. The First Amendment Defense Act offers such a remedy by prohibiting the government from discriminating against a college on the basis of its sincerely held belief about marriage.

Christian college administrators, be on notice: The future of Christian higher education is going to require both the will and the fight to protect institutions that are simply trying to be true to their mission and identity.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Even Liberal Constitutional Scholars Agree About This Important Case http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56912-even-liberal-constitutional-scholars-agree-about-this-important-case http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56912-even-liberal-constitutional-scholars-agree-about-this-important-case

At the heart of the case against pro-life journalist David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, is whether or not citizen journalists have the same rights as journalists working for the mainstream media.

Daleiden worked with a group of actors to infiltrate the fetal tissue and organ procurement business to expose how Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of aborted babies' tissue and organs. In one of several lawsuits that have developed as a result, the National Abortion Federation alleges Daleiden violated the federal racketeering law, known as RICO, by posting video and research exposing the abortionists' violations of federal law.

In an amicus brief filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, several constitutional law scholars, including some from Harvard, Stanford, and Cornell, have weighed in on the case. And while they may not agree with Daleiden's position, they entirely support his right to collect and report the information.

"Amici do not agree with one another on all aspects of the controversial issue of abortion," they wrote. "But amici are united in insisting that all Americans—no matter what their views on abortion—have an unfettered right in our society to have access to important information about controversial matters, including—but by no means limited to—abortion. Amici also agree that the press—broadly understood at this moment in the digital revolution—plays a pivotal role in providing such information to the general public. We further agree that in this way the press serves an important watchdog function when it exposes an excess of power asserted by officials in any branch of the government—legislative, executive or judicial. These convictions are highly relevant to the disposition of the case."

The brief argued the federal courts lack the "broad power" to issue injunctions prohibiting the dissemination of information relevant to controversial matters of public concern. It also argued there were several "practical difficulties" in the court restraining Daleiden from releasing his video footage.

The scholars also revealed several historical examples of undercover investigations that were important to the public good. In conclusion, they urged the court to overturn the lower court's opinion, and to end the injunction against Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress immediately.

Daleiden is represented by Thomas More Society attorneys Thomas Brejcha, Peter Breen, Matt Heffron and Corrina Konczal at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. They are seeking reversal of a preliminary injunction entered by District Judge William H. Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which bars Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress from publishing or disclosing undercover videos taken at National Abortion Federation annual conventions in 2014 and 2015.

"Daleiden argues, among other things, that the lower court decree constitutes an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech that wrongfully deprives American citizens of access to otherwise hidden facts at the pinnacle of newsworthiness and of surpassing public interest," the attorneys said in an official press release Monday night.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
What the Prophecies About Trumpets Really Mean http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56911-what-the-prophecies-about-trumpets-really-mean http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56911-what-the-prophecies-about-trumpets-really-mean

From trumpets of judgment to those that will sound to signal the end times, Michael Snyder says understanding the significance boils down to the original language.  

"Sometimes these people want to come along and make it real complicated ... well, in God's Word, the exact same word in the original language is being used," Snyder tells Jim Bakker.  

Snyder then quotes 1 Corinthians 15:52 to explain the timing of the trumpets in regard to the end of days. 

Watch the video to see more of his explanation. 

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Charisma News Staff Featured Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Jonathan Cahn Hosts Exclusive Online Event to Reveal New Book http://www.charismanews.com/world/56910-jonathan-cahn-hosts-exclusive-online-event-to-reveal-new-book http://www.charismanews.com/world/56910-jonathan-cahn-hosts-exclusive-online-event-to-reveal-new-book

New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Cahn will host a live event online to reveal the cover and details about his newest book, The Book of Mysteries, on Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at 2 p.m. EST. Cahn will reveal the cover as well as the genesis of the book exclusively using social media forums including Facebook Live and the website, mysteriesbookreveal.com.

The Book of Mysteries, Cahn's third book, complements the success of his previous teachings, which have garnered national attention. Collectively, Cahn's books and ancillary products have reached over 3 million units in sales.

"The Book of Mysteries takes the readers on a journey of divine revelation through ancient Scriptures, the laws of creation, the deep truths of God's Word and the most important keys of spiritual truth and end-time mysteries," said Cahn.

Cahn's 2012 inaugural release, The Harbinger, debuted on the New York Times best-seller list on its first week and charted for over 110 weeks. The book traces a series of detailed parallels between what has happened in the United States since the 2001 terrorist attacks—including the economic collapse—and Israel's history after it turned away from God.

Cahn has appeared on several national media outlets, including GBTV's Glenn Beck program, Daystar's Celebration, and CBN's The 700 Club. Pat Robertson called The Harbinger a "fascinating" book, saying it was a prophetic word to the nation and "a read you need to make." 

The Mystery of the Shemitah (shmee-TA), Cahn's sophomore release, also spent multiple weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. It expounded on one of the signs introduced in The Harbinger and how the seven-year cycle drawn from the Torah is essential for understanding the prophecies and mysteries of the Bible that are still applicable today.

Charisma House has published 12 New York Times best-sellers, including Fasting by Jentezen Franklin; 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese; and The Seven Pillars of Health by Don Colbert, M.D.

Click here to watch the event. 

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Althea Thomson Featured World News Tue, 03 May 2016 11:30:00 -0400
Could This Trigger World War III? http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56909-could-this-trigger-world-war-iii http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/56909-could-this-trigger-world-war-iii

With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un calling a Worker's Party of Korea Congress—just the seventh in the Hermit Kingdom's history—to begin Friday, speculation is running rampant as to the meaning of the significant development.

At the last congress, convened in 1980, the nation's founder, Kim Il-sung, declared his son, Kim Jong-il—Kim Jong-un's father—as his heir. Jong-il took over in 1994 upon Il-sung's death.

North Korea faces tightening sanctions over its clandestine nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Even China, its closest ally, signed off on the latest round of withering penalties.

But now, as the secretive nation ramps up its testing and takes an even more aggressive posture with its Democratic neighbor, South Korea, there is growing concern about what the calling of a party congress could mean. Some analysts suggest there may be a new, even bigger, nuclear test approaching, while others think it could mean a shift in the power structure away from the military is coming, or a new economic plan is going to be unveiled.

Others, however, are concerned something even more disastrous could occur.

Victor Cha, the director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007 and an expert on Korean affairs, outlined the possibility of invasion in his book The Impossible State. And with North Korea becoming increasingly unhinged—and the latest reports that it has built a replica of the South Korean presidential palace, the Blue House—his assessment is getting a fresh look.

The invasion would begin with a paratroop assault and short landings, targeting the South's electrical infrastructure in an effort to paralyze the country. Then, the North would unleash its outdated but enormous artillery arsenal, dropping a half-million shells per hour upon the South.

Many of the shells would contain mustard gas or biological agents meant to increase the death toll. Residents in the South would have less than a minute to take cover. Japan would likely be targeted, as well.

Using its network of tunnels, North Korea would then flood in its 700,000-strong army, along with 2,000 tanks. Casualties would number in the hundreds of thousands and the economic toll would be at least $1 trillion.

And with the complicated nature of international alliances in Asia, it could spark a much broader war that could engulf the entire planet.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Issues Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
Gay Lobby Insists Star Wars Should Create Gay and Lesbian Characters http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56906-gay-lobby-insists-star-wars-should-create-gay-and-lesbian-characters http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56906-gay-lobby-insists-star-wars-should-create-gay-and-lesbian-characters

The push comes as part of the anti-defamation group's studio responsibility index, an annual survey of depictions of LGBT characters in major studio releases. Disney, which owns "Star Wars" creator LucasFilm, was one of two studios to feature no gay or lesbian characters in any of their films last year. The other was Paramount. 

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was praised for featuring a female and an African-American protagonist, but GLAAD says that the diversity push needs to be more expansive. It wants "Star Wars: Episode VIII," currently shooting in London, to wave the rainbow flag, too. 

"As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth 'Star Wars' film," the report reads. "2015's 'The Force Awakens' has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written into the stories." 

The lack of diversity on the big screen has inspired fierce debate around the entertainment industry, with some of the conversation stemming from the Oscars' recent failure to nominate actors of color. Despite the chatter, when it comes to LGBT characters, GLAAD found that little progress has been made. Of the 126 major studio releases last year, only 22 of them -- or 17.5% -- featured LGBT characters. That was the same percentage of characters that appeared in films in 2014. 

More than three quarters of films (77%) with LGBT characters featured gay men, less than a quarter (23%) included lesbians and less than a tenth (9%) included bisexual characters. There was only one film with a transgender character that was deemed inclusive. The characters that did appear were not racially diverse. In 2015, slightly more than 25% of LGBT characters were people of color compared with 32% in 2014. 

