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The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Is the Tragic Mistake of Noah’s Generation Happening Again?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on April 22, 2016

days_of_noahAre we living in another generation like Noah’s, where toxic thinking is destroying our entire culture?

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. (Genesis 6:5–6, NLT)

It is sobering to see what happened to the human heart because of a reckless thought life. It did not take long after sin had poured into the human race in the Garden of Eden for men’s and women’s thinking to go down the tubes. Almost immediately Adam and Eve let fear dominate their thinking when they hid from the presence of God. God was no longer the focal image of their thoughts. Corrupt thinking only worsened, as Cain murdered Abel when thoughts of jealousy and anger shaped his heart into a murderer. Sin was crouching at the door of Cain’s thought life, and he failed to master it. Each succeeding generation continued to allow sin to crowd God out of their thinking.

The Days of Noah: The Point of No Return

In Genesis 6, people’s thought life had so corrupted their hearts that it reached a point of no return. Every thought, imagination, and intention of their human thinking was consistently and totally evil.. The Bible does not say some of the imaginations and thoughts of the human race were continually evil, but all of their images, desires, intentions, and inclinations, in every single thought, were evil.

This was not just some weekend fling. It was their thinking from the time they got up in the morning until the time they went to bed at night. There was not a moment in the day when this evil thought process was not actively controlling their minds and shaping their hearts. They wanted absolutely nothing to do with God in their thinking and ultimately in their hearts.

The psalmist affirms this destructive habit of wrong thinking to the human heart:

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (NIV)

This wicked and rebellious people in the time of Noah did not seek God in their thinking. God was not in one single thought. God is the most awesome thing we can ever think about, but these people were so deceived that they did not believe they needed God. They simply had no room for God in their thinking.

This is the tragic height of selfishness. This is the ultimate ego trip. This is the most dangerous thinking pattern on the planet. Without God in our thoughts, we have written the death sentence to the magnificent purpose God has prepared for our lives. To never know Him is the greatest catastrophe of the ages. He deserves the honor to be first in our thinking.

The catastrophe of the flood in the days of Noah was caused by wrong thinking. The fountain of their thought life became corrupt, and as its waters flowed into the heart, it poisoned every purpose, desire, and action.

James Allen, in As a Man Thinketh, says:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. As the plant springs from and could not be without the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them … Cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of chance, but is the result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts … In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself.[i]

Our Thought Life: A Weapon for Good or Evil

Our thoughts are a mighty weapon that can forge our hearts into a steel fortress for our God, or they can be a stealth bomber that penetrates our inner life and destroys our hearts. Thoughts are a much more powerful weapon than any nuclear bomb. They are the critical component to our spiritual growth. We must have a disciplined thought life that is focused like a laser on God and His Word, or our hearts will become a mush of spiritual apathy and worldly lusts.

The Devil is a master general at attacking the thought life of a Christian. His war strategy involves tactics of deception, pressure, and enticement to turn our thinking away from God and toward his kingdom. The Devil knows that every action that flows out of the human heart originates from our thoughts. He knows that our moral character is an exact image of our thinking. Our thoughts determine whether our character drifts toward good or evil.

The Devil knows that in order for a person to do evil, he must first think evil.

Within ten generations, the Devil was so successful that only one person on the entire earth had godly thoughts. The population of the earth at the time of the flood was between 235 million and 7 billion people. In approximately 1,656 years after the fall in the Garden, sin had spread like wildfire and contaminated every single thought of what was probably billions of people. To imagine that only one person out of this massive population had his thought life together is mind-boggling. Nothing in their thoughts reflected the image of God and not one thought brought glory to God. They were wise, rich, sophisticated, and cultured for their time, but the defining characteristic of their age was wickedness because of their thinking.

A civilization that is centered on an ungodly thought life is built on sinking sand. This civilization in the days of Noah received the fruit of their thoughts, which was wickedness and corruption that multiplied on the face of the earth.

Only Noah was thinking rightly and found favor with God. No one else held the image of God and His words as the standard for their thoughts. No one else was guarding their thoughts. No one else cared that their thought life had nothing good in it, but was a breeding ground for evil. Only Noah had righteous thoughts that built his faith and fueled his obedience to God. Noah’s thought life was pure and free from evil because he walked with God.

Is Your Thinking Breaking God’s Heart?

Genesis 6:6 reveals how the toxic thinking of the human race affected God’s heart. These verses contain the first usage of the word heart in the Bible, and they describe a heart that is in deep sorrow.

And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (Genesis 6:6, NKJV)

The toxic thought life of His precious creation broke God’s heart. God’s heart was in horrible agony and pain as He groaned in sorrow over the condition of the heart of every member of the human race. He cried in agony that His people refused to honor Him with even one thought.

Is our thought life any better? Does our thinking bring great agony to the heart of God? How God must grieve today over the thought life of so many Christians and the toxic thinking of this generation.

God is sounding out a clarion call to all who would listen that what we think is critically important to the heart of God. He knows He cannot have your heart if He does not first have your thoughts.

I don’t want to break the heart of God because of my toxic thinking. I want to bring glory to God with my thinking. I want to honor Him with every thought. I do not want any virus to infect my thinking and take out the operating system of my heart. A reckless thought life led to the annihilation of an entire civilization. Is it happening again?

[i] James Allen, As a Man Thinketh (New York: Tribeca Books, 1910), 10.

Read more in Tim Rowe’s new book “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life” http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life-ebook/dp/B01DK0QZYG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1460632838&sr=8-1

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Is Anything Wrong?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on October 6, 2015

earth-and-lightening

We live in a generation rife with contradictions in its understanding of moral values. On the one hand, we are witnessing the confused blurring of lines between good and evil, and a desecrating of boundaries that were intended to keep us from harm. On the other, there is widespread dogmatism and an indignant moral outrage at the real or imagined offenses of others.

The prophetic voice of the church is desperately needed in this mix of confusion and contradiction. Questions about the very concept of moral absolutes have never been more important. Do moral absolutes—unchanging moral values that are independent of humankind and are discovered rather than constructed by us—even exist? What is the reference point for the content of our moral values? And how are they to be grounded?

God and Morality

You may have heard Christian voices making this argument, but you might be surprised to learn that an impressive array of atheist academics concur that if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist, because there is no way of ultimately grounding them.

The theist goes on to note that belief in the existence of objective moral values is one of the most deeply ingrained, intuitive beliefs of the human race. As such, it gives us good reason to believe in God:

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

Objective moral values do exist.

Therefore God exists.

The atheist insists that there is no God, and therefore has to force the issue on morality:

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

God does not exist.

Therefore objective moral values do not exist. 

This final conclusion is at odds with what appears to be a self-evident moral sense, and thus has warranted further explanation from the atheist camp. The narrative offered goes something like this: human beings—and in fact our whole universe—are the product of matter, time and chance, together with the processes of evolution, which are geared towards the survival of the fittest. We have what appears to be a very deeply ingrained sense of an objective right and wrong, as though it has been hard-wired into our systems.

In a sense it has been hard-wired: it is an illusion (atheists argue) brought about by our genes, because it enhances our chance of survival. So there is no issue or contradiction within atheism with regards to our sense of moral absolutes—the sense of these absolutes is an evolutionary illusion.

There are significant problems with this line of reasoning, and I will raise two. Firstly, the broader systemic problem. The atheist tells us that selfish genes, fighting for survival through the processes of evolution, have brought about what we refer to as human beings. The entirety of the human framework, controlled by our genes, is geared towards the aims of that evolutionary process, namely survival, and not (ultimately) towards understandings of truth and reality.1It, therefore, becomes possible to argue that however much we may think and feel that there is an objective morality, and however much it appears to us to be self-evidently the case that there are some things that are genuinely evil and others that are good, this is just an illusion brought about by genes that ultimately have no regard for truth but only for that which is convenient in the aim of survival.

If this is in fact the case, the atheist has a much bigger problem than the explaining of morality at hand. Our very reasoning (our minds) can no longer be trusted, because we can only assume that our minds, controlled by our genes, are not geared towards truth but towards whatever might aid our survival. In fact, the atheist philosopher John Gray concedes exactly that when he writes, “The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.”2 It is a staggering claim.

Our colleague John Lennox responds to Gray with a serious rebuttal:

But what about Gray’s own mind…one must suppose, according to Gray, that his writing this sentence [“The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth”] serves evolutionary success. Well, it certainly would appear to serve the success of evolutionary theory, if it were true. But then Gray has undermined the very concept of truth, and so has removed all reason for us to take him seriously. Logical incoherence reigns once more.3

Again, there is a significant systemic problem in the atheist explanation of morality being just an illusion of our genes. All rationality becomes undependable in that framework.

Leaving aside this issue, secondly, we hit another, more immediate problem. The claim that morality is an evolutionary construct geared towards the survival of the fittest doesn’t seem to be borne out intuitively by the kinds of things that morality seems to demand of us, in contrast to the kinds of things that would seem to ensure the survival of the fittest. Greg Koukl writes: “Consider two cavemen in neighboring villages. One kills the other in cold blood. We’re being asked to believe he feels guilt, because he realizes such an act ultimately undermines his own survival status…. In the rest of the animal kingdom, killing the opposition seems to secure just the opposite.”4

It’s a little tongue in cheek, but the point remains. It is not necessarily clear how caring for the weak, the vulnerable, the sick, the dying or the elderly helps the survival of the selfish gene. One might expect self-sacrifice in such a system to be considered morally good only if weaker persons sacrifice themselves for stronger individuals. And yet it is a person like Mother Teresa who captures the public imagination in setting for us an incredible standard of moral living. We applaud the courage and the character of those who lay their lives down for the weakest among us. There is a significant gap between what we actually find honorable, valiant, good, kind, righteous, and pure, and what we’re being told is the impetus for that belief.

