Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. http://www.charismanews.com/component/content/?view=featured Sun, 26 Apr 2015 20:00:24 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 9 Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Children http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49351-9-things-parents-should-never-say-to-their-children http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49351-9-things-parents-should-never-say-to-their-children

In another blog, I addressed the power of the tongue by noting that your tongue is a wild animal: You need to chain it, tame it and train it. Chain it by being silent when you know nothing good will come out of your mouth. Tame it by vowing each day that you will harness and control your tongue. And train it to breathe life-giving words into those you love.

When it comes to your kids, your tongue can do a whole lot of damage, if you're not careful. Never underestimate the defeating power of a few careless words. So here are nine things that you should never say to your kids:

1. "Why can't you be more like _________________?" Comparisons are toxic and they serve no positive purpose. Comparing your child to their brother, sister or friend only tears down your child and makes them feel like they're not good enough or don't measure up. Treat each child of yours as an individual. Never say, "Why can't you do well in school like your sister?" Do say, "What can we do to help you do your very best in school?" Each of your children is unique. It's important to treat them uniquely.

2. "I don't have time right now." One Saturday morning, when my son, Marky, was a little boy, he showed me his ball and glove and said, "Dad, let's play baseball." Of course, since I'm Mr. Family Guy, I said, "Sure, son." Right? Wrong. No, I said "I don't have time right now. I'm fixing the toilet. Just give me a few minutes." Well, the minutes turned into hours and when I was ready that afternoon to play ball, my son said, "No thanks, Dad." When we say, "I don't have time," what we're really saying is, "What I'm doing is more important than what you need." or "There's something else I'd rather be doing." Is there anything more important for us to do than to spend time with our children and family?

3. "I don't think you can do it." What your child hears is, "I don't believe in you." Knowing you believe in them gives your kids strength, courage, motivation, tenacity and more. Take that belief away and the damage will be huge. When you're tempted to say something like this, instead say, "You've got some big obstacles, but I'm here for you, cheering you on and ready to help you to do your very best." While you don't want to fill your kids with false hope or inflated pride, you do want to encourage them in their goals.

4. "You're such a disappointment." Your kids can mess up, and they will. We all do. But if you want your children to learn from their mistakes, address their mess and how it can be fixed without hanging it on them. The label of failure is a heavy load to carry, and most kids won't hold up. Try saying, "Your [bad grade, bad choice, etc.] is disappointing, but I love you no matter what. What can you learn from this?" Separate who your child is from the mess they've made.

5. "Don't be such a wimp." This should never be said to a boy or a girl. But, for a boy, it's basically saying, "You don't have what it takes to be a man" and can damage him to the core for quite some time. Saying, "You throw like a girl" to your son can have the same effect.

6. "You're such a bonehead." Telling your child they're stupid is implanted in the hard drive of their mind and is difficult to delete. It's certainly no way to motivate them.

7. "Can't you do anything right?" When a parent says this to a child in the heat of the moment, it's not only saying that the child messed this one thing up, but also that they mess up everything. It's always dangerous to use broadbrush words like always, never, everything or anything.

8. Why didn't you make the starting team? Your daughter or son probably tried really hard to make the starting team, but landed on the B squad. They probably already are disappointed about it and don't need anyone to pour vinegar into their wound. Instead, they need to be praised for doing their best and for even making the team.

9. "So you made a B+, why didn't you get an A?" When something like this is said, here is what a child hears, "Nothing I do is good enough for my mom or dad." If they did their best, we should praise them. If they didn't, we should challenge them to give it everything they've got the next time.

By the way, the 5 Toxins of the Tongue that Can Poison Your Marriage also apply to your relationship with your children. It might provide you with further insight on this topic as well. And these 5 Types of Powerful Words for Your Marriage are likewise applicable to your children and will help you to build them up.

What other hurtful things have you said to your kids? How did you remedy the situation? Share your experiences below.

Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

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Mark Merrill/Family First Featured Opinion Sun, 26 Apr 2015 17:00:00 -0400
9 Things Men Look for in a Godly Woman http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49350-9-things-men-look-for-in-a-godly-woman http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49350-9-things-men-look-for-in-a-godly-woman

A friend asked me recently, "Why are there so many eligible bachelors around? I mean there are many men who have everything going for them yet they are still single ... why?" In answering her question, I referred her to the following words from the sages; "Whether a man shall be made or marred by marriage greatly depends upon the choice he makes of a wife." "Nothing is better than a good woman nor anything worse than a bad one. Before taking the irrevocable step choose well, for your choice though brief is yet endless."

Men are always careful about the choice of their wives. That is why you find that a man may go out with just any kind of lady, even shower her with the most expensive of gifts, yet abandon her to marry one who isn't as exposed, as beautiful, as well connected, as educated as the one he was dating.

In choosing a wife, there are many things a man looks out for, but these 9 stand out:

  1. A wise man doesn't marry for beauty and good looks alone, because as we know it, even gold when seen everyday becomes commonplace, so does the most beautiful face, unless the woman possesses a beautiful nature in her.
  2. Men do not choose talkative women, and ladies who cannot keep their secrets.
  3. Any woman who cannot rely on reason to solve the daily difficulties in a relationship, and who cannot be seen as her man's best friend, would hinder rather than help her man grow.
  4. In marriage and love relationships, attributes such as gentleness, patience, generosity, loyalty and love, are far more valuable to a man than any personal attractions or social class, or intellectual accomplishments of a lady. As most happily married men attest, these qualities contribute more to their happiness in the home.
  5. The way a lady dresses is one of the ways that reveals her character according to psychologists. Any refined, "wife material" woman, will not dress up garishly and tastelessly with a view to display herself.
  6. A man wants a good-tempered woman, although it is a very difficult thing to discover from a lady, as women have a way hiding their tempers in a smiling face.
  7. Every man wants to marry an industrious woman especially during these harsh economic times. "A lazy mistress makes lazy servants, and, what is worse, a lazy mother makes lazy children."
  8. While a man will spend on you, and show you love with his money, men still want a woman who is frugal and has the power to abstain from unnecessary expenditure.
  9. A woman who fears God, and is prayerful is a treasure to the man.

Although this list isn't exhaustive, I have decided to limit it to the qualities spelled out by the Wise Teacher in proverbs 31:10-31—the virtuous woman. You might be thinking that maybe all a man may consider when thinking of a wife might be: beauty, wealth, sophistication, talent and other physical qualities.

While those may count, they aren't all men seek. Most times they look for the good, sensible and affectionate woman. Because as a wise man once noted, "(T)hat man takes to himself one of the bitterest of earth's curses who marries carelessly instead of seeking with all diligence for those qualities in a wife that are the foundation of lasting happiness."

Vincent Egoro is a passionate student of life who is committed to inspiring and empowering millions of people all over the world to live their greatest lives, face their fears and grow stronger. He believes that everyone has a seed of greatness deposited in them at birth by God. But this like all seeds,require nurturing and great care for it to express itself. He strives to achieve this goal by sharing the secrets of optimal living, and personal development through  his teachings, writings, speaking events and workshops. Vincent lives in Nigeria.

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Vincent Egoro Featured Opinion Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Stoke the Fire of Personal Revival http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49348-3-ways-to-stoke-the-fire-of-personal-revival http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49348-3-ways-to-stoke-the-fire-of-personal-revival

So many people ask me how I keep my personal passion for God burning so hot all the time. I tell them its very simple; there are three things you must do: Read the Word of God, and pray and fast on a regular schedule. The Word of God is so clear on how we are to keep the fire of personal daily revival going.

Lets start off with Mark 1:35, "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed." Before the day even got started the Son of God knew the importance of being ready to face the day and all it had for Him. Your early morning prayer time lets you connect with God first thing in the morning without you waking up late and rushing around. Honestly if you start your day rushed, you're rushed all day. So wake up early and start your day as Jesus did with the Father.

Psalm 119:9-11 says, "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You."

When we have the Word of God hidden in our heart, it will guide us in all our ways, its truly a light unto our path. The Word says people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge. The book of Proverbs is all about knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Get into the Word and remember John 1:1, which says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Or Matthew 6:6, which says: "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." When we have a dedicated time to spend with God the word declares he is already there in the Secret place waiting for us. How exciting is that! 

The King of the universe wants to meet with me on a regular basis. I don't know about you but that makes me feel really important. That makes me feel like He wants to invest in my life and really has a plan and a purpose for me. Here are some good scriptures that encourage me to meet with God daily. Remember Acts 3:20, "Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord." This means I can have a daily time of refreshing for the Lord? Yes please sign me up for that. And don't forget Psalms 37:7, "Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act." When we wait on the Lord he will act and he speak to us.

In Matthew 6:18, Jesus warns "That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." When we fast we are saying to God we want to draw closer to you Lord. I personally take every meal time that I would skip and spend that time with God in reading and prayer.

If you really want to know where a huge portion of your time goes, it's eating. We spend so much time and money and it. This is why in Isaiah 58—the fasting chapter in the Bible—says a fast means to abstain from food. It's the No. 1 thing the flesh cries out for.

When we fast, our heart and mind turns back toward God at a greater measure. Consider Ecclesiates 10:10, which says, "If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength, but wisdom brings success!" When we feel our lives getting dull, it's time to fast and regain our Focus with God.

Finally, meditate on Psalm 119:107: "I am greatly afflicted; revive me, O Lord, according to Your word."

When we read the Word of God, spend time in prayer and fast, God will keep us and, if necessary, he will put us back on the right track. And fasting will help you like the Word says in Psalms 119:37: "Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way."

When you have a daily time with God, it makes life work! Read. Pray. Fast.   

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

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Joe Joe Dawson Featured Opinion Sun, 26 Apr 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Waging War With Prophecies Over Your Life http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49347-waging-war-with-prophecies-over-your-life http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49347-waging-war-with-prophecies-over-your-life

I'm a big proponent of pressing in to the Holy Spirit for battle plans. While spiritual warfare Scriptures—like putting on the whole armor of God (see Eph. 6) or casting down imaginations (see 2 Cor. 10:5)—are always true all the time, I believe certain weapons and certain strategies are most appropriate at certain times.

For example, God once told Joshua to have men of fighting age march around the city once a day for six days, then march around the city seven times on the seventh day with the priests blowing the trumpets, then let out a battle cry on the last long blast (see Josh. 6). That strategy brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down, but that's not the right strategy for every battle.

Indeed, we see many warfare strategies in Scripture. The key is to discern and execute the warfare strategy God is breathing on during any given season and for specific situations. In this season, I believe there's wind on a strategy Paul gave his spiritual son Timothy: "This command I commit to you, my son Timothy, according to the prophecies that were previously given to you, that by them you might fight a good fight" (1 Tim. 1:18).

Waging War With Your Prophetic Words

The Amplified translation of that verse exhorts us to "be inspired and aided" by the prophetic words "that you may wage the good warfare." The New Living Translation tells us that the prophetic words "help you fight well in the Lord's battles." And the Message Translation tells us the prophecies should make you "fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we're in."

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Indeed, this is a fight we're in—it's a good fight of faith against unseen enemies. "For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). Thankfully, the unseen God—and unseen angels—are on our side. The angels are an important part of this spiritual warfare equation.

Think of Daniel. He had a prophetic vision that took him into prayer and fasting for three whole weeks. That prophetic vision, prayer and fasting was followed by an angelic encounter from which we can learn plenty. The angel told Daniel from the first day he started praying out that prophetic vision, God heard his words and an angel came because of his words.

"For from the first day that you set your heart to understand this and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia" (Daniel 10:12-13).

Unleashing a Heavenly Host

Angels are still warring in the heavenlies. God can dispatch them—Jesus said He could pray and God would send 12 legions (that's 72,000 angels) to rescue Him (see Matt. 26:47-54.) God told Moses He would send an angel before him to drive the enemies out of the land (see Ex. 33:22). But angels also obey the voice of His word (see Ps. 103:20). That includes the written Word and true prophetic words.

So, we see that waging warfare with the proven prophetic words we've received is scriptural—and that angels hearken unto the voice of His word. The question is, how do we wield this weapon? We pray it through. We decree it. We declare it. We meditate on it so that it gets down so deep in our spirit that when we pray it, decree it and declare it, it carries authority that comes through faith.

We're fighting a good fight of faith more than we're fighting any enemy. The enemy is real, but the fight is often the fight to believe God's Word is true in the face of contrary circumstances. Scripture is the final authority and it's our sword, but tested prophetic words are like arrows in our quiver that we can shoot into the spirit realm to hit the target of God's revealed will. It's time to go back and review some of your prophetic words and rise up against the enemies that are standing in the way of your destiny.

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

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured Opinion Sun, 26 Apr 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Discerning the Difference Between Holy Spirit Conviction and Demonic Condemnation http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49346-discerning-the-difference-between-holy-spirit-conviction-and-demonic-condemnation http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49346-discerning-the-difference-between-holy-spirit-conviction-and-demonic-condemnation

In order to bind our flesh, thoughts, feelings and confusion when hearing directions in our mind; we need to define the difference between Holy Spirit conviction and condemnation which comes from the enemy or our flesh. If you search inside yourself, you can feel your spirit man.

When the Holy Spirit starts to manifest you can feel an overwhelming joy or it can be similar to when we feel the presence of the Lord upon us.  

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin or when we are heading in the wrong direction. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, we might feel slightly grieved or disappointed. When He is convicting you, pay attention!

Be aware of what the Spirit of the Lord is trying to teach you. Be open to receiving His correction and what He is showing you that you need to repent of and change in your life. The word repent means to turn around. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, we need to turn around, change the way we did something or the direction we are thinking of proceeding.

When the Holy Spirit corrects or convicts us, I like to describe it as the "get in–get out" theory. He is going to correct and discipline us and show us what we did wrong. He is going to get in and get out. He is not going to badger us or nag at us about the same thing. He is going to show us the mistake, lay it upon our heart to repent and ask for forgiveness and then He is going to expect us to move on. He will keep convicting us until we do something about it.

However, He won't make us feel depressed, guilty or ashamed like the enemy will. As we grow in our walk with the Lord we will be able to more quickly identify when it is conviction from the Holy Spirit or condemnation from the enemy.

When we receive condemnation from the enemy, it is different. He wants us to stew on what we did wrong and let it build up inside us. He is hoping we will take on the emotions of guilt, regret, blame and shame. He wants these emotions to plant a seed inside us; telling us that we are no good, that we will do it again and nobody is going to forgive us for our mistakes.

These are a few of the lies that the "father of lies" will plant in our mind. The key to our victory is to remember they are just lies. Don't take the lies in; rebuke them (take authority over them) and refuse to think anything else then what the Word of God says about you.

The enemy is going to attempt to twist and turn our thoughts. He wants to make it hard for us to accept the forgiveness that Christ offers. He wants us to be mad at all the people involved. He will try to plant thoughts in our mind that we should be mad at God because, "A good God could have prevented it from happening."

He is going to repeat old lies to us and have us go to an emotional place we don't care to visit again. He wants us to wallow in our self-pity. He will take the low self-esteem that we may have struggled with in the past and will attack us again with those feelings of self worth and doubt. Don't listen; don't take it in! We are more then conquerors, bought with the blood of Christ, wanted and accepted by the Father! Meditate on the scriptures and fill your mind with those thoughts and truths!

An easy way to discern between Holy Spirit conviction and condemnation from the enemy is that the Holy Spirit does it quickly. He comes in and disciplines, convicts, correct and than loves on us. Once it is over, we might think about it for a few minutes and then we move on. It's done, it's handled, we feel released and we have given it back to the Lord to never pick it up again!

The enemy wants us to stew on our situation and stay mad at the person or ourselves. Before we lived as Christians extending the grace He gave to us to others when we would get mad at someone it would take us 3 days to get over it. I think the enemy still uses that today. When we let guilt, regret, blame and shame in, it still takes us 3 days to get over it. When the enemy condemns us it usually takes 3 days to make a turn around.

How did you react in the past when you received bad news or had a situation that did not have the outcome you expected? Did it take you 3 days to blow it off? He will steal your time by getting you depressed, so you sit on the couch and do nothing. We need to take time to get in the Word and overcome our thoughts, fears and condemnation! We should be binding our minds to the mind of Christ; instead of allowing unnecessary thoughts to come into our minds. The next time you can't blow something off, ask yourself, "Is this Holy Spirit conviction which only lasts a few minutes or enemy condemnation which lasts 3 days?"

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13).

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. God desires to give us good things if we ask" (Matt. 7:7).

 God will give us good things if we ask. His Word states He will. We need to put ourselves in a position of hearing from God. God may be silent for a period of time while seeking Him for an answer. When God makes us wait for the answer it doesn't mean He is ignoring us. We need to be careful when waiting to hear from the Lord. It is in the waiting, that the enemy will use that time to counterfeit in a wrong answer. The enemy will use our lack of patience, control and the things that make us act out of God's timing to get us out of God's will.

God's timing is perfect and in the waiting is when we grow and learn. In waiting we develop perseverance and learn how to stay on the path that He has set before us. When we are seeking an answer, we don't know why God makes us wait. Is it for our benefit such as; cleaning some junk out of our trunk or defining us to more effectively hear the voice of the Lord.

We might have to wait on someone to do something, so our answer can come to pass. It doesn't matter what we are waiting for or how long we are waiting, as long as, we are continually pressing in to get the direction God wants for us.

We need to make sure when God is silent we don't take on our old behavior patterns, thoughts and habits. We need to wait silently for God. Don't try to analyze and come up with your own answer. There is growth in waiting, intimacy in waiting and learning in the waiting.   Guard your mind, thoughts and heart during the waiting. Then when you hear the answer there will be no flesh involved.

When the Holy Spirit is giving you conviction or a word of knowledge, it won't leave you until you act on it. The same word will keep coming to you. It is like a basic computer program that we used to write years ago. The program tells us what to do line by line, but we always have a "go to" line in the program. Therefore, no matter what we do, or in this case, what we try to avoid, He is always going to bring us back to the original instruction.

We can try to ignore it, but the Holy Spirit is going to keep bringing it to us until the conviction becomes so uncomfortable that we must act on it. As soon as we act on it, we feel released by the Spirit of the Lord and know we have been obedient to what He has called us to do.

How do we know if it was your flesh? If it was your flesh you could have ignored it. Think about the times you thought you were suppose to apologize to someone and didn't. What about the time you "felt" you should call a friend and didn't? Many of you have been taught when you have a problem to "stuff" your feelings. These are examples of how our flesh can control our actions. When it is our flesh, we can ignore our feelings or what it makes sense to do in the natural. It is an emotional response that we can push aside.

God has given His people free will. He is a gentleman and doesn't force us to do anything, sometimes causing us to take an alternative route to what He wants. Suppose God sent your friend to witness to you and your friend was disobedient and didn't do it. Do you think He is going to sit there and give up on you or use someone else?

There are probably many instances that God had to use someone else to do something. What if the first person didn't hear clearly, didn't act on what they were supposed to, was scared to do it or wasn't sure if it was the voice of the Lord or their own feelings?

Our God is a God of second chances. Let's be obedient to act on what direction the Lord gives us. There will be times we make mistakes, act in our flesh, miss a God appointment or allow the enemy to condemn us. Thank God He gives us a lot of grace to get through those times when we make mistakes.

Spend some time in prayer. Reflect and think, "Are there times I was convicted versus condemned? How can I learn to hear the voice of the Lord faster?" Discern the next time you get a direction and ask yourself, "Where did it come from?" I pray you will notice the difference between your flesh, Satan or God and conviction and condemnation. May the Holy Spirit increase your discernment!

Kathy DeGraw is the president and founder of DeGraw Ministries.

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Kathy DeGraw Featured Opinion Sun, 26 Apr 2015 09:00:00 -0400
The Reviving Power of Revival Stories http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49315-the-reviving-power-of-revival-stories http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49315-the-reviving-power-of-revival-stories

"There is a fresh wind coming to the prayer movement!" This declaration was the Lord's response to my intercession concerning the weariness that had come upon the prayer movement in America.

A short time later, my attention was drawn to a dream given to Julie Meyer, a prophetic worshipper from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. This dream validated my own concerns for the prayer movement and confirmed that the Lord was about to infuse intercessors with life and strength once again.

In Julie's dream, she saw seven ambulances lined up, each with lights flashing. With great alarm in her spirit, she looked inside the first ambulance to see what was going on. She saw someone lying lifeless on a gurney. Next to the patient was an attendant who was working furiously to revive him. Julie immediately knew this attendant was an angel. The heavenly attendant then said to her, "I can't find a heartbeat."

As Julie went from one ambulance to the next, she found the same scenario—intercessors on gurneys with angels attending them, but unable to find heartbeats. One of the angels looked directly at Julie and confided, "It's the intercessors ... "

This dream resonated deeply within me. For a number of years, I have watched as the strength of the prayer movement has waned. Intercessors have prayed years for revival. But many of them have experienced hope deferred, and, as the Bible teaches, this has made their hearts weak or sick (Prov. 13:12). Traveling across America, I can attest to the truthfulness of the dream. It's hard to find a heartbeat.

Tell the Old Stories

As Julie's dream continued, suddenly one of the angels shouted, "I found a heartbeat! But it's very faint."

The other angels grew very excited and shouted, "What did you do?" They, of course, wanted to do the same thing to generate a heartbeat in their own patients.

The first angel replied, "Tell the old stories. When I started telling him stories of what God did in the past, his heart started to beat."

With that, the angels began telling the intercessors about the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening, and other outpourings—right up through the Healing Revivals and Tent Meetings of the 1940s and '50s. As they did, the hearts of the intercessors started beating again.

At this point in the dream, an angel looked at Julie and directed her, "Tell the old stories of what God did in past revivals." Then the angel emphasized something that stirred my heart deeply.

"Tell the intercessors to put themselves in the storyline, because the old stories are their stories."

What a powerful and motivating thought: Past revivals are our revivals. Think about it.

We're all part of the same plan, which began centuries ago. Our role in this saga is just another act of the same play. Our battles are part of the same war they fought, and our awakenings are part of the same outpouring. Theirs is an earlier phase of ours; ours is a continuation of theirs. We're one body with one cause. God sees it all as one.

Each generation's intercession and efforts do not have to stand on their own. We can align with past movements and agree with past prayers—and add to them!

When we put ourselves in the storyline God is writing, we begin tapping into the strength and life of what He did years ago. We begin to experience the eternal purposes of God—not just those we feel are for our time. We experience the synergy of the ages.

This revelation opened my heart to a myriad of storylines that we as a generation could put ourselves into. We could see ourselves in the storyline of Charles Finney and believe revivals would be rekindled in our day that would save entire towns. We could agree with the prayers of Reese Howells for a revival anointing that would shake nations. We could join the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. and see another wave of racial healing come to America with increased effectiveness. We could see our role in the greater plan of God, and in bringing ourselves into the story, release multiplied power for today.

Come Alive Again

Clearly, heaven's strategy is being released for seeing America fulfill her God-ordained destiny as a light to the nations of the earth. As we tell the old stories of revival—moves of God birthed through prayer—we are prophesying life and commanding hearts of intercession to beat again.

I am reminded of the Old Testament story of Ezekiel standing before a valley of dry bones. When Ezekiel obeyed the Lord's command and prophesied life, the breath of God blew upon those dry bones. And from that graveyard arose an exceedingly great army (Ezek. 37:1-14).

As we tell the old stories of God's outpourings in the earth, we will witness what Ezekiel did: a hopeless, lifeless movement will rise up as a mighty force in the earth once again. Only this time, it will bring forth much more than we've seen through past moves of prayer. Intercessors are tapping into past anointings as well as receiving new mantles to pray with apostolic authority, prophetic revelation and a contagious zeal.

Releasing stories of God's outpourings will release a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit over the praying church. Tongues of fire will spring up on the heads of intercessors around the world, and a storytelling anointing will ignite within them. They will go forth as a powerful prophetic voice to unleash a mighty wave of revival that will circle the globe. This new move of God will be the next, greater phase of outpourings we connect with, which commenced long ago.