The Supreme Court upheld same-sex marriage last summer and the majority of public opinion is now in favor of allowing same-sex unions. At the same time, Hollywood has used its financial heft to push for inclusion. Last March, major studios banded together to pressure Georgia not to go forward with a religious liberty bill that they claimed discriminated against LGBT citizens. 

GLAAD also took issue with offensive depictions of LGBT people in a handful of big screen comedies. Kevin Hart's work, in particular, was criticized in the report. "Get Hard" and "The Wedding Ringer," two Hart hits, were cited for trading on "gay panic" humor. {eoa}

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Brent Lang/Reuters Featured Culture Tue, 03 May 2016 11:00:00 -0400
New Digital Cash System Unveiled at a Secret Meeting for Bankers in New York http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56905-new-digital-cash-system-unveiled-at-a-secret-meeting-for-bankers-in-new-york http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56905-new-digital-cash-system-unveiled-at-a-secret-meeting-for-bankers-in-new-york

Last month, a "secret meeting" that involved more than 100 executives from some of the biggest financial institutions in the United States was held in New York City.

During this "secret meeting," a company known as "Chain" unveiled a technology that transforms U.S. dollars into "pure digital assets." Reportedly, there were representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup, Visa, Fidelity, Fiserv and Pfizer in the room, and Chain also claims to be partnering with Capital One, State Street and First Data. This "revolutionary" technology is intended to completely change the way that we use money, and it would represent a major step toward a cashless society. But if this new digital cash system is going to be so good for society, why was it unveiled during a secret meeting for Wall Street bankers? Is there something more going on here than we are being told?

None of us probably would have ever heard about this secret meeting if it were not for a report in Bloomberg. The following comes from their article titled "Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash":

On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world's largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren't there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.

By the end of the day, they had seen something revolutionary: U.S. dollars transformed into pure digital assets, able to be used to execute and settle a trade instantly. That's the promise of a blockchain, where the cumbersome and error-prone system that takes days to move money across town or around the world is replaced with almost instant certainty.

So it is not just Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog who is referring to this gathering as a "secret meeting." This is actually how it was described by Bloomberg. And I think that there is a very good reason why this meeting was held in secret, because many in the general public would definitely be alarmed by this giant step toward a cashless society. Here is more on this new system from Bloomberg:

While cash in a bank account moves electronically all the time today, there's a distinction between that system and what it means to say money is digital. Electronic payments are really just messages that cash needs to move from one account to another, and this reconciliation is what adds time to the payments process. For customers, moving money between accounts can take days as banks wait for confirmations. Digital dollars, however, are pre-loaded into a system like a blockchain. From there, they can be swapped immediately for an asset.

"Instead of a record or message being moved, it's the actual asset," Ludwin said. "The payment and the settlement become the same thing."

Why this is so alarming is because we are seeing other major moves toward a cashless system all over the planet. In Sweden, 95 percent of all retail transactions are already cashless, and ATM machines are being removed by the hundreds. In Denmark, government officials actually have a stated goal of "eradicating cash" by the year 2030. And in Norway, the biggest bank in the country has publicly called for the complete elimination of all cash.

Other nations in Europe have already banned cash transactions over a certain amount. Here are just a couple of examples:

As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.

Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.

The global push toward a cashless society is only going to intensify, because banks and governments both tend to really like the idea of such a system.

Banks really like the concept of a cashless society because it would force everyone to be their customers. There would be no more hiding cash in a mattress at home or trying to pay all of your bills with paper money. Under a cashless system, we would all be dependent on the banks, and they would make lots of money whenever we swiped our cards or our "chips" were scanned.

Governments see a lot of advantages in a cashless society as well. They tell us that they would be able to crack down on drug dealers, tax evaders, terrorists and money launderers, but the truth is that it would enable them to watch, track, monitor and control virtually all of our financial transactions. Our lives would become open books to the government, and financial privacy would be a thing of the past.

In addition, the potential for tyranny would be absolutely off the charts.

Just imagine a world where the government could serve as the gatekeeper for who is allowed to use the cashless system and who is not. They could require that we all submit to some sort of government-issued form of identification before being permitted to operate within the system, and it is even conceivable that a loyalty oath would be required.

Of course if you did not submit to their demands, you could not buy, sell, open a bank account or get a job without access to the cashless system.

Hopefully people can understand where this is going. Paper money is a very important component of our freedom, and if it is taken away from us that will open the door for all sorts of abuse.

Even now, cash is slowly being "criminalized" in America. For example, if cash is used to pay for a hotel room that is considered by federal authorities to be "suspicious activity," that should be reported to the government. Of course, it isn't against the law to pay your hotel bill in cash just yet, but according to the government, it is something that "terrorists" do, so it needs to be closely watched.

It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to see where all of this is going. And for those of us who understand what time it is, this is a clear indication that it is getting late in the game.

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Michael Snyder Featured Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 10:30:00 -0400
How to Recover a Wandering Mind http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/56908-how-to-recover-a-wandering-mind http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/56908-how-to-recover-a-wandering-mind

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a five-part series "Why Leaders Should Practice the Presence of God." Each part of the series will focus on a quote from the Brother Lawrence classic, The Practice of the Presence of God. To view part 1, click here.

In the middle of a nice dinner, on the golf course, or while reading, my mind often drifts back to work issues. I find myself thinking about people, projects or problems at a time when I want to be relaxing my mind. It doesn't ever seem to stop.

Perhaps as a leader, you suffer a similar malady.

Brother Lawrence wrote about the drifting mind in his book written in the 17th century, The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence identified how easy it is for our minds to wander just at the moment when we want to press into God. During a time of prayer or meditation on the Word, we may find that our mind has drifted away to some worldly concern. We might not even notice we checked the latest text message.

"One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far in other times: you should keep it strictly in the presence of God, and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings" (Lawrence).

The word "wanderings" aptly describes what happens to our minds throughout our day, regardless of where we are or what we are doing. Wandering seems normal, even when I don't want it to happen. I continue to write and rant that technology has geometrically increased the incidence of mind wander.

Try as I might, to wrestle my mind back into focus, it seems it cannot be corralled but for a little while.

Leaders often fuss about how little attention people tend to give to instructions and coaching. Is it any surprise that our words are easy to tune out? If I cannot remain focused on the things of God, how can I expect anyone to retain a teaching moment?

Part of the remedy is to practice. We must become accustomed to thinking about Him. And we must practice the art of the recall. We have to work at stopping the wanderings of our mind.

"That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD'S Presence, by continually conversing with Him. That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries" (Lawrence).

Think on these things.

 

P.S. Do you subscribe to Ministry Today? Will you please consider doing it? 

With the link below you will receive my special publisher's offer. Our baseline subscription is $24.97. My offer to you is a one-year subscription (6 issues) for $10.00.

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Please click here today for the Dr. Greene special.

 


 

Today's Scripture

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2).

 


 

Platform Tip No. 106

As you are continually crafting and editing your message, remember that, "the Word does not return void."

The Word of God is our change agent. We aren't going to change anyone with our words and cute phrases.

Unleash the power of the Word within your message.

 


 

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

For my free eBook 7 Reasons Your Organization Suffers from Marketing Malpractice, plus 3 Things to do NOW to Prevent Further Damage, click here.

 


{eoa}

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Dr. Steve Greene Featured Marketplace Tue, 03 May 2016 10:15:00 -0400
Something Big Coming In 2016: 5 Prominent Watchmen Issue Exceedingly Ominous Warnings http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56903-something-big-coming-in-2016-5-prominent-watchmen-issue-exceedingly-ominous-warnings http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56903-something-big-coming-in-2016-5-prominent-watchmen-issue-exceedingly-ominous-warnings

Is a great shaking about to hit America? Is 2016 going to turn out to be one of the major turning points in our history? On The Economic Collapse Blog and End Of The American Dream, I am constantly warning my readers about what is coming, but today I want to shift the focus to what other watchmen are telling us. And as you will see below, when I use the term "watchmen" I am also including women. All five of the individuals that I am featuring in this article are people that I highly respect, and all five of them have issued extremely ominous warnings about our future. So hopefully you are ready to receive what you are about to hear, because their messages are not to be taken lightly.

First, I want to share with you a recent interview with a wonderful lady named Glenda Jackson. She is the founder of Glenda Jackson Ministries, and she has been sounding the alarm since 1974. She doesn't know this, but she has impacted my life in a powerful way, and I would love to meet her in person someday.

Even though many people didn't want to listen, Glenda warned that Barack Obama would be elected in 2008 and she warned that he would be re-elected in 2012. But according to her, this coming election will be even more ominous. In this interview that was posted on YouTube, she expresses her belief that this will be "one of the worst elections we have ever had." In fact, she says that "it would not shock me at all if someone got killed in this election." She is convinced that the events of the next six months will eventually result in martial law being imposed in America, and that "things are going to turn upside down" in this nation.

