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The proprietors of O’Naturel made headlines in December of 2017 when they offered a premiere dining experience to patrons willing to dine in the buff. But in the end, it was their lack of clientele that was exposed.Despite not being nudists themselves, twins Mike and Stephane Saada set out to ...
Pregnancy is a normal bodily function; it is not a disease. Interrupting this normal process is not health care. It is a surgical solution to a societal problem. The argument that “abortion is between a woman and her doctor” incorrectly assumes that an abortion requires a medical judgment, and will be performed by a woman’s own OB/GYN. This is false. The vast majority of abortionists are employed by abortion clinics, not health care clinics. Most abortionists are merely technicians who only perform one procedure for money; they do not perform any other health care service.Statistically, if a pregnant woman walks through Planned Parenthood’s door, there is a 96 percent chance that the pregnancy service she will receive is an abortion. Only 3 percent will receive prenatal care, and less than 1 percent of women will choose to place their babies for adoption, to be raised by a loving family if the woman is unable to do so. We know that 10-15 percent of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, so one also wonders why they do so little miscarriage management (1 percent)?It is often reported by an uncritical media that only 3 percent of their services are abortion. If a woman presents for an abortion, she is also going to have several other discrete services performed: pregnancy test, sonogram, STD testing, and possible pap, as well as a provision of birth control afterward. Thus, abortion is only 17-20 percent of the services provided to this woman, but an abortion is why she came.It is easy to see how counting every individual service, when most women have multiple services provided each visit, can dilute out the numbers and make it look like abortion is only a small part of what they do. The reality is that over 3,000 abortions is greater than over 2,000 pap tests. It is easy to see the primary purpose for this organization’s existence.What happens if women do not have access to a Planned Parenthood? Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) also receive state and federal money to provide indigent care, and they provide every service that Planned Parenthood does, except abortion. In addition, they employ practitioners who specialize in other health problems.A woman is more than a uterus, and she often has other health issues that can be addressed in a more comprehensive way by an FQHC. While the number of Planned Parenthood clinics in our country has dropped to 620 as of August 2017, there are 13,540 FQHCs. They outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics 20 to 1.For more, watch the rest of our video series and read our new publication Top 10 Myths About Abortion.
Even with 1 in 4 leaving over politics, college kids are more likely to return after a hiatus than leave for good.Slightly fewer young adults are dropping out of church after high school, but those who do have more serious reasons for leaving than a decade ago.In a 2017 LifeWay Research survey released today, 66 percent of Americans between 23 and 30 years old said they stopped attending church on a regular basis for at least a year after turning 18, compared to 70 percent in 2007.Most young churchgoers skip out on Sundays at some point amid their transition to going to college, moving away from home, or starting their first jobs. LifeWay has found that historically about two-thirds of dropouts return to services once they get older.But these days, young Christians are more likely to cite weightier political and spiritual concerns as pushing them away from the church, with 70 percent listing such beliefs as a reason for their departure in 2017 compared to about half (52%) 10 years before.Moving for college remains the top reason young people stop attending church in both surveys, which are based on responses from more than 2,000 young Americans who attended a Protestant church regularly (twice a month or more) for at least a year during high school.Other popular reasons to include: a perception that church members were hypocritical (32%), disconnect with church life (29%), and lack of student ministry opportunities (24%).Political rifts between young Christians and their congregations are growing. A quarter (25%) of recent dropouts said disagreements over their church’s stance on political and social issues contributed to their decision to stop attending, compared to 15 percent in 2007.The follow-up survey came in the wake of the 2016 elections, with partisan divides over President Donald Trump’s victory adding to Generation ...Continue reading...
Even with 1 in 4 leaving over politics, college kids are more likely to return after a hiatus than leave for good.Slightly fewer young adults are dropping out of church after high school, but those who do have more serious reasons for leaving than a decade ago.In a 2017 LifeWay Research survey released today, 66 percent of Americans between 23 and 30 years old said they stopped attending church on a regular basis for at least a year after turning 18, compared to 70 percent in 2007.Most young churchgoers skip out on Sundays at some point amid their transition to going to college, moving away from home, or starting their first jobs. LifeWay has found that historically about two-thirds of dropouts return to services once they get older.But these days, young Christians are more likely to cite weightier political and spiritual concerns as pushing them away from the church, with 70 percent listing such beliefs as a reason for their departure in 2017 compared to about half (52%) 10 years before.Moving for college remains the top reason young people stop attending church in both surveys, which are based on responses from more than 2,000 young Americans who attended a Protestant church regularly (twice a month or more) for at least a year during high school.Other popular reasons to include: a perception that church members were hypocritical (32%), disconnect with church life (29%), and lack of student ministry opportunities (24%).Political rifts between young Christians and their congregations are growing. A quarter (25%) of recent dropouts said disagreements over their church’s stance on political and social issues contributed to their decision to stop attending, compared to 15 percent in 2007.The follow-up survey came in the wake of the 2016 elections, with partisan divides over President Donald Trump’s victory adding to Generation ...Continue reading...
