Billy Graham Dies at 99

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Billy Graham Dies at 99

(PHOTO: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)Evangelist Billy Graham speaks during his Crusade at Flushing Meadows Park in New York, June 25, 2005. Graham, 86, has preached the Gospel to more people in a live audience format than anyone in history – over 210 million people in more than 185 countries. His followers believe that the New York Crusade which runs from June 24 to 26 will be his last live appearance.

Billy Graham died Wednesday at the age of 99. The world renowned evangelist, who has been listed on Gallup’s most admired list 61 times since 1955 — more than any other person — passed away peacefully at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, after struggling with various health problems linked to his advanced age.

In a statement to The Christian Post, Will Graham, the grandson of Billy Graham (whose full name is William Franklin Graham Jr.) and the son of Franklin Graham, said:

“My grandfather once said, ‘One day you’ll hear that Billy Graham has died. Don’t you believe it. On that day I’ll be more alive than ever before! I’ve just changed addresses.’ My friends, today my grandfather moved from the land of the dead to the land of the living,” Will Graham declared.

“We mourn that he is no longer with us physically here on earth, but we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. My grandfather invested his entire life in sharing the promise of eternity through Jesus Christ, and today he had the opportunity to realize that hope himself, kneeling before his Savior and hearing the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ My family appreciates your prayers now and in the days ahead.”

Last week, Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, gave an update on her father’s health during a conference at Moody Bible Institute.

“I’m not sure he knows that I’m here. He doesn’t track like he used to, but his mind is still clear,” she said.

“He can’t see; he has a hard time seeing because of macular degeneration,” she continued. “He’s fairly deaf, I have to use a microphone and he wears a headset for me to speak to him. He’s not mobile.”

Since Billy Graham preached his last sermon on Nov. 7, 2013, for “My Hope America With Billy Graham,” a nationwide movement to expose Americans to the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, he appeared to have let go of life and be more ready than ever to go to Heaven, his family observed.

“On November 7, he (Billy Graham) finished his race and up until that time, God had protected his health and gave him supernatural strength, and now, the only thing left is for him to come home,” said Will Graham to Assist News in December 2013. “God has removed his hand of protection and old age has set in.”

Meanwhile, Franklin Graham told The Christian Post that he had “never seen him (Billy Graham) this weak in all of my life, so I know he’d appreciate your prayers.”

Despite his weakened state, Graham was working on a book up until the time of his death. Graham’s last book was published in October 2013 and titled, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation. In total, Graham had written 32 books, including his autobiography Just As I Am (1997), Nearing Home (2011), and Angels: God’s Secret Agents (1975), which sold 1 million copies within 90 days.

Billy Graham was born Nov. 7, 1918, in Charlotte, N.C., and raised on a dairy farm. He graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. – home of the Billy Graham Center Museum and where he met his wife, Ruth McCue Bell, the daughter of a missionary surgeon to China. They were married for over 60 years until Ruth’s death in 2007.

Graham, a Southern Baptist, has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association estimates that he has preached live to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, and hundreds of millions of more people through television, video, film and webcasts. He has led hundreds of thousands of individuals to make personal decisions to commit their lives to Jesus Christ, according to BGEA.

He is also known as the “pastor to presidents,” having met every U.S. president since World War II through Barack Obama. For his 95th birthday celebration, President Bill Clinton was among the 700 guests that included Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch and Rick Warren. And for the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., in 2007, three former U.S. presidents came to share the momentous event with him: George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

“Every life Billy Graham ever touched – including people who never became president, never spoke at a crusade – is better because he was a good and faithful servant of the two most important commandments (to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself),” said Clinton in his speech during the dedication ceremony on May 31, 2007.

Clinton, who has shared that he attended Graham’s 1959 Little Rock, Ark., crusade, also had said during the 2007 dedication ceremony, “When he (Graham) prays with you in the Oval Office or the upstairs of the White House, you feel that he’s praying for you, not the president.”

For Graham’s 95th birthday in 2013, several megachurch pastors gave tributes to the evangelist during interviews with The Christian Post at the Resurgence conference.

Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of the bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, had told CP that Billy Graham was among his mentors.

“One of the things that a lot of people don’t know about Billy Graham is that he was also an encouragers to pastors,” Warren shared. “One time in Amsterdam he brought in 12,000 evangelists from all around the world. I had written a Bible study methods and Billy had brought a book for every one of those evangelists and had me come in and teach it.

“He was first and foremost an encourager,” Warren remembers fondly.

Billy Graham is survived by his five children – Virginia, Anne Morrow, Ruth Bell, William Franklin, III, and Nelson Edman – 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Iraqi Christians Facing Extinction After 1,400 Years Forgive ISIS of Genocide ‘In the Name of Christ’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Iraqi Christians Facing Extinction After 1,400 Years Forgive ISIS of Genocide ‘In the Name of Christ’

‘There Is No Future for Christians in the Middle East If Islam Doesn’t Change’
(PHOTO: REUTERS/SUHAIB SALEM)Iraqis attend the first Palm Sunday procession in the burnt out main church of the Christian city of Qaraqosh since Iraqi forces retook it from Islamic States militants, Iraq April 9, 2017.