Tell the old stories of what God did in past revivals and draw life from them. After all, they are your revival stories; outpourings you are destined to carry forth—with multiplied power—into today. Put yourself in God's great storyline and command your heart to beat in sync with past prayers and past movements that are still paving the way for the greatest Great Awakening!

This article is derived from Dutch Sheets' teaching, "Hope for Awakening," which is available from this online store. To read a transcript of Julie Meyer's dream in it's entirety, visit juliemeyerministries.com.

Dutch Sheets is an internationally recognized teacher, conference speaker and author of  The Power of Hope. He has written more than 20 books, translated into over 30 languages. His first work, Intercessory Prayer, sold nearly a million copies and is being used to empower believers worldwide for passionate prayer and societal transformation. He and his wife, Ceci, make their home in the Dallas area.

For the original article, visit dutchsheets.org.

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Dutch Sheets Featured Opinion Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:00:00 -0400
10 Earmarks of a Humble Heart http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49313-10-earmarks-of-a-humble-heart http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49313-10-earmarks-of-a-humble-heart

Jesus says in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Let's face it: Humility isn't a very popular word. Yet, all throughout the Bible, the Lord instructs us about the benefits of being "humble-minded."

I love James 4:6. It says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." In other words, the humble get the help!

I believe humility is often misunderstood and even viewed as a weakness. But it's the exact opposite. Humility places us in a position to receive God's grace and become everything He's called us to be.

A humble person is also a happy person. They can take joy in their life and what God has called them to do, regardless of what the world thinks about it.

For instance, you may think your current circumstances and responsibilities from God are mundane. The proud person always wants to do something they think the world will admire ... something others see as "important." But the truth is we don't have to do something important to be important.

We are important because God loves and values us. Our worth comes from Him. As we receive His love and find our true worth in Him, then we can truly enjoy our purpose in life and live in contentment.

So many people are miserable, constantly comparing themselves to others who are smarter, prettier or more successful. But the "poor in spirit" have the ability to be happy with who they are.

My husband, Dave, is a perfect example. Years ago, the Lord instructed him to leave his job in the engineering field to help establish Joyce Meyer Ministries.

At that time, God spoke to his heart and said, "If you do what I am calling you to do ... and allow Joyce to do what I've called her to do, then you will have a lot of peace and happiness."

Dave is an extremely vital part of this ministry. We are a team, and he oversees all of the business and financial aspects of the organization. However, it takes a truly humble man—a man who is secure and knows that God approves of him—to be OK with his wife being the one "out front."  

I can honestly say that Dave is one of the happiest people I know. He knows what God has asked him to do ... and he is doing it with joy.

What are some other character traits of a humble person?

1. The humble can always ask for help, and they don't insist on everything being done their way.

2. They are quick to forgive others, difficult to offend, and content to wait on God for vindication when they have been wronged.

3. They are patient and don't get frustrated with the weaknesses of others.

4. The humble person is a peacemaker. In fact, we need humility to maintain peace in our lives. Romans 12:16 says, "Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are."

Wow! Just imagine if we all decided to adopt just this one command from the Bible. It's the way that leads to peace with ourselves and others.

5. A humble person knows when to be quiet. It's certainly not wrong to talk, but a humble person is comfortable allowing others to have center stage and doesn't feel the need to speak their mind in every situation.

6. A humble person sees their own weaknesses and can readily admit them. When we open up to others about ourselves, it can actually encourage and help them realize they're not the only ones who deal with things.

7. A humble person happily serves other people, and they don't do it to impress others. They do it unto God, knowing their reward will come from God.

8. A humble person is very thankful. This is one reason they're usually so happy. When we live with an attitude of gratitude, it releases joy and power into our lives.

9. A humble person has a tender conscience and is quick to repent.

10. A leader who is truly humble treats everyone with respect. How a leader treats people is the quickest way to find out their level of humility.

First Peter 5:6 says, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time."

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of humility. In John 15:5, Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing." I often pray things like: "Lord, I can do absolutely nothing without You today. Please help me—I need Your grace in every situation."

I encourage you to pray and ask for God's help. By His grace, you can begin to develop an attitude of humility ... and discover the life you really want.

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. She has authored 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Get Your Hopes Up! (Hachette). She hosts the "Enjoying Everyday Life" radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit joycemeyer.org.

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Joyce Meyer Featured Opinion Sat, 25 Apr 2015 13:00:00 -0400
How I Prayed for My Son's Future Wife http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49312-how-i-prayed-for-my-son-s-future-wife http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49312-how-i-prayed-for-my-son-s-future-wife

What are the two top things a mom prays for her kids? I'd venture to say their salvation and their spouse. 

My son, Michael, asked Jesus into his heart at the tender of age of 5 (those sweet memories are for another blog post) and he will soon marry his college sweetheart.

When I began going to God many years ago, asking Him to prepare just the right woman for Michael to be his wife, he was in no way interested in girls. Now he is smitten! To be honest, his wedding day is sneaking up on me far too quickly. After Georgia football has owned him for the past 5 years, certainly I would get him back for a few ... before sweet Audrey claimed him as her own, right?

I absolutely adore the future Mrs. Bennett. But my introduction to the "other woman" in Michael's life provoked a strange feeling in me, I must admit.

His freshmen year, I remember walking into his college dorm room with his favorite cake that I made for his birthday. Only to find that another cake was already there. White on white. Who made Michael's favorite cake? Surely not one of his football- playing roommates. Little did I know it was the girl I had been praying for!

But as I think about what praying for Michael's wife has really produced, it is this:

A change in me.

Isn't this how it works? We pray for someone else and the Spirit starts working on us.

So here are a few things I've learned while praying for my son's wife—

 1.  I've gained a greater kingdom perspective

I've learned that God is in the business of building his kingdom and not my own. In His timing and not mine. I've asked God "to not awaken love before it so desires" (Song 2:7) in Michael's heart, and now God says it is time. It is time for Michael to be more fruitful as a man of God with a wife at his side than without her, for "two are better than one because they get a better return for their labor" (Eccl. 4:9). (You see, I always feel better about my kids growing up and leaving me when I have a Bible verse to back it up!)

 2.   I'm becoming a better woman

In describing to her son with vivid living color the qualities of an excellent woman, the mother of King Lemuel asked the question, "Who can find a virtuous wife?" (Prov. 31: 10). It was not easy in the Old Testament days to find a wife of noble character, nor is it today. So if Michael were to find a woman that fit this description, she would be a rare find! 

Yet the bigger question God posed to me was this: Would Michael know what to look for in a wife? I realized a large part of his knowing would be the type of woman he found in me.   

What did he find when I was in the kitchen at 6:00 AM making his lunches, up late with him when he was sick or confronted with circumstances that did not go my way? A joy-filled woman? Did I open my mouth with wisdom and was the law of kindness on my tongue when I had to discipline or instruct Michael as he was growing up? Did he find me hungering for and seeking after God, reading my Bible and trusting Him?

To be honest, some days yes and some days no.  But the desire to model to my son that I needed Jesus just as much as he did kept forgiveness flowing between us and our relationship real.

 3.   I've become a better wife myself.

"She does him good and not evil all the days of her life" (Prov. 31:12 ).

What mom does not want her son to have a faithful woman stand by his side to the very end? Yet, I found the more I prayed this for Michael's wife, the more the Holy Spirit whispered—"This needs to be a bigger priority in your marriage, Beth. Find creative ways to bless Jon, focus on him, do what he likes and help him succeed in ways he never could if he were not married to you." 

 4.   I'm learning to let go and smile! 

She smiles at the future (Prov. 31:25 ).

I'm learning to smile even though my son is leaving to lead his own home. I'm learning to smile when I think of someone else making eggs for him in the morning, folding his socks and watching him light up at a good home-cooked meal. I've seen God's faithfulness these past 23 years and I can't help but smile believing "that the Lord will bless my latter days more than the former" (Job 42:12). 

Yes, He is showing me that my best days are ahead! I have had the privilege of planting God's Word in the soil of a young boy's heart, seeing it bear fruit and now smile, thinking that the union with his wife will produce even greater things for the kingdom.

Looking back, I see now that praying for my future daughter-in-law was not about Michael finding the perfect person. (Although I believe he has!) It was about me following Jesus more fully, offering up my fears and pride along the way, and letting His Spirit refine me so that I could fully enjoy this season of life.

July 11 is going to be an awesome day and I will be full of thanksgiving and praise to God for "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord" (Prov. 18:22).

Beth Bennett is a Certified Christian Life Coach; Director of Coaching with Ministry Ventures. This is adapted from her blog.

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Beth Bennett Featured Opinion Sat, 25 Apr 2015 11:00:00 -0400
3 Ways to Discern God Is Moving You in a New Direction http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49311-3-ways-to-discern-god-is-moving-you-in-a-new-direction http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49311-3-ways-to-discern-god-is-moving-you-in-a-new-direction

There invariably will come a time in our spiritual journey when the Lord will solicit our cooperation in permitting Him to guide us in a new way. His preference is that we would sense His leading, fully cooperate and move in the new direction.

However, as is all too often the case, He must intervene in the affairs of our lives due to the fact that we are comfortable and entrenched in our present course of action. 

To secure our attention and place us on the pathway God desires, there are strategies that He employs that are very effective. As much as we are not to be ignorant of Satan's devices (2 Cor. 2:11), we must be even more knowledgeable of the ways of the Lord (Ps. 25:4). Knowing God's ways will result in us experiencing His mighty acts (Ps. 103:7). 

Here are three ways God works to move us in a new direction: 

  • Disruption of Our Plans
  • Dissipation of Resources
  • Dissolution of Relationships 

Disruption of our Plans 

The Apostle Paul had received an apostolic commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. In keeping with his mandate, he targeted key cities in the Roman Empire to visit. Yet, the New Testament narrative informs us that on at least one occasion he was not able to fulfill his objective because God saw fit to stop him. "They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came near Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them" (Acts 16:6-7). 

Like Paul the apostle, while attempting to do the will of the Lord, perhaps you were heading down a certain roadway and you ended up "hitting a wall" and were stopped in your tracks. From that point on, no matter how hard you worked, you were incapable of making significant progress. Initiatives and projects that were originally inspired by a lofty vision and deep passion ended up languishing, some of them even terminating. 

When stuck at an impasse, it is a natural tendency to return to familiar surroundings. We see this in the lives of the disciples after Jesus' death. They went back to fishing even though they had clearly been mandated to forsake their vocation and follow Christ (See Luke 5:10-11; John 21:3). Because they were commercial fishermen, there may even have been economic motives behind their actions. Nevertheless, we see clearly that there was no lasting provision and no permanent peace in returning to past environments. 

When God leads us out of a place of familiarity and the way forward is blocked, what is the solution? 

There are some breakthroughs reserved for us that can only be accessed through prayer. We must seek God until we receive a clear answer from heaven. Whether it was Paul's night vision of the man in Macedonia summoning him, or the voice of Jesus speaking to the disciples on the seashore in Galilee, the New Testament Christians received clear direction from the Spirit and were able to regain momentum and experience breakthrough. 

Dissipation of Resources 

When God wants us to move in a new direction, He may also permit us to experience the dissipation of resources. Elijah had been powerfully used by the Lord to declare prophetically the purpose of God in dealing with Israel. "And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word" (1 Kin. 17:1) And just as the prophet had foretold, the word of the Lord came to pass. "And there was a severe famine in Samaria ... "(1 Kin. 18:2). 

During the famine, God looked after Elijah. He gave him specific instruction relative to how he would be sustained. "Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.' So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook" (1 Kings 17:2-6). 

Cherith which means "place of covenant," was where the Lord demonstrated His faithfulness in taking care of Elijah. However, the day would come when the brook would run dry and the birds would no longer fly (see 1 Kin. 17:7). Although Elijah had come to depend on such provision, God seemed to have no compunction at all cutting off these resources. 

Has Your Brook Dried Up? 

Have you experienced something similar? Your streams of resource have dried up. You struggle to make ends meet and you do not know how you are going to keep going. During such a time, trust that the Lord will soon speak to you like He did to Elijah. "Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you'" (1 Kin. 17:8-9). 

More than a cute cliche, you will see that the place where He leads you will be the place where He feeds you. Where the Lord guides, He provides! 

Dissolution of Relationships

A third way the Lord works to set us in motion in a new direction is through the dissolution of certain relationship. (Please note: we are not addressing covenant marriage relationships here). We see this clearly in the life of David. The heart of King Achish, once favorable to David, turned away from him." Then Achish called David and said to him, 'Surely, as the Lord lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army is good in my sight. For to this day I have not found evil in you since the day of your coming to me. Nevertheless the lords do not favor you. Therefore return now, and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines'" (1 Sam. 29:6-7). 

An unanticipated meltdown in a relationship can cause great pain. Abandonment and unanswered questions will naturally follow. One vital truth to come to grips with is that God will on occasion send certain people into our lives for a short season or perhaps even a brief encounter. 

God-sanctioned, transitory connections, though nonsustainable, serve a purpose in facilitating the plan of the Lord. Being able to differentiate between what is intended to be provisional and what is meant to be permanent will enlighten one of the Father's intention for the relationship. 

Here is a powerful truth to embrace when a key connection you value has dissolved for no apparent legitimate reason: The Lord is turning the hearts of men in the direction He desires (Prov. 21:1) and is in fact making it easier for you to let go and move forward into your next assignment. Therefore, do not take the matter personally and become bitter with people as though they are rejecting you. 

Trusting in God's Good Guidance 

You may not understand what is currently happening in your life. Does it seem to you that God has messed up your plans? Have resources dried up? Has a relationship disintegrated? 

Sometimes Father God's ways do not make sense to us. Scripture even attests to this reality. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Is. 55:9). This is because the LORD possesses infinite knowledge and perfect wisdom. He is eternal, Almighty and omniscient. He sees the end from the beginning and is completely aware of the final outcome of all things. 

No matter how it may appear on the surface, He is actively involved in the affairs of our lives. On occasion, He may even interrupt our plans resulting in us experiencing a sense of anxiety due to a perceived loss of control. However, as uncomfortable as we may become, we must trust that He is leading us along the best pathway for our lives. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye on you" (Ps. 32:8). 

Trusting God at all times is a non-negotiable prerequisite for living supernaturally in the kingdom! 

Glenn Bleakney is the founder and president of Awake Nations Ministries. With uncompromising conviction and in the power of the Holy Spirit, Awake Nations with Glenn Bleakney is taking the gospel of the kingdom to the nations of the world. Many lives have been saved and transformed through the power of God manifest before before their eyes through signs and wonders! Learn more about Glenn Bleakney at awakenations.org.

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Glenn Bleakney Featured Opinion Sat, 25 Apr 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Franklin Graham Calls for Intercession Over Gov. Bobby Jindal http://www.charismanews.com/us/49353-franklin-graham-calls-for-intercession-over-gov-bobby-jindal http://www.charismanews.com/us/49353-franklin-graham-calls-for-intercession-over-gov-bobby-jindal

First it was Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson. Now, it's evangelist Franklin Graham. Both men are applauding a Christian governor who may or may not run for president: Bobby Jindal. And Graham is calling on Christians to make intercession for him.

"I appreciate strong leaders like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who are defending religious freedoms in our nation. Unlike some other governors who have waffled on their positions and retreated, he says no matter how tough the opposition he will fight for passage of the Marriage and Conscience Act in this legislative session," Graham wrote on his Facebook page.

"In this The New York Times article Jindal says 'We should ensure that musicians, caterers, photographers and others should be immune from government coercion on deeply held religious convictions.' He says, 'As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath.' Pray for Governor Jindal and post your encouragement to him in the comments below—tell him you support what he is doing!"

Although Graham stopped short of a presidential endorsement, Robertson came out in full support of Jindal as the next Commander-in-Chief just weeks ago.

"If he chooses to go on, I know the values he has ... ," Robertson said. "He's got the values, he's got the intelligence to do it. I'd love to see him run."

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Frat Boys Spit on Wounded Vet and Desecrate American Flag http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/49345-frat-boys-spit-on-wounded-vet-and-desecrate-american-flag http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/american-dispatch/49345-frat-boys-spit-on-wounded-vet-and-desecrate-american-flag

Investigations have been launched at two universities over accusations that fraternity members taunted wounded war heroes, urinated on an American flag, and spit on a wounded veteran and his service dog in Panama City Beach, Florida.

The April 17 incident, involving Zeta Beta Tau fraternity members from the University of Florida and Emory University, has infuriated residents of Panama City.

"They were being treated like the Vietnam veterans were treated," said Linda Cope, the founder of the Warrior Beach Retreat.

The local charity provides an annual all-expense-paid vacation for more than a 100 combat-wounded warriors and their spouses or caregivers. All of the expenses are covered by Panama City Beach residents and businesses. 

Cope tells me the fraternity members were staying in the same resort—and caused a night of mayhem. The college kids made derogatory comments about the warriors' wives, threw items off balconies and desecrated an American flag.

She also said one of the warriors and his service dog were spit on.

Television station WJHG identified that man as Nicholas Connole.

"They actually spit on me and my service dog as well, and that's just so disrespectful and it hurts," he told the television station.

There were local reports of frat boys throwing beer on veterans and ripping an American flag out of the ground.

"This happened because of two fraternities causing heartache for these warriors and that should never have happened—never happened," Cope said. "Shame on them. There was no excuse."

Reaction has been swift.

Zeta Beta Tau International confirmed that three members of the University of Florida chapter have been expelled from the fraternity and both university chapters have suspended all activities.

"There is no doubt that some of our members engaged in ugly and unacceptable behavior," Executive Director Laurence Bolotin wrote in a statement. "Their actions have no place in ZBT or anywhere, and they will not be tolerated."

Bolotin issued a personal apology to the veterans and their families as well as the Warrior Beach Retreat organization—calling the behavior disgusting.

"I am deeply saddened that the actions of our members ruined this special event and failed to show the respect our military and their families deserve," he wrote.

To the fraternity's credit, they have promised to make amends for what they called a "disgraceful situation."

W. Kent Fuchs, the president of the University of Florida, wrote a personal apology to Cope and the Warrior Beach Retreat.

"I can only imagine the pain and indignity of enduring this behavior," he wrote. "I want to assure you that it is not representative of our students or our university and we will make every effort to learn more, take appropriate action and prevent similar incidents from occurring again."

Emory University, on the other hand, said it cannot confirm that any of their students were involved in the despicable behavior.

"If any members of our community are identified as being responsible, they will be held accountable for their actions by the university," read a statement from the Georgia school.

Cope told me the residents of Panama City Beach are "up in arms about what happened."

"This community is so patriotic and supportive," she said. "The fraternities are learning a hard lesson. You don't treat these men and women who have sacrificed so much for your freedom like that."

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

 

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Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Has the Supreme Court Already Made Up Its Mind on Gay Marriage? http://www.charismanews.com/us/49344-has-the-supreme-court-already-made-up-its-mind-on-gay-marriage http://www.charismanews.com/us/49344-has-the-supreme-court-already-made-up-its-mind-on-gay-marriage

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases that will likely determine whether same-sex marriage will become a legal nationwide.

The justices have rolled four cases together that will allow them to decide two questions: Must states recognize other states' gay marriages, and does the Constitution require states to allow same-sex marriage?

Some believe the justices have already decided to create that right before hearing the case. But others say the matter is far from decided.

On Wednesday, a panel discussion at the Family Research Council was swimming upstream against conventional thought on the issue.

That is, it's a foregone conclusion that the Supreme Court justices will rule homosexuals have as much of a right to same-sex marriage as heterosexuals do to traditional marriage.

But these panelists pointed out there's evidence the justices won't rubber stamp gay marriage.

"When the lawyers walk into that courtroom on Tuesday morning, they're going to be walking into a situation where there are 3 1/2 justices who've said 'no constitutional right to same-sex marriage' and no justices who've said there is a constitutional right," former Supreme Court Clerk Gene Schaerr said.

One of the more interesting propositions brought up at Wednesday's panel discussion is that maybe the Christians of the world owe it to the homosexuals to point out that their lifestyle is intrinsically wrong.

"Faith actually teaches nothing about hatred toward gays and lesbians; in fact, the opposite. But it also says the behavior is damaging and harmful to your eternal salvation. That's the faith teaching," John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, said.

"But they also know from the empirical evidence that the behavior is damaging to your body as well," he added.

Westen argued that Christians need to say to gays, "We love you enough to tell you this is harmful. In fact, we'll even take the hater and bigot label so that we can tell you this because we care about you."

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Paul Strand/CBN Featured U.S. News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Should Christians Vote for Hillary Clinton? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/heres-the-deal/49342-why-christians-should-not-vote-hillary-clinton-for-president http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/heres-the-deal/49342-why-christians-should-not-vote-hillary-clinton-for-president

As America enters a presidential campaign season with serious implications, we need to engage in an honest, charitable conversation on Hillary Clinton's history and pursuit of the presidency. 

"Do not judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). 

Hillary Rodham Clinton is 67 years old and the wife of former President Bill Clinton. Raised in a Methodist Church she professes to be a Christian. She claimed she was named for the famous conqueror of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, but later admitted it was untrue. She also stated her four grandparents were immigrants; it's really only one. She graduated from Wellesley college, where she did her thesis on the radical socialist, Saul Alinsky, whose book "Rules for Radicals" (dedicated to Lucifer) promoted manipulating the masses to achieve goals. She served as Obama's Secretary of State.

In 2008, Hillary presented herself as a strong, assertive leader but her presidential campaign failed. She's done a makeover to a motherly, down-to-earth neighbor who is approachable, warm and relatable. She struggles, especially with financial challenges. "When we left the White House we were not only dead broke but in debt." (A major portion of the debt came from her husband's legal fees defending himself in one of his sex scandals.) She later back-peddled, saying she "misspoke."

Hillary grew up in an affluent family and attended an exclusive private college (annually about $60,000 today). While Bill was governor of Arkansas, Hillary lived in a mansion and was chauffeured in limousines (she hasn't driven a car in 20 years!). Upon leaving the White House, Hillary's book advance was $8 million; as Secretary of State she drew $800,000; their financial disclosure for 2001–12 was $136.5 million (Washington Post); they have two lavish residences as well as income from investments, property, book royalties and speaking.

Arthur Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, explained in Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich (Harper Collins) how they've made millions. Bill's speeches brought in $104.9 million (Washington Post). She also made millions, getting $300,000 from UCLA and  $200,000 from University of Nevada to name two examples.  

The Clintons have one child, Chelsea. She is married to a Wall Street investment banker and lives in a $10 million Manhattan condo. She was hired by NBC at $600,000 a year. Now she works for her parents' foundation that received $2 billion from 2001-2014. She's also paid for speeches: $75,000 for one on "Diarrhea in the 3rd World."

The Clinton Foundation is under scrutiny because of suspicious activity when Hillary was Secretary of State. Individuals and countries donated megabucks. Contracts, favors and access abounded. Emails were mysteriously deleted. Newsweek reports their largest individual donor allegedly had lucrative dealings with Iran during sanctions and her time in office. The Wall Street Journal described this: "Blurred Lines." Folks are asking, "Do we want to go around this Clinton controversy mountain again?!"

A Craftily Choreographed Campaign

To establish her "common folk" image in her first week of campaigning, the former First Lady sat in a coffee shop, tried a commercial plane and rode in a van. Interacting with "normal" people (actually Democratic operatives carefully brought in and screened first), Mrs. Clinton later stopped at a fast-food restaurant, but neglected to leave a tip for the  lady serving her burrito!

Two liberal analysts commented: "I don't think I've seen a more contrived-appearing campaign ever!" (Rick Unger on MSNBC); "She has gone too far in the opposite direction, presenting herself as a sweet docile granny... Sitting talking to average folks she looks like someone prepped to 'trap a husband' - listen a lot, nod a lot, widen your eyes and act fascinated with everything that's said." (Maureen Dowd, New York Times).