Tunisia is now the front runner in expanding women's rights and religious liberties in the Muslim nations. Tunisia is now the front runner in expanding women’s rights and religious liberties in the Muslim nations. And the world is watching. In 2017, Tunisia’s President Essibsi celebrated his country’s National Women’s Day by calling for a change in the constitution to allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.Historically, Islam has prohibited Muslim women from marrying men from other faiths, unless they convert to Islam. However, Muslim men are allowed to marry non-Muslims.President Essibsi called on leaders to make changes to Article 73, arguing that the Tunisian constitution, in its sixth chapter, grants citizens the freedom of belief and conscience. In his mission to achieve gender equality, President Essibsi also called for amendments to women’s inheritance. According to Islamic law, women inherit only one half of men’s inheritance.President Essibsi stated, "The state is committed to achieving full equality between women and men ... and equal opportunities for them in assuming all responsibilities, as stipulated in Article 46 of the Constitution."On November 23, 2018, Tunisia became the first Arab country to achieve gender equality in inheritance, after the Tunisian Cabinet approved a law that would allow men and women to inherit equal amounts, contrary to what is stipulated in the Quran and Islamic world. Some Muslims object to the new law, claiming it contradicts Quranic verses which state that males should inherit twice as much as females.However, President Essibsi shared that citizens should be given the choice to follow Sharia Law in inheritance if they so wish. But not through compulsion or force. President Essibsi shared that:Tunisia’s Constitution supports a civil ...Continue reading...
You can bring even more of the 2017 World Religions and Cults conference teaching into your home or church. We've recently created a World Religions DVD Set #2.
You can bring even more of the 2017 World Religions and Cults conference teaching into your home or church. We've recently created a World Religions DVD Set #2.
One encouraging development for the pro-life movement is the significant increase in the number of pro-life laws being enacted at the state level. According to the Guttmacher Institute, between 1983 and 2010, the average number of pro-life state laws enacted annually was fewer than 15. Between 2011 and 2017, meanwhile, an average of 57 state-level pro-life […]
Latest translation of US evangelical document on LGBT issues divides Dutch Bible Belt and leads to criminal threats against a Christian politician.When the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) debuted its treatise on gender and sexuality at a Southern Baptist conference in 2017, the mayor of Nashville condemned its affirmation of traditional marriage and biological sex as well as its use of her city’s name.A year and a half later, government officials 4,300 miles away are debating the legal ramifications of the document in The Netherlands, where 200-plus evangelical Protestants recently signed a Dutch translation of the Nashville Statement.The country’s public prosecutor began investigating this week whether backing the “Nashville Verklaring,” as a Christian political party leader has done, violates anti-discrimination measures in the Dutch constitution. Among its 14 points on sexuality, the Nashville Statement declares that same-sex marriage, gay identity, and transgender identity do not reflect God’s design for humanity.The conservative Christian proclamation hasn’t gone over smoothly in the Netherlands, which became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001 and where just 15 percent of the population believes in God. LGBT advocates in government buildings, businesses, and affirming churches and Christian colleges flew rainbow flags yesterday to oppose the Nashville Statement.While more conservative Protestant leaders repeat the defense made by their counterparts in the US—that the document represents the church’s longstanding position on marriage and sexuality—fellow Christians worry that they have divided the church by bringing American culture wars onto Dutch soil.“This document undoubtedly brings deep divisions among Christians in the Netherlands,” wrote Jan Wolsheimer, ...Continue reading...
Latest translation of US evangelical document on LGBT issues divides Dutch Bible Belt and leads to criminal threats against a Christian politician.When the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) debuted its treatise on gender and sexuality at a Southern Baptist conference in 2017, the mayor of Nashville condemned its affirmation of traditional marriage and biological sex as well as its use of her city’s name.A year and a half later, government officials 4,300 miles away are debating the legal ramifications of the document in The Netherlands, where 200-plus evangelical Protestants recently signed a Dutch translation of the Nashville Statement.The country’s public prosecutor began investigating this week whether backing the “Nashville Verklaring,” as a Christian political party leader has done, violates anti-discrimination measures in the Dutch constitution. Among its 14 points on sexuality, the Nashville Statement declares that same-sex marriage, gay identity, and transgender identity do not reflect God’s design for humanity.The conservative Christian proclamation hasn’t gone over smoothly in the Netherlands, which became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001 and where just 15 percent of the population believes in God. LGBT advocates in government buildings, businesses, and affirming churches and Christian colleges flew rainbow flags yesterday to oppose the Nashville Statement.While more conservative Protestant leaders repeat the defense made by their counterparts in the US—that the document represents the church’s longstanding position on marriage and sexuality—fellow Christians worry that they have divided the church by bringing American culture wars onto Dutch soil.“This document undoubtedly brings deep divisions among Christians in the Netherlands,” wrote Jan Wolsheimer, ...Continue reading...