Another watchman that has just issued a very ominous warning is Chuck Pierce. I once saw him speak at a conference down in Arizona, and the very specific things that he is saying about the next six months are more than a little bit chilling:

On Saturday morning (April 23) I shared what the Lord is saying to us for this season. We have now crossed over into a time that will determine our future. Starting April 25, through October 20, it will be the most tumultuous, confusing time this nation has known in over 160 or 170 years. I want you to know how you are connected in the Body of Christ, and that the Body of Christ will not be the same. This is a time that America determines its future. But also understand that this is a time that the Kingdom of God and those leading it move into their next identity.

To say that it will be "the most tumultuous, confusing time that this nation has known in over 160 or 170 years" is quite a bold statement.

So why would our nation be shaken so dramatically?

Well, many watchmen are pointing to the great sin in our land. On April 27th, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn had another opportunity to deliver a message to national leaders on Capitol Hill. What he had to say about sin, revival and the parallels between ancient Israel and modern America was quite stirring. You can view the entire address on YouTube right here.

Another Christian leader that is being very bold in speaking out about sin and the coming judgment of America is Anne Graham Lotz. She is probably best known for being Billy Graham's daughter, but the truth is that she has become a very powerful evangelist in her own right. And her message for this hour is that "God is backing away" from America because of our sin ...

Commenting on the moral state of America and God's judgment on sinful nations, evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of pastor Billy Graham, said America is imploding "morally and spiritually," that God is removing His "blessing and protection" from us, leaving us to our sins, and that this encroaching judgment is evident in the chaos of the political scene, the economy, and even the weather.

"Romans 1 describes the type of judgment where we sin, and we refuse to repent of our sin, then He backs away from us," said Anne Graham Lotz in a recent interview on CBN News with host Mark Martin. "He removes Himself from us and He turns us over to ourselves. That's what I think I see in America. I believe we're entering into that phase of judgment, where God is backing away."

Sadly, most people don't understand what this means. We aren't just going to experience a couple of weeks of bad news. When judgment fully comes to America, our nation is going to be brought to its knees, and life as we know it is going to be totally transformed.

Just consider what another very prominent watchman is saying. Heidi Baker is one of the founders of Iris Ministries, and she is deeply respected all over the world. Her work with the poorest of the poor in Africa is already legendary, and she is a woman that absolutely exudes the love of Jesus Christ. If I had to select just a handful of people in the world that I wished that I could be more like, she would be one of them. Through deeply sacrificial love, her ministry is transforming entire regions of Africa, and that is why the ominous message that she has for America is especially alarming. According to her, she was shown that a horrible famine is coming to this country:

I saw bread lines, soup kitchens, and I saw people wearing beautiful clothing. Their clothing was not worn out. Now in my nation when people are hungry you can tell. I mean they are in shredded rags. They don't have shoes or they have flip flops. Most of them [have] no shoes. They are hungry and they know they are hungry. They come for food, not because they are beggars, but because they are hungry.

Because of her long experience in Africa, she understands what starvation is very well, and she is warning that it won't be too long before the same kind of starvation that she has seen in Mozambique shows up here in the United States...

I have held starving children in my arms. I know what starvation is. I know what pain is. I know what suffering is. But in this vision that I had that was in your nation, my nation, which the Lord is helping me to say, I will identify with America as well as Mozambique.

You can watch her remarks in their entirety on YouTube right here.

All of us that are watchmen only have a few pieces of the puzzle. Personally, my wife and I are doing our very best to sound the alarm about what is coming through our websites, our books, our DVDs, and our new television show. Time is short, and most of the country is still dead asleep.

If what these watchmen are saying is true, America is headed directly for the greatest shaking that any of us have ever experienced.

That means that "normal life" in the United States is about to come to an abrupt end, and the way that virtually everyone has been envisioning the future is dead wrong.

So are these watchmen right?

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Michael Snyder Featured Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 10:00:00 -0400
The Grace Controversy http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/56901-the-grace-controversy http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/56901-the-grace-controversy

When I began to address the error of hypergrace several years ago, hardly a day would go by without me hearing from people who had been deeply hurt by the message. At the same time, I would consistently hear from people who had been greatly helped by it.

Since we know that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit (Luke 6:43-44), how can we explain the fact that some are helped and some hurt by the same message?

This is one of the 12 questions I tackle in my new book, The Grace Controversy, released May 3. At the end of this article, I'll list all 12 questions from the book.

Here's an abbreviated version of how I answer this important question in The Grace Controversy.

It appears that there are two primary classes of believers drawn to the hypergrace message.

The first group consists of serious Christians who really want to please the Lord but they struggle with a particular sin or they have very sensitive consciences and always feel like they're falling short. They're not looking for a license to sin, they want to live godly lives, but they can't seem to find a place of freedom from sinful habits or a place of acceptance in the sight of God.

When they hear the hypergrace message, which tells them that all their sins are forgiven—past, present and future—and that nothing they do can ever affect their relationship with God, and when they are taught that, on the very worst day of their lives, God sees them as perfect and holy, they take their eyes off themselves—off their performance and their failures—and fix their eyes on Jesus. And as they do, they are wonderfully set free and transformed.

Was there a mixture of truth and error in what they heard? Without a doubt. But since they were not looking for an excuse to disobey or backslide, and since one of their biggest problems was measuring their relationship with God on the basis how they performed on a given day, the exaggerated message of grace was liberating for them.

On the other hand, there are believers who are attracted to the hypergrace message because they have a problem with discipline and holiness, and when they hear these same words and listen to these same sermons, they become complacent, carnal and compromised, mocking those who call for holy living, branding them grace-hating Pharisees, and claiming that they are mixing grace with works. Rather than draw closer to the Lord in intimate prayer, consistent reading of the Word, and deepening purity, they actually backslide in the name of grace.

So then, the positive truths of the hypergrace message, even in exaggerated form, are incredibly liberating when received by those who want to please the Lord. But the exaggerations, distortions and errors are deadly and destructive, especially for those who are looking for a way to accommodate the flesh rather than crucify the flesh.

I'm sure that many believers are drawn to hypergrace because they have been burned by legalism, but the problem is that they often swing from one extreme to the other, going from one form of deception to another form of deception. Why not move from error to truth?

To repeat: The true parts of the hypergrace message are what is helping millions of people around the world, and all of us should proclaim these truths as loudly and clearly as possible. They include the teaching that:

  • We should put our focus on Jesus and not on ourselves.

  • Salvation is a free gift that we could never earn in a million lifetimes.

  • On the worst day of our lives, God deeply loves us.

  • Committing one sin does not cause us to lose our salvation.

  • If we fail to confess a sin, that doesn't mean we are not saved until we do confess it.

  • Even if we commit a sin, as far as our salvation is concerned, we are still in the "forgiven column."

  • We are still God's children even as we struggle with sin.

  • The moment we are saved, God sets apart as holy and even calls us holy.

  • God's grace empowers us to live above sin.

  • The Holy Spirit is not here to condemn us.

  • Holiness is not a matter of keeping a set of external laws.

It's a shame that many pastors and leaders sometimes fail to emphasize these truths, because of which a new "grace revolution" rises up every few decades to bring balance. Unfortunately, it often goes way too far, mixing truth with error to the point that others have to counterbalance the new message (today, hypergrace) with a more biblically based version of grace.

If you embrace biblical grace, you will still realize that God's desire is to bless you and care for you and spend eternity with you; that His love is still fixed on you, even when you sin; that confession of sin as a believer is for the purpose of relationship, not salvation; that you never have to fear losing your salvation if you have truly committed your life to the Lord; that the Holy Spirit convicts but doesn't condemn and that His conviction is designed to bring you near to the Father, not drive you away.

All this means that we can approach the throne of God with total confidence, "in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22). And we can do this without the message of hypergrace.

You might say, "But I feel like you really want me to spit out the meat—the very heart and soul of the grace message—since the things that have really helped me are the things you say are in error."

Actually, you can rest 100 percent secure in your relationship with Jesus without believing in "once saved, always saved" doctrine. And you can enjoy the favor and smile of God 24/7 without believing that it's impossible to displease Him. You can also live totally free from condemnation without believing that the Holy Spirit will never convict you or your sins, and you can walk in assurance of forgiveness without believing that confession of sin is not for believers. I'm a living witness to these realities as are countless millions of believers worldwide.

The key, then, is to get rid of false and unbiblical thinking and to renew our minds and hearts with the truths of God's Word—liberating truths, life-giving truths, transforming truths—rather than to fill our minds with lots of wonderful truth mixed with some very dangerous error.

In short, the key is to embrace biblical grace rather than hypergrace.