"Champion for Average Americans"

Mrs. Clinton selected Robbie Mook to be her campaign manager, sending a message she wants to reach youth and gays. He is 35 years old and the first openly gay manager of a major presidential campaign. In her inaugural video announcement, she featured homosexuals celebrating their gay "marriage." After a parade of "average" Americans, Hillary declared she wants to be our "champion."

Mrs. Clinton wants to convince us we're not being treated fairly and she's going to help us. Income inequality has got to go! Time for "redistribution of wealth." The enemies are the upper 1 percent—the rich ... the Republicans ... Wall Street "fat cats" ... those billionaire CEOs. She'll fix things and provide entitlements. She doesn't mention rich Democrats in the past like the Kennedys and FDR; wealthy politicians like Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Harry Reid; liberal CEOs like Tim Cook of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; and she and Bill, who have made tons of money from—guess who—the 1 percent she now attacks!

The New York Times recently told how Mrs. Clinton met with economists and pointed to a graph saying the economy needs a "toppling" of the wealthiest 1 percent (income of $8 million plus).  Will her "war on the wealthy" mean attacking herself?

The newspaper also ran a scathing indictment of the Clinton's and their foundation on April 23, 2015 branding them as virtually the worst influence-peddlers in history while helping Russia in its efforts to corner the uranium market! (The Clintons are also reworking sensitive tax documents in light of what's coming out.)  This is shocking coming from the New York Times, the bastion of ultra-liberal journalism

Closing Considerations

A responsible Christian should pray, examine character, check the voting record and positions of the candidate plus study the history of the candidate. Consider some of Hillary's.

* Women: After an avalanche of criticism for their foundation receiving millions from Middle Eastern countries that repress women (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates gave as much as $40 million to the Clinton Foundation since 2001), the Clintons abruptly changed their policy on receiving monies from them.

* Sanctity of human life: Hillary upholds unfettered abortion as women's "reproductive rights," up until the moment of birth. (Recent surveys show 80 percent of Americans are against third-trimester abortions, and God abhors the taking of innocent life.)

* Gay marriage: Mrs. Clinton's original position: "Marriage has got history, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time. I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been between a man and a woman." She now supports "marriage equality" and "hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right."

* Education of children: In 1996 Hillary's book It Takes a Village outlined her vision for raising children. On her first campaign trip she said, "Education is the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation." Christians believe education is the parents' responsibility, supplemented by the church, not government.

* Transparency and Accessibility to the Press: In the first stage of this presidential campaign season, the three Republican candidates engaged in 20 press interviews while Mrs. Clinton engaged in 0. She cited one word to deflect any attempts to get responses to questions about scandals and controversies in her life: "Distractions." Aides know she bristles at annoying questions so they want to control and shield her.

* Colleagues and Advisers: Besides her husband and daughter, Hilary has her closest advisor and "second daughter" as Human Abedin, wife of disgraced politician, Anthony Weiner. Her father has pro-Sharia ties to Islamist organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Continuing the Clinton Legacy?

I certainly won't forget the Clinton years in the White House, not just because I lived in D.C., but because of the constant scandals, controversies and embarrassment Americans experienced.

In America's history, only two U.S. Presidents were impeached by our House of Representatives, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Many younger Americans are ignorant of this fact.

As Christians we're called to forgive and be redemptive in our attitude towards others. This applies to former President Clinton as well as Hillary, whom I commend for honoring her marriage vows.

We'll soon be faced with considering Hillary Clinton for president. The latest poll cites 54 percent of U.S. voters say she is not honest or trustworthy (Quinnipiac University national poll). We must ask: "Is Hillary trustworthy? Is she authentic? Is she competent? Does she have the wisdom, experience and character for the most important position on planet earth?

May we be a generation that looks heavenward, asking God to have mercy on us and enable us to retrace our steps back to the covenant of our forefathers. They envisioned America as a "city on a hill," honoring God and advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with more than 43 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview (see "Is Gay OK? 10 Things Everyone Needs to Know" now on YouTube). He loves awakening people to today's cultural realities and responses needed for a restored, influential church. Please visit larrytomczak.com.

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Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0400
NHCLC's Samuel Rodriguez Named One of 100 Top Christian US Leaders http://www.charismanews.com/us/49341-nhclc-s-samuel-rodriguez-named-one-of-100-top-christian-us-leaders http://www.charismanews.com/us/49341-nhclc-s-samuel-rodriguez-named-one-of-100-top-christian-us-leaders

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/CONELA, America's largest Hispanic Christian Evangelical organization, was named by Newsmax as one of America's top 100 Christian leaders.

"I am honored and humbled to be a part of such a distinguished group of men and women dedicated to the expansion of God's kingdom," said Rodriguez. "It is a blessing to be a part of work that God is doing in the Spanish-speaking Diaspora and throughout the entire church."

As president of NHCLC/CONELA, the nation's largest Hispanic Christian organization representing millions of Evangelicals globally and more than 40,000 U.S. churches, Rodriguez works with leaders worldwide to reconcile evangelist Billy Graham's message of salvation with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s march of prophetic activism through the "7 Directives" of life, family, compassionate evangelism, stewardship, justice, education and youth.

As a leading spokesperson for Hispanic Evangelicals, Rodriguez has been a featured speaker at the White House and frequently meets and consults members of both parties in Congress and in White House meetings on social justice, Latino and values issues, immigration and education. Rodriguez also served on President Obama's White House Task Force on Fatherhood and is the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award presented by the Congress of Racial Equality. 

He has been heralded as the "leader of the Hispanic evangelical movement" by CNN and Fox News and "America's most influential Latino evangelical leader" by NBC/Telemundo. Rodriguez was also included in the TIME magazine "The 2013 TIME 100 Poll," and the April 15, 2013 TIME cover story, "The Latino Reformation."

Rodriguez will lead the NHCLC/CONELA Annual Convention in Houston April 28-30, 2015, bringing together more than 1,000 Hispanic leaders to discuss issues of faith, education, immigration, racial reconciliation, religious liberties, Israel, and family and marriage. Featured speakers will include Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Mike Huckabee, U.S. Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, Deputy Head of Mission for The Embassy of Israel to the United States Reuven Azar, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services León Rodriguez, and The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Dr. Russell Moore, among others.

During the convention, NHCLC/CONELA will celebrate its merger, which became official last year, and reveal its new international name. It will also introduce new organizational leadership and launch an innovative Hispanic-focused television network in partnership with Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) as well as a new Israel coalition.

NHCLC/CONELA is the world's largest Hispanic Christian organization. It serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. churches and another 500,000 congregations spread throughout the Spanish-speaking Diaspora. For additional information, visit nhclc.org.

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Kristin Cole Featured U.S. News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:30:00 -0400
Pastor Saeed Abedini's Wife Pens Open Letter to President Obama http://www.charismanews.com/world/49340-pastor-saeed-abedini-s-wife-pens-open-letter-to-president-obama http://www.charismanews.com/world/49340-pastor-saeed-abedini-s-wife-pens-open-letter-to-president-obama

American Pastor Saeed Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, wrote the following open letter to President Obama urging his administration to do more to free her husband and the other wrongfully imprisoned Americans held in Iran.

President Obama, 



When you met with my children, Rebekka and Jacob, and I in January, you promised that you would do everything you can to get my husband—their father—out of prison. You told our family that securing my husband's release is a "high priority." I know that this is a very difficult thing to do, but I ask that you, Secretary of State John Kerry, and your administration to do everything they can to have our fellow U.S. citizens freed before any deal is finalized with Iran. 



In your address on April 2 you stated, "These are matters of war and peace, and they should be evaluated based on facts and what is ultimately best for the American people." The fact is that my husband, who is being held simply because of his Christian faith, and the three other wrongfully held U.S. citizens are Americans and they need to be released. 



Mr. President, as the US continues its negotiations with Iran, will you please demand the immediate release of Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Robert Levinson, and my husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini—this direct ask needs to be priority front and center not pushed to the sidelines. These Americans deserve to be freed and returned to their families immediately.

Please continue to pray and sign the petition for their release as we fight across the globe for Pastor Saeed's freedom.

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ACLJ Featured World News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Other Terror Groups Hunting Christians http://www.charismanews.com/world/49339-al-shabaab-boko-haram-other-terror-groups-hunting-christians http://www.charismanews.com/world/49339-al-shabaab-boko-haram-other-terror-groups-hunting-christians

Editors Note: This is a next in a series of speech texts from last Friday's conference at the United Nations titled, "Not Peace but a Sword: The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East as a Threat to International Peace and Security." Here's Jamie Peters, who with his wife, spent 25 years building churches and as missionaries on the front line in several African Nations.

Jamie Peters

First of all, I want to thank our hostess, Ugoji Eze, who is the originator of this event and has painstakingly worked to make this meeting a reality. I also wish to thank His Excellency, Ambassador Caleb Otto, for his role in making this historic event come to pass. I do not count this opportunity lightly; words to express my thanks adequately escape me as the gravity of this meeting is great. 

Today, I humbly speak before you all as a voice for fellow Christians who are, at this moment, being persecuted for their faith. In times past, such persecution was more or less isolated to more remote and closed parts of the world, but it has now escalated to the point of alarm. Not only are we witness to persecution of Christians in the Middle East, but we are also witness to an increase of persecution against Christians on the great continent of Africa as well. It is interesting to note at this particular juncture that six out of the 11 main jihadi groups in the world are based in Africa. From Boko Haram in Nigeria slaughtering the innocent to al-Shabab infiltrating Kenya and singling out Christians with acts of terror—as we saw in the recent attacks at Garrissa University in Kenya, students who were unable to recite portions of the Quran were executed. In this single act alone 148 lost their lives once again to al-Shabab. This is the same group that murdered 67 men, women and children at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in September, 2013. It is already too late for those who have lost their lives in this senseless violence; how many more will die as we wait for the International Community to speak, to act? If no measures are taken to stop the violence, these groups, and others like them, will continue to sweep across the region and ultimately the continent of Africa and beyond slaughtering and persecuting those whose faith is different from their own.

Today, my heart is heavy for Kenya, indeed for the entire continent of Africa. For far too long, Africa has been plagued by civil war, famine, poverty, tribal unrest, lack of infrastructure, lack of schools, lack of proper medical facilities and the basic necessities for human life. Oftentimes these people are forced to live in conditions where they struggle to simply have water for their families on a daily basis, not to mention the conveniences of electricity that we here in the Western world take for granted. Their struggle has gone unnoticed, forgotten and even ignored. One country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, stands out in my mind as one of the greatest forgotten tragedies of our present day world. Since the early 1990s, the DRC has been plagued by civil unrest, uprisings, and the consequences of such longstanding violence. According to an article, "Chronicle of Death Ignored" published by The Economist in April 2011, 5 million people had died due to the unrest in the DRC—and this number is now 4 years old. The count, undoubtedly, has climbed much, much higher.

I can speak of these conditions today from personal experience, because as missionaries, my family and I lived and worked in Africa for 25 years; from 1987 to 2012 we served as missionaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.

During this span of 25 years of missionary service, we saw many injustices committed, both by outside nations as well as from inside the nations where we served. Unfortunately, in most cases, we didn't have a platform to stand on and speak out against these injustices because of the nature of our work. So when this opportunity was presented to me to speak before the International Community of the United Nations and speak out against the injustices and crimes against humanity being committed against Christians around the world, and in particular the continent of Africa, I knew I had to accept.  

One particular injustice we saw firsthand while serving in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 1991 to 2000, was the genocide that took place in neighboring Rwanda during that time, where an estimated 1 million people were murdered just for being the wrong tribe—intolerance of massive proportions. In fact, in Burundi we experienced genocide of several hundred thousand as well, around the same time, all for the same reason.   

To make the situation in the region more complex, civil war broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo around the same time as the events that were taking place in Rwanda and Burundi. This created a security vacuum in the Congo because Congo allowed thousands to flee from Rwanda and Burundi into their nation. Among the innocent refugees were many of the ones who committed the atrocities that took place in Rwanda and Burundi. The perpetrators of the genocide are still hiding in the forests of the DRC, many having escaped justice. This has created a volatile situation that continues to exist in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The ones who suffer the most? Women, children and the elderly—who will speak for them? Who will act for them?

The violence in Rwanda and Burundi was based on ethnic divisions. Two different tribes in Rwanda and Burundi warred against one another simply due to their intolerance of one another. This hatred and intolerance brought them to take up AK-47's and machetes and use them on one another in an attempt of each tribe trying to annihilate the other tribe.  However, much blame is also to be put on the International Community for their injustice committed at that time—an injustice of silence and non-intervention—especially when it had the responsibility and the means to do something about it, but unfortunately, for the most part, it turned a blind eye and did nothing about it—this led to the senseless deaths of nearly 1.5 million people (the total number of deaths in Rwanda and Burundi combined). 

One of our dear friends and colleagues in Africa, who has personally experienced these types of atrocities we are addressing in this meeting, sent me the following message upon learning that I would be speaking before you today: "When I heard of your going to the U.N. to speak on the behalf of those who cannot speak, I became suddenly emotional as my thoughts took me back in 1972 when my father was murdered during an ethnic war. The International Community did nothing at that time to stop the senseless murders of thousands of innocent civilians. I have grown up without a father figure. I don't know what it feels like to have an earthly father. Sometimes I wish I had one ... I have never called anyone "Dad" my entire life! Do I miss it? I don't know because I've never been able to experience having a father.

Someone needs to stand up; someone needs to stop the pointless murdering of innocent lives. In so doing, they could possibly save a generation of people from growing up empty, fatherless and motherless. We all have the right to live. Right now dozens of foreigners are being burnt alive in South Africa and no one has dared to say anything. Not assisting someone in danger when you are in a position to do so is as good as committing the crime itself. Please go ahead and speak for us."

So here we are again where it seems as if history is repeating itself on the continent of Africa, and around the world, as extremists take up the sword and gun. This history is one of intolerance and hatred. Only this time it's an intolerance and hatred based on religion, but an intolerance and hatred nonetheless. The question that begs to be answered today is this: Will the International Community repeat history by ignoring its responsibility and not using its means to stop the atrocities that are taking place against Christians in Africa, and now in other parts of the world as well, in the name of radical Islamic extremism? The International Community must do something now before it's too late. Otherwise, the intolerance and hatred of radical Islamic extremists will continue to spread and become a security threat to many regions around the world—as we have already witnessed in certain parts of the world, namely in the Middle East.    

In the 1990s Rwanda and Burundi experienced a genocide based on ethnicity. Now in 2015 radical Islamic extremists are trying to carry out another kind of genocide—a genocide based on religion whose goal is to kill as many Christians as they can. And so my appeal today is to the International Community who has the responsibility and the means to not let another genocide take place—please do not let history repeat itself! 

It is apparent that radical Islamic extremists are waging a war against Christianity. This must be stopped, not only for the safety and security of millions of Christians around the world, but for society as a whole. Otherwise, the future of every peace-loving member of the world community will be jeopardized. According to one African proverb: "War is a bad chisel with which to carve out tomorrow." 

In conclusion, I would like to speak a blessing in Swahili over our fellow Christians in Africa and around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Christ:

Wakristo wenzetu wa Afrika na wa duniani kote mnaoteseka kwa ajili ya imani yenu katika Kristo, tunasimama pamoja nanyi.  Mwenyezi Mungu awalinde na awawezeshe kuendelea kumfuata.

Translation: Our fellow Christians in Africa and around the world who are persecuted for your faith in Christ, we stand together with you. May Almighty God protect you and strengthen you to continue to follow Him.    

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Jamie Peters Featured World News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:30:00 -0400
Muslim-Turned-Christian Warns of Radical Islam in Idaho http://www.charismanews.com/us/49338-muslim-turned-christian-warns-of-radical-islam-in-idaho http://www.charismanews.com/us/49338-muslim-turned-christian-warns-of-radical-islam-in-idaho

Concerns over radical Islam are emerging in Idaho. 

This week, a former Muslim turned Christian pastor warned a crowd at a Republican event about the threat of Muslims moving to the state.

Speaking to the Bonner County Republican Women on Tuesday, Shahram Hadian said Muslims who support Sharia law and aim to kill anyone who doesn't agree with their interpretation of Islam are trying to move to the United States, and to Idaho.

"I have witnessed ... what Islam has done to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, rights of women, rights of minorities, the rights of homosexuals," The Bonner County Daily Bee quoted Hadian. "The rights of any group that disagrees with the Islamic government."

"We are in an ideological war," he warned. "Don't listen to officials who say we are not in an ideological war."

A state House panel recently rejected a child support enforcement bill after Idahoans testified the state could potentially be bound to enforce Islamic law under the act.

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CBN News Featured U.S. News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Mainstream Media Claims Christians' Hysteria About Persecution in the West Is 'Groundless' and 'Morally Distasteful' http://www.charismanews.com/world/49337-mainstream-media-claims-christians-hysteria-about-persecution-in-the-west-is-groundless-and-morally-distasteful http://www.charismanews.com/world/49337-mainstream-media-claims-christians-hysteria-about-persecution-in-the-west-is-groundless-and-morally-distasteful

The Guardian has been criticized by The Christian Institute for claiming that Christians' concerns about marginalization in the U.K. are "hysterical", "morally distasteful" and "groundless."

An editorial in the paper suggests that the severe persecution of Christians overseas means Christians in the U.K. should not complain about the lesser problems in their own country.

It also describes Christian evangelism as "obnoxious and embarrassing" but says it should not be made illegal.

Institute spokesman Simon Calvert said: "Most U.K. Christians do not need The Guardian to remind them that their own marginalization should not be put on a par with the persecution of believers overseas."

'Vital for Society'

"But this does not mean that highlighting such marginalization is "hysterical." Why are Christians the only people the Guardian thinks should keep quiet when they are mistreated?

"The editorial seems to equate "civilized society" to "endorsing homosexual relationships." In so doing it seeks to devalue centuries of orthodox Christian thinking and entirely ignore the fact that Christianity has made arguably the biggest single contribution to the civilized society our country has enjoyed for hundreds of years.

"More than that, they ignore the fact that the principle of religious liberty, Christians being able to live out their faith in the public square, is vital for a truly civilized society.

Ordinary Christians

"The Christian Institute has helped many ordinary Christians who have been punished for simply wanting to live out their faith in a consistent way.

"Former housing manager Adrian Smith was demoted and suffered a 40 per cent pay cut, simply for disagreeing with gay marriages happening in churches on his personal Facebook page.

"And Christian registrar Lillian Ladele was pushed out of her job after Islington Council tried to force her to officiate at same-sex civil partnership ceremonies."

Ashers

The Guardian refers to Ashers Baking Company, another Christian Institute case, which hit the headlines when the owners were taken to court simply for declining to decorate a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.

Mr. Calvert said: "The editorial clearly implies that Christians should behave as if things they believe to be wrong are actually right. The Guardian's approach leaves no scope for courteous, conscientious disagreement.

"Whilst mangling the facts of the Ashers case, it says that "being asked to ice a cake for a gay wedding is hardly martyrdom. It's just the price of living in a civilized society."

'Gratuitous'

"It may concede that 'no one should be compelled to make propaganda for a cause they think false or pernicious,' but excludes Ashers from that. It also says 'Christian evangelism should not be made illegal.'

"The fact that The Guardian (is) even discussing the possibility speaks volumes about where they are coming from, as does their gratuitous remark that personal evangelism is 'obnoxious and embarrassing' and their implied slur that Christian employees are 'difficult.'

"After years of being told that Christian morality should not be allowed to have any influence on the law, Christians might be surprised to see The Guardian now admitting that 'any society has to privilege some ethical viewpoint and some virtues.' Clearly, they mean their own secularist viewpoint, not the Christian one, which they assert is 'mistaken.'"

'Sinister'

Letters criticizing the editorial's claims were subsequently published by the newspaper.

One respondent questioned whether it would now be supporting a campaign to remove the right for conscientious objection to military service, in light of the editorial's disregard for individuals' conscience.

Another described the editorial as "sinister" and "exultant at the state seeking to suppress the expression of Christian conscience."

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Christian Institute Featured World News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:30:00 -0400
Loretta Lynch Confirmed as Attorney General http://www.charismanews.com/us/49336-loretta-lynch-confirmed-as-attorney-general http://www.charismanews.com/us/49336-loretta-lynch-confirmed-as-attorney-general

Loretta Lynch won Senate approval as U.S. attorney general on Thursday, becoming the first black woman to occupy the post at a time when deadly altercations between white police and unarmed black men are making headlines.

The Senate confirmed Lynch by a vote of 56-43 to end a five-month partisan deadlock over her nomination by President Barack Obama. She had waited for a vote longer than the last seven attorneys general combined.

Obama said Lynch, the 55-year-old U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, New York, had credibility with both law enforcement and the communities they police.

He told supporters from his Organizing for Action political group that he would work with her to rebuild trust so that everyone felt safe and that the law was working on everyone's behalf.

Taking over the Justice Department from Attorney General Eric Holder, Lynch also will face early tests on financial cases alleging some of the world's largest banks helped clients evade U.S. taxes and manipulated currency markets.

She is expected to start work on Monday.

Ten Republicans voted for Lynch, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The tally in Lynch's favor was larger than expected, perhaps reflecting political concerns. Of the Republicans who backed her, four are up for reelection next year, three of them from states with big cities that have large African-American populations.

As attorney general she will likely be confronted with civil rights cases stemming from police altercations in several U.S. cities.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department said it was gathering information to determine whether it can bring civil rights charges in the death of a man who died after being arrested by Baltimore police.

Freddie Gray, a 27-year-old black man, was arrested by white officers on April 12 and died days later after slipping into a coma. A preliminary autopsy report said he died from a spinal injury.

IMMIGRATION AN ISSUE

The voting margin in the Senate reflected many Republicans' disapproval of Lynch's support for an executive order issued by Obama in November that was meant to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.

Before the vote, Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, an outspoken critic of Obama's executive action on immigration, blasted Lynch. "We do not have to confirm someone to the highest law enforcement position in America if that someone is publicly committed to denigrating Congress, violating law," he said.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid berated Republicans for delaying the confirmation and said Lynch was "as qualified a candidate" as he had seen in almost 30 years in the Senate.

Lynch's elderly father, Lorenzo, a retired Baptist minister from North Carolina, watched the vote from a visitors' gallery in the Senate chamber.

Lynch had awaited confirmation since November when Obama, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, nominated her.

Despite the delay, she was widely seen as less controversial than Holder, who often clashed with Republicans. She has said she aims to smooth relations with Congress.

Her nomination was backed by the Senate's Judiciary Committee by a vote of 12-8 on Feb. 26. But her confirmation languished over an impasse in the Republican-led Senate on an unrelated bill meant to protect human trafficking victims.

Democrats had balked at an anti-abortion provision included in that bill, but that dispute was settled on Tuesday and the bill was approved on Wednesday.

An accomplished career prosecutor, Lynch has twice served as U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, most recently since 2010. Her office there handled more terrorism prosecutions than most other offices in the United States. For two years, she also led a committee that advised the attorney general on policy.

At a Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 28, Lynch said her top priorities would include fighting terrorist threats and cyber crime, and improving relations between law enforcement and minority communities.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Lindsay Dunsmuir and Richard Cowan/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:15:00 -0400
Rick Perry's Marriage Misstep http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/49334-rick-perry-s-marriage-misstep http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/49334-rick-perry-s-marriage-misstep

It is now the "gotcha" question being asked to every Republican presidential candidate: "Would you attend a same-sex 'wedding' ceremony?"

Rick Santorum said no, since it would be a violation of his faith.

Marco Rubio said yes, even though he disagrees with it as a Catholic, just as he disagrees with divorce and remarriage, but he would attend rather than hurt someone he loves.

Scott Walker said he had previously attended a same-sex "wedding" reception but stated that marriage was the union of a man and a woman.