Iraqi Christians are reaching out with forgiveness to the Islamic radicals who have murdered, tortured, and raped their communities, even as they face an existential struggle for survival.

Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, who has been outspoken about the plight of Christians in his country, said believers “have endured persecution in patience and faith for 1,400 years,” but now face an “existential struggle” that could possibly be their last in Iraq.

Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. last week at an event hosted by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, the bishop noted that the Islamic State terror group displaced more than 125,000 Christians in the Nineveh region.

Warda said the attacks left Christians “without shelter, without refuge, without work, without properties, without monasteries, without the ability to participate in any of the things that give our lives dignity,” as reported by Catholic News Agency.

“So few of us are left, some estimate 200,000 Christians or less,” he said of the total number of Christians in the country, down from 1.5 million in 2003.

“While it is true that our numbers are small, the Apostles were much smaller.”

Still, the church leader said that Christians are open to forgiveness despite the horrors of the genocide they have suffered.

“We forgive those who murdered us, who tortured us, who raped us, who sought to destroy everything about us. We forgive them in the name of Christ,” Warda declared.

He added that Muslim leaders need to do more than simply clarify that IS does not represent their faith, but praised some nations, such as the United Arab Emirates, for offering genuine support to the victims of violence.

“Since the ISIS attack, they’ve been with us helping all — Catholics, Yazidis, Muslims,” the bishop explained.

“There is a fundamental crisis within Islam itself and if this crisis is not acknowledged, addressed and fixed then there can be no future for Christians in the Middle East,” he added.

“We’ve been hearing some courageous voices from Islamic leaders concerning the need of change and the need to address this issue openly. It should be encouraged.”

The decimated communities have seen hope in the opening of the new Catholic University of Erbil, which welcomes both Christian and Muslim students, offering degrees in economics, international law, English literature, and accounting, among others.

Nineveh Plains Christians were also able to celebrate the reconsecration of the first church since IS’ invasion in December, with the reopening of St. George’s Church in Telleskuf.

Others, such as Ashur Sargon Eskrya, president of the Assyrian Aid Society branch in Iraq, have said that despite the victories against IS and the liberation of Iraqi territories, Christians are facing their “biggest and greatest challenge” in returning to their homelands.

“Iraqi Christians (Assyrian,Chaldean) are indigenous peoples of the country, according to historical sources, and their future in Iraq depends of on international support and protection. Without protections, they will not be able to live in Iraq anymore,” Eskrya said in August 2017.

“It is critical time for the Christians of Iraq — ‘to be or not to be.’ The Christians of Iraq are facing their biggest and greatest challenge” in post-IS Iraq, he added.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

The No. 1 Problem In Christian Relationships And How To Combat It

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Lakewood Church Marriage Pastors Reveal the No. 1 Issue in Christian Relationships and How to Combat It (Interview)

As the pastors of marriage and parenting at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, Clayton and Ashlee Hurst know a thing or two about relationships. They’ve been married for more than 20 years, have two children together, and counsel countless couples on how to develop a Christ-centered, meaningful marriage.

Yet, there was a time when their relationship was anything but healthy.

“We both grew up in Christian homes and our parents had stable marriages,” Ashlee told CP in an exclusive interview. “So we went into marriage thinking it would be easy. We put a lot of effort into the wedding day, but none into the days that followed. Slowly, because of our lack of knowledge of what marriage was truly about, we descended into a valley of hopeless and miscommunication, and pride.”

It’s only by the grace of God, Clayton said, that their marriage was able to heal after five years of suffering. Now, they want to help others avoid the pitfalls and traps that so easily entangle people in this world of romantic comedies and unrealistic, Nicholas Sparks-esque relationship expectations.

The Hursts share their story of struggle and pain, healing and forgiveness in their new book, Hope for Your Marriage: Experience God’s Greatest Desires for You and Your Spouse. They combine their personal experience with biblical wisdom to address the most common roots of marital decay and outline small, manageable changes that can be implemented to get a marriage back on the right track.

“We want people to know, ‘Here’s what we did, don’t do this,'” Ashlee said. “Here’s the things we wish we would have known to help other people along the way. People who are in that hopeless place, we want to give them hope.”

(PHOTO: JOE CENTER)Clayton and Ashlee Hurst

It’s long been reported that half of America’s marriages end in divorce. While the number is significantly lower among Christian couples, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to marital difficulties.

“We were shocked at the number of people who would come up to us in the sanctuary after service and ask for prayer for their marriage,” Clayton shared. “Marriage turned out to be the number one thing people ask for prayer about. Across the board, people are looking for hope.”

While couples struggle with a number of issues, from lack of communication and unforgiveness to mishandled conflict and unrealistic expectations, it “always boils down to pride,” Ashlee said.

“There’s so much pride built up in marriage, and humility is the first step to healing in your relationship,” she explained. “We see pride promoted everywhere in culture, yet the Bible is very clear on humility and and the dangers of pride. The Bible says, ‘Pride goes before destruction,’ and that’s exactly what happens in far too many marriages.”

In every counseling session, Clayton said, he and his wife ask couples: “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have the marriage you hoped and dreamed of having?”

“It comes down to willingness,” he said. “Am I willing to lay down my pride? Am I willing to put my husband or wife’s needs before my own?”