Here are the 12 questions answered in The Grace Controversy:

1. Is Grace a Person?

2. Are All Our Sins—Past, Present and Future—Already Forgiven in Jesus?

3. If a Believer Fails to Confess Even One Sin Before He Dies, Will He Go to Hell?

4. Does the Holy Spirit Convict Believers of Sin?

5. Does God See Us as Righteous?

6. What Does It Mean to Be Under Grace and Not the Law?

7. If God Requires Anything of Us as Believers, How Is That Grace?

8. Are We Made Completely Holy the Moment We Are Saved?

9. If "Hypergrace" Is Not True, Why Are So Many Believers Transformed by the Message?

10. Do the Words of Jesus Apply to Us Today?

11. Is God Always Pleased With Us as His Children?

12. Is It Possible to Lose Your Salvation?

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Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 09:30:00 -0400
Early Christians Got the Jesus Story Wrong, Author Says http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56899-early-christians-got-the-jesus-story-wrong-author-says http://www.charismanews.com/culture/56899-early-christians-got-the-jesus-story-wrong-author-says

Author Bart D. Ehrman says the earliest Christians changed the gospel into the stories we know now, according to his new book, Jesus Before the Gospels.  

According to the book website, the gospels were spread orally before written out, giving the disciples opportunity to embellish Jesus and change some of His attributes.  

"It was these remembered/altered/invented stories that the Gospel writers themselves inherited and then edited (and thus changed) when they wrote them down when producing our Gospels. What does knowing about the processes of memory and about oral cultures who transmit their traditions by word of mouth, tell us about the nature of the Gospels, the communities that stood behind them and the historicity of the traditions they relate?" Ehrman says.  

But Christians like The Gospel Coalition's Michael Kruger poke holes in many of Ehrman's arguments. 

"Ehrman mistakenly assumes early Christianity was an "oral culture." He repeats this claim throughout the book and uses it as a basis for his main thesis: "Traditions in oral cultures do not remain the same over time, but change rapidly, repeatedly and extensively" (183). The problem, of course, is Ehrman simply declares Christianity was an oral culture without ever demonstrating it," Kruger writes in his review. 

"As I've argued elsewhere, Christianity was decidedly not an oral culture. That a vast majority of adherents are illiterate isn't a sufficient basis on which to declare a religion to have an 'oral culture.' Although it sounds paradoxical, religions can have a culture of 'textuality' even if the majority of its adherents cannot read." 

This is not Ehrman's first bout with controversy, though. He previously penned How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee and Misquoting Jesus.  

Even talk show host Stephen Colbert took Ehrman to task for his bold criticism of the gospel. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Tue, 03 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
Ted Cruz Unleashes One Last Salvo in Indiana http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56907-ted-cruz-unleashes-one-last-salvo-in-indiana http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56907-ted-cruz-unleashes-one-last-salvo-in-indiana

On the eve of Tuesday's crucial Indiana Primary, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released two new television ads, and another round of Christian, pro-family endorsements, in one final salvo as he works to win over the remaining undecided voters.

In the first ad, a 30-second spot titled "Pence for Cruz," Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's endorsement of the Texas senator is played, along with clips of the senator on the campaign trail. It showcases Gov. Pence's respect for Cruz's commitment to fighting for the Reagan agenda, for opposing Washington's out of control spending, and for calling for and leading on repealing Obamacare.

"This is a time for choosing. All of America is looking to Indiana to make a choice," Pence says in the ad. "I'm a Reagan conservative. I see Ted Cruz as a principled conservative who's dedicated his career to advocating the Reagan agenda. I really admire the way Ted Cruz has been willing to stand up for taxpayers in opposing runaway spending, deficits and debt and calling for and leading on repealing Obamacare. I will be voting for Ted Cruz."

The Cruz camp also released a new round of endorsements, revealing the Indiana leadership team for Pro-Lifers for Cruz. They are:

  • Rep. Wes Culver 
  • Monica Boyer, President of Indiana Liberty Coalition 
  • Dr. Christina Francis, OB/GYN Physician and Public Speaker for Life Training Institute
  • Cathie Humbarger, Executive Director of Allen County Right to Life and Indiana Right to Life
  • Vice President of Policy Enforcement 
  • Greg Jones, Student Pastor at Southland Community Church 
  • Crystal LaMotte, Pro­life Lobbyist for Indiana Family Institute
  • Sue Lile, Indiana Right to Life Board Member and Lobbyist 
  • Cindy Noe, Former Indiana State Representative 
  • Curt Smith, President of Indiana Family Institute
  • Jodi Smith, Volunteer for Indiana Right to Life

"I am heartened by these pro-­life leaders from Indiana who are coalescing behind our campaign. These are leaders on the front lines in the fight to protect the sanctity of life, and they have my greatest admiration for their grit and determination," Cruz said. "Life is a gift from God. It is our most basic right. Without life, there is no liberty. I am proud to have defended life for my entire career. If I am elected president, I will continue this fight from the White House and defend the dignity of life at every opportunity. I feel energized by the large number of people who have joined us here in Indiana and across the country in this coalition and look forward to working with them to protect and defend the sanctity of life."

Polls close at 6 p.m. local time in Indiana. The state saddles both the Eastern and Central time zones.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 09:00:00 -0400
12 Really Weird Church Bylaws http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56898-12-really-weird-church-bylaws http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56898-12-really-weird-church-bylaws

Sometimes reading a church's bylaws is like taking a trip to the twilight zone.

Some are lengthy, very lengthy. Some are irrelevant. Some are unreadable.

And others are weird, really weird.

Knowing that I would get some incredible responses from my Twitter followers, I simply asked them if they were a part of a church with some weird bylaw provisions. Keep in mind, these are provisions in bylaws, not in a policy manual.

Here are my 12 favorites:

  1. No one can bring a colored drink to church, especially red Kool-Aid. I wonder how many church members were sneaking that stuff in their flasks.
  2. An active member is defined as one who gives at least one penny a year. Oh my. That would cut the Baptist church rolls in half.
  3. There will be very specific guidelines regarding the church van (but the church doesn't own a van). The new bylaws amendment will be called "the Uber amendment."
  4. Men serving communion are required to wear a coat and tie. I am totally flabbergasted they don't have to wear pants.
  5. The church has to have a minimum of five deacons (but the church only has 20 members). It may get complicated if one of the available deacon candidates is a preschooler.
  6. No one can sell cassettes on church grounds. But 8-track tapes and vinyl records are fine.
  7. No one is allowed to bring glitter to church. I am definitely boycotting this church!
  8. No church member can be a part of a secret society. I wonder if that includes Democrats and Republicans.
  9. No church member can drink alcohol except during the Lord's Supper. So that's why the Lord's Supper day is always such a high attendance day!
  10. No one can sell paintings on church grounds. This issue is indeed a pervasive sin in many churches.
  11. No one can come to church with diarrhea. That's okay. They probably wouldn't pay much attention to the preaching anyway.
  12. Members cannot have assigned pews. But you are allowed to bring your own personal chair.

I know you readers have some good ones to add to this list! If not, give me your prayerful insights into these twelve issues.

It should be fun.

This article originally appeared on thomrainer.com.

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Thom Rainer Featured Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Ted Cruz's Dad 'Implores' Christians to Vote http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56904-ted-cruz-dad-implores-christians-to-vote http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56904-ted-cruz-dad-implores-christians-to-vote

The importance of Tuesday's Indiana primary for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign cannot be understated.

With many across the country fasting and praying for a positive outcome, the senator's father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, has been hopping around the Hoosier State, working to drum up evangelical support, for weeks. His message for Bible-believing Christians has been simple.

"I implore, I exhort every member of the body of Christ to vote according to the Word of God, and vote for the candidate that stands on the Word of God and on the Constitution of the United States of America," he said to Micah Clark, president of the American Family Association of Indiana. "And I am convinced that man is my son, Ted Cruz. The alternative could be the destruction of America."

As the Cruz campaign moved to New York and Pennsylvania following its victory in Wisconsin, Pastor Cruz was dispatched to Indiana to begin sowing the many evangelical congregations there. Over the weekend, it appeared to at least partially pay off when the leaders of all the state's major, Christian, pro-family groups endorsed Sen. Cruz.

Among them was Clark, who shared a video Monday afternoon of an interview he did with Pastor Cruz. Click here to see the video.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Falling Down and Holy Laughter: 'Could It Be the Devil?' http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56887-falling-down-and-holy-laughter-could-it-be-the-devil http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56887-falling-down-and-holy-laughter-could-it-be-the-devil

I've been writing a series on some of the controversial subjects that come up over and over with people who are opposed to Bethel or that misunderstand our position on certain issues. Check out a previous article here. Today we will talk about falling down and holy laughter.

Slain in the Spirit

Another manifestation that is more prominent, but equally hard to explain, is people falling down or laughing hysterically for no obvious reason. We call the "falling down" experience being "slain in the Spirit." This happens often when we lay our hands on people to pray for them (although it happens in other situations also).

Sometimes people just seem to fall over backwards as if they just passed out. Some are conscious, while others act as if they are asleep or in some sort of trance. They most often fall backwards (I have no idea why). It has been happening for so long that we now station "catchers" behind people when we pray for them so they don't get hurt when they hit the floor.