This kind of forced reasoning—the idea that there is no God, and therefore the need to fudge the lines on objective morality—has raised some important questions and a backlash from within the atheist camp itself. Peter Cave, the humanist philosopher, writes, “Whatever skeptical arguments may be brought against our belief that killing the innocent is wrong, we are more certain that the killing is morally wrong, than that the argument is sound.”5 It is a telling insight.

Religious Atheism

We have, as a result, a growing field of “religious atheism” as it’s been dubbed by some: atheists who have wanted to hold on to an objective morality but deny the need for its grounding in God. Sam Harris has been the most prominent voice in this field at the popular level. In 2010, he published the book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values and in it he says that we do not need God, as the world of science can give us the grounding and the context in which we encounter moral truth. Harris writes, “We simply must stand somewhere. I am arguing that, in the moral sphere, it is safe to begin with the premise that it is good to avoid behaving in such a way as to produce the worst possible misery for everyone.”6

With that statement taken as a given, he goes on, throughout the book, to bring various definitions of what the opposite of that misery (what he calls “human well-being”) would look like, and to suggest ways in which neuroscience might, in the future, provide us with ways of measuring that well-being. If science achieves such a feat, Harris argues, we would be able to say (with objectivity) whether one culture or another—or one set of ideas or another—enhanced or diminished human wellbeing and was therefore “true” or “false” with regard to moral values. In other words, we would encounter moral truth grounded in science, as opposed to God.

Can you see the problem? Harris starts by assuming that moral truths exist, and even outlining that they can be boiled down to the idea of well-being. He hasn’t used science to get him there. It is not science that underpins the foundations of Harris’s theory. These are just his starting assertions, his intuitions. It is only after positing those two assumptions that he then goes on to bring a kind of pseudoscience in to measure his own construction of morality. (I am calling it a “pseudoscience” because, by his own admission, the field of neuroscience is not yet capable of doing what Harris says would need to be done, even within his own construct). This kind of logical leap is representative of the field and it fails to achieve its objective. Moral absolutes remain impossible to ground in a godless universe.

To be clear, it is important to note that we are not arguing that you need a belief in God in order to lead a moral life. It is quite obviously the case that there are many people who do not believe in God but who lead exemplary lives, just as there are, unfortunately, many who profess to believe in God whose lives leave questions unanswered. Similarly, we are not arguing that a belief in God is necessary in order to recognize objective moral values or to know and to formulate a system of ethics. In fact, if the Christian worldview is to be taken, it provides us with reasons for believing that by very nature of being human each of us would have something of the moral law imprinted on us regardless of the status of our relationship with God. The Bible tells us that we are made in “the image of God”—hence we are moral beings—and given consciences that speak to the moral law within (see Romans 2:14-15). Whether we acknowledge its source or don’t acknowledge God, that God-given faculty is not incapacitated. The question at hand is a more foundational one: the question of whether we can coherently ground absolute moral values in a world without God.

I think the vast majority of people in this universe believe it to be the case that torturing babies is not just frowned upon as a societal norm, or a personal preference, but that it is in reality objectively wrong. Or again, that rape and genocide are not just matters of preference or cultural norms but are objectively wrong.That even if, for example, Hitler had won the Second World War, and had succeeded in exterminating all of the Jews, conquering the whole world, and indoctrinating everyone to believe in his ideology, that the Holocaust would still be wrong. You cannot coherently ground that view without reference to God—but this is where it becomes essential to clarify which God we are talking about.

The Person at the Center of the Story

It would be a mistake to think that you can posit any God you like and still account for our understanding of the moral law. Everything hinges on the character of the creator at the center of the story. In the Islamic worldview, you have a God whose nature is not essentially good and who defines morality by his commands. Many philosophers grappling with the theistic answer to the question of an absolute morality have unknowingly assumed an Islamic perspective and raised some important and significant challenges to it.

If good is defined simply by whatever God commands, then morality is arbitrary—God could command us to kill everyone who disagrees with us, and we would have to consider that, by definition, to be good. If we push back and say, “God commands things because they are good,” then there must be some objective standard outside of God by which He measures good and evil, and, if there is such a thing, then we don’t need God in the first place—why not go to the standard directly ourselves?

The Christian reality is profoundly different. God Himself is the plumb line. “HOLY HOLY HOLY is the Lord God Almighty”7 is the wonderful, ringing affirmation of Scripture. The Bible presents to us the God who “is light” and in whom there is “no darkness at all.”8 The God who “does not change like shifting shadows.” The God who keeps his promises. The God who is faithful. The God who does not lie. The God who is truth. The God who hates injustice. The God who judges justly. The God who is righteous. The God who cares for the weak, the destitute, the widow, and the fatherless. The God who is kind. The God who is gentle. The God who is love.

The moral law is not grounded in the commands of God but rather in the character of God. This is why the command of God in Scripture is not simply to “be holy according to my commands.” No; the reality is far more profound: “Be holy as I am holy.”9 It is a unique command. No other God either makes or sustains the claim to absolute holiness.

When Christians make the claim that there is such a thing as an objective moral standard, we are saying that there is a God whose character provides that standard and whose commands flow entirely in keeping with that character. I think David saw this when he was writing in the Psalms, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”10 The moral law is a glimpse into the glory of God himself.

What About the Personal Questions?

There is, of course, much more that could be written as we consider the conceptual questions raised by moral absolutes. What about the personal questions?

A couple of years ago, I found it interesting that while doing a mission at a university in the UK that had few professing Christians on campus, the vast majority of students filling out our surveys said that they struggled with guilt. The truth is that we can think about moral values as abstract concepts for hours, and it has no impact, but it takes one second’s worth of a bad decision to make a lifetime’s worth of regret.

We have gotten so good at convincing ourselves that we are relatively good that we never seem to stop and think: “Well, what about the bad parts then? Does anything happen to them? Do they need to be accounted for?” One of the most famous letters written to a newspaper was by G.K. Chesterton. The Timeshad run an article entitled “What’s wrong with the world?” to which Chesterton had written the following reply:

Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.

This is no glib reply. In two little words, Chesterton points us to the profound reality that we are, each and every one of us, broken, and in desperate need of forgiveness. Isaiah writes these solemn words: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”11 We all stand on the same ground before the cross. We all carry guilt. We are in need of forgiveness. And we long for justice.

The atheist tells us that there will be no judgment, no day of reckoning, and that the only justice we can hope for is whatever can be meted out by our law courts in this life. You are left with cases like Jimmy Savile: a legend in his own lifetime, enjoying public praise and adoration, huge wealth, being awarded an OBE and being knighted, and then dying a hero. There is nowhere to go with the horror of the broken lives that we are only now discovering have been left behind in his wake. No justice.

Richard Dawkins writes in his book River out of Eden, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”12

It is hard to believe that he could be serious. The world is still reeling from the shock of the images of decapitated heads of children and adults paraded like trophies. Are we really to believe that this was ultimately neither good nor bad? I couldn’t disagree more with Dawkins.

Immanuel Kant famously wrote in Critique of Practical Reason, “Two things fill the mind with ever increasing wonder and awe…the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” He was right to be awed by it.

There is the persistence of a plumb line—a standard that is independent of us that simply will not go away—and we all know we have transgressed it. No explanation outside of the Judeo-Christian worldview will account for the existence of that standard, the guilt that is very real, the need for forgiveness, and the longing for justice.

Look again at the Cross: the justice of God, the judgment of God, the mercy of God, the love of God, the holiness of God, and the forgiveness of God are all in the person of Christ. God himself embodies the good, overcomes evil, and makes a way for us.

The existence of objective moral values not only gives us a compelling reason to believe in God but points us to some of our most profound needs and draws us to the God who deals with our guilt, offers us forgiveness, and ensures justice.

Courtesy of http://rzim.org/just-thinking/is-anything-wrong

Tanya Walker is a member of the RZIM Zacharias Trust speaking team in the UK.

________________________

1 Although, of course, connecting with truth and reality aids our survival in many instances, this is not necessarily always the case. The considerations of truth and reality remain distinct from the considerations of survival.

2 John Gray, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: London, 2007), 26.

3 John Lennox, Gunning For God: Why the New Atheists Are Missing the Target (Lion Hudson: Oxford, 2011), 108.

4 See Greg Koukl, “Did Morals Evolve?” online at http://www.bethinking.org/morality/did-morals-evolve.

5 Peter Cave, Humanism (Oneworld Publications: Oxford, 2009), 146.

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What Has Happened to Christianity?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on August 30, 2015

IMG_4907_A

Times are changing around the world and Christians are being persecuted more now than at any time in history.  Christianity is losing its influence in culture, education and politics. Recently while reading a book my wife bought by Erwin Lutzer The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent made me think on the waning influence of Christianity in the modern world and why this is so. No greater illustration of this than what has happened in Turkey. Turkey (Asia Minor) was at one time the epicenter of the explosion of Christianity with the Apostle Paul and the school of Tyrannus in Acts 19 where in the space of 2 years and three months every person in Asia Minor heard the word of the Lord Jesus and the Word of God grew mightily and prevailed.