Ted Cruz wouldn't answer, but apparently not because of ambiguity on his position, since he has called for pastors to preach about the meaning of marriage this Sunday. Instead, he refused to let the media determine his talking points.

Rick Perry, when asked the question by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said he "probably would" attend, but, similar to Ted Cruz, refused to get off his talking points, stating that the real issues we needed to focus on were the economy and national defense.

Of course, as valid as this question is, it can be a no-win question, one that caricatures the candidate in the eyes of potential voters (as either a hater or a compromiser) and one that can hardly be put forward as a main question in determining whether a candidate is ready to be president of the United States.

And so I can appreciate what Senator Cruz and Governor Perry did when asked the question, refusing to be backed into a corner, be it by conservative or liberal media, and also emphasizing what they felt was most important. After all, isn't that what politicians consistently do?

I'm also not minimizing the importance of strengthening our economy and having a robust national defense, especially in light of the many challenges that exist around the globe today.

It's the end of Governor Perry's answer that concerns me, and I say this with respect for him as a committed, God-honoring Christian. His exact words were: "I mean, to me there's two big issues out here in front of us. It's the economy and its national defense, and if you're not really talking about those two on a regular basis and coming up with solutions on how to get this country back working, how to get this debt under control, and how to put America back into a position of being respected by our allies and being an influence in the world, then you're spending some time that, frankly, doesn't need to be spent on some issues that are secondary or tertiary to the future of this country."

Again, I understand the point Governor Perry was making, but does he really believe that the very definition of marriage is only "secondary or tertiary to the future of this country"?

Does he believe that the larger issues that flow out of the potential redefinition of marriage, which include the meaning and structure of the American family, the home environment in which hundreds of thousands of children will be raised, and the real threat posed to our freedoms of speech, religion and conscience by homosexual activism, are merely "secondary or tertiary to the future of this country"?

Perhaps preserving (really, rebuilding) the institution of marriage is of paramount importance to the future of our country?

As a fellow believer in Jesus and a fellow moral conservative, I appeal to you, Governor Perry, not to capitulate to what is politically correct in our culture today (certainly, that is not how you governed Texas, is it?) and not to sidestep fundamental issues of critical importance to our national well-being.

By all means, talk about the economy and national defense, and don't major on the minor issue of whether you'd attend a same-sex "wedding" ceremony.

But please don't downplay the importance of the issue of redefining marriage.

There are few things more important to the nation than standing for marriage and family as God intended them to be.

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

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Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Why Iraq's ISIS Escapees Are Coming to Christ in Droves http://www.charismanews.com/world/49333-why-iraqi-s-isis-escapees-are-coming-to-christ-in-droves http://www.charismanews.com/world/49333-why-iraqi-s-isis-escapees-are-coming-to-christ-in-droves

"Could this happen to us in America?" That was the question from Patrick Klein President of Vision Beyond Borders following his recent trip to Northern Iraq.

The refugee crisis in and around Iraq is mind-boggling. According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), there are more 250,000 refugees living in Iraq. There are another 426,000 refugees from Iraq. And, another 1.9 million internally displaced people (IDPs). That means there are 2.4 million people who have incredible needs in and around Iraq.

Klein just returned from visiting refugee camps in and around Dohuk. The stories he heard were heartbreaking. The testimonies of Christians were amazing. The needs of refugees, overwhelming.

President of VBB Patrick Klein says he visited Iraqi refugees forced from their homes in Mosul—many of them, Christians. "Most of them have lost hope, and they're just discouraged. They say: 'Where do we go? What do we do now? Maybe if we come to America or Europe, we can start a new life.' I don't want to see 300,000 Christians leave Iraq [with] no Christian witness left in Iraq."

Many of the refugees are college educated, middle class Iraqis who had good jobs and bank accounts to help support their families. That all changed with the Islamic State started taking over in June. "There were 52,000 security forces protecting Mosul and the surrounding area. There were 3,000 ISIS. They believe Maliki, the former president of Iraq, told the generals to lay down their arms and surrender, and they don't know why."

When that happened, ISIS started going from village to village forcing Christians to leave. "A lot of [the Christians] had Muslim neighbors they knew for 30 years. These Muslim neighbors said, 'Get out of Iraq. You don't belong here. We hate you Christians.'"

They were forced to either convert to Islam, leave or die. "One man told us: 'I think God is chastising us because we forgot God. We stopped reading our Bibles. We stopped praying. Maybe God is using this.' He said, 'I want to tell you, my family and I we're having devotions together every night. We're praying together. We're reading the Bible together.' He said, 'We realize that all we have is Jesus.'"

According to Klein, this trip was the hardest trip he's ever made. It forced him to ask an important question. "I thought: 'Could this happen to us in America? Could we be forced with a decision? Are we going to follow Christ or walk away from everything we own?' I pray that the church in America would love him passionately, that we would not lose our first love."

The spread of ISIS is also impacting nominal Muslims who are helping refugees. Klein says, "A lot of people—Muslims—are saying, 'If this is what Islam is, we don't want to be Muslims anymore,' and they're opening up to the gospel."

VBB is working through local churches on the ground there to provide for the needs of refugees. They hope to fill a shipping container. "We're going to send hygiene supplies: shampoo, soap, washcloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, basic toiletry supplies. And then, we're also going to send in some medical supplies: vitamins, Tylenol, bandaids and Neosporin–things like that."

Klein says you can either send in cash so VBB can purchase the supplies, or you can collect them yourself and send them to VBB's Wyoming office. Click here for additional information about VBB and their work worldwide.           

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Greg Yoder Featured World News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:30:00 -0400
3 Holy Spirit-Inspired Ways We Can Stand Up for the Persecuted Church Right Now http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/from-the-frontlines/49332-3-holy-spirit-inspired-ways-we-can-stand-up-for-the-persecuted-church-right-now http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/from-the-frontlines/49332-3-holy-spirit-inspired-ways-we-can-stand-up-for-the-persecuted-church-right-now

My heart has been heavy these past few days. When I heard the news and saw the images of the 30 Christian Ethiopians who were executed at the hands of ISIS I wept. I know I am not alone in my grief.

If you're like me, you feel powerless in the face of such atrocity. I wonder what, if anything, can be done. I have spent the past few days praying and seeking the face of the Lord about that very thing.

This latest act by ISIS certainly has me conflicted. Shock, anger, fear, horror and grief are the exact emotions they hoped to provoke with this brutal act. In many ways they got exactly what they wanted. They wanted us to feel this way—and we do. At the same time, how can we not express such emotion when we see our Christian brothers and sisters so callously slain?  

Friends, there is a Christian holocaust taking place at this very moment. Hundreds of thousands of Christians are facing a modern-day genocide. Our generation must not repeat the mistakes of the past by turning a blind eye to the suffering of so many.  

We must take a hard look at the realities of the evil we face and act accordingly. So far ISIS has been underestimated. Trust me on this, our failure to recognize their evil has extreme consequence.

ISIS is not the "JV squad." They've proven such by conquering large portions of Syria and Iraq. Their network is rapidly expanding throughout the world. Some reports even have an ISIS camp right off our southern border in Mexico. It's very likely they have cells inside the U.S. already.

The latest video from ISIS makes two things very clear. First, they want a war. Peace and prosperity is not their aim—they want prophetic fulfillment. They believe they are called by Allah to avenge the blood of Muslims who died at the hands of "Christian crusaders" and establish a united Arab state.

ISIS's videos are created to provoke us. They know exactly what they are doing. Their propaganda isn't created by a bunch of amateurs. They put a tremendous amount of thought and planning into their message. They are making that message clear: "Come fight us."

They know we will be disgusted by their brutality. They hope we will demand vengeance. For ISIS, war is inevitable. Such ideology cannot be negotiated with nor contained. It can only be destroyed. ISIS is leaving no other choice.

ISIS has declared their war on Christianity. You will not hear this reported in the mainstream media, but the latest video by ISIS is entitled "Until There Came to Them Clear Evidence." This strange title is actually a reference from the Quran, which states:

"Those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun (believers in the Trinity), were not going to leave [their disbelief] until there came to them clear evidence" (verse 98:6).

According to the Quran, Jews and Christians are the "worst of creatures" whom deserve the "fire of Hell."

Christians are vile to ISIS because we believe God has a Son. They see this as blasphemy towards Allah—one that must be purged from the world. In the video ISIS offers Christians three choices: Convert to Islam; submit to the Islamic State; or lose your head.

ISIS purposely recorded this portion of their video in english and directed the message to "the nation of the cross." They state this is a battle between "faith and blasphemy; truth and falsehood. Until there is no more polytheism (belief in the trinity)."  

Our government is reluctant to call this what it is. ISIS is not just political extremism; they see it as a war between Islam and Christianity. The beheading of our Ethiopian brothers is a warning to Christians in the Middle East and the West: "Oppose us, you'll suffer the same fate."  

Today they spill Christian blood in desert sands of the Middle East. Soon they may do it in our city streets. They hope doing so will provoke us to war just as the attacks on 911 did before. They are not running from it. They want it. They are convinced their coming victory over the "Nation of the Cross" is the "clear evidence" that will convince Jews and Christians to convert to Islam.

So what must we do?

First, we must stand with the persecuted!

The most vital thing we can and must do is to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are literally giving their lives for the sake of Christ. Have you prayed for the persecuted believers in the Middle East and around the world today? How about in this past week? Don't look the other way, and don't discount your prayers. I encourage you tonight as your family gathers for a meal stop and pray for the persecuted.

It was the prayers of the believers that opened the prison doors for Peter when he faced execution (Acts 12:16). The answer to their prayers came so suddenly and supernaturally that the interceding disciples didn't even believe Peter was standing at their door! They didn't realize the power of their own prayers. I dare say neither do we.

Another way we can stand with the believers is to lift up our voice. We live in a world where a video filmed by ISIS can travel around the world and strike outrage in the West. The Internet works both ways. A post or video made by you can travel back to the Middle East and bring encouragement to a people who wonder if anyone even notices their plight.

Your voice also raises awareness. Our nation will remain indifferent as long as we remain silent. God gave us a voice to encourage and edify one another. May we strengthen each other here and abroad.  

Second, we must radically live our lives for Christ.

I reached out to a friend of ours who works intelligence in the Middle East. He shared that as ISIS continues its reign of terror and defends itself as pure Islam, many Muslims are being forced to question their faith. They are saying, "If this is Islam, then I want nothing to do with it."  

There is an opening for a great harvest in the Middle East. Scripture tells us that had the enemies of Christ known the outcome of their actions, they would never have crucified our Savior. Likewise, ISIS doesn't realize pushing people from Christ is actually opening the door for millions to find Christ.

ISIS has exposed to the world what true Islam looks like. Let us expose to the world what true Christianity looks like. We must fully embody the faith, hope and love that Christ calls us to. This lost and dying world needs us to embrace a radical faith.

Radical Christianity is very different from radical Islam. They rely in the power of force; we rely on the power of prayer. They speak a message of hate; we speak a message of love. They offer death; we offer life. We honor the lives of those who gave their life for Christ by living our lives for Christ. Pray for a great end-time harvest amongst the muslims of the Middle East!

Last we must support the underground church in the Middle East.

Churches in the Middle East are in distress. They need our prayers and they need our financial support. These communities of believers are working hard every day to strengthen and encourage one another and make a difference in hostile environments that are unfathomable to most of us.

Every church in the U.S. should seek out churches in the Middle East, especially in the most dangerous African and Arab nations, that they can support with their missions giving. If your network of churches doesn't have any contacts in the region, contact me and I'll put you in touch with several.  

Honestly, each of these action steps will not mean much if just a few of believers act upon them. However, if we all collectively will embrace them, the impact will be felt.

Recently I walked through the Holocaust museum in Israel. I've been to several of these memorials around the world. Each one is built with the same purpose in mind. To remind us of the past mistakes and warn us not to repeat them in the future.   

At every monument and memorial I've found this statement by Edmund Burke engraved or expressed in some way.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Are we not good men and women? If so then we cannot sit back and do nothing. The times we live in are calling upon us. We must do something!

Daniel K. Norris is an evangelist who worked alongside Steve Hill bringing the message of revival and repentance to the nations. Together, they co-hosted a broadcast called "From the Frontlines." Norris also hosts the Collision Youth Conference that is broadcast all over the world. He can be contacted at danielknorris.com.

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Daniel K. Norris Featured From the Frontlines Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:00:00 -0400
One Sure-Fire Way to Rev Up Your Lagging Metabolism http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49331-one-sure-fire-way-to-rev-up-your-lagging-metabolism http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49331-one-sure-fire-way-to-rev-up-your-lagging-metabolism

It is believed that our ancient ancestors ate up to six pounds of green leaves per day. Can you imagine eating a grocery bag full of seasonal greens each and every day?

Few of us eat even the minimum USDA recommendation of five servings of vegetables and fruit a day or three cups of dark green vegetables per week. And yet, green veggies deliver a bonanza of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, biophotons and phytonutrients. The good news is that you can juice them and easily consume one to three cups of greens per day.

Calorie for calorie, dark green leafy vegetables are among the most concentrated sources of nutrition. They are a rich source of minerals including iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium plus vitamins K, C and E, along with many of the B vitamins.

They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related diseases. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of omega-3 fats.

Juicing is one way you can get these power-packed beautifiers into your diet every day. There are many greens that can be juiced such as collard leaves, chard, beet tops, kale, kohlrabi leaves, mustard greens, parsley, spinach, lettuce, cilantro, watercress, arugula and dandelion greens. All you need is a juicer and some great-tasting recipes to make a significant change in your health.

Green juices are good because even if you took the time to chew up a couple of cups of green veggies each day, you wouldn't get as much benefit from them as you would from juicing them up. It's the mechanical process of juicing the vegetables, which breaks apart plant-cell walls and makes absorption better than even the best-chewed food. It has an effect like throwing marbles at a chain link fence rather than tennis balls—juiced contents are going to go through your intestinal tract in a way that "tennis ball-size" nutrients can't.

Juice contains easily absorbed micronutrients that will optimize your overall health and wellness. Green juices energize your body, fire up your metabolism, speed weight loss and over-haul your health.

Adapted from Cherie Calbom's The Juice Lady's Remedies For Thyroid Disorder (Charisma House, 2015).

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

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Cherie Calbom, M.S., CN Featured Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:30:00 -0400
Anti-Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head Again on Campus http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/49290-anti-semitism-rears-its-ugly-head-again-on-campus http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/49290-anti-semitism-rears-its-ugly-head-again-on-campus

Two months after the student government at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) raised concerns over the Jewish background of Rachel Beyda, a candidate for the school's student judicial board, an eerily similar incident has emerged at Stanford University.

The Stanford Review reported that student senate candidate Molly Horwitz's Jewish background was called into question by the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) during an endorsement session for elections. An SOCC member asked Horwitz, "Given your strong Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?" Earlier this year, Stanford's student senate passed a resolution calling on the university to divest from companies that support Israel in the West Bank.

In a statement provided to the Haym Salomon Center, Horwitz said, "I wasn't sure that the interviewer knew the significance of what she was asking. After I questioned why my Jewish identity was relevant, she scrambled and referenced my application, in which I stated that I was very connected to my Jewish heritage."

In her endorsement application, Horwitz repeatedly referenced her Jewish identity, as follows: "I identify as a proud South American and as a Jew;" "I felt like I was not enough for the Latino community and further embraced my Jewish identity;" "I found many parallels between the oppression of the Jews in Egypt and oppression of communities of color in the United States."

"I was deeply saddened to see my fellow student leaders unapologetically resort to anti-Semitism," Horwitz told the Salomon Center. "I am running for the Stanford Undergraduate Senate in order to help foster an inclusive and welcoming environment at Stanford. I am upset that SOCC, a group which purports to encourage such an inclusive environment, instead engaged in anti-Semitism."

The SOCC is a highly coveted endorsement in the student senate election. The organization represents six student groups: Asian American Students' Association, Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan de Stanford, Muslim Student Awareness Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Stanford American Indian Organization.

Horwitz, a junior, filed a complaint with the student elections commissioner the evening of her March 13 endorsement interview with SOCC. The complaint was immediately forwarded to Nanci Howe, the associate dean of students and director of student activities and leadership.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sent Howe a letter expressing "serious concerns about treating individuals differently on the basis of their religion or ethnic affiliation."

Howe responded to the ADL, explaining, "Sally Dickson, the Associate Vice Provost of Student Affairs, promptly spoke to the students directly involved in the interview session in order to hear their perspectives about the exchange.  We learned that there are different accounts of what occurred. Regardless, we have reminded those involved that all candidates should be treated consistently and fairly and that questioning based on an individual's ethnic or religious affiliation is inappropriate. We remain committed to working with our students involved in the elections to actively support a fair and respectful process. We will also continue to work directly with Molly in addressing her concerns."

With the election beginning Wednesday night, it is unlikely that any final determinations will be made by the university before students begin casting their ballots.

Horwitz is embracing the situation, explaining why it may be a teachable moment.

"This event has highlighted for me the importance of increasing education on anti-Semitism and the various ways in which it can manifest," she said. "It is my hope that the Stanford community can come together, reject this intolerance, and envision a future on campus in which all students, regardless of their religious beliefs, are welcomed and embraced."

For the original article, visit jns.org.

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Paul Miller/JNS.org Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Two Critical Words for Pastors in This Hour http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/49330-two-critical-words-for-pastors-in-this-hour http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/49330-two-critical-words-for-pastors-in-this-hour

But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a Refiner's Fire and like launderers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness (Mal. 3:2-3).

This is a very important word especially for ministers. Lives and destinies are at stake and a new spiritual door has been opened, but we cannot walk through it unless we are willing to yield to the Refiner's Fire.

As my wife and I were praying for a sick minister recently the Holy Spirit cut in. He began to teach us by revelation the reason ministers often don't enter into the fullness of their callings, and why sometimes even their lives are cut short. This is what He said:

"There are reasons why men were limited and didn't enter into the times and seasons of their lives. There are limitations through character. Over and over again I deal with men, but until they're put under the Refiner's Fire and My dealings they cannot go into that new season, and walk in that new place."

The Lord has turned up His Refiner's Fire on our own lives and ministry. He has spoken to us more thoroughly and more urgently about our love walk, our words, our lifestyle and our diet. These things do matter, friends if we want to fulfill the call of God on our lives and enter into the fullness of our ministry. These things do matter if we want to run our race and finish our course.

When we allow the Refiner's Fire to deal with our soul, fleshly strongholds, attitudes and emotions, then the devil cannot have a handle on you. So it is really God's mercy and protection for ministers that they don't receive a greater glory on their lives and gifts because with it comes a greater judgment. To whom much is given much will be required, and ministers receive a greater condemnation (Jam 3:1).

History is littered with casualties of mightily anointed men who left this earth prematurely and whose callings were aborted for lack of the Refiner's Fire. God was merciful in taking them home when He did so their fruit could be saved and their works could follow them.

Let me give you a recent example from our lives so you can learn from it. A few months ago when we were ministering in another nation two ministers asked my wife and I how a certain mutual minister friend of ours was doing. We told them that we had heard he was now divorced and his adult children had backslid. In the past this divorced minister preached frequently and had a platform in the nation we were in. The Lord told us our comments could rob him of favor and future opportunities to minister in that nation.

We didn't know the details of the divorce nor did we know if the minister was at fault, or if he was, whether he had repented. You are siding in with Satan, the accuser of the brethren, when you accuse others after they've repented. Many ministers would think nothing of making comments like this, but the Lord does. We repented before the Lord and apologized to those two ministers the next day.

Our attitudes, words, offenses and dealings with other ministers and the body of Christ in general are so important in determining our health and whether we enter into the new doors and seasons of our lives and ministries. Yielding to the Refiner's Fire can take us into our next assignments, open doors and new levels of blessing and glory that God has ordained for us.

The gifts and callings of God are without repentance—meaning God will not change His mind about your calling and purpose in Him, but the fullness cannot be seen in a man's life until they go through the Refiner's Fire. Ministers need to go to the altar again and live from there. For ministers to go through certain doors of utterance of greater glory they have to be refined, not easily offended and not given to any appetite.

Years ago in an extended time of prayer and fasting the Father told me that he had not opened certain doors for me because of His protection. Then I wept when He said that I would've ceased to be a man after His own heart if He had opened those doors when I had wanted Him to. He is a good Father. He will not give us instructions that He knows we cannot obey through our insufficient character, thus giving access to the enemy to legally attack us.

Parents do not give their elementary school children instructions fit for a college student. Lack of maturity of character limits what they are able to do and obey.

Moses was a great example of a minister who moved in the flesh, killing a man to deliver his brethren from bondage, and as a result he spent 40 years in the Refiner's Fire on the backside of the dessert. God had big plans and a high calling for Moses, but he could not fulfill it until the Refiner's Fire had done its work in his life. There is a difference in how God deals with us in the New Covenant versus the Old Covenant, but the principle remains the same.

Let's not judge other men but let us judge ourselves (1 Cor. 11:31).

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

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Bert Farias Featured The Flaming Herald Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:00:00 -0400
8 Reasons Christians Are Leaving Denominational Churches http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49329-8-reasons-christians-are-leaving-denominational-churches http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49329-8-reasons-christians-are-leaving-denominational-churches

While working on an unrelated research project, I recently came across some data published by the Hartford Institute of Religion Research. Though the information was five years old, it still seemed highly relevant today. In essence, the data showed that nondenominational churches are now the second largest Protestant group in America. Only the Southern Baptist Convention is larger.

Here are some of the fascinating nuggets from that study:

  • There are more than 12 million people who affiliate with nondenominational churches.
  • The research found at least 35,000 nondenominational churches in America.
  • Nondenominational churches are in 88 percent of the counties in the United States.
  • Nondenominational churches are one of the top five largest religious groups in 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In light of the growth of these churches, I conducted an informal Twitter poll and asked why people are moving to nondenominational congregations from churches affiliated with denominations. Here are the top eight responses in order. There is obvious overlap in some of the responses.

  1. Denominational churches have a negative reputation. Some respondents used the phrase "negative brand" to communicate this reason.
  2. Denominations are known more for what they are against than what they are for.
  3. There is too much infighting and politics in denominations.
  4. The denominational churches are too liberal. From what I can tell from these respondents, they are current and former members of mainline churches.
  5. There is a general waning of institutional loyalty in institutions such as denominations.
  6. Denominations have inefficient systems and organizations. They are too bureaucratic.
  7. Some of the respondents could see no perceived benefit to belonging to denominations.
  8. Denominations are not good stewards of their financial resources.

I plan on doing a second poll in the near future to see how respondents view denominations positively. In the meantime, let me hear from you.

Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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Thom S. Rainer Featured Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 08:00:00 -0400
What America Would Look Like Under Sharia Law http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49328-what-america-would-look-like-under-sharia-law http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49328-what-america-would-look-like-under-sharia-law

The diurnal interminable squabbling about First Amendment rights intentionally and ironically ignores the concerted effort to ensure its compliance to Sharia law.

Under the guise of "religious freedom," Islamic organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood such as the Islamic Circle of North America, the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have devoted millions of dollars and resources to a well coordinated campaign to ensure American laws, including judicial proceedings and state constitutions, be Sharia compliant. Sharia ("legislation") is rooted in the Quran, the foundation of Islamic law; non-compliance is punishable by death (3:85; 4:65). 

Such efforts are curious however, in light of Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) assertions. Islamic scholars, who draft opinions on issues concerning American Muslims, advocate no conflict exists "between Islamic teachings and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights."

FCNA asserts, "it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens. Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims' obligation for obedience to God. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well."

But, if Sharia doesn't contradict American law, why vigilantly advertise, lobby, award "educational grants," and fund political campaigns, to implement Sharia compliant American law? 

The answer is quite simple. Groups like FCNA may use terminology like "religious freedom" but their definitions of religion and freedom can only be rightly understood within the context of Islamic ideology—not from western law or culture. 

FCNA's assertion is obviously false when understood from within the context of taqqiya, Qur'an sanctioned deceit, and the Islamic doctrine of abrogation (2:106; 3:185; 16:101). 