“In Ephesians 5, it says that we must submit one to another, and that’s not always easy. Men and women are different; for the most part, our brains are wired differently, and that’s where communication issues creep in. But ultimately, we are on each other’s team. When she wins, I win. If she loses, I lose. We are meant to work together. That’s God’s intention for marriage.”

One way the church can help prepare Christian singles and engaged couples for marriage is by talking about the hard —and awkward — issues like sex and intimacy.

“Growing up, you always heard, ‘No, no, no’ when it comes to sex but you never heard the ‘why’ behind it,” Ashlee said. “Sex was presented as dirty and bad, and if you did it, there was so much shame. That’s where I found myself once we got married, it was hard for me to be intimate because I had all these hurts from my past, and it took me years before I’d open up to Clayton about it.”

In their counseling sessions, the Hursts said, they work to create a safe place where people can open up about issues and ask vulnerable questions to get the help they need.

“Isn’t it just like Satan to keep us isolated and think we’re the only ones? We want people to know they’re not alone, to ask the sensitive questions,” Ashlee said.

The Hursts also encourage both singles and dating couples to prepare themselves for marriage by studying Scripture and declaring life over their current and future relationships (Ezekiel 37:1-14).

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(SCREENSHOT: TBN)Clayton and Ashlee Hurst

“Put the word of God away when you don’t need it, so when you do need it it’s here for you,” Clayton said. “To have a successful marriage, you must have the Word of God stored in your heart. It’s about taking steps of faith and trusting in God’s power. These things have a huge impact.”

Finally, it’s important for couples to refrain from falling into complacency when it comes to their marriage, the Hursts said.

“Never stop learning. Always be a student of each other, always be a student of marriage,” advised Clayton. “Whether you’re newlyweds or a seasoned married couple, find people farther along in their marriage, mentors who can challenge you and help you grow. Even if your marriage is great, there’s still another level you can reach.”

Added Ashlee, “God can work anything out. Once couple in our church had an affair; there was still hope. One couple literally tried to kill each other; there was hope. One faced the challenges of having a child with autism; there was still hope. There is always, always hope.”

Super Bowl: Eagles Coach Praises Jesus, Nick Foles Gives Glory to God

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Super Bowl: Eagles Coach Praises Jesus, Nick Foles Gives Glory to God

(PHOTO: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)Philadelphia Eagles Nick Foles celebrates with Jason Kelce after winning Super Bowl LII.

Doug Pederson, the head coach of freshly crowned Super Bowl LII champions the Philadelphia Eagles, gave glory to God in his reaction to the historic victory.

“I can only give the praise to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity. And I’m going to tell you something. I’ve got the best players in the world, and it’s a resilient group,” Pederson said in a post-game interview, according to Philly.com on Sunday.

“I love this coaching staff. Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie, the owner. And not only do we have the best fans in the world, we now have the best team in the world. Thank you guys.”

The Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots marked their first-ever Super Bowl title at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, having previously lost title games in 1981 and 2005.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, saw God’s hand in his path to the final, commentators who spoke with him said.

Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and of the Indianapolis Colts, said in a post-game interview, according to NBC Sports:

“Nick Foles told me last week in Philadelphia he thought the Lord had him here for just this time. He knows this is Carson Wentz’s team, but he was ready to go tonight, and he played like a champion.”

Foles wept tears of joy when discussing the team’s victory, holding onto his daughter, Lily.

“All glory to God. Lily really likes this mic. She has no idea,” the MVP said.

Praising his Eagles teammates and coaching staff, he added: “To be here with my daughter, my wife, my teammates, this city … we’re very blessed.”

Foles has not kept his Christian faith a secret, describing himself on Twitter as a “believer in Jesus Christ, husband, father, son, brother.” The 29-year-old star athlete has said in the past that after his football career comes to an end, he is thinking of becoming a pastor.

“I want to be a pastor in a high school,” Foles said at a news conference ahead of the Super Bowl.

“It’s on my heart. I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I wanted to continue to learn and challenge my faith. It’s a challenge because you are writing papers that are biblically correct. You want to impact people’s hearts,” he said.

Foles explained that high school is a very challenging time for young men and young women.

“So much temptation in this world, so much going on with social media and the internet that you want to talk to them and address it, and share all the weaknesses I have because I’ve fallen many times,” he stated.

“It’s something I want to do. I can’t play football forever. I’ve been blessed with an amazing platform and it’s just a door God has opened, but I still have a lot of school left and a long journey.”

Others, such as Eagles’ punter Donnie Jones, also placed their faith in God in the run-up to the major event.

“[I] always know that He’s going to be there, He’s going to take care of you,” Jones, who attended a Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, said of God.

“That’s kind of been the way of my career. I’ve moved around with five teams. When I didn’t know things were going to work out, He always put me in the right spot. You’ve got to have faith, believe,” he added, according to The Catholic Spirit.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

UN Demands Iran’s Islamic Regime Give Christians a Fair Trial

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

UN Demands Iran’s Islamic Regime Give Christians a Fair Trial

(PHOTO: REUTERS/HEINZ-PETER BADER)An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, Austria, June 17, 2014.

Four U.N. human rights experts have issued a joint statement, urging Iran to ensure “a fair and transparent final hearing” at the country’s Revolutionary Court for three Iranian Christians who have been sentenced for “conducting evangelism” and “illegal house church activities,” among other charges.