Listen to the record of the power and influence of Christianity in which is now modern day Turkey:

Acts 19:8ff: And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

“Prevailed” in the Greek means to exercise force, to wield power and to have the strength to overcome. The Word of God grew to the point it wielded power in the lives of the Christians, those that heard and even the culture. It had the power to overcome all the occult powers, evil spirits, religious arguments and physical ailments of the age. Look at the power of God over the forces of darkness. The Word of God first must grow and prevail in our lives before it can exercise power in our neighborhood, cities and nation. Is the Word of God prevailing today or has it been corrupted and water-downed. 2 Corinthians 2:17: For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God. The word in the Greek for peddling means to be a retailer that would adulterate or water down their commodities to make a gain; to make money by selling anything and the merchandising of God’s Word for sordid gain. Have you ever turned on Christian television lately? Much of it is peddling the gospel to make a gain. Selling the Word of God to make money for luxurious mansions, cars, jewelry, jets and material gain. We have too many spiritual hucksters trying to sell the blessing of God for seed money. Doesn’t this sound like the indulgences of the Dark Ages when the Roman Catholic Church would sell salvation and other blessings for a price? This is a major reason that the Church is hurting and straying from its calling. We do not sell the Word of God like a commodity on the stock market. You cannot buy God or a blessing. Peter rebuked Simon the sorcerer for this and said “May your silver rot with you! Because you thought you obtain the gift of God by money.” Acts 8:20. The Word of God says such thinking is of those who are “depraved in mind and depraved of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” I Timothy 6:5. These “desires plunge people into ruin and destruction and cause people to wander from the faith.” I Timothy 6:9,10.  Unfortunately many that preach these modern day indulgences are pastors and spiritual leaders in the Church and it is wreaking havoc on the witness of Christianity.

Not to get sidetracked: Paul and Barnabas also taught the gospel for a whole year in Antioch and the believers were first called Christians in Antioch which is in modern Turkey:

Acts 11:19ff: 19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Yet today Christianity is almost non-existent in Turkey as it is 99.8% Muslim and .2% Christian. What happened that Christianity has little influence in this region? Much of what we call the Islamic world today was once Christian. Islam is spreading rapidly in Western Europe with churches closing and being bought and turned into mosques and a rising anti-Christian sentiment in the public square and all walks of life. This is especially surprising given the violent nature of many in Islam and their increasing brutality and terrorism around the globe. Yet Christianity is becoming the hated “religion.”

Why do we not see the church in Acts in Christianity anymore? Where is the power? Where is the deliverance? Where is the passion? We have more passion for our football or basketball teams than we have for Jesus Christ. Where are the miracles? Where are the healings? This is supposed to be a daily occurrence in Christianity as God backs up His word and confirms it with signs, miracles and wonders. Do we just go through the motions but Christ is not a living reality in our hearts?

Mark 16:15-20  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

When the Lord works, there are signs, miracles and wonders. This type of power manifested did not go out with the Apostles of the First Century. It is available today and should be the norm in Christianity.

Look at the commission of Jesus’s own disciples:

Matthew 10:8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Luke 10:17ff:  The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

As Christians we have been given the authority of the name of Jesus Christ. We have full power of attorney rights. Satan is not falling like lightening because we are not walking in that authority. We are instead still in bondage to the Prince of the Power of the Air and the course of this world. We have been given power over the entire kingdom of darkness. Nothing can hurt us when we stand in that authority. Devil spirits will flee, sickness and infirmity will vanish and the power of God will explode on the scene by our faith in our Faithful God.

Do you believe this promise?

John 14:12-14: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

We are to God in the authority and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him we are unstoppable, immovable, unconquerable and a force to be reckoned with in this world. God needs laborers to go forth into the harvest in the valley of human need and to be witnesses to Him in the power of the Spirit.

Matthew 28:18,19a: 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,

Immeasurable power is released when we believe. All things are under our feet and we are filled with the fullness of Christ:

Ephesians 1:18ff: Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Acts 5:12ff:  Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

This type of power is absent in the church today. Signs and wonders were the norm. Even Peter’s shadow falling on the sick would heal them. Today many churches do not even believe in healing or claim sickness is the will of God. Even though God’s name is Yahweh Rapha, the Lord who heals. All those afflicted with unclean spirits or sicknesses were healed. Why don’t we this in the church today?

There is no political solution to the problems of America or the world. There is no economic solution for the problems of America or the world. It is much deeper. It is spiritual. Jesus Christ is the solution to every problem and ill and malaise of this world. Anything else is built on sinking sand. It is not a Republic or Democrat solution, a Russian or USA solution, a liberal or conservative solution for if you think so you are being deceived. The Body of Christ is to represent Jesus Christ to the world. Yet most of us have manifested more of what Jesus is not than what he is in our lives. Why is this so?

In thinking about what has gone wrong with modern Christianity I am not an expert or claim to have all the answers. I am not pointing fingers but am humbling thinking about what can be done to reverse this disturbing trend. I am going to bring up a few points that God has laid on my heart, but ultimately it has to be a God solution, not a man solution. It has to be a Bible solution and not a human reasoning or self-focused solution. Here are some genuine things to think about to restore the majesty and impact of Christianity in our times.

  1. We have failed to shine as the lights of the world and failed to be the salt of the earth becoming bland like the world.

Matthew 5:14,15:  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

You (humeis) is emphatic meaning “you yourselves”.

Genuine faith in Christ turns a man from darkness to marvelous light, and transforms him into “light in the Lord”; his aims and objects, his desires, his speech, his actions, become full of divine light, which illuminates all the chambers of his soul, and then pours forth from the windows so as to be seen of men. 

Your light – If you are a believer you are a supernatural “light”. And you are responsible for letting your light shine forth.

Let…shine – Jesus does not make a suggestion but as discussed below issues a command “Since you are light, then shine!” Shining is not optional for believers.

Let…shine (lampo) means to radiate brilliantly or beam forth.  Jesus gives His a command to do this right now and do it effectively (aorist imperative – conveys the idea of urgency). This is a permissive imperative which means to permit your light to shine. Don’t do anything that will cover it, hide it or snuff it out. To shine is not optional! If we fail to obey our Lord’s command we will fail to fulfill His purpose for us in His glorious plan.

What Jesus intends is for believers to live out the Christ life which is in them (Col 1:27), a way and quality of life that is so different from that of the world (including the religious world) and so distinctive that it shines light into the darkness. Let the character of Jesus shine forth. The Puritan writer Thomas Brooks wrote that…A Christian’s life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ. Has anyone mistaken you for Jesus lately? Am I truly living a life different from unbelievers? Is there anything about my life which one might recognize as supernatural? Am I giving a proper opinion of my Father by the way I live? The logic is clear and direct – just as the function of a household lamp is to give light in the house, so too believers are to provide illumination to all they encounter in this spiritually dark world.

Philippians 2:13-16: For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

The word used for lights is the same as is used in the creation record of the lights (sun and moon) which God set in the dome of the heavens to give light upon the earth. Paul is saying the saints at Philippi and by way of application believers of all ages are to shine out in stark contrast to the darkness of this godless society shining forth as “heavenly bodies of light” (lights powered from heaven) stationed upon the earth enshrouded in the darkness of sin. We are now “light in the Lord” and are to reflect the glory of the Lord in the middle of this present darkness. The darker the night, the brighter the light appears. Christians are lights or light-bearers. They cannot create any light, but they can reflect the glory of the Lord so that others may see Jesus in them.

Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

We are supposed to be the salt of the Earth, as something that gives flavor to make a meal taste good. But when we are not attracting the lost, but rather repelling them, then our salt has lost its savor. What makes it even worse is that we are even repelling the saved.

I Peter 2:9 (NIV) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special peoplethat you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

 

Ephesians 5:8-16 (NIV):For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

 15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

  1. We have forgotten about the gift of holy spirit received at the new birth and it lies dormant and ineffectual in our daily living.

Acts 1:8: But you will receive (lambano-into manifestation) power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 2:38: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

II Timothy 1:6: Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.

I Corinthians 12:7:  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

A born again believer received the gift of holy spirit at the time of the new birth conversion. It is power, a comforter, a teacher, an enlightener and a fruit producer. God has given us none manifestations to operate in I Corinthians 12 and we must begin to walk by the Spirit, fanning into a flame that burns the chaff in our lives and sets our hearts on fire for God.

  1. We have failed to live sanctified from the world:

2 Timothy is Paul’s last book. All Asia had turned away from Him. Principal keys for the Christian, for leaders and for the church how not to fall into apostasy.

2 Timothy 2:20-22: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

John 17:14-19:  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

What do you desire for your life as a Christian? Do you long for a heart that is aflame for God or extinguished by the world? Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to the passions of this world. We love Jesus being our Savior but hold back in making Him our Lord in everything. We still want to sit on the throne of our heart and run our own life. We want to get our ticket to heaven and return to living the way we were before. We will make no impact for the gospel of Jesus Christ with this thinking.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Sanctification is not about becoming perfect. It is about becoming perfectly His. It is about giving more and more of my life over to God for His possession. When God met Moses at the burning bush, he took off his sandals to show he had no ownership of the ground he stood on. It belonged to God. That’s what we must do-transfer ownership to Him, give up our claims and consecrate ourselves to His purposes. God is not asking for the perfect life. He is asking to set aside the life we have entirely for Him.