Sharia law is in fact what the European Court on Human Rights ruled more than once: "incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy." Sharia actually rejects Constitutional rights, legislating restrictions and punishments against them.     

Consider how First Amendment rights fare under Sharia law. 

Under Sharia, no free exercise of religion exists, especially for Muslims who choose to leave Islam. Muhammad ordered, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him" (Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, Book 84, No. 57). Likewise, Muslims are instructed to murder, crucify, and dismember those who reject Islam, "wage war against Allah and his apostle and strive to make mischief in the land" (2:191, 5:32,33; 9:5, 123, 29).

According to a 2012 Pew Research Report, 60 percent of Middle Eastern and North African countries criminalize apostasy, the act of abandoning one's faith. Apostasy laws also exist in Asian-Pacific and sub-Saharan African countries. Examples abound in America, however, just consider Ground Zero's Imam Abdallah Adhami's assertion that Muslims who leave Islam should be imprisoned. 

Likewise, blasphemy laws exist worldwide to criminalize offensive speech or actions related to the Qur'an, Allah, and Muhammad. Seventy percent of Middle Eastern and North African countries, 31 percent of countries in the Americas, and 16 percent of European countries criminalize blasphemy. 

Those who correctly claim the word "blasphemy" cannot be found in the Quran exclude the fact that blasphemous acts are easily identifiable. Any "offensive" speech is illegal, which is why Dutch filmmaker van Gogh was brutally stabbed to death and French Charlie Hedbo satirists were gunned down; all victims were unarmed. These violent acts were not random, extreme or isolated, but examples of following the Quran's instructions. 

Discrimination against all non-Muslims exists under Sharia—because the underlying concept of equality does not. In fact, inequality, slavery and murder are enforced through the Islamic construct of dhimmitude.

Under dhimmitude, non-Muslims are divided into two groups. The polytheists, "pagans, idolaters and heathens" are given a choice to convert to Islam or die. Jews and Christians, known as "people of the book," dhimmi and/or kuffar, are legally classified as third class citizens. They first must be humiliated and subjugated to pay a tax (Jizyah) in increasing amounts to Muslim-majority rulers. Next, they are given time to convert or leave their town, region and eventually country. If the Kuffar can't or don't pay the Jizyah, convert to Islam or move, Muhammad states that peace is impossible and the kuffar must be caught and beheaded (9:29; 22:19; 47:4).

Sharia law first imposes unequal legal status for non-Muslims; then eliminates them. The near extinction of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries evidences the stark reality that no First Amendment rights exist under Sharia. Instead, Muslims are instructed to "terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Quran" and punish non-Muslims with "garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies" (8:12; 22:19). The Quran incontrovertibly clarifies that conflict not only exists "between Islamic teachings and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights," but also exists infinitivally.

This article first appeared in the Washington Times.

Bethany Blankley worked in politics for over 10 years, on Capitol Hill for four U.S. Senators and one U.S. Congressman, and in New York for a former governor. She also previously taught at the New York School of the Bible and worked with several nonprofits. She earned her master's degree in theology from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and her bachelor's degree in politics from the University of Maryland. She is a political analyst for "Fox News Radio," and she has appeared on television and radio programs nationwide. Follow her: @BethanyBlankley, bethanyblankley.com.

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Bethany Blankley Featured Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:00:00 -0400
If It's All About Grace, Does Obedience Even Matter? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49327-if-it-s-all-about-grace-does-obedience-even-matter http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49327-if-it-s-all-about-grace-does-obedience-even-matter

Of all the attributes of God described in the Bible, holiness is seen most often. Men fell down in the holy presence of God. Leaders, priests and kings all trembled at the sheer magnitude of His holiness. The angels cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy is our God."

Holiness (through obedience) is the key to truly understanding God. This is why sin is serious. It separates us from God; it stands in direct opposition to Him. It corrupts our character and our testimony; it prevents holiness and quenches and grieves the Spirit within.

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) in his book on holiness said that we must stand guard as a soldier on enemy ground. The problem is that many love the world and have a hard time separating. They believe in heaven but they don't truly long for it. They "say" that they fear God but they don't live like it. They indulge temptation rather than fight it. They enjoy sin rather than confront it. And they compromise rather than conquer. The lukewarm church disdains the heat of conviction. Holiness, to them, is outdated, old-fashioned (too conservative).

Are you willing to do what it takes to truly know God? Seeking to identify the middle ground between our responsibility (obedience) and God's role in sanctification (holiness) can be challenging, but it doesn't need to be. The Bible is filled with passages about obedience. This is why I do not embrace hyper grace, but I cherish biblical grace.

​(Watch my sermon excerpt, What Is Hyper Grace)

For example, 1 Peter 1:14 says, "As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance." 1 John 3:3 adds that "all who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure." And Romans 6:19 tells us to present our "bodies as slaves to righteousness." Peter asks, "What sort of people ought you to be in holiness and godliness?" (2 Pet. 3:11).

It's clear from Scripture that grace produces sanctification (holiness). Holiness is a by-product of our submission to the work of the Spirit. Because of God's grace I want to obey Him. Sadly, many don't seek this surrendered life. They want the narrow road to be broad and the cross to be light. But holiness has a cost.

J.C. Ryle noted that "holiness will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God's sight ... There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves." Ryle continues, "Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: We love them, hug them, cleave to them and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come."

Holiness comes with a price ... there is a cost—death to self and crucifixion to the world. To be filled mightily with the Spirit, we must first be emptied of self. Pride and arrogance hinder holiness. We are to overcome sin, not surrender to it.

A vast majority of Christian are turning a deaf ear to holiness saying, "We live under grace now." Conviction is replaced with complacency. Their thought is, "I'm just not convicted about that like you are." Often, the reason is because they are not truly seeking God.

Again, lukewarm living disdains the heat of conviction. It "loves the world" more than the things of God. A call to holiness challenges our lifestyle (mine included); it forces us to confront idols and remove destructive habits.

Holiness will cost the opinions of men. We will be ridiculed, mocked, slandered, persecuted and even hated when we take a stand for holiness. Nevertheless, we desperately need holiness.

We should not apologize for following God's Word. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. We will be criticized for following Christ, mocked for believing in truth, and challenged for promoting holiness. We are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. The day of the passive, lukewarm church must come to an end if we truly desire for families to be restored and for lives to be rebuilt.

Be clear here: 

​1] ​Holiness does not mean that we never sin. Those who seek holiness realize just how sinful they actually are. The closer we draw to God the clearer the picture of sin becomes.

​2] ​Holiness does not lead to the forgiveness of sin. God declares the believer righteous (holy) because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Christ plus something equals salvation is not biblical. We are declared right before God when we put our trust in Christ, not in our "good" works.

​3] ​Finally, holiness is not as much about "what" I don't do as it is "why" I don't do something. It's safe to assume that those who live strictly by rules rather than a true relationship with Christ are not holy ... they are religious. They may avoid people, places and things but still be critical, judgmental, jealous, arrogant and angry—"having a form of godliness." Holiness involves truly seeking God verses "playing church."

We must lovingly preach holiness in our pulpits again: "Without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). The prophets of old bear this out as well. These men were sent by God to call the people back to Him ... back to holiness: "And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers [to convict them], rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy" (cf. 2 Chr. 36:15-16).

Little has changed: We still mock difficult messages from the pulpit and the pen, we despise the heat of conviction, and we scoff at those who seek God unconditionally. I ask again, "Are you willing to do what it takes to truly know God?" It will require grace on God's part AND obedience on ours.

View recent sermons here: wcfav.org 

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

 

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God at shaneidleman.comShane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.orgFollow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.​​​​

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Shane Idleman Featured Opinion Fri, 24 Apr 2015 06:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Former Imprisoned Youth Leader Has 'Been Waiting for This Day' http://www.charismanews.com/us/49326-watch-former-imprisoned-youth-leader-has-been-waiting-for-this-day http://www.charismanews.com/us/49326-watch-former-imprisoned-youth-leader-has-been-waiting-for-this-day

He's got quite the testimony, going from waking and baking to a megachurch youth movement. Now, The Basement's Matt Pitt has been vindicated for charges that landed him in jail in 2013. 

Pitt rose to fame as his youth movement grew, and catapulted into the spotlight when he was accused of twice impersonating a cop. The first time, he pleaded guilty, the second time, he maintained his innocence, though he jumped 45 feet off a cliff to avoid officers. 

The leap landed him in jail for eight months before he was released on Palm Sunday, 2014.

Today, though, the jury found him not guilty of the charges, and Pitt's got a few things on his mind.

Watch the video to see what the evangelist has to say.

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:00:00 -0400
'Holy Ghost' Filmmaker Darren Wilson May Not Be Who You Think He Is http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/behind-the-lens/49325-holy-ghost-filmmaker-darren-wilson-may-not-be-who-you-think-he-is http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/behind-the-lens/49325-holy-ghost-filmmaker-darren-wilson-may-not-be-who-you-think-he-is

Most people know me as a filmmaker. I made the fairly popular movies Finger of God, Furious Love, Father of Lights, and Holy Ghost (with Holy Ghost Reborn coming out later this year!). Far less people know that I am also an author (Filming God & Finding God in the Bible). Even less than that know that I am also a speaker who ministers in churches and conferences around the world with what little spare time I have. But before the filmmaking and the writing and the speaking, I was a simple college professor. I was a teacher. And thats ultimately what I want to get back to here.

The best teachers, in my opinion, don't tell you what you're supposed to think and believe. They allow you to discover it for yourself. They want you to wrestle with hard questions, to discuss things with other people. My role here isn't to spew information or opinions, but rather to offer up ideas, concepts, questions and (yes) possible answers for you to then chew on, share with others, debate, discuss and think about. 

Now, a word of warning before we begin. I am probably not who you think I am, and I probably don't think the way you think I think. It has become obvious to me that my films tend to create weird and unrealistic expectations in people as to who I am or how I operate. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not an overly serious person; I have a fairly childish sense of humor, and I am not very charismatic. When I go into a Starbucks, I order coffee, I don't pray for people. I've never spoken in tongues and I've never been "slain in the spirit." My first priority in making movies is to entertain you, not to convert people to Christianity. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. I'm just a normal dude with a young family who makes lots of mistakes, but who loves the Lord with all his heart. This column will be my way of working through some of the harder questions in life, and hopefully it helps some of you work through some things as well.

So what will we talk about then? I will most likely deal with a variety of things related to these main topics: Faith & Pop Culture; God & Belief; Hard Questions; The Bible; Parenting; and yes, I'll probably tell a lot of Stories. If that sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to sign up for the email feature at the front or back end of this article, where you'll receive all the new posts I make nice and neat in your inbox as soon as they are released. 

In an effort to make this as accessible as possible, I'd love to begin by inviting you to let me know what kinds of questions, topics, or things you'd like me to explore in the coming weeks and months. Feel free to put your ideas either in the comment section below, or you can even message me on Facebook.

Darren Wilson is the founder of Wanderlust Productions and the creator of various films, including Finger of God, Furious Love, and Father of Lights. Darren's new book,Finding God in the Bible, is available in stores everywhere. Visit his website at wpfilm.com 

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Darren Wilson Featured Behind the Lens Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Wave of 200 Teen Suicides Reveals Spiritual Warfare in South Dakota http://www.charismanews.com/us/49324-wave-of-200-teen-suicides-reveals-spiritual-warfare-in-south-dakota http://www.charismanews.com/us/49324-wave-of-200-teen-suicides-reveals-spiritual-warfare-in-south-dakota

Christians are being called to battle in the U.S. A spiritual battle, that is.

Between December and March, more than 200 teenagers on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota either committed suicide, or tried to.

"This is beyond anything we've ever seen; it's almost like 'serial suicides,'" states Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries (RHM). "This is not just a psychological issue: this is a spiritual battle with spiritual forces.

"The thief—speaking of the devil—'comes to steal, kill, and destroy,' and this is the result. You've got 12-year-old girls hanging themselves. You can't imagine a 12-year-old deciding to die; they haven't even lived yet!"

The Darkness Surrounding Pine Ridge

Home to the Oglala Lakota tribe, Pine Ridge is no stranger to bloodshed. The Oglala are "the people of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull," Hutchcraft explains.

"Pine Ridge was the site of the Wounded Knee massacre back at the end of the Indian era."

On Dec. 29, 1890, a misunderstanding over arms led to the slaughter of between 200 and 300 Lakota tribes-people by U.S. cavalrymen. On Jan. 3, 1891, 146 Lakotas were buried in a single mass grave.

"There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce ... a mother was shot down with her infant; the child, not knowing that its mother was dead, was still nursing," recalled Oglala Lakota chief American Horse in an early 1900s interview.

Bodies were allegedly found as far as three miles outside the Pine Ridge camp.

Following this dark moment in history came generations of oppression: boarding schools, substance abuse, extreme poverty, domestic abuse, the list goes on and on. According to Hutchcraft, a deep darkness still grips Pine Ridge today.

  • Infant mortality is 300 times the national average.
  • Nearly everyone—97 percent of the Pine Ridge population—is living below the national poverty line.
  • According to current USDA Rural Development documents, the Lakota have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.
  • At least 60 percent of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold.

This is the devastation facing Pine Ridge residents every day. Teen suicide is nothing new here: Pine Ridge's suicide rate is 150 times the national average, but its frequency has started to grab national attention.

The laments on Facebook would "break your heart," Hutchcraft says.

"A 13-year-old sixth grader has taken her own life. My heart is breaking already, and the day has just begun."

"This knife feels so good against my wrist. Ain't nobody care anyway, my life will be better gone as it is."

"We just lost another child to suicide. Yahweh, help us!"

The U.S. Public Health Service is sending mental health counselors to talk to Pine Ridge teens.

Hutchraft says the "suicide spike" is a spiritual problem. Many of the young people who've attempted suicide—or are close friends of a suicide victim—"have talked about an increase in spirit activity," he shares.

"They call them the shadow people or the dark people," Hutchcraft says. "There are spirit beings—demonic beings—that are stalking the reservation and convincing young people that they are worth nothing ... and [that have] started this 'cloud of death' over the reservation."

Lyrics of the Getty hymn "O Church Arise" read in part: O Church, arise and put your armor on, Hear the call of Christ our Captain. Our call to war, to love the captive soul, But to rage against the captor. Will you answer the call?

Bringing Hope to Pine Ridge

RHM is sending a team of 20 Native young people to Pine Ridge to share the hope of Christ. It's an unplanned and early start to their annual "Summer of Hope" outreach." We really need the prayer of God's people for this, because this is not just a psychological issue: this is a spiritual battle with spiritual forces. There's not going to be any way to win this battle on-the-ground, unless it is first won in the heavenlies," says Hutchcraft.

Please share this story on Facebook or through email with your fellow prayer warriors.

The team heading to Pine Ridge is part of RHM's On Eagles' Wings (OEW) ministry: a movement of Native young people that want to bring Hope to their reservations through Jesus Christ. Learn more about OEW here.

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Katey Hearth Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Why I'm Praying for Franklin Graham http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49323-why-i-m-praying-for-franklin-graham http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49323-why-i-m-praying-for-franklin-graham

After reading recent commentaries regarding Pastor Franklin Graham, we are seeking God in prayer and reaching out to prayer partners regarding this matter. Pastors and politicians alike are scrambling for answers to the problems of the world while ignoring the obvious. All of the killing, the shedding of innocent blood, born and unborn, is a problem. Lack of justice and righteousness in our legal system, and racism are also problematic. The police and law enforcement are all too often ignoring civil and legal restraints built in to protect and to enforce. 

Why is the Christian church in trouble? Why are our governments in decay? Decline of universal church membership? Decline of voters at the polls? Over 55 million voters and potential church members die by abortion before they see the light of day! 

Designer sermons which pick and choose which sin to preach against [such as ignoring adultery and fornication while slamming homosexuality] are so hypocritical, misleading and downright confusing. God is not the author of confusion! We all have sinned about something. We all need to repent and come clean. 

Also imbalance of equity regarding African-Americans is causing moral, social and financial bankruptcy. It's time to come clean. 

But Christians are attacking one another. Just take a look at the group of pastors and Christian leaders who rebuked Franklin Graham after he posted about obeying law-enforcement officers.

Here's what some people are saying:

"U know, I just read the short Charisma article, and I think what Graham said is HIS opinion and, frankly, is being blown up into something it's not. If he misunderstands one group's experience, let that group of pastors go and explain it to him calmly and privately (Read MATTHEW 18:15-17). Publicly saying he's 'sinned' and attacking him like this ISN'T Christian. All it does is create an ugly spectacle and give the enemies of Jesus ammunition to use against HIS Church. At least, that's my opinion. Luv u." —Sister V

"Definitely not a loving Christian approach. Stirs up strife." —Alveda

"Exactly. We're supposed to luv our brothers and sisters in CHRIST as well as our enemies. We've also gotta resist acting out emotionally. Every time I make an emotional decision, I mess up. :-!" —Sister V

"Hi Dear Friend, I just finished preaching overseas and came in and read your post. I think as the white community we are clueless and insensitive on many different levels to what has been and is going on with the pain and inequities that still exist on many different levels.

"We have no right to lecture in social media. So sorry, my friend! Love you so much." —Sister C

"Hi Alveda.  Just saw this.  I read Franklin Graham's post again.  Alveda there is way too much abuse by police. Both black and white police. I have a fear of police because I have a fear for those in authority. So I probably over comply. Having said that , I am white so I have never suffered the kind of abuse that African Americans have. I don't even have the remotest clue what that kind of abuse and discrimination would feel like. Again there is far too much violence against blacks by white police. I tend think it's a minority of white police. I hope it's a small group and not the majority of white police. When I reread Franklin Grahams post he seemed to be calling those shootings unnecessary. That is the word he used. He seemed to be saying that if people complied with a command to submit and not fight or run there would be less shootings. I suppose that might be true in some cases. 

"I didn't feel Graham was sinning against any group by his remarks but I can also see how his words could be interpreted in a way that he didn't mean to have them taken. Nerves on all sides are very very raw right now. I think Mr. Graham would have deleted his post without sending if he had any clue how his words would be understood from various viewpoints. I know Mr. Graham goes all over the earth giving millions in aid to hurting and suffering minority group. I don't think he has a prejudiced bone in his body but now I see he should never have posted that. It made things worse. Yikes. Lord heal our land, end abuse, reconcile our races, restore peace, and get the bad apples out of our police force." —Brother S

"I agree with the writers. But sometimes we presume to speak without relationship. Brother Graham should be  more ambassadorial in his postings. His heart is in the right place but he appears to not have either compassion or understanding about the race problem." —Brother BH

"Totally agree with you: if he tells us to 'obey' he must also tell police to enforce the law in an unbiased and fair manner under the law...they too should obey the law...history is full of cases where blacks obeyed and still were beaten or died or had evidence planted...he should urge a color blind justice system as would Christ." —Clarence McKee, Fellow newsmax.com Insider

"Romans 13 is without a question, but what do u do if u believe that u will be mistreated if u obey? There needs to be education on both sides. Through much prayer, God surely will reveal deeply seated lies that each side unconsciously believe that precipitates wrong actions. Then we must turn around and develop basic guidelines in race relations. God is good." —Prophet E

"So while disobedience to a lawful order endangers the life of the officer and the civilian, the officers should have an honest duty of care." —Alveda and Mike

And as if all of this isn't enough, here's more on the marriage front. God help us. 

What do you think of Graham's comments? Sound off!

Dr. Alveda King is the daughter of the late civil-rights activist the Rev. A.D. King and niece of Martin Luther King Jr. She is also a civil rights and pro-life activist, as well as director of the African-American outreach for Priests for LifeClick here to visit her blog.

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Alveda King Featured Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Glenn Beck: Why Do We Care More About Persecuted Pizza Owners but Ignore Christian Beheadings? http://www.charismanews.com/world/49321-glenn-beck-why-do-we-care-more-about-persecuted-pizza-owners-but-ignore-christian-beheadings http://www.charismanews.com/world/49321-glenn-beck-why-do-we-care-more-about-persecuted-pizza-owners-but-ignore-christian-beheadings

Glenn Beck is fed up with American Christians largely ignoring the plight of their brothers and sisters in the Middle East. 

"Why does no one care?" he asked on his television program. "When we talked about a Christian pizza parlor just the other day, Christians responded in large numbers. ... Here people are getting executed. Shouldn't the response be exponentially greater when Christians are literally being beheaded and crucified, children being raped and killed every single day?"

Beck's making his comments after the Islamic State shot and beheaded 30 Ethiopian martyrs

He points to the Christian support of Memories Pizza, an Indiana pizzeria that closed its doors and then reopened them after their support of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

More than $800,000 was raised through crowdsourcing for the mom-and-pop shop to reopen, a campaign that has influenced more donations for Christians who face legal action for their beliefs in America. 

But is there a Kickstarter to help Ethiopians? What about a GoFundMe for Coptic Christians? For Beck, he believes the disconnect may lie within denominational lines.

"Maybe we don't react to these things because we don't think of the Greek Orthodox or the Coptic Christians—we don't know what the Coptic thing is," Beck says. "Because would we care if the victims were Methodist or Baptist or Catholic or Mormon? I guarantee you we would." 

Do you agree with Beck? Sound off!

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Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:00:00 -0400
We Must Focus on Ending Persecution of Christians Worldwide http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49320-we-must-focus-on-ending-persecution-of-christians-worldwide http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49320-we-must-focus-on-ending-persecution-of-christians-worldwide

Last Friday I had the privilege of speaking at the United Nations on the topic of the persecuted church. If you missed what I said, click here. Even though I've had many wonderful experiences in my role as a Christian journalist, it was a peak experience to go to that august assembly and be given the floor to speak out for those who have no voice.

Since Friday there have been reports of Christians thrown overboard by Muslims on a migrant ship in the Mediterranean apparently only because they were Christians. And some Ethiopians were slaughtered in Libya only because they were Christians.

When will the killing end? The United Nations and U.S. leaders must pass resolutions to protect Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

It's also vitally important that President Obama appoint a Special Envoy for the protection of religious minorities in the Middle East and call for the establishment of an International Day of Prayer in solidarity with Christians in the Middle East.

There was an impressive lineup of speakers from Rabbi Jonathan Cahn to Lt. Gen. (Ret) William Boykin, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and representatives from nearly every segment of the Christian community. The speeches were so good that we will publish most of them in the next two weeks. It's my way of giving attention to the problem.

While it was a great honor to be invited to speak and I delivered my remarks with conviction, I realized the real value in my being there wasn't to speak as much as for me to be reminded of the seriousness of the problem. Also, it reminded me that I can't be content to write about it from time to time rather than make it a focus.

We must focus on this. If we don't, who will? And we can't just feel persecution of Christians is something that only applies to others in some far away place. If one part of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. And in a way, we're victims of the same anti-Christian feelings—there is more societal discrimination of Christians in the West too.

I call on other Christian media like Christianity Today, WND, Christian Post and Salem Communications to focus on this too. In addition, Christian radios and TV should raise awareness since the secular media seem to minimize it.

Friday's event, as historic as it was, received minimal coverage in the press.

So you can help by making your friends and fellow church members aware of the problem. Speak up. Make your voice heard. Forward articles on Christian persecution to your friends on social media—including the ones we publish.

And pray. We must pray for those who suffer. We must pray the suffering will end. We must pray that the U.N. will speak up to condemn this as unacceptable in the civilized world.

Do you agree? Leave your thoughts below.

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

To read more about Christian persecution and Islamic terrorism, please check out Mark Gabriel's Journey Into the Mind of an Islamic Terrorist. You can purchase the book by clicking here.

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Steve Strang Featured Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:30:00 -0400
A Miraculous Nutritional Element That Feeds Your DNA http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49319-a-miraculous-nutritional-element-that-feeds-your-dna http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49319-a-miraculous-nutritional-element-that-feeds-your-dna

How can such a simple thing make such a huge difference?