The U.N. special rapporteurs on the human rights situation in Iran, freedom of religion, minority issues and the right to health have expressed their concerns over last year’s sentencing of Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, former Assyrian Pentecostal Church leader in Iran, and house church Christians Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari, to between 10 and 15 years in prison for various charges.

The Revolutionary Court was due to hold a hearing in the case Sunday but it is not still known if the court ended the case, confirmed the sentences or referred it to the Supreme Court, according to Radio Free Europe.

The U.N. experts said the charges and sentences were “completely contrary” to Iran’s obligations under international law. “We are additionally concerned about the lack of health care made available to them while in detention and, in particular, about the current health condition of Mr. Asgari, who remains in prison.”

They noted, “Members of the Christian minority in Iran, particularly those who have converted to the faith, are facing severe discrimination and religious persecution.”

The independent U.N. experts urged “the government to immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been arrested and detained for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.”

Shamiram Isavi, the wife of Pastor Tamraz, was earlier this year sentenced to five years in prison, allegedly for endangering national security.

“As far as we know, and based on Mrs. Isavi’s own statements, no evidence has been presented in the case to show that she was engaged in spying or disturbing national security. She has denied all the charges,” Kiarash Alipour, a spokesman for Article 18, a U.K.-based organization focusing on Christians in Iran, told the Centre for Human Rights in Iran.

“Mrs. Isavi explained during the interrogation that when the Assyrian Pentecostal Church was shut down, she attended home churches and prayed with fellow Christians and discussed the Holy Book,” Alipour said. “It’s astonishing that a country’s national security could be threatened by a gathering of Christian believers.”

Officials claimed that Isavi was “acting against national security” through her efforts in organizing house churches, which is not allowed in Iran, as well as attending Christian seminars abroad.

Tamraz was arrested with Isavi and their son, Ramin, along with 12 other Christian converts, in December 2014 in Tehran.

In November, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called on Christian leaders to intervene for the release of a British mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 38-year-old project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, being held in an Iranian prison.

My Conversation With An Atheist Follower: Part #2

 

For the folks who have stumbled across this article today who haven’t read part one from last evening I am going to put in the comments that one of my readers made about an article that I reblogged from ‘The Christian Post’ a couple of days ago. The article’s headline was about how teenagers today are the ‘least Christian’ generation ever. The reader ‘Jim’ goes by the title ‘thecommonatheist.wordpress.com’. I asked Jim if he cared if I wrote an article based on our comments to each other in the comment section and he did give me his okay. The following is the main paragraph where Jim first gave me his opinion on the ‘Post’s’ article.

 

“Hoping this trend grows. Don’t forget the core! They are waiting and praying for God to come back and slaughter all the rest of us. That tidbit says a lot about how they really feel. It is a religion that is divisive and racist to its core and Piety sets dividing lines for them to fight every step of social equality of scientific advance.”

 

If you would, please go back and read part one from last night, it will help you with understanding better some of the issues I will be speaking about with you today.

 

1.) “Hoping the trend grows”: that more and more people ignore, stay away from Christianity.

2.) Because #1: “Don’t forget the core”. What/why? Because many of the base teachings of the churches and what ‘they say’ the Bible says is wrong. Last evenings part one explains some of the issues about the beginning of time and the beginning of human kind that no church that I know of teaches though the answers are right in front of all of us. I will get back to ‘science’ issues that Jim raised in just a moment.

3.) “They (Christians) are waiting and praying for God to come back and slaughter all the rest of us.—That tidbit says a lot about how they really feel”. —For those who call themselves Christians who do feel this way “that they want Christ to hurry up with His Second Advent”. And are wanting Christ to kill all their personal enemies and all the ‘unbelievers’ then quickly send them all to the fires of Hell, you ‘Christians’ have a serious issue with the ‘love of Christ’.  If you are a person who says that they are a Christian and you do feel this way, think hard on what you are wishing for. First you must feel that you are ‘safe’, correct? But, are all of your family and loved ones ‘safe’? How about all of your friends, your neighbors?  How about all of your work companions and the people you converse with at the grocery store and the convenient stores and gas stations you visit, are they all ‘saved’? If not, do you really want them all to ‘go to Hell’? If Christ comes back today and all of these people are crushed in the Wine Press of Christ then condemned to Hell’s fire, is that okay with you? If it is, then it is you who will be in serious trouble at your judgement before the Judgement Seat of Christ. All of those folks may well be condemned yet there is a very good chance you will be going to Hell with them. As a Christian we are supposed to be full of love for all people and we are supposed to be trying to help everyone around us to see the Love of Christ in us in the attempt to save them. If you are wanting other people, especially people we know and are supposed to love, to be condemned, Lord help you!