  1. Oh Ye of Little Faith:  We have so little faith as Christians today as there is a great need for a revival of faith in the church. Our entire culture is designed to build fear and unbelief in the promises of God and doubt as to God’s true character and His enduring faithfulness. We have more faith in the devil to afflict and oppress us than in the power of God to deliver us, change us, empower us, and demonstrate His mighty nature in and through us.

. We have made God too small; our vision of God is mundane and tiny; we do not see or understand the character of God and just who He is, and thus our faith is miniscule, weak and shipwrecked on the island of doubt, worry and fear. Faith must once again come alive with a holy vibrancy rooted in the unchangeable truth that our God cannot lie and the promises of His Word are awaiting to be ignited in our heart by our audacious faith that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. True Faith has absolute confidence that our God is able and willing to bring about the impossible, the miraculous, the supernatural and the extraordinary in our lives. How many times did Jesus chide his disciples and followers saying “O ye of little faith!”? We must elevate our faith in Him to the mountaintop where it belongs and, if we are ever to live the audacious, vibrant, bold and world-changing Christian life, we must have faith that moves mountains.

Eric Ludy: Do we know the power and grandeur of God in our day? Does our generation comprehend that the God of the Bible is without “shadow of turning” and that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” There is a vast shortage of believers who simply believe with childlike faith that God will do what He says He will do and is worthy of our trust and is always faithful to His Word. Romans 4:19-21 (KJV)- 19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 

There’s nothing our world needs more desperately today – in individuals, families, businesses, churches, and communities – than God’s saving, supernatural acts. And he’s ready to act if we will be bold enough to ask, not just for a good day or a better life, but for the impossible. Then step forward to act in audacious faith.

Each of us is called to be a Joshua—each in our own way, in our own circumstances, with our own God-given personality. As you’ll see in the pages ahead, you and I are called not just to have faith, but also to regularly activate our faith by asking God for giant outcomes, taking giant steps. If we have the audacity to ask, God has the ability to perform. That’s how God turns His amazing promises into everyday reality in every generation—for Joshua’s and for ours.You and I may not see the same miracles Joshua did, but we serve the same God. His nature never changes. The same power that stopped the sun and raised Christ from the grave lives in every believer. God still demonstrates His power and supplies His provision in direct proportion to the faith of his children.

Mark 11:22-24 (NIV):

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

“Have the faith of God” (Young’s Literal Translation)

Do you have the faith of God? Or do you have the doubt of the world? Do you believe that God can move mountains through your faith? Or are you consumed with the avalanche of fear and anxiety and not confident that our God can and will move mountains with this God-inspired faith and child-like trust in Him and Him alone? Would you ask God for the sun to stand still? Or is that just too big and too impossible for your faith? God has not changed. He still loves and passionately desires to do the impossible. He is waiting for one person to energize His faith and move out with audacious faith that there is a God in heaven with unlimited power and ability who loves to move and rule in the affairs of men and women.

  1. We Love the World and the things of the world more than we love God.

Jesus life-changing question to Peter: “Do you love me more than these?”

I John 2:16,17: 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

2 Timothy 2:3,4:  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

James 4:1ff: (Voice): Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it. You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want. You do not have because you have chosen not to ask. And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong—because you continually focus on self-indulgence. You are adulterers. Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God. Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say, “The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy”? You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says, God opposes the proud,  but He pours out grace on the humble.So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.

Quote from my upcoming book The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life:

The world will never love you like God loves you. He will never leave or forsake you, and He will always lead you in the path of true righteousness. Isn’t He worthy of owning ALL your heart and not just part of it? Why give away even the smallest part of your heart to the world? The world will never satisfy like God satisfies. It will only betray you in the long run like an unfaithful lover and lead you down a path of destruction.

Has your hearing become so dull, our eyes so blind, that you are giving leftovers of your heart to God? Francis Chan, in Crazy Love, says:

God wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best. . . . [Yet] God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty for giving Him nothing. A mumbled three-minute prayer at the end of the day, when we are already half asleep. Two crumbled-up dollar bills thrown as an afterthought into the church’s fund for the poor. . . . We say to the Creator of all this magnitude and majesty, “Well, I’m not sure You are worth it. You see, I really like my car or my little sin habit or my money, and I am really not sure I want to give them up.” . . . How can we think for even a second that anything on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?

This is the great deception of the kosmos, that God is not worthy of our best love, our first love, our greatest love. We give God only leftover scraps from the table of our hearts and forget His majesty and grandeur and how much how much our hearts need Him. Jesus declares to the church at Ephesus, “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Does God really satisfy you? Are you consumed with God? Is God your first love? Carter Conlan, in The 180 Degree Christian; Serving Jesus in a Culture of Excess, says:

What I believe grieves God most is we have robbed Him of our hearts. It is as if He would say to us, “You have robbed Me of the full heart of surrender that I was looking for that would have allowed Me to fill you from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. If only you would have turned to Me! I would have caused you to live such a profound life that you would have stood out as a light shining in a darkened world.”

6: We don’t want to give up our idols:

 Kyle Idleman in Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart says:

Idolatry is the number one issue in the Bible…Idolatry comes into every book…What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry?…Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethroned, and the Lord God takes His rightful place, you will not have victory. Idolatry isn’t an issue; it is the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods. Deal with life on the glossy outer layers and you might never see it; scratch a little beneath the surface, and you will begin to see that it is always there, under some coat of paint. There are a hundred million different symptoms, but the issue is always  idolatry.

I John 5:21: Little children, keep yourselves from idols. I Corinthians 10:14: Flee from idolatry.

An idol is anything that is more valued, loved, sought after, desired and honored than God. An idol is worshipped in place of God and becomes the obsession, passion and craving of the heart above all else. Timothy Keller in, Counterfeit Gods, says:

What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God. It is anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing. It can be romantic relationship; peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brain, a great political or social cause, your morality or virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry…An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure”…If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.

Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2010), 5.

Do you have an idol that has captured your heart?  What are you most devoted to? What occupies almost all your time? What commands your attention? What do you think about constantly? What makes you happy above all other things? What gives your life value and meaning? What absorbs you on a daily basis and controls your life? What consumes you? What can you not live without? What drives you on a daily basis? These questions are a litmus test to determine what idols you may have in your heart. These are mountaintop questions meant to reveal what has climbed to the peak of your heart. Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and relies upon is your God; trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and idol.”

At the root of all idolatry is a misplaced trust in some person, object, idea or image above God. We trust the idol to make us whole and give us value. We have faith in the idol to fulfill its promises. We believe the idol more than we believe God. We lean on our idol in times of trouble. The idol has captured the gaze of our eyes. The idol becomes the voice we listen to. The idol energizes us to action.

We must tear down the altars to other idols in our hearts and worship the on true God always.

7: Christians have failed miserably to walk in unity but instead criticize, judge and destroy one another with their words, attitudes and actions.

Can you imagine that there are 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations? Are we missing something? Isn’t this another reason why Christianity has lost its effectiveness? Look at church history and it is not a pretty picture. Wars, inquisitions, bitter strife and schisms, persecutions, killings and hatred. How can the Body of Christ accomplish anything on earth when all of its members are warring against each other and pointing the finger of judgment? Nothing makes a mockery of Christianity more than disunity among believers. The Devil does everything in his power to keep the church divided as disunity has become a major obstacle in reaching the world with a life-changing gospel.

Look at the example of the First Century Church:

Acts 4:32-34a: Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them…

Acts 2:42-47: The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying.43 Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. 44 There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in need. 45 They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. 47 The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation.

It takes humility, gentleness, patience and love to walk in unity as Christians. Are you eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace or eager to cause division and strife in the church by your judgmental attitude and critical words?

Ephesians 4:1-7: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

There are to be NO divisions in the church but we are supposed to be united in the same mind and judgment. But instead we say oh I follow Calvin, oh I follow Luther, oh I follow the Pope, oh I follow the prosperity gospel and on and on and on. We quarrel over everything and bring mockery to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have emptied the cross of Christ of its power in modern day Christianity by our divisive actions.

I Corinthians 1:10ff: I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

We remain infants in Christ, never growing into maturity because there is jealousy, strife and division among us as we walk according to the flesh and not the spirit.

I Corinthians 3:1ff: But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Colossians sets for the standard, the measuring rod for every Christian.

Colossians 3:12ff:  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

There are to be no divisions by race, culture, geography, gender or denomination.

Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

I Corinthians 12:12ff:  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

We must stop the hatred, the division, the slander and the finger pointing among different Christian groups and denominations. Everyone thinks they are right and the other group is wrong. Remember we are all members of the Body of Christ and are supposed to be one in Christ Jesus. We will never be effective in the gospel until we put aside our petty squabbles and begin to walk in unity and love among each other. Romans 12 says in honor we are to prefer one another above ourselves. It is sad commentary in my over 40 years as a Christian when I have been persecuted, put down, criticized, slander and hated, 99% of the time it is coming from other Christians. Christians trying to destroy other Christians’ lives and ministries is far too common in modern day Christianity. The Devil is called the accuser of God’s brethren (Revelation 12:10) Why should we become his evangelists and spokepersons when we slander and judge our very own Christian brothers and sisters. The Bible says in Ephesians that NO corrupt communication is to come our mouths about anyone or anything but our words are to edify and minister grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29. What a change that would be. The Bible says we are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32). Where has the kindness and forgiveness gone in churches today. Why do we backbite and gossip and judge so much? Maybe we have forgotten what we were forgiven for. At every opportunity, we are to do good to everyone especially those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). Do you know much impact a kind word has, a tender touch and a helping has? Or are we like the priest and Levite who walk to the other side of the street when they see someone in need? Where is the compassion? Where is the love? Where is the empathy? We are supposed to walk and think Jesus Christ! (Philippians 2:5, I John 2:6, I Peter 2:24). How we have fallen short! We must watch out as Galatians wars that we do not bite and devour and are consumed by one another instead of spreading the gospel in word and deed (Galatians 5:15).