A record 1 in 5 freshman politicians falls into a Protestant catchall category.At the swearing-in of the 116th United States Congress today, nearly 100 new legislators will take the oath of office, pledging to “well and faithfully discharge” their new duties, “so help me God.”After last year’s campaign and midterm elections, the ceremony represents answered prayers for dozens of incoming evangelical politicians.Though the overall number of Christians in Congress fell slightly from 91 percent from 2017 to 88 percent in 2019, a vast majority of freshmen—78­ of the 96 newly elected lawmakers—identify as Christian and around half—47—are Protestants, according to the Pew Research Center’s Faith on the Hill report.With the largest freshman class since 2011, these representatives bring historic levels of diversity to Washington, a range of backgrounds outside politics, and deep convictions about faith in governance. The group includes Sunday school teachers, deacons, Christian college graduates, missions trip participants, prayer advocates, a former aspiring pastor, and plenty of churchgoers.“In Romans 13, government officials are described as ministers of God,” said Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who assumes Claire McCaskill’s seat, in an interview last year about his faith. “That’s how serious God is about politics.”Former counsel with the religious liberty legal group Becket (where he helped defend the Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor cases before the Supreme Court), Hawley belongs to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, speaks before Baptist crowds, and is one of 22 freshmen who identify as unspecified/other Protestants in the congressional questionnaire from CQ Roll Call, the basis for the Pew report released ...Continue reading...
You can bring even more of the 2017 World Religions and Cults conference teaching into your home or church. We've recently created a World Religions DVD Set #2.
An addendum to last Friday's themeby Phil JohnsonDo you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. -James 4:4cripture forbids believers to imbibe the world's values (cf. 1 John 2:6; Romans 8:5-6; Matthew 6:19-21) or set their affections on things of the earth rather than on heavenly things (cf. Colossians 3:2; 1 John 2:15; Matthew 16:23). Christians do not belong to this world. We are not beholden to the world. We cannot legitimately court the world's admiration or approval. And it is wrong to think otherwise. Jesus told His disciples, "If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:9).That truth is ignored or rejected by multitudes of twenty-first-century evangelical Christians who wrongly believe that if the church does not first win the world's friendship and admiration, we have no hope of reaching anyone for Christ. Some of today's largest and most influential churches even take surveys to find out the desires and ambitions of unbelievers in their communities. They then plan their Sunday services accordingly, putting on a performance that caters to what people say they desire.Popular televangelists follow a cruder version of the same strategy, promising people health, prosperity, and riches in return for money. They are today's equivalent of the medieval indulgence-sellers. These religious charlatans make their appeal blatantly and directly to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life"-the same carnal cravings that 1 John 2:16 says are "not of the Father but . . . of the world." Churches are full of people who are sinfully obsessed with the whims and entertainments of this world. They are desperate to keep up with various worldly fads and secular celebrities. They wrongly believe that if they embrace the icons of pop culture, the world will also embrace them and therefore be more open to Christ. So they wear the badges of worldly fashions; they echo the key elements of worldly wisdom; and they immerse themselves in worldly amusements. They cultivate an unhealthy appetite for attention, popularity, and worldly approval, convincing themselves that this is a valid evangelistic strategy.Even in the highest echelons of evangelical academia certain scholars seem driven by an unhealthy yearning for academic renown. They become so desperate to win the admiration of their counterparts in the secular academy that they willingly compromise the truth and sometimes even apostatize completely.The wish to be noticed and admired by other people is itself a carnal, illegitimate lust. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because, "They [did] all their deeds to be seen by others" (Matthew 23:5). They made a show of public piety to give the impression they were holier than anyone else.Like the Pharisees, today's stylish evangelicals fancy the praise and recognition of other people. But unlike the Pharisees, most of them want to be noticed for being hip, not holy.It dishonors Christ when Christians try to fit into the fraternity of those who hate Him. Scripture is very clear about this: "Friendship with the world is enmity with God."According to Jesus, the only business the Holy Spirit has with the world outside the church is to "convict [unbelievers] concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8). Those are precisely the themes that are typically omitted when churches become too interested in winning the world's approval.The church must get back to preaching the gospel, remembering that the message of the cross, when faithfully preached, is by God's own design "a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). The gospel alone is "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). Christians should not be ashamed to proclaim it.It's true that if we are faithful, many in the world will view us with contempt as enemies-and we must be prepared for that. "Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you" (1 John 3:13). The world put Christ to death, and He said, "A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).Furthermore, our Lord Himself didn't shy away in shame or retaliate in anger. Indeed, "to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. . . . When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:21-23).Phil's signatureFrom 95 Theses for a New Reformation: For the Church on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, edited by Aaron B. Hebbard (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017), 144-45.