4.) “It (Christianity) is a religion that is divisive and racists to its core”.–I have been a History buff since about 4th grade and I was in 4th grade when I first started studying the Bible more seriously. One of the things I started noticing at an early age was the situation in the Middle-East back in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th centuries A.D.. With the beginning of the Catholic Church in Rome Italy there seemed to be a lot of piety (Holiness, Saintliness, Devoutness) that you needed to be Roman or at least to be Italian to be able to fulfill. Even if their words chose not to speak it, their actions did. If a ‘Vatican’ were to be set up it should have been in Jerusalem, not in Rome or anywhere else as Scripture makes it very plain that Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’. Even the Hebrew people who converted to Christianity shunned their Arab neighbors as if they were ‘better than them’. In the 1440’s in what is now Germany the Priest Martin Luther started the Protestant movement and the break away from the Catholic Church. This Protestant movement swept through western Europe which was massively populated with white people. After King Henry the 8th of England broke with the Catholic Church and started the ‘Christian Church’ called the ‘Church of England’ the racism within Christianity kept getting worse. Colonialism, think about the arrogance of the western Europeans for a moment. Think about countries like India who for so long was under English rule. Indian people living in India were second class citizens at best even in their own country. Indians who converted to Christianity were treated like white Americans treated ‘people of color’ for so many years here in the States. Think of having to sit in the back of the Church or in the balcony because you couldn’t sit with the whites. When people think/believe that they are better than another person, you have nothing to do with Christ or He with you. A question for you to ponder. If the Christians and the Jewish people in the Middle-East had treated all of the Arab and Persian people as equal brothers and sisters would Mohammad have found a foot hold to start-up the religion of Islam?

 

5.) “Piety sets dividing lines for them (Christians) to fight every step of social equality or scientific advance”.–So, Christians/Christianity sets up dividing lines for them to fight against every step of equality, lets stop there for a moment. First, if you are a Christian, or even if you are not but you believe that there is truly ‘a God’ then there is only one totally true truth, and that is God’s version of what He says truth is, not yours or my version of it.

Now, social equality, here I am going to upset some people as most people do not want to hear that anything they are doing is wrong, especially being told that what they do or like is a sin. Most folks here in the States seem to have an ego problem when they are told no on personal issues. We have already discussed race issues within Christianity and I know that here in the States you often hear the term that ‘Christianity is a white mans religion’, this is nowhere near the truth as Christianity has nothing to do with the color of a person’s skin. If you call your self a Christian and you are in any way a racists, may God have mercy on your Soul at your Judgement, you’re going to need it.

Social equality, here I am sure that I am going to really upset a lot of readers but I refuse to lie to you and if I am not speaking ‘God’s truth’ to you, then I am not telling you ‘the truth’. Here in the States we talk about ‘equal rights’ for all. I agree that all people should be treated the same, like on a job, the most qualified person should always get the job opening no matter if they are male or female, straight, gay, white, brown, black, red or Asian. Now concerning being gay, I had a brother-in-law who was gay and died from Aids at the age of 29. He was my father-in-laws only son and my wife’s only brother, this is a tough issue in our family. ‘David’ did not want to be gay, he tried to like girls but chemically inside, he was gay. David knew that by the Scriptures acting out on his urges was wrong, and they simply are wrong. David gave into his urges and it cost him his life. Just like ‘money’ is not the ‘root of all evil’, the love of money is the ‘root of all evil’. Being gay because chemically that is what you are is not the evil part, it is the acting out on your urges that is the problem, simply acting out on these urges is the sin. Just like if you have urges to sexually be with young girls or boys the sin is when you decide to act them out, this is the sin. If you have urges to cheat on your spouse, the sin is if you do it. If you have urges to steal or to cheat on a test it is the following through that creates the sin. Concerning abortion, the sin, and yes it is a sin, a sin called murder, the sin is when you follow through with the abortion.

 

6.) “Scientific advancement” Just like the Catholic Church and the Popes of old would have you burnt at the stake for Heresy for things like saying that the Earth wasn’t flat or that the Earth wasn’t the center of the Universe or that the Sun didn’t rotate around the Earth. Folks, if ‘the Church’ and it’s Popes/Pontiffs really were ‘Christ’s High Priest’ per say here on Earth, they would have known these things and would have never ever had these people punished or put to death. Plus consider that the Prophet Isaiah, one of the main Prophets of the Old Testament, said in Isaiah 40: 42 “God sits above the sphere “circle” of the Earth”.

 

Just like people don’t understand the beginning of the Scriptures concerning time, or the two creations (Gentiles and then the Royal Blood Line) they don’t understand that there are trillions of other planets and millions of Universes and God created them just as He did the Earth and folks, He created them for a reason. Just as our Solar System was started with ‘the big bang’ comes the reality that it was God who created that big bang. If science and Christianity would both understand that they both have some things wrong and that all things are and were created by God, and get off of their personal ‘high horses’ they would find that they could work together on most issues and actually maybe obtain some true wisdom.

Teenagers In America Today Are The Least Christian Generation Ever

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Gen Z Is the Least Christian Generation in American History, Barna Finds

(PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST)Youths gather at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, Va. for day two of “Reverse,” an event organized by Dare 2 Share Ministries.

Teenagers today are the most non-Christian generation in American history as only four out of 100 teens hold a true biblical worldview and one out of every eight teens identify as non-heterosexual, a new survey released by one of the nation’s leading evangelical polling firms has found.

The Barna Group announced Tuesday the findings from its new research project, “Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation,” sponsored by the Georgia-based Impact 360 Institute.

Barna’s research discovered that more teens today who are part of Generation Z (born from 1999 to 2015) identify themselves as agnostic, atheist or not religiously affiliated.