Raw juices and living foods are packed with a cornucopia of nutrients, including biophotons—those light rays of energy the plants get from the sun. When we cook food, those beautiful rays of energy are destroyed or shrink way down.

Two researchers have found that the light energy in biophotons is an important aspect of food. The more light a food is able to store, the more beneficial the food. Naturally grown fruits and vegetables that are ripened in the sun are strong sources of light energy. Numerous minute particles of light—biophotons, the smallest units of light—make their way into our cells when we eat these foods. They provide our bodies with important information and control complex processes, such as ordering and regulating our cells.

When you drink a tall glass of fresh veggie juice and your day is focused on more live foods than cooked or processed fare, your whole internal environment changes. As you consume more living foods, you require fewer calories because biophotons help rev up the mitochondria of your cells—the little energy furnaces that pump out ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy that is used by cells).

They also feed your DNA, which stores about 90 percent of the biophotons found in your cells. Because biophotons carry biological information of the plant into your body, it's kind of like getting a software download or having a computer technician take over your computer remotely to fix things you can't begin to correct. Just as the computer tech fixes errors on your computer, the biophotons help to fix errors that have taken place within the body.

Voilà! You start feeling better, lighter and more energized as time goes on. Your sleep improves, and you may need less of it. Your mind becomes more alert and creative. No longer will you find yourself in a disorganized fog because biophotons help your mind and body to come alive. You will experience more mental energy, and your creativity improves as well because of the electrical stimulation of the biophotons.

(Could this be the boot for dementia or early Alzheimer's disease?)

Your metabolism also ramps up, and you burn more calories, which helps you get fit with greater ease. And in the process, your overall health improves. Symptoms of poor health, ailments and chronic diseases begin to heal. Your whole life changes!

Adapted from Cherie Calbom's The Juice Lady's Remedies For Thyroid Disorder (Charisma House, 2015).

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

 

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Cherie Calbom, M.S., CN Featured Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:00:00 -0400
The Most Dangerous Threat Since the Nazis http://www.charismanews.com/world/49322-the-most-dangerous-threat-since-the-nazis http://www.charismanews.com/world/49322-the-most-dangerous-threat-since-the-nazis

Editors Note: This is a next in a series of speech texts from last Friday's conference at the United Nations titled, "Not Peace but a Sword: The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East as a Threat to International Peace and Security." Here's Pastor Mario Bramnick, the Senior Pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Cooper City, Florida.."

Mario Bramnick

Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) as a subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

NHCLC and HILC will build a firewall against anti-semitism and the campaign to delegitimize the nation of Israel, raise awareness of the critical intersection of Israel and America's future, and activate Hispanics as the most "pro-Israel, pro-Jewish" demographic.

HILC's vision is to build bridges of reconciliation between Jew and Arab, to create a firewall of protection against the persecution of the Arab Christians throughout the middle east, to educate the church about the Christian persecution and to spread the gospel to the Muslim Arab world. "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance" (Is. 19:25)

Many Arab Christians feel that their history, culture and heritage have been hijacked by Islamists in the region.

Hispanic Israel leadership coalition will stand up for the Christian Arabs who suffer great persecution in Muslim countries. HILC will bring light to the plight of Christian Arabs, including Palestinian Christians.

Christians are the most persecuted religious group today, with the most dire form of persecutions occurring in the Muslim lands by extremists. A majority of Christians in Syria and Iraq belong to the ancient Assyrian or Chaldean churches. They trace their spiritual heritage to the prophet Jonah, whose preaching in Ninevah led to the mass conversion to Christianity in the region.

Last year saw the highest level of persecution of Christians the world has seen since the fall of the soviet union, according to an Open Doors USA report by a Christian persecution watchdog group released Wednesday. 

Open Doors USA highlighted that in the 24 years that open doors has been tracking numbers on global persecution, 2014 was the most violent year of Christian persecution and was far worse than the year before.

During the past reporting period we can confirm that 4,344 people were executed or murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ. Over twice that of the previous reporting period.

Three major driving forces of Christian persecution in the modern world, which were post-soviet union communist states, nationalistic ideologies and Islamic extremism as seen in most of the states found on the world watch list's top 50 list.

Although ISIS has been condemned by Muslim religious leaders in nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, these entities' strict Islamic ideology helped to create the ISIS group.

Saudi Arabia has been very counterproductive in its actions. Funding and encouraging and spreading an ideology of hate. Saudi Arabia did create its own monster.

Panel

 

The Islamic state are the most potent threat to the world since the Nazis.

The extremist Muslim organization is comparable to Adolf Hitler's regime in its fanaticism and barbarity. Isis calling for its "military annihilation," ISIS is "dedicated to a contemporary holocaust" has a belief in its own "racial superiority."

However, the particular fundamentalist ideology of "Islamist" groups that have dedicated themselves to terror—such as al-Qaida, Boko Haram and now in its most vicious, barbaric and threatening form the Islamic caliphate, ISIS or the Islamic state (IS).

Like the Nazis, ISIS fanatics are anti-Semitic, with a belief in their own racial superiority. They are anti-democratic: the Islamic state is a totalitarian state, absolute in its authority. Goebbels would have been proud.

The politicians, who say "these atrocities have nothing to do with Islam" are making a false statement.

Canon Andrew White, is president of the foundation for relief and reconciliation in the Middle East. He was the Anglican chaplain to the international zone in Baghdad and was the vicar of St. George's Anglican Church, Baghdad.

He also became actively involved in helping to lead the negotiations bringing together key religious leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. 

Until all this happened, none of us knew ISIS. We lived together, Christians, Jews and Muslims. We helped each other, we cared for each other. Suddenly this group appears, who wants to slaughter all of our people, to murder, massacre and remove them from their homeland, destroy the entire Christian community in Iraq. For most of the people, if they didn't leave, they would be killed. People need to realize that this is such an extreme form of terrorist activity that all that we have worked for and achieved was just being banished overnight.

These Iraqis have lost everything but haven't lost God. They have nothing. They have no housing, no food, no education, so currently in Erbil, Kurdistan and in Amman, Jordan, we're providing a major relief program to give them food, education program and we've established a school for them.

This provision has changed the lives of those most in need. These are not far flung distant people. They are our family and our people. I give thanks to the Almighty for the privilege of serving these people. Finally there is the issue of reconciliation to God. The very fundamental thing of what we are providing is loving them. It's fine to provide them food, to give them housing, to provide education but at the end of the day, at the beginning of the day, throughout the day, you have to love them. You have to show that you are loved by God. We are here because God has sent us here because He loves them.

Western Christians lead comfortable lives. Even the poorest among us has tremendous comparative wealth, and few have experienced anything remotely akin to persecution. Softened by prosperity, distracted by entertainment and consumed by ambition, we ignore the plight of those who live less magical lives. After all, we are very busy.

We Westerners inhabit a world that is quite alien to that of Iraq, Syria, and Egypt.

Though we may read of Mosul in the news, words will never convey what it's like to hear armed men surround our house or a hooded jihadi demand that we recant or be executed. It's just not our world.

We see their plight, we share their pain, and we desire to do something to help them—but we just don't know how. Without any government position, public voice or significant financial resources, we doubt that we possess any conceivable means of transforming the situation.

Mario Bramnick has been appointed as the President of the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) and as regional vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). As the NHCLC Justice Division Director, Pastor Bramnick helped coordinate a Justice Summit for NHCLC in Washington, D.C., and hosted a bipartisan Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill with 14 Congressmen and Senators.

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Mario Bramnick Featured World News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:45:00 -0400
California Bill Would Force Christian Parents to Vaccinate Kids Against Religious Beliefs http://www.charismanews.com/us/49318-california-bill-would-force-christian-parents-to-vaccinate-kids-against-religious-beliefs http://www.charismanews.com/us/49318-california-bill-would-force-christian-parents-to-vaccinate-kids-against-religious-beliefs

California's senate education committee approved a bill making it mandatory for children to be vaccinated before starting school despite opposition from "anti-vaxxer" parents who have packed public hearings and flooded lawmakers with calls. 

The bill, which has already passed the senate health committee, has several more hurdles to clear before becoming law. It next goes to the senate judiciary committee, before going to the state senate, and finally the assembly. 

Under the bill, only children with medical waivers to opt out of vaccinations would be exempted.

Most states, however, also allow parents to opt out if their religion bans the protective procedure and about 20 allow personal beliefs exemptions, which in recent years have been used by parents who fear a now-debunked link between vaccines and autism, or worry about other health effects of children receiving shots.

The bill under consideration in California would eliminate the personal beliefs exemption, which would also have the practical effect of eliminating any exemption based on religion.

Introduced in the wake of a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland and infected 147 people last year, the bill stalled last week in the senate education committee, after opponents said it would unfairly deprive unvaccinated children of their right to an education.

On Wednesday, it was approved by a vote of 7-2 after the authors added a provision to allow unvaccinated children to participate in group home-schooling environments.

The proposed removal of the personal beliefs exemption in California drew questions from representatives of some of the state's most liberal enclaves, some of which are home to large clusters of parents who worry that vaccinating their children according to the recommended medical timelines could weaken their immune systems or otherwise harm their health.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All Rights Reserved. 

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Sharon Bernstein/REUTERS Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Charles Stanley Won't Accept Award Because Jews Accuse Him of Homophobia http://www.charismanews.com/world/49317-charles-stanley-won-t-accept-award-because-jews-accuse-him-of-homophobia http://www.charismanews.com/world/49317-charles-stanley-won-t-accept-award-because-jews-accuse-him-of-homophobia

Amid a heated debate over his vocal opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley will decline an award he planned to accept from the Jewish National Fund in Atlanta on Thursday (April 23).

News that the longtime pastor of First Baptist Atlanta and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention would be honored by the JNF angered many Jews who pointed to his history of vitriolic anti-gay comments.

Stanley said the award was causing too much strife within the Jewish community, and for the sake of his love for Israel, he would not accept it, according to the JNF, a nonprofit that sponsors environmental and educational programs in the Jewish state.

It was Stanley's idea not to accept the award, JNF spokesman Adam Brill said Tuesday.

"Dr. Stanley feels that he did not want to see any further controversy and I think it's a laudable and heartfelt decision, and we totally support and embrace it."

Decrying Stanley's "sordid history of virulent homophobic statements and actions," the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) led a campaign to get JNF to change its mind on bestowing Stanley with its Tree of Life award, which was to be given to him for his support for Israel by the JNF's Atlanta chapter on Thursday, Israel's independence day.

"We respect Dr. Charles Stanley's decision," said Rebecca Stapel-Wax, executive director of Atlanta-based SOJOURN, on Tuesday. "We are so grateful for the strong support of hundreds of people across the country. We look forward to a productive dialogue with JNF in the coming weeks and building our relationship together to support the local Jewish and LGBTQ communities and Israel."

Stanley rose to national prominence in the 1980s with his "In Touch" television series and books that sold millions of copies. Though not known as a culture warrior in the mold of the late Jerry Falwell or televangelist Pat Robertson, Stanley, 82, has preached vehemently against homosexuality. He recently submitted a legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court against legalizing same-sex marriage.

He "has publicly called AIDS God's punishment for America's acceptance of homosexuality and called homosexuality 'destructive behavior,'" read a letter signed by 240 people to JNF Southeast region leaders from SOJOURN.

"He has said that 'God does not agree with the lifestyle of the homosexual' and that accepting gay people is 'an act of disobedience to God,'" the letter continued.

The controversy over Stanley's award reflects the sometimes awkward embrace between American Jews and evangelicals — fervent partners in support of Israel but also outspoken opponents on many domestic social issues, including homosexuality and abortion rights.

Stanley led the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984 to 1986. His son, Andy Stanley, leads the 30,000-member North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Ga., ranked last year as the nation's largest megachurch.

In an earlier statement provided by JNF, the group said Stanley "represents one of the largest Christian communities in the South which has always supported the Jewish people in times of peace and conflict."

© 2015 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. 

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Lauren Markoe/RNS Featured World News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:00:00 -0400
USA Today Columnist: Obama Throwing Christians Overboard to Drown http://www.charismanews.com/world/49316-usa-today-columnist-obama-throwing-christians-overboard-to-drown http://www.charismanews.com/world/49316-usa-today-columnist-obama-throwing-christians-overboard-to-drown
What do you call it when 12 men are drowned at sea for praying to Jesus?

Answer: Religious persecution.

Yet, when a throng of Muslims threw a dozen Christians overboard a migrant ship traveling from Libya to Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi missed the opportunity to label it as such. Standing next to President Obama at their joint news conference Friday (April 17), Renzi dismissed it as a one-off event and said, "The problem is not a problem of (a) clash of religions."

While the prime minister plunged his head into the sand, Italian authorities arrested and charged the Muslim migrants with "multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate," according to the BBC.

As Renzi was questioned about the incident, Obama was mute on the killings. He failed to interject any sense of outrage or even tepid concern for the targeting of Christians for their faith. If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy threw 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested? 

When three North Carolina Muslims were gunned down by a virulent atheist, Obama rightly spoke out against the horrifying killings. But he just can't seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.

Religious persecution of Christians is rampant worldwide, as the Pew Research Center  has noted, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Middle East and Northern Africa, where followers of Jesus are the targets of religious cleansing. 

Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Western leaders—including Obama—will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded. The president's mumblings about the atrocities visited upon Christians (usually extracted after public outcry over his silence) are few and far between. And it will be hard to forget his lecturing of Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast about the centuries-old Crusades while Middle Eastern Christians were at that moment being harassed, driven from their homes, tortured and murdered for their faith.

A week and a half after Obama's National Prayer Breakfast speech, 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded for being "people of the cross." Seven of the victims were former students of my friend and hero "Mama" Maggie Gobran, known as the "Mother Theresa of Cairo" for her work with the poorest of the poor. She told me these dear men grew up in rural Upper Egypt and had gone to Libya seeking work to support their families. They died with dignity as they called out to their God, while the cowardly murderers masked their faces.

Rather than hectoring Christians about their ancestors' misdeeds, Obama should honor these men and the countless Middle Eastern Christians persecuted before them.

Monday (April 20), there was more horrifying news: Islamic State terrorists released a video purporting to show more religiously motivated killing. According to CNN, before beheading and shooting two groups of Christians in Libya, a speaker said, "The Islamic State has offered the Christian community (the opportunity to convert to Islam or pay a tax for being Christian) many times and set a deadline for this, but the Christians never cooperated."

So they kill them.

Indeed, let's talk more about the Crusades.

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Kristen Powers/USA Today Featured World News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:30:00 -0400
An Open Letter to Russell Brand on Pornography Addiction http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49310-an-open-letter-to-russell-brand-on-pornography-addiction http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49310-an-open-letter-to-russell-brand-on-pornography-addiction

Dear Russell,

Welcome to the modern-day abolitionist movement. I know you haven't officially joined us or any group in the campaign against commercial sexual exploitation, but the clear stand you are taking to warn people of the harmful effects of pornography is big.

Much of what you declare about porn on your Trews podcasts has my cohorts and me nodding in affirmation. You see, we have been fighting this battle for more than eight years and to have an actor and comedian of your fame proclaim the toxic nature of both hardcore and softcore porn strengthens our cause. When you speak, people listen (and are amused or bemused and sometimes challenged or annoyed), as having 1 million subscribers to your relatively new podcast attests.

On the subject of porn, you are right on point. Your bold condemnation of the porn industry's objectification of women and commodification of sex is a clarion call. Thank you. You are convincing as you unfurl statistic after statistic about the insidious affect it has on a person's physical, mental, social and spiritual lives. Thanks again. And you are authentic and persuasive when you confess your own struggle with porn. I relate. I've been there.

But you stop too soon! You present the problem but no answer. I understand, what you face is a classic and epic human struggle.

As a former heroin addict, you know the power of a life-controlling addiction. By your own testimony you are now free of drugs, and I applaud your breakthrough. But as happens with many people, porn has filled the addiction gap.

To your credit, with a tone of distress you identify pornography as the "hub" of your inner conflict and doubt. You see your new uncontrollable addiction as the result of an underlying biological urge to procreate plugged into a culture that has groomed you (and all of us) to think of women as objects.

Russell, it is obvious that you are acutely aware of the destructive power porn is having on your life and on the culture around you, but you then raise the white flag, insisting that you are powerless to stop watching it. Here is what you said: "If I had total dominion over myself I would never look at pornography again."

Hmm. I have heard this retort somewhere before. I probably thought it a time or two myself. But what it reminds me of is Mr. Hyde. You know, Mr. Hyde of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the 19-century classic penned by Robert Louis Stevenson. (Since you were recently named the Fourth Most Influential Thinker in the world by Prospect magazine—congrats—I am sure you are familiar with Stevenson.)

As you know, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a tale about a man whose desire to make positive contributions to society was eclipsed by an even stronger desire to express his vices without care or conscience. The fictional Dr. Jekyll had long suppressed evil desires he could not fulfill without endangering his social reputation and career status. So he concocted a potion that would allow his dark side to be personified in a hideously deformed demon of lust and violence known as Mr. Hyde. (Yes, we all have a Mr. Hyde side!)

At first the transformations were controllable. Dr. Jekyll gleefully utilized the potion to become a monster free from moral restraint. Under the guise of Mr. Hyde he could indulge his basest desires, even frequent brothels without fear of detection. However, his appetites grew darker and more insatiable. He pushed the boundaries and mined the depths of depravity.

As Mr. Hyde was given more control something unplanned happened: Mr. Hyde took control. Dr. Jekyll's transformations into Mr. Hyde became involuntary. Simultaneously, larger and larger doses of potion were required to return to his Dr. Jekyll state. Eventually the potion became impotent. Dr. Jekyll had been methodically displaced by the heinous Mr. Hyde. The transformation to the dark side was complete.

Russell, from watching your podcasts it seems that one part of you is akin to the kindly Dr. Jekyll making positive contributions to further advances to society—you are good-hearted. But lurking beneath the surface of the public image belies a darker personality that is bent on satiating a black hole of carnal appetites.

As a cultural crusader, you expose the evil agendas of corporate greed and stand firm against the porn industry. You are a good guy striving to make positive contributions in the world. Then in the next moment you cave to the cravings you publicly denounce. You metamorphose into an impish creeper trolling the shadow world of pornographic vice. You sputter as a helpless victim of your own sexual appetite. You succumb to your darker side, your Mr. Hyde side.

Russell, you want justice for the little guy but then you allow injustice to reign over your desires. Ouch.

You are not alone in your struggle. Each of us, if we are honest, knows the feeling. This battle is not something new. You frequently refer to the Bible, even holding a copy of it during one of your podcasts, so you no doubt know of the Apostle Paul. He relates too. Check it out: "For the good I desire to do, I do not do, but the evil I do not want is what I do" (Rom. 7:19). Paul understood this struggle as a war between flesh and spirit.

Russell, where are you with your inner Mr. Hyde? Have you conceded defeat? Or have you really gone for the jugular to overcome that which torments you? You are a fighter for justice in our world. Are you also fighting for what's right for your soul?

The Apostle Paul prescribes the only way forward: "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Rom. 8:13).

This isn't easy, but it can be done.

As a culture, we cannot advance this fight against the dark side evidenced in porn, much less win it, without strategically targeting the demand side of the commercial sex equation. The simple fact is commercial sex does not exist without men demanding it. By killing demand, we will spare the lives of women and children.  

Russell, we welcome you as an unofficial cohort in our fight against the perils of porn. Your voice lends credence to what we seek to accomplish. But even more important than what you can do for our cause is what you do about Mr. Hyde.

Your inner Mr. Hyde has no interest in a peace treaty, so there is no compromise to be made. There can be only one victor. Only when you slay your inner Hyde will you have the fortitude to lead a cultural revolution and the inner peace you seek. Russell, think about this. Isn't this what you really want? You say if you could, you would stop. Well, you can.

It's time to declare war! Mr. Hyde must die!

Stevenson nailed it: "In each of us, two natures are at war—the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose—what we want most to be, we are."

In our hands lies the power to choose good or evil. We can choose to value women as the creations of God they are or choose to see them as disposable sex dolls that exist solely for male pleasure. We can choose to stand up for the voiceless and oppressed or we can unwittingly side with the oppression. Death to Mr. Hyde will result in lives saved and souls revived.

Russell, we applaud you lending your voice to this fight. Your Dr. Jekyll side shines, but now what will you do about Mr. Hyde?

Benjamin Nolot is an award winning documentary filmmaker and founder/CEO of Exodus Cry, an organization that works internationally to combat commercial sexual exploitation.

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Benjamin Nolot Featured Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:00:00 -0400
The Controversial Case That Could Ruin the US Supreme Court's Credibility http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49309-the-controversial-case-that-could-ruin-the-us-supreme-court-s-credibility http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49309-the-controversial-case-that-could-ruin-the-us-supreme-court-s-credibility

On April 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges and three other appeals in key marriage cases.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of state marriage amendments in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The Supreme Court granted review and will soon consider the constitutionality of upholding marriage as solely a male-female union.

A primary argument made by those wishing to redefine marriage is that the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution (14th Amendment) requires marriage to be made available to same-sex couples. In this instance, the district court in Ohio agreed — holding that the "fundamental right" to marry had been unconstitutionally denied same-sex couples.

A number of federal court opinions issued since the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Windsor v. United States, striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, have accepted this line of reasoning.

However, the Supreme Court has stated that it is reluctant to increase the catalogue of such rights and interests given the clause's open-ended language. That said, there is a fundamental right to marry that the Supreme Court has recognized on numerous occasions. Clearly, it covers the right of a man and woman to marry. But does it entail more than that?

When considering whether an asserted right is "fundamental," we are to rely on the test that the court set out in Washington v. Glucksberg (1997). First, the court requires the presentation of a "'careful description' of the asserted fundamental right or liberty interest." The claimed right must be described precisely. Second, such rights must be "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition."

Furthermore, the right must be "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental." The sought-after right must be "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" so that "neither liberty nor justice would exist if (it was) sacrificed."

In the current cases, a broad definition like "being able to marry the person of one's choice" does not describe what the plaintiffs seek. They are permitted to marry at present, but they must marry a person of the opposite sex.

That is how the right to marry has always been understood, but that is not the type of marriage the challengers want. Rather, they seek the legitimation of a new right—a right to a governmentally recognized conjugal arrangement for persons of the same sex.

The next step in the Glucksberg analysis requires an inquiry into whether this new, purported right to same-sex marriage would be deeply rooted in this nation's history and traditions, and would, therefore, be a fundamental right. Same-sex marriage is a novel concept.

No state contemplated redefining marriage until Hawaii approached the issue in the early 1990s, and it was not until May 2004 in Massachusetts that the first same-sex marriages were recognized.

Clearly, any right to enter into a same-sex marriage could not be deeply rooted in this country's history and traditions. Consequently, there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

Reaching this conclusion does not preclude other constitutional challenges, nor does it prevent legislatures from enacting statutes that allow couples of the same sex to marry. Rather, it merely prevents the Due Process Clause from being used to overturn the marriage laws of dozens of states.

If the Supreme Court were to engage in such judicial activism, it would not be well received by American voters. A recent poll of 800 registered voters conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research for the Family Research Council makes this clear. By 61 percent to 32 percent, the voters preferred that states and their citizens define marriage—not the Supreme Court.

The American people want to be free to decide how marriage is defined in America, and they do not wish to be ruled by a judicial oligarchy. The Supreme Court should remember this as it weighs the arguments in these four same-sex marriage cases.

If it hands down another Dred Scott or Roe v. Wade, the court's own legitimacy will be severely damaged.

Chris Gacek is the Senior Fellow, Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council. 

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Chris Gacek Featured Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 08:00:00 -0400
A Practical Checklist for Your Next Mission Trip http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49307-a-practical-checklist-for-your-next-mission-trip http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49307-a-practical-checklist-for-your-next-mission-trip

Sixteen years ago I prayed a dangerous prayer. I said to God: "Here am I, send me"—and I knew He would take me seriously.