Let us heed Jesus’s prayer: John 17:20-23:  “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

8: Failure to Love: Waxed cold on love and waxed hot on gossiping, tearing down, criticism and judgment.

The Bible speaks eloquently to these issues. Now is the time to hear and obey it.

Matthew 24:12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will wax cold.

John 2:3-11:  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

John 13:35: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  

Ephesians 5:2a: And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…

Colossians 3:12ff:  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

  1. Not Rendering Sin Unemployed:

Romans 6:4-6.11-13 (Amplified):

We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, so we too might habitually live and behave in newness of life. For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be one with Him in sharing His resurrection by a new life lived for God. We know that our old unrenewed self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that our body which is the instrument of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God, living in unbroken fellowship with Him, in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal, short-lived, perishable bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members and faculties to sin as instruments tools of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to perpetual life, and your bodily members and faculties to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not any longer exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law as slaves, but under grace as subjects of God’s favor and mercy.

Colossians 3:5(a) Amplified:

So kill, deaden, deprive of power the evil desire (lust) lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]…

Galatians 5:24, 25 (KJV):

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Phillips:

Those who belong to Christ have crucified their old nature with all that it loved and lusted for.

If our lives are centered in the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit.

We yield our hands, feet, mouth, eyes, ears and heart as tools of righteousness to our God, and never allow our body to be an instrument of sin.

  1. Silenced as to the gospel. Most Christians are ashamed to speak the gospel of Christ in the public arena. We have become passive in witnessing and sharing of the truths of God’s Word. We fear man more than we fear God. We are fearful of what people may think, fearful of being labeled a religious nut, fearful of rejection and ridicule, fearful of not being accepted and liked by our friends, neighbors and culture that we are silenced. We refuse to open our mouths and witness to the greatest message ever in the history of the world. We forget that Jesus was despised and rejected of men, hated by the religious established, mocked by the winds of culture. Romans 10:8-17: But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

You have been sent to preach this word of faith, the gospel, to every living person. No one can believe unless they hear and no one can hear without a preacher, someone holding it forth to them. We are all commissioned preachers of the gospel. We preach in two ways: By our words and by our lives. We are living epistles known and read of all people. (2 Corinthians 3:2). Our lives are preaching 24 hours a day which may turn many off from our words of sharing the truth of God’s Word. If we preach love, but judge, gossip and hate others our message has lost its power. If we preach Lordship but are sold out to the lusts of our flesh and our own selfishness than our message has little impact. If we preach compassion but refuse to give to meet the needs of others than our message becomes hypocritical. Our love must not be hypocritical or two-faced as Romans 12:9 declares. We cannot play the part when it comes to love. We do not become an actor when it comes to loving others. Putting on a show but really not caring much.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We have the ministry of reconciling men, women and children back to God and the word of reconciliation to accomplish this as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are an ambassador of Jesus Christ! Are you a silent ambassador with the ministry of reconciliation closing its doors in your life? Are people not hearing the gospel because you have chosen to remain silent?

We should hold forth the Word of life with boldness mixed with tenderness, grace, mercy and love in the power of the Holy Spirit. We should be like Stephen that people could not resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking (Acts 6:10).

Colossians 3:5,6: Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

11. Lack of Devotion to Pray and Study and Meditation of the Word

 O how we have underestimated the power of prayer!!God has provided us a defense and power that will enable us to stand against the schemes and flaming arrows of our enemy-the Prayer of faith. Eric Ludy-Prayer is not some bb gun that God has given us to try to shoo away raccoons in the night. Prayer is nuclear power, world renovating in its epic strength. When used according to the pattern of Scripture, prayer alters history, alters the natural world, and alters the human soul. The Sword of the Spirit is too heavy for a mere man to carry, but prayer enables us to lift it, swing it, and transform the world around us with it. Prayer is the catalyst behind everything Godly taking place in the earth.

A. W. Tozer portrayed a praying Christian as a constant threat to the stability of Satan’s government writing that…

The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Since prayer is detrimental to the evil one’s purposes, Satan and his minions do their utmost to interfere when we pray especially opposing us when we try to take time for prayer because the enemy knows better than most Christian’s the power of persistent prayer! In any posture, in any attire, at any time, in any place, and under any circumstance prayer is appropriate. Prayer is to be a total way of life, an open and constant communion with God.

Bona fide, heaven-inspired prayer-the kind that moves mountains and calms storms-is not something the modern church is use to. Prayer in our modern day has been diminished, and as a direct result, the power of the church of Jesus Christ has seemingly vanished. We are not a triumphant lot anymore, but rather a weak, sin-stained, defeated one. We lost our strength, our confidence, our absolute assurance that God is with us in battle. So many amongst our ranks are literally scared to fight because they honestly don’t know if they are going to win if they do. Lion-hearted prayer warriors are rare these days. Men and women with wild and holy abandon are so few nowadays as to be confused with being non-existent. Could it be you are the stuff of prayer legends and God is saying to you right now, “Its time my son or daughter. Rise up and live this life like you mean it!!” Will you be a part of a legendary generation of prayer heroes? Do you want a greater cause, a greater purpose, a greater destiny to fill your life? Then become a lionhearted prayer warrior for God.

EM Bounds- Our praying needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied and a courage that never fails.

Colossians 4:2 (NASB)-Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; I Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB)-Pray without ceasing. Phillips-Never stop praying. Romans 12:12 (NIV) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

AW Tozer-The man who would know God must spend time with Him. True prayer demands more of our lives than most are willing to give and therefore few ever taste of its power and delights. You need to be radical in your prayer life.

2 Timothy 2:15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

John 5:39a; Search the Scriptures

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
 nor sits in the seat of scoffers;but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.In all that he does, he prospers. 

We should be spending at least an hour a day in prayer and the Scriptures. We must make time for God in our busy lives. He must be number one priority. We must train our minds to think about Scripture during the day and meditate upon God’s promises. There is nothing better to think about. One hour a day can transform you, your family and the church in amazing ways. You will begin to reflect the image of Christ more and think like Jeus instead of like the world.

These 11 points are not a comprehensive list by any means but they will help the Body of Christ get back on track as shine as a bright light in this crooked world.

Tim Rowe

Goodness of God Ministries http://www.thegoodnessofgod.net

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Christians Must Stand Their Ground, ‘Disobey’ Unjust Laws Limiting Religious Freedom, Says Matt Staver in Kick-Off to 4-Day Future Conference

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on June 15, 2015

Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision looms this month, Liberty Counsel Chairman Matt Staver and subpoenaed Houston pastor Steven Riggle asserted Sunday that Christians and churches across the country need to unite, stand their ground and defy “unjust” laws that restrict religious freedoms.

While speaking on the opening night of the four-day Future Conference hosted at the Skyline Church in San Diego, which is headed by pastor Jim Garlow, Staver told the audience in a video speech that the pending Supreme Court ruling could lead to the constitutionalization of same-sex marriage and would also be an “unprecedented threat” to American history and religious freedoms.

Staver, whose Liberty Institute advocates for numerous Christians persecuted by the government for upholding their faith, further explained that if same-sex marriage is ruled constitutional, it will not be something that Christians will simply be able to ignore.

Staver argued that civil authorities will force people and businesses to choose between “compromising” their biblical convictions of marriage being between one man and one woman or having to face the prosecutorial wrath of civil authorities.

The Supreme Court has historically made a few bad rulings that time and justice have been able to realize and overcome, and a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would be yet another biasly-flawed Supreme Court ruling, Staver contended.

Despite the fact that multiple cases across the nation have arisen where Christian business owners have been prosecuted, threatened and fined for refusing to service same-sex weddings, Staver said Christians should not be coerced into folding their biblical beliefs in order to comply with the rule of law, especially when such a law contradicts God’s natural rule of a “higher law.”

“Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, said there are two different kinds of laws. There is a just law and an unjust law,” Staver explained. “An unjust law is an earthly law that is in direct collision and conflict with the higher law. [MLK] said that we must disobey them. We can not give them the respect of the rule of law because our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not give respect to a lawless decision.”

Staver stressed that people must take a stand for their religious freedoms because judges and lawmakers are trying to stomp on them.

“We have policies at Liberty Counsel as a baseline for churches to adopt. But understand that these are not full proof. There are ideologues, whether on the bench or in legislative bodies, that really don’t care about your religious freedom, the First Amendment and these inalienable rights of conscience and they will override those liberties with this radical agenda,” Staver said.

“What should a pastor, what should people do?” Starver asked. “I believe we shouldn’t be intimidated. I believe that we should not change a single thing that we do. I believe we need to stand the ground on which God has given us. Stand your ground is my message to you. Don’t be intimidated by what’s coming.”