The study indicates that 35 percent of Generation Z teens considered themselves to be atheist, agnostic or not affiliated with any religion. By comparison, only 30 percent of millenials, 30 percent of Generation X and 26 percent of Baby Boomers said the same.

The study shows that almost twice as many teens in Generation Z (13 percent) claimed to be atheist than millenials (7 percent).

“Gen Z is different because they have grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church. So that is a really unique shift,” Brooke Hempell, Barna’s senior vice president of research, said during the survey’s rollout event at Grace Midtown Church in Atlanta.

“There are a lot of churches that are empty in this country. Gen Z is the one who is really showing the fruit of that. There are many of them [who] are a spiritual blank slate. For the first time in our nation’s history, that is more and more common.”

For the project, Barna conducted a total of four focus groups with U.S. teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 and also conducted two nationally representative surveys that included responses from a total of 1,997 teens throughout the United States.

The first survey, conducted between Nov. 4- 16, 2016, interviewed 1,490 teens ages 13 to 18. The second survey was conducted on July 7-18, 2017, and interviewed 507 teens between the ages of 13 to 18. The data from both surveys were minimally weighted to U.S. Census data in order to be representative of ethnicity, gender, age and region.

The research also found that just 59 percent Generation Z teens considered themselves Christian or Catholic. By comparison, 65 percent of millennials and Generation X and 75 percent of Baby Boomers identified as some form of Christian.

Although nearly six in 10 Generation Z teens identified as Christians, Barna’s research shows that only four percent of Generation Z held a “biblical worldview.”

Using “a classification of faith based on widely accepted, orthodox Christian beliefs,” Barna developed a set of theological criteria that each respondent had to meet in order to be classified as having a biblical worldview.

“The percentage of people whose beliefs qualify them for a biblical worldview declines in each successively younger generation: 10 percent of Boomers, 7 percent of Gen X and 6 percent of Millennials have a biblical worldview, compared to only 4 percent of Gen Z,” the study explains.

The study also found that just four out of 10 Generation Z teens agreed that the Bible is “totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” Meanwhile, just 61 percent of “churched teens” agreed that the Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches.

Just 85 percent of churchgoing Generation Z teens believed that Jesus Christ was “a real person who was crucified by Rome and was actually physically raised from the dead.”

“Where is that latent unbelief happening? We see a lot of it in science,” Hempell explained. “Teens are beginning to feel like they have to choose between science and the Bible, where as the Baby Boomer generation or Gen X said that they can see the Bible and science as being complementary … When we get to millenials and Gen Z, they see them in conflict.”

According to the data, 28 percent of Generation Z teens believed that “science and the Bible are complementary.” By comparison, nearly half of Boomers (45 percent) and more than one-third of Generation X respondents (36 percent) said the same.

“For [many], they are going to fall on the side of science,” Hempell continued. “A quarter of Gen Z would say, ‘I don’t see the Bible and science getting along so I am just going to go with what science says because to me that is the truth.'”

Other findings show that 12 percent of Generation Z identified sexually as something other than “hetrosexual,” with seven percent saying they are “bisexual.”

“This is the highest percentage of self-identified non-hetrosexual experience that we are seeing now of any generation,” Barna President David Kinnaman said during his remarks during the rollout event. “This is much larger than millenials.”

Additionally, seven out of 10 Generation Z teens said that they think it is acceptable to be born one gender and “feel like another.” Three out of 10 teens reported knowing someone who had changed their gender identity.

“[Y]oung Christians are struggling as much as we have seen it in the 20-plus years I have been at Barna and in the 35-plus years of our company to understand how to live out their faith in an increasingly skeptical culture,” Kinnaman said. “They are having to represent what the Bible says, what it means to be Christian, in a culture that doesn’t understand it or who believes that the Bible is simply a book that is religious dogma that has been used to oppress people, that being Christian is extremist or irrelevant in our society.”

“I think about what we might do to use discernment and I am asking you how it is in your church and your context, in your ministry could help kids [today] have a more robust experience of what it means to be Christian,” he added. “We need to be thinking theologically. We need to challenge them. They are ready to be challenged more than the church is willing to challenge them.”

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Christian School Punished Over Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Christian School Punished Over Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality Files Lawsuit Against School District

(PHOTO: BRSD.AB.CA)Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman, Alberta, Canada

A Christian society in Canada has filed a lawsuit claiming it was punished by a school district for refusing to censor certain biblical references.

The Cornerstone Christian Society of Camrose and three parents of the Cornerstone Christian Academy are suing the Battle River School Division No. 31 after the school’s agreement with the public school district was unilaterally terminated earlier this year.

The lawsuit, filed by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, claims that the Society, which has had held a master agreement with the BRSD to serve as a Christian alternative program since 2009, lost its agreement in June after it initially refused to remove 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 from a revised academy “vision and purpose” document and scrub religious teachings that could be deemed offensive.

Although the school and BRSD had instituted a five-year agreement in 2015, when Cornerstone submitted its vision and purpose document in January 2017, the school was told by division officials that they must remove the biblical passage.

“[B]ased on the position of the Minister of Education and Alberta Education, we do not support leaving this reference in the document,” the lawsuit quotes Imogene Walsh, BRSD assistant superintendent of business, as writing in an email to the school district on Jan. 30.