When the people who have been "slain in the Spirit" get up off the floor, they frequently share testimonies of experiencing God in some incredible way. I personally have never had this experience myself, but I have watched thousands of people fall down when I am praying for them.

Could they be faking? No question, some are. But if you have ever witnessed this phenomenon personally, you would see for yourself that many of these people fall in such a way that if someone didn't catch them, they would bounce off the floor. In many cases it would be impossible to fake this kind of fall.

Could it be the devil? If it is the devil, he is doing a wonderful job of helping people get closer to God. In almost every case where people have been "slain in the Spirit," they report being more convinced than ever of God's love for them. This may all sound strange, but it's no stranger than many things that people experienced in the Bible.

Holy Laughter

One of the manifestations that has been most offensive to people is something we call "holy laughter." This condition occurs when, for no obvious reason, people just begin to laugh hysterically as if they are drunk. Some laugh so hard that they literally fall on the ground.

These people report being overcome by intense joy that can't be expressed with words. I have watched thousands of people all at once overcome by this manifestation. It's fun to witness someone who is really serious encounter this experience. Again, I have never experienced this condition myself, but I have carried my wife out of several meetings when she was so "spiritually drunk" that she couldn't walk.

Weird you say? Yeah, I agree, it looks that way to me too. I love what Angela Monet said: "Those who danced look quite insane to those who didn't hear the music." I think this quote applies here. Again, it's very hard to attribute this to Satan when the fruit of this manifestation is always positive in the people having the experience.

I must admit that some who watch people having this type of encounter are offended.

Have you experienced falling down in the Spirit, or holy laughter? Tell me about it in the comments below. {eoa}

Kris Vallotton is the Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Kris travels internationally training and equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. He's a best-selling author, having written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the kingdom. He has a diverse background in business, counseling, consulting, pastoring and teaching, which gives him unique leadership insights and perspectives. Kris has a passion to use his experience and his prophetic gift to assist world leaders in achieving their goals and accomplishing their mission.

For the original article, visit krisvallotton.com.

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Kris Vallotton Featured Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 07:00:00 -0400
NRL: The Congressional Races Are Important Too! http://www.charismanews.com/politics/opinion/56902-nrl-the-congressional-races-are-important-too http://www.charismanews.com/politics/opinion/56902-nrl-the-congressional-races-are-important-too

I'm breaking through all the noise surrounding the presidential election to share updates on the developing congressional elections. Whatever happens in the presidential race, the struggle for majority control of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives will have sweeping implications for the future of the pro-life movement.

Both houses of Congress are currently under majority Republican control, and pro-life leadership. The loss of the pro-life Republican majorities would be devastating to life issues.

The Senate elections will be tough. Twenty-four Republican seats are up compared to only 10 Democrat seats. Democrats only need a net gain of five, or a net gain of four if they win the White House (in which case the vice president would cast tie-breaker votes), to have a majority in the Senate.

Overall, Democrats need a net gain of 30 seats to take pro-abortion control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressional primaries in Pennsylvania and Maryland on April 26 set up some critical pro-life vs. pro-abortion contests for the Nov. 8 general election.

Pennsylvania

Pro-life Republican Senator Pat Toomey will face a challenge by pro-abortion former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty, an EMILY's List candidate. EMILY's List is a pro-abortion group organized to elect Democrat women who support abortion on demand and taxpayer funding for abortion.

Senator Toomey has a 100 percent pro-life voting record in the Senate. In 2015 alone, Toomey voted to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of experiencing great pain when being killed by dismemberment or other late abortion methods. He voted to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.

Pennsylvania's Senate race is considered a pure tossup by political pundits.

In Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district seat, Brian Fitzpatrick soundly triumphed in the Republican primary. EMILY's List candidate Shaughnessy Naughton lost to pro-abortion state Rep. Steve Santarsiero for the Democrat nomination.

Fitzpatrick and Santarsiero will compete on Nov. 8 for the open seat due to pro-life Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick's retirement.

National Right to Life-endorsed Republican Congressman Bill Shuster fended off a primary challenge in the 9th congressional district. Shuster is unopposed in the general election.

The general election matchup in the 12th congressional district will be between pro-life Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus and pro-abortion Democrat candidate Erin McClelland.

Pro-life Congressman Joe Pitts' retirement has left the 16th district with an open seat. The nominees will be pro-life Republican state Sen. Lloyd Smucker and pro-abortion Democrat Christina Hartman.

Maryland

In the Maryland primary, more than two dozen candidates competed for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring pro-abortion Democrat Sen. Barbara Milkulski.

Pro-abortion Rep. Chris Van Hollen won the Democratic nomination in a bitterly divisive primary, defeating pro-abortion Rep. Donna Edwards, who had strong support from EMILY's List. Pro-life state Sen. Kathy Szeliga won the Republican nomination in a crowded field.

Currently, Maryland's Senate race is considered "safe Democrat" by political pundits, although Maryland voters surprised the nation by electing Republican Governor Larry Hogan in 2014.

Indiana

There are still 42 more congressional primary elections, including Indiana's May 3 primary. Republican Senator Dan Coats is retiring. Two pro-life House members are vying for the Republican nomination: Congressman Todd Young and Congressman Marlin Stutzman. The winner of the Republican primary will take on former Congressman Baron Hill (D).

Indiana's Senate race is considered "likely Republican" by political pundits.

Nominees for Young's and Stutzman's House seats will be determined May 3.

Stay tuned. There will be more to come. It's turning out to be an interesting election cycle, to say the least. {eoa}

Karen Cross is the political director for National Right to Life.

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Karen Cross/National Right to Life Featured Opinions Caucus Tue, 03 May 2016 07:00:00 -0400
America's Problems Are of Our Own Making http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/renewing-america/56900-america-s-problems-are-of-our-own-making http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/renewing-america/56900-america-s-problems-are-of-our-own-making

Which ingredient poured into the foundation did America's Founders consider crucial for sustainable freedom? One such man you may have heard gives us the answer:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."—George Washington.

John Adams, Washington's colleague and our nation's second president, said, "It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue."

Given the complete turnaround from such views as expressed by the Founders, is it any wonder that American culture falls to pieces while even we Christians wallow in ignorance and apathy?

Which of the Founders pointed to political, military or economic greatness as the cornerstone for freedom and liberty? None. They were thankful for God's blessings in these arenas, but they understood economic prosperity to be the result of spiritual and moral strength—not nefarious schemes and dealings. "The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it" (Prov. 10:22). Prosperity comes from God; righteousness brings blessings.

The problem facing America began when we surrendered to secularism and sinned by refusing to fight against untruth. But by conceding the culture to secularists, we have allowed a pagan ideology to alter the foundation laid by America's Founders. And secularism has produced the very opposite of what America's Founders designed American culture to be.

Spiritually, God has allowed secularism (like the Canaanites of the Old Testament) to test the fidelity of each succeeding generation, "so that through them I may test Israel and see whether or not they will keep the ways of the Lord, to walk in them as their fathers did" (Judg. 2:22).

Each generation stands before Jehovah, longing for Him to effect His program of redemption through the promised offspring. But in the interim, each succeeding generation is left to fight against untruth or be condemned to experience the ramifications of cultural anarchy for refusing to confront evil. The last few generations of Christians in the U.S. have failed in this regard. Will we?

The Founders established the Bible as the fixed point to judge society. But in 1963, eight unelected and unaccountable Supreme Court Justices decided that they would be Supreme. The standard then became perverse, now presently, as John N. Oswalt put it in his Isaiah Commentary, "the law of the jungle prevails, trouble and iniquity have as good a claim to be followed as goodness and truth, and the result is social collapse."

America is being taken apart brick by brick. Why? God defines sin, and His Word is correct and never needs to be retracted. He defines sin, not us: adultery, lying, stealing at the 7-Eleven, murder, same-sex intercourse and marriage and so forth. Sin destroys, and it begins by overturning the very nature of things. Thus, with America's abandonment of God in the public square for the last three-quarters century and its embrace of Secularism, the biblically based culture designed by the Founders has collapsed. We have become the very opposite of what we were conceived to be.

You ask how do we know their intentions? Arriving at Jamestown in 1607, America's Founders erected a cross and Robert Hunt prayed, "We do hereby Dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth."

In 1620, before debarking the Mayflower, they wrote, "Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith ... ."

Does this sound like the mission of present-day America?

Let the devil and his secular revisionists with all of their bullying, bluster and browbeating take a hike (or learn the history that has been excised out of the school textbooks). Go to the sources! It was Christians who founded America—not pagans, neutral religionists, agnostics or secularists.

And the fruit of the Christian founding was freedom, liberty and justice for all.

So what do we do?