Staver also advised that Christians across the country need to unite on the same cause and speak out any time one of their brothers and sisters is persecuted by the government simply because they acted in accordance with their faith. Staver detailed his point by adapting a famous quote by anti-Nazi theologen Martin Niemӧller to modern-day society.

“First they came for the adoption ministry but I did not speak out because I did not do adoptions. Then, they came for the wedding photographer but I did not speak up because I did not do photographic weddings. Then, they came for the baker and I did not speak up because I was not a baker. Then, they came for the florist but I said nothing because I was not a florist. Then, they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me,” Staver said.

“This is not a call for lone believers to fall on their swords,” staver continued. “It is a call for us to speak for each other and stand together and even to suffer together. Like Esther facing the unjust laws of the Persian Empire, we must pray, then we must stiffen our spines. May God help us remain faithful, whatever the cost.”

iggle, who was one of five Houston-area pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, last fall because of his opposition to the city’s transgender bathroom ordinance, told the conference that it’s imperative for each individual evangelical movement across the country to unite as one super movement against the attack on religious freedom.

“It seems to me that we better find a way to take all of the voices and merge them together instead of a shout coming from here and here and over there,” Riggle, who pastors Houston’s Grace Community Church, stated. “I have been asked to sign three letters in one week all with them going here and going there. What would happen if 100 million people signed one letter. When are we going to figure this out?”

Although there has been no shortage of petitions and joint letters signed by evangelical leaders against same-sex marriage, Riggle compared those individual letters and petitions to the equivalent of a group of people trying to take down one bear by using nothing but small sticks and switches, instead of one giant stick to knock the bear out.

“I think we need to walk softly and carry a big stick,” Riggle asserted. “What I mean by that is until we unite our forces, we will continue to lose because it seems to me like we have whole lot of people walking around carrying switches.”

“Can you imagine 30 people surrounding the bear and everyone of them having a switch and all of them switching the bear and he may eat you if you do that,” Riggle continued. “If you figure that if all of you put your forces together and you get a big stick … and you put everybody together and you go out after the bear with [the big stick] and on your stick is ‘the lord is my strength.’ Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

Riggle also advised Christians not to back down in the face of government coercion. He insists that Christians need to be prepared to “run to the battle,” just as David did in his battle against Goliath.

“When you hear the threats and intimidation, don’t hide. Like David, run to the battle, don’t disappear. … When the giant shouts, shout back. … How do you shout back, shout back in the voting booth … shout back by running for office.”

Staver concluded by saying that a pro-gay Supreme Court ruling will create “impossible odds” for Christians that will force God to intervene, just as He did when he protected Daniel from the lions’ den.

“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church because moments like this when there is an unprecedented clash, there is impossible odds that God will intervene for his people,” Staver said.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-must-stand-their-ground-disobey-unjust-laws-limiting-religious-freedom-says-matt-staver-in-kick-off-to-3-day-future-conference-140381/#kDfSPVUV2iI8RkA6.99

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Former SEALs Chaplain Could be Kicked Out of Navy for Christian beliefs

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 9, 2015

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A chaplain who once ministered to Navy SEALs could be thrown out of the military after he was accused of failing “to show tolerance and respect” in private counseling sessions in regards to issues pertaining to faith, marriage and sexuality, specifically homosexuality and pre-marital sex, according to documents obtained exclusively by Fox News.

Lt. Commander Wes Modder, who is endorsed by the Assemblies of God, has also been accused of being unable to “function in the diverse and pluralistic environment” of the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C.

“On multiple occasions he discriminated against students who were of different faiths and backgrounds,” the Chaplain’s commanding Officer Capt. Jon R. Fahs wrote in a memorandum obtained by Fox News.

Modder told me he was devastated by the accusations. He believes charges have been trumped up.

Modder is a highly decorated, 19-year veteran of the military. Prior to becoming a Navy chaplain, he served in the Marine Corps. His assignments included tours with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Naval Special Warfare Command – where he served as the Force Chaplain of the Navy SEALs.

His record is brimming with accolades and endorsements – including from Capt. Fahs.

In Modder’s most recent review, Fahs declared that the chaplain was “the best of the best,” and a “consummate professional leader” worthy of an early promotion.

So how did Chaplain Modder go from being the “best of the best” to being unfit for service in the U.S. military in a span of five months?

The Navy did not return my calls seeking comment – so all we can do is rely on their written accusations and evidence.

Michael Berry, a military veteran and attorney with Liberty Institute a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is representing Modder. He accused the military of committing a gross injustice against the chaplain in a letter to the Navy. He told me they will respond forcefully and resolutely to the allegations – which they categorically deny.

“We are starting to see cases where chaplains have targets on their backs,” Berry said. “They have to ask themselves, ‘Do I stay true to my faith or do I keep my job?’”

He said Modder is being punished because of his Christian faith.

“They want chaplains to be glorified summer camp counselors and not speak truth and love into people’s lives,” Berry told me. “There are some anti-religious elements in our military. Anytime somebody wants to live their faith out – there are people who say that is offensive.”

Modder told me he was devastated by the accusations. He believes charges have been trumped up.

“The military now wants a 2.0 chaplain instead of a legacy chaplain,” Modder said. “They want a chaplain to accommodate policy that contradicts Scripture.”

Modder’s troubles started on Dec. 6 when an assistant in his office showed up to work with a pair of Equal Opportunity representatives and a five-page complaint documenting grievances against the chaplain.

The lieutenant junior grade officer went on to detail concerns about Moody’s views on “same-sex relationships/marriages, homosexuality, different standards of respect for men and women, pre-marital sex and masturbation.”

Modder said the young officer had only been working with him for about a month and would constantly pepper him with questions pertaining to homosexuality. He had no idea that the officer was in fact gay – and married to another man.

“His five page letter of complaint was unconscionable,” Modder said. “He said I had a behavioral pattern of being anti-discriminatory of same sex orientation.”

The chaplain was not even given a chance to defend himself. He was immediately removed from duties and told to clean out his office.

“It was insulting and it was devastating,” Modder said. “I felt discriminated against. How could something like this happen at this stage of my career?”

Zollie Smith, the executive director for the Assemblies of God, U.S. Missions, told me they stand firmly behind the chaplain.

“We stand behind him 100 percent,” he said.

In hindsight, Berry believes the officer was setting up his client – and in doing so may have committed a crime.

“I believe some of what the lieutenant has alleged could constitute a military crime – false statements – taking what the chaplain said and twisting or misconstruing it – in an attempt to get the chaplain punished,” he said. “He abused the position he was placed in as a chaplain’s assistant.”

He believes the officer may have gained access to private counseling file

“To be clear, Chaplain Modder does not dispute that during private, one-on-one pastoral care and counseling sessions, he expressed his sincerely held religious belief that: sexual acts outside of marriage are contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual behavior is contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual orientation or temptation, as distinct from conduct, is not sin,” Berry said.

Modder said many Americans may be shocked to discover how much military culture has changed over the past few years.

“This new generation is very secular and very open sexually,” he said. “The values that the military once held – just like the Boy Scouts of America – are changing. The culture wants this. Culture is colliding with truth. That’s at the heart of this.”

Modder recalled an incident that occurred when he first arrived on the base. He was about to deliver the invocation at a graduation ceremony when the captain pulled him aside.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Hey chaplain – do not pray in Jesus’ name,’” he recalled.

Modder said he understands the firestorm he is about to enter – but he remains resolute.

“Every fiber in my being wants to run away from this – but if I do I’m not being obedient to the Lord,” he told me. “I need to stand up for righteousness and this is something I cannot walk away from.”

The reality is that many other chaplains could find themselves in Chaplain Modder’s shoes. The Roman Catholic church and the Southern Baptist convention have nearly identical positions on the issues that the Navy found problematic with Modder.

“It’s going to be a hard road for me,” he said. “But it’s what God has called me to do.”

Ultimately, it’s about leaving a legacy and setting an example for his family – his wife and four young children.

The day he was relieved of his duties, Chaplain Modder’s 14-year-old son tagged along to help pack up his dad’s office. A few senior enlisted men were there as well.

As they were driving away, the boy told his father that the enlisted men had spoken to him.

“They told my son that ‘you can be proud of your father because he’s keeping the faith,’” Modder said. “The whole command knows that Chaplain Modder is keeping the faith.”

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.”

Courtesy of http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/03/09/former-seals-chaplain-could-be-kicked-out-navy-for-christian-beliefs/

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No honor in his hometown: Jesus not welcome in Nazareth school

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on April 8, 2014

JAnote

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a Pennsylvania school district on behalf of a 1st grade student and his parents. In February, Nazareth Area School District unconstitutionally prohibited the student from distributing St. Valentine’s Day cards to his classmates because the cards contained a note that mentioned God and included the Bible verse John 3:16 after a sentence about the history of St. Valentine’s Day.

“Public schools ought to encourage, not suppress, the free exchange of ideas, including those communicated through Valentine’s Day cards. A Bible verse and a reference to God does not make such a card unconstitutional,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Religious expression is just as protected by the First Amendment as other messages that students communicate.”

“To single out a faith-based message for censorship is exactly the type of hostility to religion that the First Amendment forbids,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We hope the school district will revise its policies to respect the constitutionally protected free speech of its students and make ongoing litigation unnecessary.”