The Corinthians passage states: “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“The Verses reflect Evangelical religious beliefs that BRSD was well aware are foundational to Cornerstone’s religious character,” the lawsuit explains. “BRSD’s request to remove the Verses was a profound interference with the religious character and religious freedoms of the Applicants, as well as the contractual agreement between the parties evidenced by the Master Agreement.”

According to lawsuit, the master agreement states that BRSD recognizes that Cornerstone is “an educational setting which operates in accordance with the religious beliefs, core values.”

The lawsuit also claims that Laurie Skori, then chair of BRSD Board of Trustees, told the school in an email in May that the concern is about “any actions, teachings or scripture that results in any student, staff member, parent or other stakeholder from being discriminated against based on any protected grounds.”

“For example, any teachings that denigrate or vilify someone’s sexual orientation, since that appears to be the focus, would not permit the school board to meet with its legal obligation,” Skori wrote.

Although Cornerstone eventually agreed to remove the verse from the document in early June, the agreement was official terminated on June 29 and will be effective in June 2018.

“BRSD was not satisfied with the removal of the Verses. Ms. Skori wrote the same day in response to require Cornerstone to make a further concession: that it would not use any Scripture that ‘could be considered inappropriate,'” the lawsuit explains.

In a statement, Justice Centre President John Carpay stated that the school district “acted out of anti-religious prejudice and ideological discrimination” and further argued that the district “lost sight of the best interests of the children.”

According to the court application, the case will be heard on April 17 at a court in Wetaskiwin. The school is seeking a stay of the school district’s decision.

“In attempting to censor the teaching of Biblical sexuality, and in attempting to prevent the Society from communication with staff and parents, BRSD breached its obligations under the Master Agreement, the School Act, the Alberta Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Carpay added.

In June, Skori explained that the school district was “disappointed” with how Cornerstone went public with the school’s request that offensive verses be removed, saying that the situation was turned into a “public spectacle.”

“We are now at the center of a firestorm as a result of information distributed without our knowledge, by the Cornerstone Christian School Society board and their partner in this process, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms,” Lori was quoted by CBC News as saying. “Hate mail is flowing, misinformation and fear-mongering are widespread. The Cornerstone society has compromised our reputation, risked our safety and broken our trust.”

Skori also denied that the school district was trying to restrict religious teachings.

“The board does not want to get involved in things like that. I think it’s up to the school to decide what things are appropriate or not,” Skori stated.

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Iraqi Christians in Mosul Celebrate Christmas For First Time in 3 Years

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Iraqi Christians in Mosul Celebrate Christmas For First Time in 3 Years

(PHOTO: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED)Ameen Mukdad, a violinist from Mosul who lived under ISIS’s rule for two and a half years where they destroyed his musical instruments, performs at Nabi Yunus shrine in eastern Mosul, Iraq, April 19, 2017.

Christians in Iraq attended a Christmas service in Mosul for the first time since Islamic State militants took over the city in 2014, hoping they will soon be able to return to their homes.

Armoured vehicles guarded Saint Paul’s, the only functioning church in Mosul. Its bombed-out window frames were covered with white sheets during the Christmas service, the BBC reports.

The patriarch of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Raphael Sako, urged the worshipers to pray for “peace and stability in Mosul, Iraq and the world.”

Islamic state, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, was driven out of Mosul in July, but Christians are yet to rebuild their lives and their homes. Less than a dozen Christian families have been able to return to the city thus far.

“The situation made us so sad,” Voice of America quoted Fadi, a worshiper, as saying. “This is our city, our grandparents’ city. We lived here, we grew up here. We built our schools, universities, churches families and friends here.”

In the Nineveh Plains, which was also liberated from IS a few months ago, Christians earlier this month celebrated the reconsecration of the first church, St. George’s, to be reopened there since IS was driven out of the region.

“ISIS wanted to eliminate the Christian presence here — but ISIS is gone and the Christians of Telleskuf are back,” Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil, Kurdistan, said at the ceremony in Telleskuf.

“I am moved by the fact that the church of St. George has not only been reopened, but that it has become more beautiful and glorious than before. That is the way God’s Providence work,” the archbishop declared.

About 80,000 Christians have yet to return home and remain displaced inside of the country as winter has arrived, Juliana Taimoorazy, an Assyrian Christian who founded the Iraqi Christian Relief Council and serves as a senior fellow at the Philos Project, told The Christian Post last week.

She said as many as 50,000 Christians have returned to their homes. Between 150,000 and 180,000 Iraqi Christians were displaced when IS took over in 2014.

“There are many who left Iraq. They went to Turkey. They went to Lebanon. They went to Jordan. The number of Iraqi Christians that are in Turkey is about 45,000. In Jordan, it is about 20,000. In Northern Iraq, we probably would want to say that there are at least 80,000 to 100,000 are displaced in the Northern Part of Iraq.”

Taimoorazy added: “While those aren’t official numbers, as there isn’t a way of counting these people with no census system in place, these numbers are provided to Iraqi Christian Relief Council by various aid organizations and officials from Iraq.”