Planned Parenthood is discriminating against pregnant women. Honestly, we already knew this to be true as Planned Parenthood commits over a third of the nation’s abortions. But the New York Times has uncovered that the hailed “champion of women” has been discriminating against their own female workers for being pregnant!Managers have discriminated against pregnant women and new mothers, according to interviews with the current and former Planned Parenthood employees and with organizers from the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents some Planned Parenthood workers.If this was fake news it would be the ultimate satire, but unfortunately, it does not appear that way. The new Planned Parenthood President, Dr. Leana Wen, has stated that “we must do better than we are now.” Here are just a few allegations from the report:Tracy Webber, the former director of clinical services in White Plains, sued the organization for pregnancy discrimination in 2009, saying she had been fired four weeks after giving birth. Planned Parenthood settled for undisclosed terms.…In Miami, one current and two former employees said that women at a Planned Parenthood office were scared to tell managers they were pregnant. One of them said that, in conversations with supervisors, colleagues would often volunteer that they were not planning on having children or were gay or single.…[At a Planned Parenthood in California] supervisors openly debated whether candidates were likely to get pregnant in the near future and preferred those who were not … (Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is illegal to consider whether a job candidate is or will become pregnant.)In New York, Ta’Lisa Hairston was refused breaks and bedrest: “‘I had to hold back tears talking to pregnant women, telling them to take care of their pregnancies when I couldn’t take care of mine,’ she said. ‘It made me jealous.’”Planned Parenthood “managers in some locations declined to hire pregnant job candidates, refused requests by expecting mothers to take breaks and in some cases pushed them out of their jobs after they gave birth, according to current and former employees in California, Texas, North Carolina and New York.”You can find hypocrisy and injustices in any organization made up of people. However, when you have shown a pattern of disregard for the law and women’s safety as Planned Parenthood has, it’s highly suspect to lay claim to being “pro-woman” and deem yourself as a haven for “Care. No matter what.” Their habitual scandals make it obvious that they are in the business of profit, no matter what.Failing to Report Statutory Rape and Sex AbuseThere are several recorded examples of Planned Parenthood supplying abortions to victims of sexual abuse and trafficking despite state mandatory reporting laws that make Planned Parenthood personnel mandatory reporters in most states. Planned Parenthood facilities in Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Kentucky were willing to cover up sexual abuse.In Fairbanks v. Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood was sued for refusing to report a 16-year-old girl’s abuse after she informed them that she was impregnated by her father who was sexually molesting her. Willing to Aid and Abet Sex TraffickingIn a 2011 investigation, Live Action found that Planned Parenthood was willing and able to aid sex traffickers who were trafficking girls as young as 13 as part of a sex-slave ring. Their investigations exposed multiple Planned Parenthood facilities across New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.A report on sex trafficking survivors showed that over a quarter had visited a Planned Parenthood facility while being trafficked. One victim said that they went to Planned Parenthood because “they didn’t ask any questions.”Performing Services that it Knows Are Dangerous and Low-QualityOne of the most egregious examples of this is a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, which has had several instances where witnesses have seen ambulances transporting women out of their facility on multiple occasions year after year. This same St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility had several deficiencies and health violations cited during an inspection by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.Cree Erwin died after receiving an abortion at a Kalamazoo, Mich. Planned Parenthood facility.Despite widely reported dangers and adverse events reported by the FDA, Planned Parenthood continues to tell women that “the abortion pill is safe.” The FDA reported 1,445 more cases of adverse events from the abortion pill from 2012 to 2017.These are just a few examples that show the irony in Planned Parenthood’s “pro-woman” reputation; more can be found in our publication, “Planned Parenthood is Not Pro-Woman.” All this is notwithstanding their participation in the sale of aborted baby parts, Medicaid fraud, supporting sexual exploitation as sex work, and the organization’s eugenic roots.The New York Times report further noted that “A dozen lawsuits filed against Planned Parenthood clinics in federal and state courts since 2013 accused managers of denying workers rest periods, lunch breaks or overtime pay, or retaliating against them for taking medical leave.”PPFA President Wen said the organization is investigating the allegations of pregnancy discrimination and is conducting a review to determine the cost of providing paid maternity leave to its employees nationwide.Seattle Planned Parenthood Manager Christine Charbonneau wasn’t pleased with the scrutiny. “It is easy to accuse someone of hypocrisy if you’re not the one trying to find $2 million out of thin air,” she said. “You try to be the Planned Parenthood that donors expect, and yet it is unattainable.”It is interesting she should say that. While Planned Parenthood holds non-profit status, its total revenue for 2016-2017 was about $1.459 billion, the highest in its history. In 2016-2017, Planned Parenthood reported an excess of revenue over expenses of nearly $100 million.When Planned Parenthood heard about the coverup of child sexual abuse at several of its affiliates, the organization swore to retrain its staff. Yet when Ramona Trevino, a former Planned Parenthood manager, asked how to better comply with mandatory reporting laws, her concerns were dismissed:[I] went in really believing that Planned Parenthood could redeem themselves. They’re going to prove that they really do care about women and this is something that really concerns them. [The trainer] immediately shot me down and she said, ‘We’re not here to talk about that, Ramona. We’re here to teach you how to identify if you’re being videotaped or recorded or entrapped in any way.Planned Parenthood’s treatment of pregnant women in the workplace is no doubt rooted in the fear that their obvious advertisement of life seen in their own employees might change the minds of their pregnant customers, which would take away profits to be had from these vulnerable women.While Planned Parenthood has shown a keen interest in disregarding pregnant employees, they have always taken a special interest in targeting minority neighborhoods. Nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood facilities are within walking distance of black and Hispanic communities. In a series of undercover videos, Live Action exposed that Planned Parenthood facilities were willing to earmark money specifically donated for the abortions of African-American babies to “lower the number of blacks in America.”The fact that Planned Parenthood has been referred to the DOJ and FBI for criminal investigation makes it more than clear that this organization does not deserve any more of our tax money or political protection.This brings us back to the sad story of Ta’Lisa Hairston. After resigning from Planned Parenthood because of the terrible treatment she received from the organization during her pregnancy, the last thing Ms. Hairston heard from them was a letter asking her to donate money.