Only a spiritual resurrection can save America. The resurrection will be established by God's people. Repentance begins in the house of the Lord with born-again Christians confessing the foolishness of our ways and owning our sin. We've allowed secularists to remove God from American education, City Hall and the public square. God is our only hope, and repentance begins with a broken heart. We must feel genuine contrition and heartsickness over what we Christians have allowed to happen to a once Christian nation.

The good news is that there is hope. God involves Himself in the affairs of mankind, and He dwells with the crushed and lowly.

Some believers have buried the gospel truth that all things are under God's rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. Countless Scriptures attest to this: the Exodus, manna from heaven, water from rocks, the Promised Land, the conquest, the Judges and God raising leaders like pagan Cyrus to deliver His people from a foreign satrap. I'll make a guess that the Jews in Babylonian captivity were shocked to learn that their deliverer was a pagan who did not know or recognize the Lord, Yahweh.

We simply need a Gideon or Rahab to stand.

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David Lane/American Renewal Project Featured Renewing America Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
When Hatred of Jews Trumps National Security http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/56893-when-hatred-of-jews-trumps-national-security http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/56893-when-hatred-of-jews-trumps-national-security

What is perhaps most conspicuous about the growth of anti-Semitism on the European Left, as exemplified by the current crisis in the British Labor Party, is that it is rising at a time when Europe should be busy with much more pressing issues, such as national security—particularly in London, where the terrorist threat keeps growing and security officials can barely keep up.

It has been less than two months since Islamic terrorists successfully targeted the Brussels airport and the Maelbeek metro station, killing 32 people and wounding many more. And it has been only a half-year since the Paris attacks, in which Islamic terrorists killed 130 people and wounded nearly 400.

These were groundbreaking, shocking events in the history of Islamic terrorism on European soil, so one would naturally assume that Israel and Jews in general, who make up such a marginal demographic group, constituting less than a half-percent of the population of the EU, would be the last thing on European politicians' minds. Another enormous immigration crisis looms, as 800,000 migrants, according to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, are currently in Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This means that Europe will most likely be facing even more chaos than it did last summer.

However, European politicians, instead of busying themselves with protecting their citizens from future terrorist attacks—as well as preventing another chaotic summer of migration chaos—incredibly find time to get mired in sordid squabbles about insane ideas of transferring Israeli Jews to the United States and claiming Hitler was a Zionist—as we saw in the U.K.—or composing elaborate peace conference initiatives to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—as we saw in France. If I were a European citizen, I would wonder why my government was occupying itself with these issues, which have no vital meaning to any Europeans, at a time when Europe is facing unprecedented security threats.

As I mentioned in a past column, one example of this preposterous mindset was France's rejection of Israeli terrorism tracking technology, which might have possibly prevented the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels—a clear example of Jew-hatred trumping national security concerns, especially at a time when national security should be the top priority of every single European government.

In the wake of the anti-Semitism debacle in the British Labour Party, the obligatory inquiries will be made, solemn reports will be written, and the culprits will be reprimanded, rebuked or excluded, upon which all will be forgotten and everyone will carry on as usual. It will change nothing, least of all the influence of the radical Left on mainstream leftist parties.

While the sordid ideas that are entertained by some in the European Left came out in the open in Britain on this occasion, this is most certainly not the last time we will see such a "crisis" revolving around the airing of some of these ideas, as the radical Left's influence becomes more and more apparent, not only in Britain, but across the European Union. No one should harbor any doubts as to whether this is a British phenomenon—it most certainly is not, as anyone who follows Scandinavian politics can ascertain.

At any rate, whatever the outcome, for British Jews, it is all too little and too late and the Labor debacle is only a political symptom of what has already become an undeniable fact on the street: Hate crimes against British Jews are at an all-time high. A report released on Sunday showed that there has been an increase of 50 percent in violent crimes against British Jews in the past two years and 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015 compared to 938 in 2014. Violent crimes constituted 196 incidents in 2015 compared to 126 incidents in 2014.

In other parts of the U.K., Jews are not faring any better. Almost 20 percent of Jews in Scotland have said that they have been victims of hate crimes. In Glasgow, home to the majority of Scottish Jews, more Jews are leaving or fearing to identify as Jews in a city, which has become increasingly hostile, something that culminated in 2014, when the Glasgow City Council decided to fly the Palestinian flag in what it said was a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Just as elsewhere in Europe, these developments are more likely than not to result in an even greater exodus of Jews from the European continent. Israel will be the richer for that and Europe the poorer. This leaves the Europeans with nowhere to escape from their irresponsible politicians. But they should ask why Israel and the Jews continue to be an almost clinical obsession to the point where Jew-hatred trumps national security. It would be very interesting to hear the answer. {eoa}

Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel. For the original article, visit israelhayom.com.

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Judith Bergman/Israel Hayom Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
How This Church Is Morphing Into a Spirit-Filled Awakening http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56886-how-this-church-is-morphing-into-a-spirit-filled-awakening http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56886-how-this-church-is-morphing-into-a-spirit-filled-awakening

Part of my role as a Christian journalist the last four decades is to cover what the Holy Spirit is doing around the world. We've had many reports on revivals in different parts of the world. One part of the world where there seems to be little activity is Europe. However, a recent guest from England says there are hopeful signs!

His name is Steven Halford from Portsmouth, England. He is married to an American, has lived in America for many years and has worked in various charismatic ministries on both sides of the ocean for a number of years. He also has a passion for evangelism and is gifted in preaching on the streets and winning people to Jesus.  

When he spent time in our offices recently, I recorded a podcast with him on the Charisma Podcast Network, which will air next week. I am interested in what is happening in England because I am going there in a couple of weeks to attend Empowered21 in London. I'll be speaking there and will be involved in some other interesting activities, which I will report later.

Steven reports that Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican church that has been connected with the renewal for more than two decades, is having enormous impact. His own mother accepted Christ through their Alpha Program, which was developed there and spread worldwide. I attended services there once and hope to again on Mother's Day.  

The Elim denomination, which celebrated its centennial last year, is also growing. The leading church there is Kensington Temple, and I have attended several times when I've been in England. Elam has been able to embrace each move of the Spirit over the decades and has a vibrant freshness.    

One of the most hopeful signs is what is beginning to happen in the Church of England, the official church of which Queen Elizabeth II is the titular head. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is a Spirit-filled Christian who speaks in tongues. Steven told me that recently he gave an altar call and prayed for each person who came forward for the baptism of Holy Spirit. This is virtually unheard of.

His predecessor was said merely to preach on intellectual subjects from books he read and never from the Bible. He also had himself ordained not only as an Anglican priest but also as a Druid. Can you imagine the head of the Anglican Church cooperating with a pagan religion?

There are of course negative trends in the Anglican Church, including some embracing gay marriage and many churches drying up. But there is also a lot of excitement and a new freshness in that historic denomination.

One of the things that's happening is the "tent on the green" for three days in mid-May on the grounds in front of Winchester Cathedral, the historic seat of government in England during the days of Alfred the Great. The Anglican Church is cooperating with modern "charismatics" for three days of prayer and praise as well as evangelistic outreaches. When I discovered I would be there during that time, I decided I wanted to attend, and I will be reporting on it.    

I am also looking forward to Empowered21, where some of the best Pentecostal preachers will be ministering. I am giving a seminar with Bishop Ken Ulmer of Los Angeles and Pastor Lawrence Khong. It is an honor to be invited to speak, and I will report on that as well.

Each generation must believe God for revival in their generation. While times do seem bleak, this is not the first generation to face these circumstances. Other generations have believed God and seen great things happen. I am encouraged by the report of my friend Steven Halford that the stirrings of revival are taking place in many parts of "the mother country." I encourage you to subscribe to my "Strang Report" podcast and then you can hear my interview with Steven when it is posted next week. {eoa}

What do you think about this report? Are you aware of other examples? Send this to your friends in England and ask them to participate in our dialogue on charismamag.com.

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Steve Strang Featured Opinion Tue, 03 May 2016 06:00:00 -0400
'Nightmare' Fire Destroys Historic Church Hours After Celebration http://www.charismanews.com/us/56897-nightmare-fire-destroys-historic-church-hours-after-celebration http://www.charismanews.com/us/56897-nightmare-fire-destroys-historic-church-hours-after-celebration

Raging infernos destroyed a historic New York church over the weekend hours after congregants left after celebrating Easter, according to reports. 

"Once the fire caught the wood, there (were) flames coming out of the top of the church. That's when people were going crazy," Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava's caretaker Alex Velic said. "I'm in shock. I don't know what to say. It's sad." 

Earlier that day, nearly 700 gathered to celebrate the Orthodox calendar's Easter.  

According to its website, the National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declared the Cathedral a national landmark building.  

The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission stated that the Cathedral's "striking appearance commands special attention" and that "its special character, historic significance and aesthetic interest and value of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York make it irreplaceable." 