In February, the parents of the 1st grader helped him assemble the cards for “Friendship Day,” the politically correct name the school district uses for St. Valentine’s Day. The cards included a note that stated, “Happy Valentine’s Day! St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love. In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves you!!! ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16.”

When the student arrived with his cards at Floyd R. Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth, his teacher noticed the faith-based notes and brought them to the attention of the school’s principal, William Mudlock. Mudlock ordered them removed because of their religious nature and because they contained a Bible verse, telling the student’s parents that they could be “offensive” to others.

At a meeting with the student’s parents, Mudlock explained that the child’s note sought to “establish the supremacy” of his faith over others as prohibited by school district policy. He pointed to NASD Policy 220 on “Unprotected Student Expression,” which states that the school officials can prohibit student expression that seeks “to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect or point of view.”

The complaint filed in J.A. v. Nazareth Area School District with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania explains that the same federal court struck down an identically worded policy at another Pennsylvania school district in 2008, saying that such policies “restrict what effectively amounts to all religious speech, which is clearly not permissible under the First Amendment.”

Ted Hoppe, one of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, is serving as local counsel in the case.

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The New American Religion: The Rise of Sports and the Decline of the Church

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 5, 2014

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Super Bowl XLVIII may have been a bust as a football game, but it was a blockbuster as a cultural event. The telecast of the event attracted a record 111.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched television event of all-time. That record will most likely be eclipsed by the next Super Bowl, and the trajectory shows no signs of dissipating. America takes its sports seriously, and Americans take football with the most seriousness of them all.

In a real sense, big-time sports represent America’s new civic religion, and football is its central sacrament.

The relationship between sports and religion in America has always been close, and it has often been awkward. The “muscular Christianity” of a century ago has given way to a more recent phenomenon: the massive growth of involvement in sports at the expense of church activities and involvements. About fifteen years ago, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, then the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, lamented the fact that Little League Baseball was taking his altar boys away on Sundays.

“Why is it religion that must always accommodate?” asked the Archbishop. “Why must Little League and soccer league games be scheduled on Sunday mornings? Why create that conflict for kids or for their parents? Sports are generally considered good for kids. Church is good for kids.”

The Archbishop blamed secularization for this invasion of Sunday: “This is the constant erosion, the constant secularization of our culture, that I strongly believe to be a serious mistake.”

So the cardinal took on Little League and the youth soccer league in New York City. And he lost. Nevertheless, he was right about the problem. The massive rise of sports within the culture is a sign and symptom of the secularization of the larger society.

New evidence for this pattern comes from academics Chris Beneke and Arthur Remillard in an essay recently published in The Washington Post. Writing with Super Bowl XLVIII in view, Beneke and Remillard note:

“American sports fans have forged imperishable bonds with the people, places and moments that define their teams. You might even call this attachment religious. But that would be unfair—to sports.”

In other words, the attachment many Americans now have to sports teams far exceeds attachment to religious faith—any religious faith.

The two academics then make their central case:

“While teams and fans are building powerful, cohesive communities—think Red Sox Nation or the legions of University of Alabama faithful who greet one another with ‘Roll Tide’—churches are losing followers. According to a 2012 survey by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and Duke University, 20 percent of Americans ‘claimed they had no religious preference,’ compared with an unaffiliated population of 8 percent in 1990. Roughly two out of three Americans, a 2012 Pew report noted, are under the impression that religion is losing influence in the country.”

That impression is growing because it is true to the facts. Religion is losing ground and losing influence in American society. The fastest-growing segment of the American public in terms of religious identification is the “nones,” designating those who identify with no religious tradition at all. At the same time, a religious dedication to sports has been growing. While correlation does not prove causation, the links between these two developments are haunting.

Interestingly, Beneke, who teaches history at Bentley University, and Remillard, who teaches religious studies at St. Francis University, document the dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans who consider themselves to be sports fans. Just a half-century ago, only three in ten Americans identified themselves as sports fans. Fast forward to 2012 and the percentage is greater than 60 percent. At the same time, church attendance and other marks of religious activity (especially the number of hours each week devoted to church activities) have fallen sharply.

Beneke and Remillard describe the current picture in vivid terms: “Modern sports stadiums function much like great cathedrals once did, bringing communities together and focusing their collective energy. This summer, the Archdiocese of New York is expected to outline plans to close or merge some of its 368 parishes; 26 Catholic schools in the archdiocese have ceased operation. By contrast, the city and the state of New Jersey spent hundreds of millions to build new baseball and football stadiums.”

Cardinal O’Connor would no doubt see the pattern and lament it, but a good many evangelical Christians seem both unmoved and unconcerned. The problem is quite ecumenical in this respect. The youth minister or pastor at your local evangelical church is almost sure to tell you the same story. Team sports activities or other forms of organized athletics have taken many evangelical families away from church activities. Many children and adolescents know very little of church involvements, but they and their parents (and often their grandparents as well) would not miss a scheduled practice, much less a game or competitive event. The same is increasingly true of spectator sports.

Beneke and Remillard conclude by asserting that “when it comes to the passionate attachments that sustain interest and devotion, it’s time to acknowledge that sports have gained the edge. And they show no sign of relinquishing the lead.”

In the larger society, this is most certainly the case. This dramatic shift could only come to pass if the larger culture has been largely secularized. In this case, secularization does not necessarily mean the disappearance of religious faith, but merely the demotion of religious involvement and identification to a level lower than those granted to sports.

Americans may not know who their god is, but you can be sure most know who their team is.

Super Bowl XLIX is scheduled to be played next year in the cathedral currently known as the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Let the pilgrimage begin.

Courtesy of http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/02/04/the-new-american-religion-the-rise-of-sports-and-the-decline-of-the-church/

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Muslim Mobs Destroy Christian Town in Pakistan

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 30, 2013

Muslims-Burn-Christian-Homes-in-Lahore-Pakistan-Burned-Down-Christian-Persecution-e1364051835192Hundreds of Christians in Lahore, Pakistan had their homes burnt down and later clashed with police who provided no protection after a dispute in which a Christian man was accused of blasphemy of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The rampant persecution against Christians in Muslim nations continues to be inflamed with little government help on the way.
Joseph Colony, an area of Lahore, where the attack took place has been ravaged by the destruction from the mob of angry Muslims who burnt down homes and businesses while the authorities told local police to let the angered Muslims “let them vent their grief and anger.”

According to reports:

Shahid Imran, a Muslim barber in Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area, on Friday (March 8) accused his Christian neighbor, 26-year-old Sawan Masih, of blaspheming Muhammad. Imran alleged that Masih, who runs a small billiards business, had “ridiculed” Islam’s prophet by saying that Jesus was the greatest prophet ever.
Soon after, crowds of armed Muslims began gathering in the area of about 200 Christian families, mostly sanitation workers, demanding that Masih be handed over to them. They besieged his house and started pelting it with stones, damaging the windows and door. Masih had fled the area as soon as news reached him about Imran’s accusation. (source).

 Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code calls for death or life imprisonment for those accused of blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. These laws have emboldened the Muslim communities to attack those with vigilante or mob violence against those who are suspected of speaking out against Islam. And such was the case in Joseph Colony, where the angry mob rushed to Masih’s home. Efforts to calm the crowd were futile. Soon police arrested Imran’s father in hopes that would ease tensions but soon they were accused of being “blasphemers.” While he was taken into custody the crowd went on the attack.

Christian Persecution in Restricted Nations | Bible verses on persecution.

The police stood by idly while homes, stores and churches were destroyed.

Despite a heavy police presence in Joseph Colony, the crowd started to destroy property. prompting the order from the local government to “let them vent their anger.” Approximately 170 homes, 18 shops and several churches were burned down and destroyed. Many of the homes were looted before being destroyed by the rioters.
“I have been robbed of all of my life’s savings,” Yousuf Masih said, standing close to his burned house.
Area resident Haroon Masih wept as he described how the raiders broke the locks of his door and stole the dowries of his four daughters that he had been gathering for several years.

“They made off with everything valuable I had and then simply set the house on fire,” he said. “My new rickshaw was also burnt to ashes.” Residents also showed Morning Star News gas pipelines that had been sawed off to ensure maximum spread of fires.

Jesus Christ prophesied that all Christians should expect to be despised, rejected and hated in the world.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. – John 15-18:21.

Double Standard Imposed

Families in Joseph Colony returned to destroyed homes. All because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Families in Joseph Colony returned to destroyed homes. All because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

In response to the destruction of the Christian neighborhood, approximately Several hundred Christian protestors blocked a highway, demanding that the police take some action to stop the destruction. According to police officials, they uprooted a fence and burned an electric generator. Rather than letting them “vent their frustration” police responded by using tear gas on the crowd and arresting 150 protestors.

The government has offered 200,000 rupees ($2,000US) as compensation to each family, which was immediately rejected by the people of Joseph Colony:

“It is like poison to us,” they screamed as Christian Senator Kamran Michael and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah visited the area late Saturday night amid heavy security.

The crowd shouted slogans against Michael and the Punjab government, believing Islamic leaders would have heeded them and holding them responsible for doing nothing to stop the violence. The two officials were forced to leave the area after just a few minutes.

The Punjab government later raised the compensation amount to 500,000 rupees, and the checks were handed out to victims. (source).