Israeli policy holds up Christmas travel plans for believers in the Palestinian strip.Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity has restored its sparkling mosaics and marble columns to their original glory for the first time in 600 years.“It has become such a beautiful church,” Ziad al-Bandak, head of the local project committee of Christian leaders, told the AP. “Every Christian in the world would love to see it now.”Palestinian Mayor Anton Salman expects 1.2 million tourists will make their way to Christ’s birthplace this year. Among them, following an Israeli reversal, will be those who most long to visit for Christmas—the Christians of the Gaza Strip.“In Gaza, they talk about the West Bank as if it is heaven,” said Hanna Maher, Egyptian pastor of the Gaza Baptist Church. “People love to go for Christmas; there are so many churches.”In Gaza, there are three. According to the 2017 census, 47,000 Christians live in the Palestinian territories (1% of the population), but only about 1,000 live in Gaza.Last week the Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) reported that nearly all who applied to enter Israel to visit the West Bank for Christmas failed to receive permits, except for those older than 55.Applicants younger than 16 were also approved, consistent with restrictions instituted last Christmas and maintained through Easter. A previous policy limited travel to those between ages 16 and 35.The MEC report was confirmed by Maher, who stated that initially just 200 travel permits had been granted, and Christians, sharing stories of the delayed permit applications, began to assume those outside the age limit would not be allowed to travel.But their prayers were answered this week when hundreds more approvals were granted, The new batch brings ...Continue reading...
With around 500 out of 3,700 Christian applications approved since 2016 law, is government's progress on legalizing worship sites slow or steady?Egyptian Christians now have an additional 168 legal church buildings.On November 30, a cabinet committee approved the requests of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic churches to formally register facilities long functioning as centers of worship.Prior to a new law passed in August 2016, churches faced an arduous task to secure recognition by the government. Local authorities could delay or deny paperwork for licenses, often on security grounds to placate objections by neighborhood Muslims.CT previously reported how that law was not without controversy, but that it was designed to streamline the process, allow for judicial review, and transfer final approval from Egypt’s president to local governors.The law also established a committee to review church requests to license existing church facilities. Consisting of the prime minister and the ministers of justice, housing, antiquities, and others, it officially convened in January 2017.A total of 3,730 requests were submitted for approval, pending review of structural soundness and compliance with local regulations. The first batch of 53 church buildings was approved back in February.According to the government, the current decree brings the total number of approvals by the committee to 508.“I am pleased,” said Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt. “The process has been slow in the beginning, but I think going forward it will be better.”Zaki is optimistic, believing the government is gaining steam and taking seriously its obligations under the law. Churches also are becoming more familiar with the required procedures.Egypt’s Protestants have submitted requests to license 1,070 church buildings, he ...Continue reading...