Now, all that's left is the charred frame.  

To see extensive photos of the damage, click here. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 02 May 2016 17:00:00 -0400
Pastor Watches 2 Friends Die in Front of Him on Ministry Retreat http://www.charismanews.com/us/56896-pastor-watches-2-friends-die-in-front-of-him-on-ministry-retreat http://www.charismanews.com/us/56896-pastor-watches-2-friends-die-in-front-of-him-on-ministry-retreat

A senior pastor watched two of his friends drown in front of him over the weekend, according to reports. There was nothing he could do.  

A group from Rio de Vida Ministries of Bradenton, Florida, was canoeing in Lake Manatee when a wave capsized the canoe of three men.  

"I heard them screaming," Senior Pastor Jose "Jesse" Perez said. "They were swimming. I turned around and tried to go toward them. We weren't able to reach them. As we were going toward them, we saw Ivan actually submerge. We were about 100 feet from him and we got closer and Julian submerged also. We were not able to get to them. But we got Juan Gomez. He is with us." 

Both evangelist Julian Palma and church member Ivan Torres drowned to death.  

"They were both amazing men of God," Rev. Luis Brignoni said of the victims. "Julian was one of those pastors who practiced what he preached. He had so much love in his heart." 

Brignoni is the pastor of Hispanic Church at The Family Church at Christian Retreat, which set up a GoFundMe account for the victims' families.  

"Helping the families of the tragic drownings at Lake Manatee in Bradenton, Florida. The families involved did not have insurance so we as a community have chosen to rally around them and support their needs. Please partner with us in this endeavor," reads a post.  

We're praying for all the families involved in this tragedy. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 02 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Glenn Beck Offers Ted Cruz 'Last Chance' Spiritual Help http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56895-glenn-beck-offers-ted-cruz-last-chance-spiritual-help http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56895-glenn-beck-offers-ted-cruz-last-chance-spiritual-help

Nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck, an outspoken supporter of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), took to social media with a request for his followers, as well as those who also support the senator's presidential bid.

He ask that they take part in a fasting and prayer on Cruz's behalf, beginning Monday night and concluding Tuesday evening. Voters in Indiana will go to the polls Tuesday in what many have said—including Cruz himself—is a critical moment for this campaign.

Beck began his post with a brief history lesson:

"It was on April 30, 1789, when George Washington raised his right hand and placed his left on the Bible which had been opened randomly to Genesis 49 due to running behind.

"He then walked a few blocks to attend a service as passed in a congressional resolution two days prior: Resolved, That after the oath shall have been administered to the president, he, attended by the vice president and members of the Senate and House of Representatives, shall proceed to St. Paul's Chapel, to hear divine service.

"This chapel is now known as The Little Church That Stood. It still stands as the oldest Church in NYC across the street from the World Trade Center.

"It is here that Washington spent four hours in prayer and made a covenant with God.

"He will be our God and we shall be His people."

Beck said he believes that covenant is still in effect, saying it has protected our nation and its people "for a great while." But because Americans have turned their backs on God, he believes God may be preparing to turn His back on us.

"We are shunning God, and now openly mocking Him," he wrote. "We have chased Him from our public spaces and conversations, His laws are not recognized anymore in most of our courtrooms, schools, business' nor our homes and not only can we as a people not name the basic ten laws of God, we break them as individuals and as a nation on a regular basis.

"We have become lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal and haters of good.

"We wonder why our nation is in trouble. It has nothing to do with D.C., as they are nearly a reflection of us."

Beck said he was writing from a hotel in Fort Wayne, Indiana, after having spoken with about 6,000 people at a rally on behalf of Cruz. He said won't see his family again until Wednesday night. He said he was doing all this because he believes "this may be our last chance."

"The Supreme Court judges that will be appointed are enough to seal our fate alone," he wrote. "But I believe this is an individual choice. There is no collective salvation, and He is asking each of us to choose.

"We all agree, America is at a crossroads. If we choose a king, he will give us one. He always does.

"But because we are the only nation since ancient Israel to have actually made a covenant with Him, it must be broken, I believe, by all of us."

Beck said many would mock that theory, but that he feels that will prove his point. He said God will ask each American—in every state—the question, "Who will you serve?" Tuesday, Indiana will make its choice, he said.

Then he made his appeal for prayer and fasting, noting that he had been mocked in the past for making similar requests.

"I would like to ask that you, your family and friends join me for a day of prayers, fasting and humility," he wrote. "To beg the Lord to not remove His hand from us. To turn to Him and ask that He will heal our land.

"Beginning Monday night and running for 24 hours ending on Tuesday, will you pray and if possible fast like you have never done before?

"'Cry out to Him.' Join me and my family in praying and fasting for our nation and our God to look down and forgive us of our misguided ways.

"'Help us Lord to return to you and have the bravery to do the hard thing—to Trust in You and to do our part by standing firm in the eternal truths that Got us here in the first place.'

"Let us renew our covenant with Him and as George Washington did and humbly seek his face, guidance and protection."

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Mon, 02 May 2016 16:00:00 -0400
Church of Scientology Forced Woman to Get an Abortion, Lawsuit Claims http://www.charismanews.com/us/56892-church-of-scientology-forced-woman-to-get-an-abortion-lawsuit-claims http://www.charismanews.com/us/56892-church-of-scientology-forced-woman-to-get-an-abortion-lawsuit-claims

A woman says the Church of Scientology forced her to have an abortion, according to a lawsuit.  

Laura DeCrescenzo said she became pregnant at age 17. The Church demanded she have an abortion or they would revoke her husband, her housing and her job. Furthermore, the lawsuit states she would owe them a "freeloader debt" for using their services and then violating their will.  

"I was told by the commanding officer of my organization that, she immediately started telling me that at this point the baby wasn't a baby, it was just tissue," DeCrescenzo said in 2010. 

According to the Scientology website, though, abortion is rare among members.  

"As described in Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, even attempted abortions are traumatic physically and spiritually to an unborn child, as well as to the mother. Abortion is therefore rare among Scientologists, who recognize that even an unborn fetus may already be occupied by a spiritual being. In some instances, however, abortion might be a recourse owing to health concerns for the mother or other personal factors. The Church never advocates abortion to Church staff or to parishioners," the site reads.  

The lawsuit was filed in early 2010, but is still making its way through the court system. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 02 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Christian Pollster: Donald Trump Has a Problem http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56884-christian-pollster-donald-trump-has-a-problem http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56884-christian-pollster-donald-trump-has-a-problem

In a recent interview with OneNewsNow, Christian pollster George Barna explained that while evangelical Christians are just as angry with the "Washington establishment," they're not as keen about Republican front-runner Donald Trump as has been reported by the mainstream media.

"They don't really believe he's a conservative," he said. "[O]nly 4 percent believe he's genuinely a conservative."

Barna, whose polling firm bases its "evangelical" label on several factors, including theological beliefs and practices, said the number of committed Christians in the U.S. is smaller than has been reported. But he also said they make up for their smaller numbers by being far more engaged in the political process.

"Their theology and their patriotism require them to vote," he said. "They believe that that's an obligation that they have."

Barna also said "real evangelicals" take issue with several of Trump's character flaws. While issues are important to them, he added, character is an even more important factor in their final voting decisions.

"[C]haracter is critical because they figure it's based on your character that you make up your decisions," he said. "This deeply matters to these people. They don't want to give up the ship, but they're saying, 'Oh my gosh, look at the captain we're stuck with.'"

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Mon, 02 May 2016 15:00:00 -0400
Lutheran Pastor Argues Jesus Was a Hermaphrodite http://www.charismanews.com/us/56890-lutheran-pastor-argues-jesus-was-a-hermaphrodite http://www.charismanews.com/us/56890-lutheran-pastor-argues-jesus-was-a-hermaphrodite

Jesus was born of a virgin, which meant his Y-chromosome came from the Holy Spirit rather than man. According to Lutheran Pastor Clint Schnekloth, this means Jesus could have been intersex, a condition in which there is a discrepancy between the external genitals and the internal genitals.

"Well, we know a few more things about conception than they did back in the day. One thing we know: a woman provides the X chromosome, and the man provides a Y chromosome. In the case of parthenogenesis, an exceedingly rare occurrence among higher life forms, the chromosomal structure would typically be a duplicate of the X, or just a single X. The one thing that would not be present would be a Y," Schnekloth writes.  

The term "intersex" was previously referred to as "hermaphroditism."  

"Since he was crucified naked, and there were many eye-witnesses to this, and his circumcision, and more, I think we can confidently conclude that Jesus was male as regards his phenotype," Schnekloth writes on his blog.

"But in terms of his genotype, frankly, we have no information. The Shroud of Turin notwithstanding, we do not have a DNA sample to work from. We do believe, based on the creeds, that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human, so we can say confidently that the Word became flesh, took on a human genome, and lived among us," he writes.  