Pray for the Christians in Pakistan who suffered this horrific attack and for others who may be in danger as well. It is difficult for some living in certain parts of the world to grasp a reality where just being known as a Christian literally puts your home, family and life in jeopardy. But this is the reality for millions of Christians worldwide today. Pray for the failure of their persecutors and for the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to lead them to repentance.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.- Romans 8:35-37.

Courtesy of http://beginningandend.com/muslim-mobs-destroy-christian-town-in-pakistan/

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Jesus, Mohammed, and Comedy Central

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 15, 2010

From Uppsala, Sweden comes the news that cartoonist Lars Vilks was attacked and head-butted by an angry Muslim at a university lecture. A group of Muslims surrounding him shouted “God is great!” in Arabic as the cartoonist laid on the floor, his glasses broken. Ever since Vilks impolitely drew the prophet Muhammad’s head on a dog, he’s been a wanted man. Even the American terrorist wannabe nicknamed “Jihad Jane” plotted to kill him.
 
This explains why Comedy Central’s “South Park” has been censoring images that might offend Muslims. The executives at Comedy Central (and their parent company Viacom) regularly pledge allegiance to freedom of expression, but don’t really believe it – not when they ponder someone cracking their skulls at a Beverly Hills restaurant.
 
It’s not just “South Park.” Jo Piazza of Foxnews.com reports that after the failed Times Square bombing, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” told their “senior Islamic correspondent” Aasif Mandvi not to comment further on it. One writer for a scripted drama told Piazza that in one of his show’s final episodes there had been a minor plot involving a Muslim extremist. Last week, “it was removed and the script was rewritten.”
 
It’s clear that Mohammed is off limits – and it’s just as crystal clear that Jesus Christ remains the juiciest of targets.
 
Even at the sensitive time when they’re shutting down every possible mockery of Islamic extremism, Comedy Central has announced their plans for a new cartoon titled simply “JC,” a half-hour show about Jesus trying to live a normal life in New York City to escape his “powerful but apathetic father.” God is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ is the “ultimate fish out of water.” 
 
As “original programming,” this hardly applies. A slacker Jesus came to Earth to escape an annoying God the Father as He tried to quit smoking on “Family Guy” two years ago.
 
On the offensiveness scale, that’s nothing. In the 2005 Comedy Central special “Merry F—ing Christmas,” Denis Leary called the Christmas story “bull[bleep]” and said the Virgin Mary must be a myth since someone surely “banged the hell” out of her. In the 2006 “South Park” episode that spiked Mohammed themes, the show ended with Jesus wildly defecating on President Bush: “Look at me, I’m Jesus. Would you like me to crap on you, Mr. Bush? Mmm, yummy, yummy crap!” And there was Stephen Colbert’s 2008 Christmas special, where Toby Keith sang about (and a cartoon Santa laughed at) Christians blowing up an ACLU lawyer’s house.
 
Comedy Central programming head Kent Alterman trotted out the normal line for anyone objecting to this profane new series on the god most Americans define as sacred. “In general, comedy in its purest form always makes some people uncomfortable.”
 
Earth to Alterman: just stop with the First Amendment poseur routine there at Cowardly Central. If you’re proud of “making some people uncomfortable” (Christians) while censoring your jokesters in fear of others (Muslims), you’re just an anti-Christian bigot.
 
This “JC” show is merely in development, alongside other potential gems like “Live Sex Show” (no mystery in that title), “Rich Dicks” (ditto), and two pot-themed shows, “Highdeas” and “This Show Will Get You High.” How is that for comedic genius? 
 
Comedy Central is currently airing another religion-mocking cartoon right after “South Park.” It’s called “Ugly Americans,” and it imagines a New York City crawling with demons, monsters, and zombies. Some are even social workers at the “Department of Integration.” Mark, the lead character, is a social worker who’s dating a co-worker and daughter of the devil named Callie Maggotbone. One of his supervisors is a bullying demon called “Twayne the Bone-Raper.”
 
Mark works with a washed-up wizard named Leonard, whose brother is a superstar magician named….”Christ Angel.” So it should not come as a surprise that “Christ” is a nasty guy who pulls “tricks” on women like inserting himself into their uterus, forcing labor, and being “born again.” He also makes Leonard punch himself repeatedly in the face.
 
There is a silly tendency to raise anti-social pranksters to First Amendment hero status for their willingness to be atheist jerks. The TV critics shower you with praise about how you’re “profanely whip-smart” and have a “wry, postmodern vibe” – even when there’s hardly anything smart or wry in the tasteless gore and sex jokes that are the norm on this network. Having Mark meet the devil in Hell and decline an order for “unbaptized baby-arm soup” is not witty. It’s just sick.
 
But the amazing thing is that a sleazy programming chief like Kent Alterman will still claim, “The beauty of working at a place like Comedy Central is you can empower people to actualize their vision in a really unfiltered way, and that’s when things have the best shot at being funny.”
 
Unfiltered? What a shameless liar.

Courtesy of http://cnsnews.com/commentary/article/65923

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Outrage builds over Graham’s rejection at Pentagon

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 25, 2010

Pro-family leaders and a U.S. Senator have joined a growing list of conservatives expressing outrage over the Pentagon’s decision this week to tell evangelist Franklin Graham that he is barred from taking part in a National Day of Prayer event at the military headquarters.

On Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the U.S. Army said the Pentagon had rescinded its invitation to Graham — founder of Samaritan’s Purse — to be the lead speaker at a May 6 Pentagon service held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer. In a statement, Graham said he regrets the Army’s decision and will continue to pray for the troops.
 
The reason for the “dis-invite”? Graham’s earlier comments about Islam were “not appropriate,” said the Army (see more details below from Associated Press). In 2001, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham described Islam as “evil” following terrorist attacks. More recently, he has said he finds Islam offensive and wants Muslims to know that Jesus Christ died for their sins.

AFA backs Graham
On Friday, the Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA) sent a letter to Franklin Graham, criticizing the Pentagon for “severely” compromising Graham’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. In addition, the letter — signed by AFA president Tim Wildmon — expresses the organization’s staunch support of Graham’s “expressions of love for Muslims” as well as his “criticisms of Islam.”
 
“We at [AFA] likewise desire that every Muslim may come to faith in Jesus Christ and know the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal that is found in him,” the letter states.
 
“We, too, want to see every Muslim come to faith in Jesus Christ,” says Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of issues analysis. “We also agree with Reverend Graham that Islam is an evil and wicked religion.”
 
In earlier comments, Rev. Graham described Islam as an “evil and wicked religion” that puts its followers in bondage and puts others in danger. AFA’s letter to Graham comments that his remarks are supported by a culture that “seems determined to ignore” several aspects of Islam that are in direct opposition to Christian principles.
 
The letter offers as examples: a call by the Koran to kill “infidels”; documented acts of pedophilia by Islam’s founder, Muhammad; the religion’s intolerance of conversion out of Islam; “blatant and deadly sexism” as expressed in Islam’s treatment of women; and “honor killings” — a practice that AFA points out is “utterly at odds with the Christian teaching that fathers are to nurture and protect their children.”
 
Fischer comments specifically on Islam’s treatment of women. “[Muslim] husbands are taught that they literally may beat their wives into submission,” he notes. “[And] you have the shameful practice of honor killings in many Muslim countries. That practice has come to the United States. A Muslim husband decapitated his wife in New York not too long ago.” 
 
AFA’s letter to Franklin Graham concludes with a statement that AFA plans to challenge its constituency to contact their members of Congress, asking them if they agree with the “shameful treatment” Graham has received from the White House and the Pentagon.
 
‘Political correctness’ of the White House
Tony Perkins is a pro-family leader who himself was disinvited from speaking at an Air Force event. He says it’s an absolute outrage that the Army has caved to political correctness in disinviting Graham from taking part in an upcoming prayer event.
 
Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), was similarly disinvited from speaking at a luncheon in February at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, DC, after he criticized President Obama’s call for lifting the ban on homosexuals serving in the military. He notes that political correctness has struck again. (Listen to audio report)
 
“Radical Islamists operate very much like radical homosexuals in that they don’t mind screaming and playing the role of the victim and using special laws to protect them,” Perkins comments.
 
“We don’t even have many of those laws in place yet in this country like they do in Europe, but we have seen this environment of political correctness created by this administration — and clearly the White House could step in at any time in any of these decisions that the military has made to disinvite Christian leaders, and they have not.”
 
The FRC president believes this treatment of Franklin Graham clearly illustrates that the Obama administration is creating a hostile environment toward Christianity.

Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, concurs with Perkins’ observation.

“Franklin Graham is being barred [from the event] for publicly stating nothing more than [what] Christian evangelists have preached for centuries,” Wicker says in a press release. “To ban from an ecumenical service every person who believes their faith is the true religion is taking political correctness several steps too far.” Ministers who have “fervently advocated their own religious beliefs in an entirely different context” should not be prohibited from participating in ecumenical events, the senator continues.
 

“What they’re saying is that a Christian evangelist who has basically given his message publicly to the exclusion of other religions is somehow now unfit to go to an evangelical prayer event. If you take it to that extreme, any preacher who’d ever preached revival [or] brought the message of Jesus dying for our sins would now be excluded from being invited to a prayer event at a defense facility because they’re being exclusive,” he concludes.

The Council on American Islamic Relations, a group with ties to terrorism, had called on the Pentagon to disinvite Graham.

Courtesy of http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=985012

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