In FRC and Charlotte Lozier Institute‘s fifth annual investigation into Obamacare funding of abortion, we found that Americans now have fewer plans than ever before and more locales than ever providing abortion-only plans. At the same time, Obamacare is becoming less and less affordable and some Americans are saying, “I just can’t do this anymore.” Obamacare enrollment is already reported to be down 12 percent from last year.Some have opted for Christian healthcare share ministries and others are taking advantage of the new short-term plans extended under the Trump administration, particularly now since there is no penalty for not having Obamacare.Because of the individual mandate in Obamacare, Americans were required to purchase health coverage or pay a tax penalty. Due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the individual mandate will no longer exist starting with the 2019 plan year. However, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have all the imposed their own state mandates effective 2019. Vermont’s mandate will be effective for 2020 enrollment. Other states are also considering implementing their own individual mandates. You can visit here for more information.The short-term plans, however, are limited to a 36-month duration, provide fewer benefits, will not always cover pre-existing conditions, are generally less expensive, and cannot be purchased with Obamacare subsidies. Basically, these are for healthy people and those who are still deciding what major coverage to buy but don’t want to go without any coverage in case of an emergency. To see what your short-term options are, you can go here.As our investigations continue to shine a light on the dark entanglement of the taxpayer funding of abortion, we also want to hear from you, the consumer, to see how Obamacare is affecting your decision to choose between your healthcare and your conscience.Remember Connecticut’s Bracy family? In 2014, they had to sue their state and the federal government after being forced on to Connecticut’s Obamacare, which only offered plans that required them to pay for other people’s abortions. Due to pressure, the state of Connecticut now has at least one pro-life plan.Tell us your story. We have provided our findings and encourage you to contact us with your experiences regarding abortion and Obamacare (either before or after enrollment in a plan) at info@obamacareabortion.com. Let us know what has and has not worked for you. One day we will win this battle, but in the meantime, we have to continue to fight and tell our stories!
How, the late pastor asked, can you shepherd a flock you don't know?Eugene Peterson—who died in October at age 85—is best known, perhaps, as the author of The Message, his vernacular paraphrase of the Bible. But for many pastors and church leaders, Peterson was also a mentor who taught them to be shepherds rather than CEOs—in large part by modeling that approach himself. Drew Dyck, acquisitions editor at Moody Publishers, spoke with Peterson in 2017 as one of his final books (As Kingfishers Catch Fire) was published. They spoke about recent developments across the ministry landscape, the seriousness of the pastoral calling, and how The Message sprouted from his desire to truly know and listen to the people in his ministry. Pieces of that interview appear here for the first time.In the preface of As Kingfishers Catch Fire, you write that the Christian life is “the lifelong practice of tending to the details of congruence.” What does that look like in a pastor’s life?As pastors we’re interested in getting people to live a life that is congruent with the gospel. One of the things I realized from day one is that I needed to listen to congregants and not just put things into their heads. This is one of the wonderful things about being a pastor. You get the time and the opportunity to make connections with the everyday lives of people in your congregation. You can’t just treat Christianity as a pile of ideas from which to add and subtract.You grew up in farming country, and your father was a butcher. Did that environment shape you as a pastor?By all means. People who work with the soil and with animals learn to respect what they’re doing and the subjects of their work. My dad had one man working for him who he would send to the farms or ranches. ...Continue reading...
Our most popular Bible studies of 2017.
Our most popular Bible studies for fall 2017 classes and small groups.
by Colin Eakinow that the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel (https://statementonsocialjustice.com/) has arrived as a bulwark against the mudslide of attempts to merge the two (i.e. social justice and the gospel), not even those most opposed to its conception can disagree with its content.But one awkward truth lingers in the back of every thoughtful Christian's mind. It's a lesson that has been reinforced repeatedly by the cyclical rhythm of church history. It's this: When one merges human amelioration of suffering and injustice with divine remediation of sin, inevitably the purpose and impact of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ takes a backseat. As Pastor John MacArthur has remarked, this is the sad legacy of mainline Protestant denominations over the past century—a rise in the focus on enhancing social welfare tightly correlated with a decline of interest in (and understanding of) how sinners might be saved from their sin. So how does the "social justice gospel" maintain its appeal? To elaborate, how could the evangelion of Jesus Christ, with its transcendent promises—that a sinner worthy only of eternal punishment can be forgiven of all moral debt (Col. 2:13-14; 1 John 1:9), can be robed in the righteousness of the Savior (Isa. 61:10), can be adopted by God as a full-fledged sibling of Christ (Rom. 8:15-17), can be set higher than angelic beings with the same glory as of God Himself (John 1:12; 1 Cor. 6:3; 1 John 3:2), and can be made an ambassador of Christ for the sake of other souls He seeks to save (2 Cor. 5:18-20)—how could such an infinite, too-marvelous-for-words opportunity ever be pedestrianized with finite goals such as elimination of economic disparities and redress of earthly inequalities? With such a stupendous opportunity at stake, why would anyone be tempted to substitute anything for the incomparable prize of the upward call (Phil. 3:14)?Jesus knew how ludicrous any conflation of earthly and heavenly possibilities would be, asking—incredulously—(Mark 8:36), "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" For Jesus, it does not matter how much one might improve his or her condition in this world—even to the conquest of it all!