Pastors in India Beaten, Forced to Sign Apology Letter Because the Gospel Offends Hindus

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Pastors in India Beaten, Forced to Sign Apology Letter Because the Gospel Offends Hindus

(PHOTO: REUTERS/DANISH SIDDIQUI)A protester holds a placard during a rally by hundreds of Christians against recent attacks on churches nationwide, in Mumbai, February 9, 2015. Five churches in the Indian capital New Delhi have reported incidents of arson, vandalism and burglary. The latest was reported last week when an individual stole ceremonial items.

Two pastors who were attacked and beaten by Hindu extremists right before the beginning of a three-day Gospel meeting in India’s Chhattisgarh state were forced to apologize because their conference and the words of Jesus caused snowflake radicals to be offended.

A local pastor told Morning Star News, a nonprofit news agency that reports on Christian persecution, that pastors Vijay Jogi and Santosh Rao were coerced by police into signing an apology letter to a mob of Hindus who prevented them from holding their Gospel meeting that was to be attended by over 1,000 people at Railway Grounds in Charoda.

On Nov. 16, a group of about 70 Hindu nationalists attacked the pastors just minutes before the event was about to start.

“Pastor Vijay Jogi and Pastor Santosh Rao were receiving the people at the entrance,” Pastor Amos James told the outlet. “Suddenly a mob of 70 Hindu Dharm Sena and Bajrang Dal activists gheraoed (encircled) the entrance, and Pastor Jogi and Pastor Rao were beaten and summoned to the police station.”

Jogi told Morning Star News that the extremists slapped Rao three times and then proceeded to beat them both.

Jogi explained that before the start of the meeting, he had received a call from local police warning them to call the meeting off. It wasn’t until after the attack that they realized that “these people will not let us conduct prayers.”

According to Jogi, the Hindu extremists became upset when they saw the words of Luke 7:22-23 in pamphlets around the area advertising the event.

That verse states: “And [Jesus] answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.'”

“The Hindu activists began arguing with us, ‘You are promoting blind beliefs. How can lame walk? How can deaf hear? How can you raise the dead? When your God can do all this, why are you people going to the doctors then?'” Jogi recalled.

“They told me it is very wrong that I have written these lines,” the pastor continued. “I said, ‘I did not write these words. It’s a verse taken from the Holy Bible and applies to the entire humankind.”‘

The activists declared, “We are offended by these lines,” Jogi said.

“If because I quoted these lines in the pamphlet, it is offending you at personal level, I apologize to you brothers. We are very sorry,” Jogi recalled telling the Hindu radicals.

Although Christian leaders in the area have had no issues holding events in that location in the past 20 years, the Hindu mob reportedly claimed that the pastors needed to have approval for the event from the sub-judicial magistrate in addition to approval from the railway police.

The extremists then took the pastors down to the police station, where the pastors were also questioned by the police about needing the approval of a sub-judicial magistrate.

“The police told me to settle the matter here and stop the event immediately,” Jogi claimed. “I was cautioned while Pastor Rao and I were in the police station that the activists are tearing and burning the banners, breaking the tube lights, chairs and dismantling the stage. The police officer told us even if he lodged a case [against the extremists], it would go strongly against us, and that even he can’t help it. The police did not register an FIR.”

Pastor Rao told Morning Star News that Hindu radicals badgered them while they were at the police station and asked questions like “Why are you calling Hindus to your events?” and “Why are you conducting open gospel meetings publicly?” The extremists demanded that the Christian leaders only work among Christians.

Rao explained that once the police were on the Hindu mob’s side, there was “very little hope for Christians in a situation like this.”

While Jogi and Rao were in the police station, they were “forced to sign a letter handwritten by the activists under the supervision of BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) worker Rajguru Ghosale.”

“The letter said by conducting this meeting we hurt the feelings of Hindus, we sincerely apologize for it and canceling the event,” Rao recalled. “They slapped me to sign it.”

The pastors told Morning Star News that they will not file charges against the Hindus or the police.

“We will conduct the gospel meetings again in May. We are not giving up this time. With permissions from all the authorities and government officials, we will conduct the meetings,” Jogi was quoted as saying. “The activists are following me wherever I go. I know there is threat to my life. But I have dedicated my life fully to my Lord’s work, and I will be at it till my last breath.”

The news surrounding the Gospel meeting in Charoda comes as India ranks as the 15th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List.

Most recently, it was reported that seven pastors in Northern India were arrested and could face up to three years in prison after they were accused of forcible conversion. The arrests occurred after the pastors were called to a home in Uttar Pradesh to pray for a recent Christian convert and her husband. However, family members were upset by the couple’s conversion and complained about a forced conversion to police, which eventually led to the seven pastors’ arrests.

Through the past year, a number of Christians have been arrested in Madhya Pradesh state while transporting children to Christian schools after Hindu extremists accused the Christians of forcibly converting Hindu children.

Morning Star News also reported on six Christians in India’s Jharkhand state who were jailed for over a month for praying for a sick Hindu woman.

“India continues its trajectory towards despair,” Wilson Chowdhry, the chairman of the London-based charity British Asian Christian Association, said in a recent statement. “The caste system is gaining renewed impetus, destroying the lives of disenfranchised citizens simply for the families they were born into. Worse, still every minority living in the midst of the Hindu majority are living through a time of increased suspicion and animosity.”

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