Since that holy moment, I have traveled to preach in 29 countries, and I will leave tomorrow for Iceland. Last year I slept in 58 different beds, some of them extremely uncomfortable, because I surrendered to the call to share Jesus in other cultures.

Missionary travel is biblical. Ever since the Lord called Abraham to leave Ur, God's followers have been hitting the road to carry His message to foreign places. (And many, like the prophet Jonah, have resisted the call!) The early disciples carried the gospel from Israel to the entire known world in the first century without the benefit of airplanes, smartphones and credit cards. So today we have no excuse when it comes to fulfilling this amazing global assignment.

Perhaps you are preparing to go on a short-term missionary journey this summer. A mission trip can change your life, but it can also turn into a disaster if you fail to plan. Here are a few reminders to help you prepare.

1. Don't go alone. Jesus sent His disciples two by two. It is best to go on mission trips in teams. There have been times when I flew alone and met other people in the country I was visiting. But my preference is to always have companions with me. And a mission trip is a perfect opportunity to take disciples with you so you can mentor them along the way.

2. Be sure you are covered in prayer. It's vital that you have intercessory support while you are on a missionary trip. I always send a prayer letter to my supporters before I leave, and I give them specific information so they can pray effectively. It's also a great idea to have your pastor and other church leaders lay hands on you and pray before you depart. You will feel the support!

3. Get the right documents. You can't travel outside the United States without a valid passport. You may also need a visa in your passport depending on what country you are visiting. To find out if you need a visa, check out the country's embassy website. In some cases you will have to mail your passport to the embassy with a fee. In other cases you simply need to pay a fee at the airport when you arrive at your destination.

4. Get your shots! Some countries require travelers to have certain immunizations. Go to the U.S. State Department website to find out if you need these. It's cheaper to get these at your local health department than from a doctor. You will receive a yellow health card with official documentation of your shots. Keep this card with your passport on all trips. Do not be foolish and presume that God will automatically heal you if you didn't protect yourself from disease.

5. Pack wisely. Find out from your hosts how they want you to dress. In some countries preachers are expected to wear suits even though it is extremely hot! Don't assume you can dress however you want. Be sensitive. You should dress in a way that honors your hosts. (In some countries it is considered inappropriate for men to wear shorts, for example, or for women to wear pants.) Also, be sure you research what type of electrical plugs are used in the country you are visiting. If you don't take the right plug adapter, you will not be able to recharge your phone or other devices.

6. Take the right amount of cash. I avoid using my credit card in developing countries because some vendors will steal your number. Determine before you leave how much cash you need, and store the cash in a concealed pocket. Go to a bank to exchange currency. It is unwise to use currency vendors on the street unless your host is with you and he feels the rate is good.

7. Take interest in the people you are ministering to. Mission work is incarnational. To be effective you must identify with the people. Eat with them, laugh with them, be affectionate with them and serve them. Set your cultural differences aside and be relevant. I do this by learning some phrases in the local language, learning facts about the country and eating the local food. I also try to build lifelong relationships and I stay in touch with the people after I get home. Never engage in "hit and run" missions. Stay connected!

8. Learn to use a translator. If the people you are visiting do not speak English, you must depend on a good translator when you teach or preach. Usually your hosts will provide the translator—but you should make sure this has been arranged before you leave. You may have the best translator in the country, but if you don't know how to speak properly using a translator the people will not benefit from your message. Speak in short, clear phrases or complete sentences, and then let the translator translate. Don't use slang or American expressions. And don't scream or be theatrical. Remember: The people need to hear your translator, not you.

9. Prepare your heart to be a servant. The last thing the world needs is a spoiled American traveling to a developing country. We are called to deny ourselves as we follow Christ. Don't make demands when you are with your hosts. It is wonderful if you have hot water in your shower, Internet access or a nice bed. But don't go expecting to be comfortable, and don't complain about anything when you are there. You might suffer a little from heat, mosquitoes, broken toilets, thin walls, noisy roosters, leaky roofs or gross food, but I promise those inconveniences won't kill you.

10. Be flexible! In most foreign countries, especially in the developing world, people think differently about time. Church meetings start late. Schedules change. Transportation is unreliable. Electricity goes out often. It is easy to get frustrated if you are used to American efficiency. You must learn to relax and rest in God. Your hosts may tell you the meeting starts at 9 a.m., but don't get upset if everything is two hours late. This is the reality of the mission field. Remember the old adage: "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be broken."

And finally, when you return from your trip, it's important to debrief. Don't just jump back to your office job. Take some time to process. I minister to many abused people when I travel, and I hear a lot of horror stories. I also see a lot of poverty—and this can weigh heavy on my heart. It's important to talk to some friends about what you experienced after you return.

Don't just bottle up your feelings. What did you learn? Share what troubled you. Cry if you need to. Be open and let God speak to you about what you saw during your trip. He will expand your compassion so He can love a broken world through you.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His work to protect women from abuse was featured in the March issue of Charisma. Check out his ministry at themordecaiproject.org.

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J. Lee Grady Featured Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 07:00:00 -0400
6 Things Millennials Are Teaching Churches About Theology http://www.charismanews.com/us/49294-6-ways-millennials-are-educating-their-church-theologically http://www.charismanews.com/us/49294-6-ways-millennials-are-educating-their-church-theologically

Over the past few decades, the seeker-sensitive movement—and before that the church growth movement—taught us much about the importance of contextualization in the church.

The strengths of these movements included a relentless evangelistic focus and a willingness to question status quo methodology and some extra-biblical traditions. On the other hand, their weaknesses were exposed as well. There was a tendency by some to downplay the importance of biblical truths and theological education. The practical sometimes overshadowed the theological.

In recent years, however, I have noticed a remarkable—and welcomed—return by younger leaders to the fundamentals of the faith, basic theological education, and the deepening of doctrinal roots.

Recently I sat down and studied these trends and identified six ways millennial leaders in the church are increasing the importance and effectiveness of theological education in the local church:

1. Emphasizing the big story of the Bible. Millennial leaders understand the need for Christians to be grounded in the grand narrative of Scripture, and the resources they use range from chronological Bible reading plans to theologically robust kids' Bibles. The overwhelming success of The Gospel Project (video below), a curriculum that uses the storyline of Scripture to teach essential doctrines, shows that church leaders today see the need for theological education and are acting accordingly.

2. Utilizing a catechism-like resource with their kids. In the previous point I mentioned theologically rich children's Bibles, but it doesn't just stop there. Millennial parents are using other resources and even smartphone apps to teach theological concepts and lessons to their children at home. While they aren't typically formal catechisms, they emphasize building a foundation of correct answers to Biblical questions. The Big Picture question and answer section in The Gospel Project for Kids curriculum is just one example of a resource for this practice.

3. Study groups working through systematic theology. I know of several churches that have weekly study groups who cover basic systematic theology. This is not just doughnuts and devotions. These groups intensely study Scripture and theology and in many cases have seen an increase in theological education and evangelistic fervor.

4. A return to theological hymnody and songs. We've had Keith Getty on the podcast to discuss hymnody and trends in the worship services, but again, it doesn't stop there. Many millennial parents are using time in the car with their children to reinforce biblical truth through song. Several musicians have responded to this trend with albums full of songs with lyrics made entirely of Scripture.

5. Recommended reading on church websites. Many churches no longer have an official library on their campus, but church leaders are still recommending books. Many church websites now include a "recommended reading" section that features a mix of devotional classics, theological books and the resources that have been most helpful to the pastor and staff.

6. Church membership classes. This should not be a surprise to regular readers of this blog. As I've stated several times on the blog and in the podcast, the two main things you should communicate in church membership classes are information and expectations. And both of those must be firmly built on a biblical foundation of good theology.

There are surely other ways that churches are educating members with theological truths. I'd love to hear from you about ways in which you are doing this at your church. Please share them in the comment section below.

Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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Thom S. Rainer Featured U.S. News Thu, 23 Apr 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Memorial Day in Israel Actually Means Remembering Those Lost http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/49301-memorial-day-in-israel-actually-means-remembering-those-lost http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/49301-memorial-day-in-israel-actually-means-remembering-those-lost

In modern Israel's short history, we have suffered the loss of 23,320 victims of war and terror. In a country of 8.3 million people that started out 67 years ago with just 600,000, (then, losing a full 1 percent of the population in its first war), this is a huge proportion.

In the past year, 116 new names were added to the list. But they are not anonymous people. Israel is a small country and it's rare to find an Israeli who is not directly touched by the loss of a relative or loved one. They are our sons, daughters, parents, neighbors, students, teachers and even rabbis.

This week we observe Memorial Day. Most of the day I walk around with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

It's a solemn day full of sadness that's balanced by stories of heroism and selflessness. I've spoken in many churches about this, and one of the things I have shared and still find fascinating and special is that Memorial Day is truly meaningful here and there is a sense of national mourning. There's no public entertainment. Restaurants and cafés close. Memorial ceremonies take place throughout the country. Two minutes of silence are observed when air raid sirens wail during the day.

By contrast, in America at least, we are used to Memorial Day being the start of the summer with a long holiday weekend marked by sales and shopping. I've even been in stores where people wished me a "Happy Memorial Day" after making a purchase! Oy vey.

Our media reflects our heart. Radio stations air interviews with families of victims and play mournful music. Unfortunately, we have more than our share of these that make up the fabric of our culture. Our TV broadcasts stories about those lost and appropriate movies. Watching these is inspiring and sad at the same time because so many of those lost were remarkable and inspiring people whose lives were cut short at the hands of our enemies. We weep and pray and try to understand why.

Imagine solemn national mourning across America where victims are remembered and respected, where commercial TV reflects this either because society demands it or to make an important social statement, and where radio stations broadcast music that's appropriate in theme rather than "the top 1,000 songs of all time."

Perhaps it's a sign of having lived in Israel long enough that the loss of some of the victims hits very close to home.

Three teenage boys were kidnapped and murdered on June 12 from a bus stop near my home, down the road from my daughters' high school, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah. One boy was my next door neighbor's nephew and an American citizen.

Among soldiers killed in last summer's war with Gaza, two were American immigrants like my family, Sean Carmeli from Texas and Max Steinberg from LA. Despite being known as lone soldiers, meaning that they had come to Israel on their own and left families behind, they were not alone. More than 50,000 people attended their funerals.

When the war started, my daughters listened to the hourly news reports with a sense of anxiety and fear that one of their friends might be among the victims at any time. Early on in the war, Yuval Hyman, a 21-year-old talented cadet in the Paratroopers course, from our town was killed. It hit home literally as he grew up with my oldest daughter and her friends.

Another young soldier, Yishai Shor, who had been a volunteer in Israel's national ambulance service, was killed. Though I never knew him, from working with people who did, I have heard he was a particularly exemplary young man, always steeped in religious studies and helping others.

Israel was horrified when four rabbis, Moshe Twersky, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Kalman Levine and Aryeh Kupinsky, were literally butchered to death while praying in a Jerusalem synagogue, one of the most grotesque of recent terrorist attacks. Three of the rabbis were Americans. Together they left behind 24 children.

A Druze Israeli Arab police officer, Zidan Nahad Seif, was shot in the head by one of the terrorists at the synagogue after murdering the four rabbis. People think that a Jews and Arabs can't or don't get along. That's not the case, and is exemplified by Officer Seif putting his life on the line to protect Israeli Jews, and the outpouring of Jewish support for his widow and orphan baby.

Dalia Lemkus, 26, was waiting at a bus stop for a ride home to her town near mine, coming from a day at work helping special needs children. A terrorist tried to run her over with his car, and then repeatedly stabbed her to death in cold blood.

I was traveling when two soldiers were killed by Hezbollah terrorists on January 28. When I heard the news I went online and was shocked and saddened to see photos on every website of friends comforting their daughter who had just buried her husband, Yochai Kalangel. Days earlier he came home to celebrate their daughter's first birthday, just months before she was due with their second child. An officer, he was mourned by his soldiers and friends who shared stories of his giving money to junior soldiers who didn't have enough from his own small salary.

Through my work with Heart to Heart, savinglivesinisrael.org, providing resources for Israel's national ambulance, EMS and blood service, I was especially moved by the memorial ceremony at the national blood center. Providing 100 percent of the blood for Israel's soldiers and 97 percent of the blood for the public, Israelis literally can't live without it, especially during times of war and heightened terrorism.

As Memorial Day ends, and millions of Israelis' deep emotional wounds that have been opened again begin to heal, again, Israel does something unique. The grief of Memorial Day is replaced by the joy of Independence Day. One is inseparably tied to the other and we can't appreciate one fully without the other.

I've been in Israel long enough to hope and pray that enough is enough—that next year, no new names will be added to this list. But I've also been here long enough to know that's probably not likely.

Please join me in praying that in the coming year there will be no new victims. But if there are, let us pray that the ambulance arrives in time and, when there's a need for blood, there's always more than enough to save the lives of those in need.

Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a regular column for charismanews.com's Standing With Israel. You can contact Jonathan at firstpersonisrael@gmail.com.

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Jonathan Feldstein Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Thu, 23 Apr 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Franklin Graham: Halt All Immigration of Muslims http://www.charismanews.com/us/49308-franklin-graham-halt-all-immigration-of-muslims http://www.charismanews.com/us/49308-franklin-graham-halt-all-immigration-of-muslims

If anyone else said it, they may have gotten death threats. In fact, Graham may be getting some rabid calls even now.

Unmoved by pastors rebuking him last month for his views on police brutality, Graham sent out a bold tweet that said what most others seem too afraid to say—or don't have the platform to say it:

"Our govt needs to halt all immigration of Muslims from countries that have active terrorist cells & take military action to defeat ISIS."

That bold tweet has been favorited over 1,300 times and retweeted nearly 800 times as of this writing. Of course, not everyone agrees with him.

His tweet got mixed reactions.

"I agree. Islam is not a religion. It calls for control over every aspect of society," one person responded.

Another wrote, "Is this Gospel or politics?"

Still others were concerned about those who may not be allowed entry into the U.S. for legitimate reasons, like fleeing terror.

Graham did not respond to any of them.

What's your take?

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Creflo Dollar: You Cannot Stop Me From Believing God for a $65 Million Plane http://www.charismanews.com/culture/49306-watch-creflo-dollar-you-cannot-stop-me-from-believing-god-for-a-65-million-plane http://www.charismanews.com/culture/49306-watch-creflo-dollar-you-cannot-stop-me-from-believing-god-for-a-65-million-plane

So is Creflo Dollar a believer in the prosperity gospel or not?

After the backlash over his $65 million private jet fundraising campaign, Dollar is defending his audacious faith.

Dollar says he would have used the plane to expand his ministry, and because his plans were for the kingdom, "Now you see why the devil tried so aggressively to discredit my voice."

Watch the video to hear Dollar's complete defense.

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Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Guess Which Duggar Daughter is Having a Baby Now? http://www.charismanews.com/us/49305-guess-which-duggar-daughter-is-having-a-baby-now http://www.charismanews.com/us/49305-guess-which-duggar-daughter-is-having-a-baby-now

Tic-tac-toe, three in a row seems to be the motto of the Duggar family now that daughter Jessa has announced her pregnancy.

Three Duggar women—Jill Dillard, Anna Duggar and Jessa Seewald—were pregnant at the same time before Jill delivered her son earlier this month. 

The Seewalds made their announcement yesterday, first through a People article and then in a special video that aired during 19 Kids and Counting

Their announcement doesn't change the couple's desire to adopt, though. 

"If God blesses us with biological kids of our own, it's not going to quench our desire to adopt," Jessa told People.

But for now, the two are focusing on building their own little family by preparing for the arrival of #BabySeewald. 

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Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Christian Betrayal: President Obama Refuses to Acknowledge Genocide http://www.charismanews.com/world/49304-christian-betrayal-president-obama-refuses-to-acknowledge-genocide http://www.charismanews.com/world/49304-christian-betrayal-president-obama-refuses-to-acknowledge-genocide

President Barack Obama is once again stopping short of calling the 1915 massacre of 2 million Armenians a genocide.
     
That's prompting anger and disappointment from people who have been urging him to fulfill a campaign promise and use that politically significant word on the 100th anniversary of the massacre this week.

"President Obama's surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace. It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust," Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, said.

Officials decided against calling the massacre a genocide after some opposition from the State Department and Pentagon. 
 
"We know and respect that there are some who are hoping to hear different language this year," CNN quoted an administration official.

"We understand their perspective, even as we believe that the approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one—both for acknowledging the past and for our ability to work with regional partners to save lives in the present," the official said.

 Obama did call the killings genocide when he was a senator and presidential candidate. And he promised to apply the term as president, but never has—mainly out of deference to Turkish President Erdogan, a U.S. ally and friend of the president.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that even California Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic leader of the House Intelligence Committee, expressed disappointment with the White House decision.

"How long must the victims and their families wait before our nation has the courage to confront Turkey with the truth about the murderous past of the Ottoman Empire?" Schiff wrote in a statement.

"If not this president, who spoke so eloquently and passionately about recognition in the past, whom? If not after 100 years, when?" he asked.

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CBN News Featured World News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0400
In Final Book Debuting This Week, the Late Charles Colson Talks Islam, Gay Marriage and Christian Persecution http://www.charismanews.com/us/49303-in-final-book-debuting-this-week-the-late-charles-colson-talks-islam-gay-marriage-and-christian-persecution http://www.charismanews.com/us/49303-in-final-book-debuting-this-week-the-late-charles-colson-talks-islam-gay-marriage-and-christian-persecution

Today, on the third anniversary of the death of Charles W. "Chuck" Colson, one of the most eloquent and influential evangelical Christian leaders of our time, Zondervan announces the upcoming release of Colson's last published work, My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter Most (Aug. 4, 2015). 

"Chuck Colson was ahead of his time—he understood the crucial issues facing our culture and how they might influence the world as we know it," said Stan Gundry, senior vice president and publisher, Zondervan. "We are honored to have worked with Colson and The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview on 'My Final Word,' a fitting end to Colson's distinguished publishing career."

Composed during the last years of his ministry, "My Final Word" issues a clarion call for Christians to think critically about today's most pressing issues. Longtime Colson co-author Anne Morse has selected and arranged pieces written mostly during the last decade of Colson's life, spotlighting what he saw as key topics of ongoing importance for Christian cultural engagement. Some of these issues include:

  • The rise of Islam
     
  • Same-sex marriage
     
  • The persecution of Christians
     
  • Crime and punishment
     
  • Natural law

"We are excited for Chuck's wisdom, vision and insight to once again reach readers through his own words in this last book," said David Carlson, vice president of communications, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. "'My Final Word' is a behind-the-scenes encounter with an influential thinker, and a needed call to an ongoing and relevant Christian public witness."

Colson, the infamous convicted Nixon adviser who became famous for his ministry to prisoners through Prison Fellowship, evangelical-Catholic dialogue, and his Christian worldview, spent the final years of his life and ministry leading The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, a research and training center focused on Christian worldview teaching.

Charles W. "Chuck" Colson was a popular and widely known author, speaker and radio commentator. He wrote several books that have shaped Christian thinking on a variety of subjects, including Born Again, Loving God, How Now Shall We Live? The Good Life, and The Faith. Colson founded Prison Fellowship and The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and donated all of his royalties, awards and speaking fees to these ministries.

Zondervan is a world-leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its best-selling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company's products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand Rapids, Mich. For additional information, please visit zondervan.com

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Kelsey Hulgan Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Police Outwit Jihadis in Planned Church Attacks http://www.charismanews.com/world/49302-police-outwit-jihadis-in-planned-church-attacks http://www.charismanews.com/world/49302-police-outwit-jihadis-in-planned-church-attacks

French police have detained a man they suspect of planning an imminent armed attack on one or two churches, the interior minister said on Wednesday.

The man, a 24-year-old information technology student, was arrested on Sunday in southeast Paris. A car was also seized along with handguns, other weapons and bulletproof vests, minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

France heightened surveillance of potential attackers by its intelligence services and deployed troops to patrol sensitive sites after Islamist militants killed 17 people in January in attacks on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly and a Jewish food shop.

An Interior Ministry source said the man, also suspected of being involved in the murder of a 32-year-old woman found dead in her car on Sunday, was an Algerian national.

"Detailed documents that were also found established beyond doubt that the individual was planning an imminent attack, probably on one or two churches," Cazeneuve said.

He was arrested after calling emergency services to treat a wound, the interior ministry source said. When they arrived, they saw the injury was a gunshot wound and notified police. A blood trail led to a car which contained the weapons.

Police suspect the 24-year-old accidentally shot himself, the source said.

Cazeneuve said he had previously come to the attention of the French authorities as possibly wanting to go to Syria.

Police had made checks on him in 2014 and 2015 without finding anything that would warrant further investigation.

©2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Antony Paone/Reuters Featured World News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Franklin Graham Just Topped This Prestigious List of Christian Leaders http://www.charismanews.com/us/49300-franklin-graham-just-topped-this-prestigious-list-of-christian-leaders http://www.charismanews.com/us/49300-franklin-graham-just-topped-this-prestigious-list-of-christian-leaders

Franklin Graham was named as the top Christian leader in America by the media company Newsmax, which set out to identify 100 people "who make a real impact on modern lives in 2015."

Billy Graham was listed in the No. 5 position. Also in the top 10: television producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who will visit the Billy Graham Library on Thursday.

See the full list of Newsmax's top 100 Christian leaders in America.

As president of two global ministries, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham reaches millions of people with the hope of Jesus Christ, as he obeys biblical commands to take care of the world's orphans, widows and the poorest of the poor.

Reaching Millions Online

The authors of the Newsmax list mentioned the new challenges—and opportunities—Christian leaders face in a digital world, writing that, "accepting Christ and committing sin against Him are both done sitting at a computer screen today."

In his role as head of BGEA, Franklin Graham has ushered his father's 65-year-old ministry into the digital age. Through billygraham.org, social media and web streaming, God is using BGEA to reach places Billy Graham could never visit personally, including many parts of the Middle East.

Less than a week ago, BGEA reached its 6 millionth person for Christ through the Internet evangelism ministry Search for Jesus, founded in 2011. The 6 millionth decision came from the country of Jordan at 7:04 p.m. ET on April 14.

Decision America Tour 2016

Even as God continues to use the Graham family to take the gospel around the world, Franklin Graham is deeply troubled by the rise of godlessness and immorality in the United States.

Last week, Franklin announced he'll embark on a 50-state tour of the U.S. in 2016, sharing the message of Jesus and calling Christians to boldly live out their faith.

"I've lived long enough to learn that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can turn this country around," Franklin posted on his Facebook page. "No political party or politician is the answer. The only hope for this country is Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ."

The Decision America Tour will take the gospel from Alaska to Alabama, as Franklin Graham challenges Christians to pray for our nation and its leaders, run for office and vote for candidates who will uphold biblical values.

As he continues to embody the role of an evangelist and top Christian leader, Franklin is asking believers to pray for him and for the upcoming tour.

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Kristy Ehtridge Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:30:00 -0400
Muslims in Malaysia Force Church to Take Down Its Cross http://www.charismanews.com/world/49299-muslims-in-malaysia-force-church-to-take-down-its-cross http://www.charismanews.com/world/49299-muslims-in-malaysia-force-church-to-take-down-its-cross

Malaysia has ordered an investigation into a protest by Muslim demonstrators who forced a small church in the capital to take down its cross, the latest sign of growing religious tension in the multiracial Southeast Asian nation.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said his Cabinet had discussed the protest in the mainly Muslim Kuala Lumpur suburb of Taman Medan and that demonstrators could be charged under Malaysia's controversial Sedition Act.

"If they are found to have violated the country's law, action will be taken under the Sedition Act or other existing laws," Najib said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

Malaysian media reported that a group of about 50 protesters had demonstrated outside the on Sunday because they believed the cross, one of the central symbols of Christianity, posed a challenge to Islam and could sway the faith of young people.