—if such a development also brought eternal damnation. In another passage, Jesus wonders why one would come to Him to remediate an earthly injustice when His heavenly offer beckons, even going so far as to implicate covetousness as the root cause of fixation on earthly conditions (Luke 12:13-15).The true gospel is about how penitent and believing sinners—no matter the race, nationality, gender, or any other category—forfeit the world and become united in one spiritual family (Eph. 2:13-22) precisely because a Holy Father has redeemed them through faith in the substitutionary work of the Holy Son. It is about how one turns his or her back on the temporal in order to have one's sins forgiven, blotted out and remembered no more (Isa. 43:25; Heb. 8:12). It is about renunciation of this world and all its attractions for the sake of an eternal inheritance that is "imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you" (1 Pet. 1:4). It is about how doing the above grants access to the throne room of God! (Rom. 5:1-2). This should not be a tough sell, folks.So, given all of the above, given the gulf between what God offers in His true gospel and what "social justice gospel-ers" are offering in theirs, how does their so-called "social justice gospel" maintain any traction? What's behind the "social justice gospel-ers" and their incessant focus, on the temporal and material, on the evanescent here and now?The Bible is not silent on this question. In fact, it provides the universal explanation behind all corruptions of the true gospel, regardless of the age or form. But before we see God's explanation behind "social justice" (or any other) distortions of the true gospel, we must first address the two distinct aspects of what it means to be a Christian: (1) what one does and (2) what one says. From the earliest days of the Church, these have always been the twin features of the authentic Christian life. We might term them the benevolent works and benevolent words of the faithful.Let's start with benevolent works—what one does as a Christian. The Bible is clear—Christians love (1 Cor. 13:35). They serve (John 13:14-15). They bind up the wounds of the hurting, feed the hungry, and clothe the poor (Isa. 58:10). They remember the widows and orphans and others who are easily forgotten (Isa. 1:17; James 1:27). They care for the stranger, for the sick, and for the imprisoned (Matt. 25:34-40). And do you know what? The world loves it all. Write it down: the world has always loved the good works of Christians. In fact, it will even seek to partner with Christians in doing these works. The conflict between the world and the Christian promised by Jesus (John 7:7; 15:18; 16:1-4; 1 John 2:15-17) never comes from the world's disapproval of the benevolent works of the Christian.No, the conflict between the world and the Christian comes only in the other aspect of what it means to be a Christian, when the faithful believer proclaims the benevolent words of salvation. Here is where the love affair between the world and Jesus abruptly ends. Why is that? Because as much as the world will love what Christians do, when those same Christians are faithful in proclaiming the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the world will hate what they have to say (Matt. 10:22; Luke 21:17; John 15:19).Christians do good works and enjoy the affirmation of the world. Then the faithful open their mouths, starting with the announcement of a holy God who cannot look upon evil (Hab. 1:13), and who has promised its eventual just judgment (Eccl. 12:14). They tell the world that evil is endemic to all as the result of Adam's fall, and therefore everyone lives under a sentence of condemnation and coming judgment (John 3:18; 36). The faithful plead with the world to repent before Christ the Savior and surrender to His Lordship (Mark 1:15). The faithful warn all who will listen that without repentance and belief in the transforming work of Christ, they will die and spend eternity in hell as a penalty for their sin (Ezek. 18:4,20; Luke 13:1-5; John 8:24).All the while, faithful Christians announce the true gospel—the "good news"—that God will forgive those who repent and trust in His grace to pardon them of their sin, knowing that the true gospel message is the only hope for sinners. And because the gospel they proclaim is the only hope for a dying world, faithful Christians know that pointing sinners to the eternal life God offers for those who repent and believe is true love. But the sinful, rebellious heart is wired such that, apart from God's effectual call and power to illuminate His truth, it spurns the benevolent words spoken by Christians. In fact, Romans 1:18 says that the unrighteous suppress the truth precisely because of their unrighteousness.The last week of Jesus' life is a case study of the world's diametrically opposite responses to Christ's benevolent works and to His benevolent words. At the beginning of the week, Jesus rides into Jerusalem to the welcome of the adoring multitude, who hail Him as their coming King. The crowd had witnessed His miracles. They had eaten the miraculous loaves and fish (John 6:1-14). They had seen Lazarus raised from the dead (John 11:1-44). Jesus had proven to them with His miraculous works that He was someone of power and authority. The crowd worshipped Him for His signs, and they always pressured Him for more (Matthew 12:38; 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:29).So as Jesus rides into Jerusalem at the start of Passover Week, the people go before Him and cry, "Hosanna! Hosanna!" They are ready to follow Him as their leader. They are ready for the revolution and the new Kingdom they believe Jesus is introducing (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-15). But do you notice that adoration does not last for long? In the following days, one sees Jesus deconstructing all the empty religious premises the people held dearest. One sees Him overturning the tables of profiteers in the temple and driving out the moneychangers (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48). One sees Him undermining the Jews' entire form of religion as He upbraids their religious leaders (Matthew 23:1-39). Pretty soon, the crowd has lost all its regard for Him. Now, Jesus is