The pastor proposes people are afraid to ponder the ramifications of such an idea because they live in fear of the word "trans." 

Ultimately, Schnekloth says it doesn't matter theologically or doctrinally if Jesus was the "I" in the LGBTQIA+ acronym.  

"This Jesus, rather than the rigid Jesus of binaries and dominance and control, is the Jesus I think it is worth contemplating whenever the topic of minority communities come up. One could only wish that more people who get their shorts in a knot over gender identity would first teach themselves a bit more about the gendered experience of intersex people, and not reify their own personal experience as the only or pure one," Schnekloth writes. 

"This same Jesus who was aware of and sensitive to the existence of intersex people, deeply sympathetic to them, had a heart for the vulnerable," he says. 

What do you think? Sound off!

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 02 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Maryland Democrat Seeks to Be One of a Kind in Congress http://www.charismanews.com/politics/elections/56882-maryland-democrat-seeks-to-be-one-of-a-kind-in-congress http://www.charismanews.com/politics/elections/56882-maryland-democrat-seeks-to-be-one-of-a-kind-in-congress

There are many secularists in the United States Congress, but a Maryland Democrat is trying to take it one step further.

State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park) not only believes in "separation of church and state," he's a member of the American Humanist Association and an avowed atheist. And last Tuesday, he won the Democratic Party primary in the Eighth Congressional District—a solidly liberal district the Democrat candidate, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, won in 2014 with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Raskin, who teaches constitutional law at the Washington School of Law at American University, was first elected to the Maryland Senate in 2006. He was named Senate Majority Whip in 2012.

His campaign website promotes his positions in defense of abortion and LGBT "rights," as well as his pledge to "challenge the NRA" and address "gun violence." He also pledges his support to fight against efforts to repeal Obamacare.

It also highlights a comment he made 10 years ago prior to holding elected office:

"Senator, with all due respect, when you took your oath of office, you put your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not put you hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

Although he would not be the first atheist to serve in Congress, he may be the first to be elected while openly professing his unbelief. The first atheist in Congress, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), did not admit his unbelief until he had already served.

Raskin was born into a Jewish family in Washington, D.C. His father, Marcus, served on the National Security Council staff under President John F. Kennedy, and later founded the liberal Institute for Policy Studies. His mother, Barbara, was a journalist and novelist.

He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. His wife, Sarah, is a former governor of the Federal Reserve Board and is now deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department.

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Bob Eschliman Featured Elections Caucus Mon, 02 May 2016 14:00:00 -0400
Why Ted Cruz Is Defending Transgender Bathroom Bills http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56889-why-ted-cruz-is-defending-transgender-bathroom-bills http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/56889-why-ted-cruz-is-defending-transgender-bathroom-bills

During his appearance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was asked to respond to a video posted by Bruce Jenner in which he uses a women's bathroom at a Donald Trump-owned hotel.

In the clip, Jenner, a transgender former Olympic gold medalist, claims to be using a public bathroom at Trump International Hotel. He repeats the claims of the Republican presidential front-runner that he would be able to use whichever bathroom he chooses.

At the end of the video, Jenner said, "Thank you, Donald. I really appreciate it. And, by the way, Ted, nobody got molested." Tapper said he wanted to give Cruz the opportunity to respond to the video and claims of LGBT activists.

"I want to give you an opportunity to respond to people, to individuals like Caitlyn Jenner, transgender Americans who think your web video and comments on the campaign trail are making them all out to be child molesters," Tapper said, using Jenner's transgender name.

Cruz responded, by saying that in his view the issue isn't about "right or left or Democrat or Republican," but rather about common sense. He said it "doesn't make sense" for grown adult men to be "alone in a restroom with a little girl," calling it the "height of political correctness."

"Frankly, the concern is not the Caitlyn Jenners of the world," he said. "But if the law is such that any man, if he feels like it, can go in a women's restroom, and you can't ask him to leave, that opens the door for predators."

Cruz said he "spent a lot of years" dealing with child predators—who he called "sick individuals"—within the legal system. He said that term doesn't necessarily apply to transgendered people.

"But there are predators in the world," he said. "And just saying that, if you're a man, you can go in the girl's restroom if you feel like it opens the doors for criminals."

Tapper argued that wasn't what the LGBT-pushed ordinances and businesses policies would do, but Cruz quickly corrected him.

"The law doesn't specify transgender," he said. "It's whatever you feel like at the given moment. And, in fact, that was Donald's position."

Cruz said the entire issue goes to a broader question about his primary opponent. Suggesting Trump was attempting to "perpetuate the biggest fraud in the history of electoral politics," he said the GOP front-runner was pretending to be an outsider when he's "the ultimate Washington insider."

"His whole shtick is that he tells it like it is, he speaks the truth," he said. "And yet he also told us he could be the most politically correct person on Earth. This is the height of political correctness for Donald Trump to say, 'Yes, let grown men in the bathroom with little girls.'"

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Bob Eschliman Featured Primaries Caucus Mon, 02 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
Could West Virginia Revival Spark End-Time Awakening? http://www.charismanews.com/us/56885-could-west-virginia-revival-spark-end-time-awakening http://www.charismanews.com/us/56885-could-west-virginia-revival-spark-end-time-awakening

Where West Virginia and Kentucky meld together, God is meeting His people. The revival is so strong that secular news sources determined it was front-page news.  

"The message of hope is a message that resounds with everyone," Pastor Wayne R. Crozier, of Abundant Life Ministries in Charleston, told the State Journal. "People want hope, and that is what the church offers. The Bible describes the church as a city that is sitting on a hill, one that people can look up to—there's hope there."

Crozier added, "It's my belief that our hope doesn't come from the White House or the governor's house—it comes from God's house."

Watch the video to see revival in action. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Mon, 02 May 2016 13:00:00 -0400
How Brother Lawrence Helps Us Today http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/56888-how-brother-lawrence-helps-us-today http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/56888-how-brother-lawrence-helps-us-today

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of a five-part series "Why Leaders Should Practice the Presence of God." Each part of the series will focus on a quote from the Brother Lawrence classic, The Practice of the Presence of God.

It's difficult to argue, though some will, that a leader does not need the presence of the Holy Spirit to effectively lead a team.

Joy Strang gave me a copy of the 17th-century book written by Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God. I've had the book for less than a year and have read it and referenced it, at least every week. I believe the book is timeless because of our deep desire to experience God's presence in our everyday life.

Just last week, it resonated with me as a book that should be required reading for every leader and student of leadership. Consider this powerful thought presented by Brother Lawrence:

"Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides it is but folly and vanity."

As a leader, I suppose I've had my share of follies and vain moments. I quickly conclude that I need more of God's presence in my leadership and decision making.

The problem for many leaders is that we don't pause to think this thought, "What would God have me do in this situation?"

We may gather research, seek counsel and consider the end we have in mind, but perhaps we miss the key ingredient of seeking God's presence as a tipping point.

Decision making is a constant activity of leadership. Hour by hour and day by day, leaders make touches on the direction of an organization.

Dominoes are released to press other dominoes into action. Our decisions have outcomes, intended or otherwise.

When we seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, we submit to God's plan for the future. The presence of God is not just a holy voice to be considered. It's to be leaned in to. His presence creates outcomes for the good of the kingdom.

Effective leaders seek His presence in all their ways.

"Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone."

 

P.S. Do you subscribe to Ministry Today? Will you please consider doing it? 

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Today's Scripture

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16:11).

 


 

Platform Tip No. 105

We just completed our second seminar about platform development for ministries. Our next event is at the end of July. I hope you can come.

The event left me drained without an ounce of energy remaining in the reserve tank.

Isn't that the purpose of any platform? 

Give it all—really all—to every platform tool. Pour into your platform quality content and energy needed to deliver excellence.

Helping people is hard work. Talking about helping people is easy.

After you deliver YOUR message on any platform, I hope you feel as if you couldn't possibly say another word.

Then show up tomorrow.

 


 

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

For my free eBook 7 Reasons Your Organization Suffers from Marketing Malpractice, plus 3 Things to do NOW to Prevent Further Damage, click here.

 


{eoa}

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Dr. Steve Greene Featured Marketplace Mon, 02 May 2016 12:15:00 -0400
This Is One of the Most Disgusting Things That Can Happen http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56883-this-is-one-of-the-most-disgusting-things-that-can-happen http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/56883-this-is-one-of-the-most-disgusting-things-that-can-happen

What makes God vomit? The church that is neither hot nor cold, according to Revelation 3:16.

"I want you to think about something with me. Think about vomit. Think about the taste of vomit. I want you to think about the odor of vomit," Revelation in the News host Zach Drew says.  

When God addresses the church of Laodicea, He condemns them for not being on fire for God yet not being smitten by the things of the world.  

Is the church of America now paralleled with the church of Laodicea? 

Watch the video to see. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Mon, 02 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400