The cross was taken down by the church a few hours after the protest, media reported widely.

Najib said the Cabinet believed protesters should not have taken any action that could cause unrest in Malaysia, which has a predominantly Malay-Muslim population.

The protest outraged non-Muslims as well as moderate Muslims, many of whom have expressed anxiety about growing signs of religious intolerance amid a drift to a more conservative form of Islam.

Last year, Malaysia's federal court ruled that a Christian newspaper could not use the word "Allah" to refer to God, a case that fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights.

An Islamist party is also lobbying lawmakers to support its move to introduce an Islamic penal code in the northern state of Kelantan that stipulates stoning for adultery and amputation for theft.

Malaysia toughened its colonial-era Sedition law earlier this month, which the government had meant to repeal but now says is essential to maintain religious harmony.

Critics accuse the government of using the law to crack down on opposition politicians, journalists, academics and activists.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Reuters Featured World News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:00:00 -0400
In Bid for Presidency, Marco Rubio Reaches Out to Gay Republicans http://www.charismanews.com/politics/49298-in-bid-for-presidency-marco-rubio-reaches-out-to-gay-republicans http://www.charismanews.com/politics/49298-in-bid-for-presidency-marco-rubio-reaches-out-to-gay-republicans

Marco Rubio, the youthful Republican presidential hopeful who touts himself as the candidate of his party's future, has been making moves to court a socially liberal faction of his party that represents gay conservatives. 

The Florida senator's staff have held quarterly meetings with the Log Cabin Republicans "going back some time", their executive director, Gregory Angelo, told Reuters. The meetings with the advocacy group were to discuss legislation, issues and opportunities to "partner on," Angelo said. Rubio's office declined to comment on the meetings. 

The discussions highlight the tricky electoral math for Republican presidential aspirants like Rubio.

The Republican party will struggle to win the White House in 2016 if it relies only on the support of socially conservative voters. At the same time, presidential candidates will battle to win their party's nomination without those voters, who often dominate state primaries, or early voting contests.

That tension is starkly apparent on gay marriage. For years, staunch opposition to gay marriage was a reliably safe strategy for Republican candidates. No longer.

Facing an electorate that has sharply altered its views on the issue since the turn of the century, even Rubio, who has long opposed gay marriage, has softened his rhetoric, saying last week that he would attend a gay wedding of a loved one.

And then in an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday he said he believed "that sexual preference is something that people are born with" and is not a choice for most people.

While those kinds of comments might help win votes in the general election if he becomes the Republican nominee, they have the potential to antagonize the conservative Republican base he needs to win the primary, party activists said.

"To the right it sounds mealy mouthed, and to the left sounds patronizing," said Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst for the socially conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky.

CHANGE IN ATTITUDES

Rubio risks alienating people like Bob Vander Plaats, the head of The Family Leader in Iowa, whose endorsement is coveted by many Republican presidential hopefuls each election cycle.

"There's a lot to like about Marco Rubio," Vander Plaats told Reuters.

Vander Plaats said he wanted to hear specific strategies from the Republican candidates on how to fight gay marriage. Any attempts to straddle the issue would be a problem for him, he added.

While calling attendance at a gay wedding a personal decision, "I probably wouldn't be going" to a same-sex ceremony, he said. "That shows me endorsing and supporting something that I frankly really disagree with."

Rubio, a Roman Catholic who often talks about his faith, has long defined marriage as between a man and a woman and said that it should be left to the states to regulate marriage. Asked whether his comments over the past week represented a softening in his views, a Rubio spokeswoman, Brooke Sammon, said his position was "clear and well-established."

The Log Cabin Republicans' Angelo said, however, that Rubio was "not as adamantly opposed to all things LGBT as some of his statements suggest." The staff meetings did not include Rubio, he said.

The group has also met with Republican presidential contenders: former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina earlier this year and Senator Rand Paul and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, both in 2013.

Paul has sought to differentiate between traditional marriage and civil contracts, while Walker said at the weekend he had attended a wedding reception for a gay relative.

Efforts by Rubio, Paul and Walker to add nuance to their views on gay marriage could play well with some younger Republicans, even if it proves unpopular with social conservatives.

Among likely Republican primary voters, 68 percent oppose gay marriage, according to Reuters/Ipsos data. By contrast, 49 percent of Republicans aged 18 to 29 support same-sex marriage, while 41 percent oppose it and 10 percent are undecided.

The split is much higher among all Americans 18 to 29, regardless of political affiliation. Seventy-eight percent support gay marriage, with 15 percent opposed and 7 percent unsure.

Data from the Pew Research Center show how quickly that change has come about: In 2003, 51 percent of people born in 1981 or later supported gay marriage. By 2014, that number had jumped to 67 percent.

"It would be a very stupid move, in my opinion, politically for the party or the candidates to hold onto" opposition to gay marriage, said Pat Brady, a former chairman of the Illinois Republican party. Brady stepped down from the post in 2013 in part because of his stance on same-sex marriage.

Even among many Democrats, attitudes have only recently changed.

Hillary Clinton herself, the Democratic front runner, has a history of distancing herself from the issue. "For me, marriage had always been a matter left to the states," she said in an NPR interview last year.

But this month, Clinton issued a statement saying she hopes the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage. On April 28, the justices will hear oral arguments on whether there is a constitutional right to gay marriage. A ruling is expected in June. 

With that case pending, gay marriage is almost certain to come up an event on Saturday hosted by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition. Among the speakers will be senators Rubio, Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as Walker and other Republican hopefuls.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Reuters Featured Politics Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Poison in the Stew? 1 Dead, 20 Sick After Eating Church Potluck http://www.charismanews.com/us/49297-poison-in-the-stew-1-dead-20-sick-after-eating-church-potluck http://www.charismanews.com/us/49297-poison-in-the-stew-1-dead-20-sick-after-eating-church-potluck

One person has died and at least 20 others were sick with symptoms of foodborne Botulism following a weekend church potluck in Ohio, hospital officials said on Tuesday. 

The Fairfield Medical Center said in a statement that the patients, five of whom were in a critical condition, had all attended a picnic at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster on Sunday. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had sent anti-toxin to treat the sick, the hospital said, while local health officials investigated the cause of the outbreak.

Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by certain bacteria, according to the CDC.

Symptoms include drooping eyelids, slurred speech and muscle weakness, which can progress to paralysis of the limbs and respiratory muscles, the CDC said.

The hospital said Botulism is not contagious, so there is no threat to the public at-large or people at the hospital. Symptoms generally begin showing up within 36 hours of eating the contaminated food, but can start as many as 10 days after, the hospital said.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

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Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Why Jezebel Is on a Losing Streak on the Entertainment Mountain http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/49296-why-jezebel-is-on-a-losing-streak-on-the-entertainment-mountain http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/49296-why-jezebel-is-on-a-losing-streak-on-the-entertainment-mountain

The Jezebel spirit has been making its mark on our airwaves—and in our movie theaters—long enough. Television and film producers have made billions of dollars selling sex on the small screen and the big screen but intercession over the entertainment industry is starting to bear fruit.

Before we go further, let me clarify how the Jezebel spirit is working. I go into greater detail about this in my book, The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel, but let Revelation 2:20 open your eyes to what the Jezebel spirit is and what are its motives: "But I have a few things against you," Jesus told the church at Thyatira, "You permit that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols."

Jezebel is a seducing spirit. This spirit has been working overtime in our media for decades, with wardrobe malfunctions, illicit homosexual sex scenes on shows like How to Get Away With Murder, and the ever-popular and scandalous Scandal. But intercessors have been coming against the perversion in the entertainment industry and it's working.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is fining WDBJ Television $325,000 for broadcasting graphic and sexually explicit material during the station's evening newscast. Keep in mind that this never would have happened if people like you hadn't lifted their voices.

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Indeed, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau investigated viewer complaints that WDBJ aired a news report that included graphic sexual images taken from an adult film website in the report. This enforcement action would be the highest fine the Commission has ever taken for a single indecent broadcast on one station.

"Our action here sends a clear signal that there are severe consequences for TV stations that air sexually explicit images when children are likely to be watching," says Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau.

Glory to God!

Here's the backstory: The FCC investigation found that station staff obtained a sexually explicit video clip from an adult film website and broadcast those explicit images in the news report that aired at about 6 p.m. on July 12, 2012. That, of course, violated federal laws prohibiting the broadcast of indecent programming.

That's just one recent example of viewers rejecting Jezebelic content. Earlier this week, I wrote about how Sex Box, which featured real-life couples having sex for a national television audience, was cancelled. In the show, participants entered a soundproof box on stage, had sex and then discussed their "intimacy issues" with a panel of so-called experts, including a minister! WE tv, which hosted the show, called it a "groundbreaking, unprecedented and life-changing way for couples in crisis to heal their sexual and emotional issues." Prayer broke through. Meanwhile, Bayer pulled a sexually inappropriate Lotrimin ad less than 24 hours after the Americans cried out.

Although there's still plenty of work to do—and still plenty of intercession to make—these and other victories are evidence that the combination of prayer and action work. Of course, some people still don't get it. Jezebel has already blinded them. WDBJ, for example, is at a loss for why the FCC would fine it $325,000.

"We are surprised and disappointed that the FCC has decided to propose to fine WDBJ7 for a fleeting image on the very edge of some television screens during a news broadcast," said WDBJ7 President Jeffrey Marks. "The story had gone through a review before it aired. Inclusion of the image was purely unintentional. The picture in question was small and outside the viewing area of the video-editing screen."

Likely story. Let's keep praying—and keep lifting our voices.

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

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Wed, 22 Apr 2015 09:30:00 -0400
The Shocking Truth About Christian Persecution http://www.charismanews.com/world/49293-the-shocking-truth-about-christian-persecution http://www.charismanews.com/world/49293-the-shocking-truth-about-christian-persecution

Editors Note: This is a first in a series of speech texts from last Friday's conference at the United Nations titled, "Not Peace but a Sword: The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East as a Threat to International Peace and Security." First up is Rick Scarborough, the founder of Vision America, an organization whose mission is to "inform and mobilize Pastors and their congregations to become salt and light, becoming pro-active in restoring Judeo-Christian values in America."

Rick Scarborough

My esteemed friends and colleagues,

Recently David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, touched on the phenomenon of Christian persecution in Muslim lands during his Easter address to his nation:

We have a duty to speak out about the persecution of Christians around the world. It is truly shocking that in 2015 there are still Christians being threatened, tortured, even killed because of their faith. From Egypt to Nigeria, Libya to North Korea. Across the Middle East, Christians have been hounded out of their homes, forced to flee from village to village; many of them forced to renounce their faith or brutally murdered. To all those brave Christians in Iraq and Syria who practice their faith or shelter others, we will say, "We stand with you."

All Christians everywhere in the world, have an obligation to shout this message to the World and especially to our brethren who suffer in the Middle East: "We stand with you."

The prime minister made another statement in his address that is salient: He said: "(W)e should feel proud to say, 'This is a Christian country.' Yes, we're a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths and none, but we are a Christian country.          

A trademark distinction of Christianity is that everywhere it becomes the dominant religion of a country, other religions are allowed to flourish in religious freedom. 

Christianity is a religion of choice, not coercion. Christians advance their message by love and influence, believing that where there is a freedom for people to make their own choice, based upon a fair presentation of truth, the majority of people will choose the religion that is based upon the tenet: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Governments have a vested interest in protecting Christianity, for in its purity it creates fertile soil for diversity and the free exchange of ideas. Christianity is a religion that flows from a loving God who gave up His life for mankind and who rewards kindness and benevolent living, both in this life and the life to come.

The significant blessings that follow Christianity in every nation where it is allowed to flourish are both remarkable and unmistakable. That there those who seek to remove Christianity from the earth is tragic and their efforts must be confronted and stopped.  

There is no greater offender on earth than ISIS jihadis.

The church in the West has a role to play in defending innocent Christians who are being slaughtered in the greatest persecution of a minority since the days of Nazi Germany.  

Every free Christian must understand that we ARE our brother's keeper. Our collective silence regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East is deafening. Such silence deserves condemnation equally, as do the perpetrators of unspeakable atrocities upon innocent people whose only crime is the chose to follow Jesus.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not act is to act."

Unfortunately many church attendees do not want to hear about or think about, Christians being slaughtered for their faith in distant lands like Syria and Iraq. It makes their comfortable life unpleasant. But that must end today.  

Men of God, it is our duty to make Christians uncomfortable and that's not popular in today's American Christianity. 

Pastors, if you want to be popular, choose another profession. Pastors and church leaders must educate and mobilize the American Church to stand up and speak out on the plight of their brethren in the Middle East for two reasons:

Because the Scripture commands it: Hebrews 13:3 in the New Living Translation states: "Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies."

Because of the Law of Sowing and Reaping: Galatians 6:7: "For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."

If we remain silent on this issue, we can be sure our day of persecution and suffering will come to Christians in the West. In fact, the forces are lining up now to silence the church and force Christians to deny their deeply held beliefs when it conflicts with popular culture.  

It is not hard to imagine a day when persecution of Christians in the West could be a reality. Our best hope to delay it is connected to our willingness to speak on behalf of others.

We cannot simply Sing Louder! 

We must do what we can;

When we can;

Wherever we can; 

For as long as we can.  

Christians who do nothing make God sick.

Revelations 3: "I know your works, ye are neither cold or hot ... ."

Rick Scarborough is the founder of Vision America, an organization whose mission is to "inform and mobilize Pastors and their congregations to become salt and light, becoming pro-active in restoring Judeo-Christian values in America."

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Rick Scarborough Featured World News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Iran Nuclear Arms Deal: What Framework Agreement? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/49279-iran-nuclear-arms-deal-what-framework-agreement http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/standing-with-israel/49279-iran-nuclear-arms-deal-what-framework-agreement

The first thing to note about the framework agreement is that there is no framework agreement. Though an announcement was made at the end of recent talks in Lausanne that a so-called framework agreement had been reached with Iran over its renegade nuclear program, nothing was signed by the negotiating parties.

This amounts to a verbal agreement—one might call it a gentleman's agreement were there any trust to be shared between the parties. The fact is that stark differences have emerged between Iran and the U.S. over their respective interpretations of what was supposedly agreed.

Furthermore, Iran has since gone so far as to openly contradict key elements of the U.S. fact sheet as being nothing more than "lies" and "deceptions." While claiming that there will be no restrictions on either enrichment activities or on research and development, Iran is also stating that all sanctions relief will be immediate, and there will be no inspections of any military sites.

Obama's Wish List

The framework agreement now appears to be not much more than a wish list of what U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hope to convince the Iranians to sign on to before June 30. What was celebrated by team Obama as a major diplomatic achievement has quickly descended into a face-saving game of political spin, with the Americans and Iranians attempting to convince their national constituencies that their respective version of the framework is the real one.

Worth noting is that while Obama and Kerry have defended the Iranian backlash as nothing more than political posturing due to Iran's national "pride," Ayatollah Khameini has gone so far as to accuse the Americans of being "deceptive" and having "devilish" intentions.

Why Was It Issued?

One might rightly question why the Obama administration issued such a patently flawed framework agreement where apparently no agreement existed? None of the other P5+1 parties to the negotiations, or Iran for that matter, saw the March 31 deadline for a framework agreement as one that could not simply be rolled into the June 30 deadline for a final deal. The Russian Foreign Minister even left Lausanne before negotiations were completed.

What is clear though is that Obama was facing significant pressure from the US Congress in the form of new sanctions bills on Iran should no progress be shown at the negotiating table by the 31st of March. Obama managed to persuade top congressional leaders to hold off on any voting until after the Lausanne talks concluded.

Amazingly, instead of Iran facing the pressure of new sanctions, Obama's negotiating team then lost all leverage and it was Iran which gained the upper hand as the U.S. team desperately pressed for an agreement to show Congress some progress had been made.

Is This Really a Choice Between War and Peace?

Obama and Kerry have even admitted that the framework agreement is not the basis for a "good" deal, since it clearly doesn't achieve the objective of dismantling Iran's nuclear program. All it does is attempt to put the entire program on hold for 10 years, leaving inspections to do the job of ensuring Iran does not break out to a nuclear bomb long before that.

The mantra repeated by the Obama administration in defense of their approach is that this all comes down to a simple choice between war and peace. We are told that critics of the framework deal like Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and key Members of Congress only see war as the sole alternative to resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis, while people of goodwill like the Obama administration are presenting the only viable alternative, which is the framework agreement.

Meantime, Netanyahu has made clear that his preferred alternative is more pressure on the ayatollahs in order to reach a "better deal" with Iran.

While it is true that Israel itself does not have much leverage to change Iran's nuclear ambitions other than the threat of military action, the international community as a whole does have the ability to bring Iran to heel. In this regard, Iran only came to the negotiating table once the world, through the United Nations Security Council, adopted a series of six unanimous resolutions placing sanctions on Iran and demanding that it totally dismantle its nuclear program. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is squandering the advantage these resolutions gave to the P5+1 powers in the talks with Iran.

Sanctions are the one peaceful option that Obama has opposed, then accepted and now opposed again. And in his latest opposition to tighter limits on Iran, Obama turned the threat of new sanctions from Congress in Tehran's favor.

The final irony is that without the real threat of renewed sanctions, all the West is left with is the threat of force against Iran if they do not acquiesce. As if to hit home this point, U.S Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced on April 11 that the U.S. had successfully developed a whole new generation of bunker busters for use on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Worst-Case Scenarios

Should Iran actually agree to a comprehensive deal by the June 30 deadline, which reflects the U.S. version of the framework agreement, the Obama administration would assuredly hail this as an historic achievement. The problem is that such a deal would leave the West with little option other than military strikes should Iran go rogue again. With Obama admitting that over the course of the deal Iran's breakout time will be reduced to months, it would not leave enough time for the international community to take concerted, effective multilateral steps to block Iran from going nuclear.

Where to Now?

Netanyahu has consistently rejected the notion that there is no alternative to a bad deal with Iran. A solid majority in Congress, many Democrats included, seems for the most part to agree with him.

Iran's intransigence and rejection of the U.S. version of the framework agreement might actually be presenting an opportunity for the West to do a reset. Rather than working in opposition to Congress and Israel, the Obama administration should come to an agreed strategy with them and with its allies abroad on what the goals are with Iran and how to get there now. This revised strategy will likely require the threat of more sanctions and isolation of Iran with a firm timetable for them to agree to dismantle their nuclear program.

A good deal is achievable. Iran's nuclear program can be dismantled, and yes, it can be done so peacefully. But, it all depends on the next move of Western leaders.

Daryl Hedding is the U.S. Deputy Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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Daryl Hedding Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Wed, 22 Apr 2015 06:00:00 -0400
When Will Obama Make Good on His Promise to Persecuted Pastor Saeed Abedini's Wife? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49295-when-will-obama-make-good-on-his-promise-to-persecuted-pastor-saeed-abedini-s-wife http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49295-when-will-obama-make-good-on-his-promise-to-persecuted-pastor-saeed-abedini-s-wife

American Pastor Saeed Abedini is facing renewed torment and hostility suffering in Iran for his Christian faith. He hears fellow prisoners being executed as he tries to sleep. Iranian authorities refuse to allow him the vital medical treatment he desperately needs. The prison guards threaten and torment him.

There is already a framework for a nuclear agreement and U.S. and Iranian negotiators are about to sit down again to begin finalizing the details, but Pastor Saeed is still not home and the situation is getting worse. Fox News has an updated report on Pastor Saeed's horrifying condition. 

With the United States sitting down with the Iranian delegation again this week, it is essential that our government not forget Pastor Saeed—a U.S. citizen whose been imprisoned in Iran for more than two-and-a-half years. President Obama communicated to Pastor Saeed's wife and children that bringing Pastor Saeed home was a "top priority." We urge the Obama administration to put those words into action. Regardless of the outcome on the nuclear deal, the U.S. government should not leave the table until it has secured the freedom of Pastor Saeed. Let us leave no man behind.

At this critical juncture, Iran has an invaluable opportunity to show the world that it is committed to rejoining the international community—yet, it must take steps to build trust and good faith. Iran should demonstrate its good faith to the world by immediately releasing Pastor Saeed.

Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, provides further insight into the horrible conditions he faces while in chains for his faith: 

The urgency of getting my husband home has never felt so real. His physical and psychological strength has been greatly weakened throughout his imprisonment. The lack of clean water and good nutrition have taken a toll on Saeed's physical well-being. Psychologically, in the weeks past he has heard the cries of dozens of prisoners who have been executed in his prison. He has faced constant harassment and intimidation, including threats that he will never walk as a free man again as the guards will see that his sentence is continually increased. While this threat is not new, the ability of these words to psychologically torment Saeed has increased as he has seen the reality of this threat come true for fellow prisoners. Guards have repeatedly told him that the price of his freedom is denying Christ and returning Islam—and yet, Saeed's faith in Christ remains strong.  

Our government must not forget that Saeed is not being held by the reformists with whom they negotiate but by radical hardliners who oppose what he represents—a Christian convert and an U.S. citizen. We cannot leave my husband's fate in the hands of these radicals. As our government returns to the negotiating table with Iran this week, I implore them to remember the urgency of bringing Saeed home to our family. The reality is, that if our government does not secure his release before the close of the negotiations in June, securing his release will be exponentially more difficult."

Naghmeh is right. The Obama Administration must demand and secure the immediate release of Pastor Saeed and the other Americans held captive.

There can be no deal unless Pastor Saeed is released and allowed to return to his family in America.

We're continuing to aggressively engage across the globe for Pastor Saeed's freedom. We must not be silent while our fellow American—our bother in Christ—suffers. Join us and have your voice heard.

Time is of the essence. Take action and stand with us as we fight for his freedom.

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ACLJ Featured Opinion Tue, 21 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0400
This Bishop Wants to Open the Door for Same-Sex Marriage Among Pastors http://www.charismanews.com/world/49292-this-bishop-wants-to-open-the-door-for-same-sex-marriage-among-pastors http://www.charismanews.com/world/49292-this-bishop-wants-to-open-the-door-for-same-sex-marriage-among-pastors

The Bishop of Buckingham has called for Church of England clergy to be allowed to enter into same-sex 'marriages'.

Over the past year at least two ordained ministers have entered into same-sex 'marriages,' defying the biblical position on sexual ethics, the Church's official position and the House of Bishops' explicit instruction. Andrea Williams says that the situation makes a mockery of authority in the Church and that the Archbishops should take urgent action.

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Christian Concern Featured World News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Americans Respond in Overwhelming Opposition to Islamic Indoctrination in Public School http://www.charismanews.com/us/49291-americans-respond-in-overwhelming-opposition-to-islamic-indoctrination-in-public-school http://www.charismanews.com/us/49291-americans-respond-in-overwhelming-opposition-to-islamic-indoctrination-in-public-school

"Pretend you are a Muslim." This was the instruction given in a class assignment at Union Grove High School in Union Grove, Wisconsin, requiring students to take on the persona of a Muslim in order to write a "point of view" essay in which they discussed their daily Islamic religious practices and the types of struggles they would face as Muslims in America.

Like us, many of you were shocked to learn about the inclusion of this assignment in a public school curriculum and were resolute in expressing your position that this type of religious activity clearly crosses the line into unconstitutional religious indoctrination by the government. In less than four days, over 95,000 people had signed our petition to "Stop Islamic Indoctrination in School."

This overwhelming response, and in such a rapid time frame, sends a clear message that the citizens of this nation expect their government to abide by the law and refrain from incorporating Islamic religious activities into our public educational system.

We have issued a letter to the school district informing its officials that requiring students to personally adopt a religious viewpoint operates in direct violation of the restrictions imposed on the government by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. We have explained that school personnel must be made aware of the law in this regard and demanded that any future instruction involving religion at the school must comply with the Constitution.

The ACLJ is privileged to have such tremendous support in its efforts to confront these types of governmental abuse of power.

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ACLJ Featured U.S. News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:12:03 -0400