saying things to them, not doing things for them. And what He is saying insults them. His message offends them.In a parable, He says that the owner (understood as God) of a vineyard (understood as Israel) is coming to destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to those who will be more faithful (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12). The crowd knows that Jesus is referring to them as the unworthy tenants. So even though they cheered His entry into the city earlier in the week, by Friday they are crying, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" The benevolent works of Jesus brought the praise of the people. And, in the same manner, the benevolent words of Jesus brought about His crucifixion. The people loved His works and hated His words. And twenty-one centuries later, nothing has changed. God continues to bring sinners to repentance, day by day, one sinner at a time. But most ultimately reject His offer of eternal life, because they hate the message that they are sinners in need of a Savior.Jesus says in John 3:19, "'And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil'." Because the world loves its sin, the gospel message proclaimed by faithful Christians will provoke the world's hatred and rejection. And if one persists in declaring the benevolent message of pardon for repentance, it will ultimately bring persecution. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:12 that, "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." This is the normal response to be anticipated for all faithful believers, for all who bring the true gospel message. The world has no problem with the Church doing good works. In fact, it welcomes them. It will even seek to partner with the Church in pursuing them. But the world despises the true message of the Church, the only message offering real hope by calling all to repentance and faith in Christ's atoning work. And it will reject and persecute those churches that persist in proclaiming the true gospel.So here is our answer to the question posed in our title: the social justice gospel is, at its core, driven by a desire to avoid repudiation by the world. Do you doubt this? Then look and see the extent to which those propounding a "social justice gospel" have in their teaching and ministries any statements or positions that would incite the world's opprobrium. Go to the body of teaching of any prominent spokesperson for a "social justice gospel" and see how often that individual highlights the vilification and persecution God says will come to those who faithfully pursue His true gospel. Look hard and look long, because the data will be slow in forthcoming.Paul writes to the Galatians, "It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ" (Gal. 6:12). The Judaizers of Paul's day demanded that converts to Christianity must also comply with Jewish ceremonial stipulations—including circumcision—in order to be truly redeemed. The reason? The very real possibility that Jewish denunciation might lead to Roman persecution (Acts 18:12-17). And this potential for persecution has attended all gospel proclamation until now. Since the days of the early Church, no matter the particulars of the age or threat, the rationale for deviation from the true gospel is always fear of rejection, fear of reproach, fear of recrimination from a hostile world.All false gospel efforts—including the "social justice gospel"—are attempts to have it both ways, to maintain a veneer of Christian orthodoxy while at the same time currying favor with the world. The result? A reinvention of Jesus into someone who is less polarizing and more genteel, and a sanitization of His gospel into one that the world might accept. But this is nothing less than apostasy. Want to know what God considers an apostate church? It is a church that is all about good works, and timidly avoids saving words. It is a church that aligns its ministry with the works the world wants to see—helping the poor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry—without simultaneously proclaiming the saving gospel the world despises. And as it pursues good works, even claiming to do them in Jesus' name, the apostate church will deliberately shun Jesus' saving words. Its distorted gospel—devoid of sin, judgment, or any call to true repentance—becomes, "God loves us, so let's love Him back by doing good works in the name of Jesus." It will avoid bold proclamation of the true gospel message, because the true gospel is a message that the world abhors, and the apostate church is ever genuflecting at its throne.On the other hand, a true church knows that persecution is coming, but still remains faithful to the true gospel. A true church carefully extricates ideas of human munificence from the true gospel of divine accomplishment. A true church instructs its members on the two essential duties of all who are saved: yes, certainly, benevolent works bringing temporal reprieve toward those deprived of justice or suffering from want. But these works, no matter how good and how necessary, are never, ever to be the focus of, and therefore lead to the exclusion of, benevolent words bringing opportunity for redemption and eternal glory in union with God.Dr. Colin L. EakinPyromaniacDr. Eakin is a sports medicine orthopdic surgeon in the Bay Area and part time teacher at Grace Bible Fellowship Church's Stanford campus ministry. He is the author of God's Glorious Story.(Portions of this article are adapted from God's Glorious Story: GBF Press, 2017)
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We have dates set for our 2017 Utah Mission Trip. Would you like to come with us as a summer missionary or help send someone else? Learn more by watching my 3-minute video report highlighting some of the last year’s trip: www.watchman.org/UtahRept.htm. Our 2017 Utah Mission Trip will be June 11-18. There are three ways […]The post Utah Mission Trip: Share Jesus with Mormons – Help send us or come with us? appeared first on Watchman Fellowship.
Great news! We have received the remaining support needed to fund our 2017 Mission to Utah. Thank you for your prayers and donations that made this possible. Watchman staff Renae Storms and Brady Blevins are already in Utah right now leading our Week #1 team. We have already seen God move! Just watch this 74-second […]The post Utah Mission Report – Great News! appeared first on Watchman Fellowship.
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