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How Ambrosio Gonzales encountered the Word of God and blazed the trail for future Latino converts.
Due to security concerns, the location of this country cannot be disclosed.For someone who has never been outside of America, I was pumped up about going on my first mission trip overseas. Before the journey, our group went through an intensive preparation course. This course required us to grow in our faith, prepare our armor, and know the laws of the land we were traveling to. We had to practice praying with our eyes open, talk in coded language, and have the ability to detect undercover law enforcement.The country that we were going to was not Christian-friendly, to put it mildly. We were officially traveling as tourists in a hiking club. We would need to constantly be alert for authorities that could be following us. Per the country’s laws, we were banned from teaching the Bible or sharing the gospel. Of course, that wasn’t going to stop us.After over 20 hours of flying, we finally arrived at our destination. The very next day, we left the city and went into the outer countryside to start our mission. For the first few days, we stayed in host homes that were a part of small villages on the mountainside. We used translators to speak and encourage believers in their walk with Jesus.After news of our arrival spread, we were constantly stopped and asked to come in to people’s homes so that they could question us about our activities and take a group picture with their phones. It is also important to note that most of these people had other gods in their life. In almost every hut we went into, there were false idols that they would worship. Many people in these communities seemed to mostly put their hope in the local fortune teller.After visiting multiple villages, we then set out to a region that no other group had gone to before us. This area had never even heard the name of Jesus, let alone knew what a Bible was. Due to the threat of being compromised, we simply spoke to the people in this area and did prayer walks. During our prayer walks, we would drop mustard seeds, hoping that the Holy Spirit would fill that area (Matthew 17:20).At the camp, there were undercover officers who posed as fishermen that were sent there by the government to observe our activities and document who we were in contact with. Most of our friends in the country that traveled with us had left so that they would not be endangered.One night, after an interesting encounter with a fortune teller, we arrived back to our camp. Our host, along with the law enforcement officers, told us that our time staying there was over. I had no idea what to expect. I had heard of several stories in the news about Christians being persecuted and had no idea what would happen to us. We immediately thought of the worst possible outcomes. Are they going to arrest us? Will we be able to return home? What will happen to the contacts we made in the area? The authorities then told us that we were required to leave the area immediately, but we had no idea where to go.We loaded up the van and had to leave in the middle of the night to a hotel hours away. To securely inform our church of what had just transpired, we had to talk in the bathroom and turn the water on to avoid eavesdroppers. Eventually, we found out that the government compensated visiting tourists to find out information about us. We eventually left the country without any further problems.On our flight home, I reflected on our journey and prayed that it was not a waste of time. We were all a little discouraged because we did not know why God would send us there only to be shipped right back home again.Several months after we returned home, we got an update from our contact in the country where we had spent our mission trip. Our contact stated that since our departure, hundreds of people had been saved in the same area where we did not even mention the name of Jesus and had merely prayed while dropping mustard seeds. It was awesome to see how God revealed himself through only the faith of a mustard seed!Since then, we continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to move every day in that country. It is obvious from the news that not all stories about international religious persecution end as safely as ours did. You saw what happened with Pastor Brunson. You see what is happening with the persecution of our brothers and sisters by ISIS. You see what is happening in China. We need to remember that we have millions of brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world who risk their freedom and their lives every day, merely for being Christian. I hope that you will join me in praying for the persecuted Christians around the globe.Caleb Seals is an intern at Family Research Council.
What we believe about Genesis has consequences for how we read and understand the entire Bible—including the New Testament and especially the gospel!
This grain's genome echoes of the strength found in the diversity of God's people.Like many kids, I grew up picking wild grasses believing that they were wheat. I would pick one from the yard of my childhood home, believing the harvest I held in my hands could be transformed into food. As I grew up, I quickly learned that the “wheat” in my yard was far from a bountiful harvest and instead was actually weeds and wild grasses.Yet, my childhood confusion about wheat is, in one sense, understandable. Wheat is a part of the grass family. In Matthew’s telling of the Parable of the Weeds, the “weeds” represent darnel, “a poisonous weed organically related to wheat, and difficulty to distinguish from wheat in the early stages of the growth,” writes New Testament scholar Craig Keener.In the Bible, wheat is used as a metaphor for the people of God. The scientific study of wheat prompts reflection on how what distinguishes God’s people and how our vast diversity can strengthen us all.Wheat’s genetic makeup has baffled scientists. But last summer, after 13 years of research, a team of international scientists cracked the wheat’s genome to reveal the baffling, beautiful genetic material that makes wheat, well, wheat.Essentially, a genome contains all of the genetic knowledge needed to create and sustain an organism.It would be easy to assume that the wheat genome would be more straightforward to sequence than the human genome. After all, human beings are the crowning achievement of God’s creative work while wheat is a mere plant. However, the wheat genome holds mysteries that offered significant challenges to research scientists who wanted to understand this plant at the most minute level.The full sequence of the human genome was published in 2003, ...Continue reading...
Christian leaders have their own reasons for not reading Scripture.It’s worth remembering that Augustine was “weeping, with agonizing anguish in [his] heart” over his inability to control himself before he read Romans 13:13–14.We tend to think that Scripture usually works the other direction. We read seeking instruction, wisdom, or intimacy and then read a challenging word like Paul’s that prompts contrition: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” We’re convicted by Scripture, then we repent.But in Augustine’s archetypal testimony, Confessions, that’s not what happened. First he was in anguish, then he heard a child chanting, “Pick it up! Read it! Pick it up! Read it!” He wrote (in Sarah Ruden’s 2017 translation) that when he obeyed the voice and read Paul’s words, “I didn’t want to read further, and there was no need. The instant I finished this sentence, my heart was virtually flooded with a light of relief and certitude, and all the darkness of my hesitation scattered away.” His response was not to wallow or to regret how long it took him to repent. Instead, he immediately and joyfully told his friend Alypius and his mother what had happened.Many times the Holy Spirit really does use Scripture to illuminate our sin and to make us deeply uncomfortable. It is, after all, “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). And “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful” (Heb. 12:11). Nevertheless, ...Continue reading...
Science seeks to fix aging and death. But a Christian vision of the good life might actually embrace them. A preacher’s kid growing up in the Bible Belt, Micah Redding had a particular view of the physical world and God’s work in it. Singing popular hymns like “This World is Not My Home” and “I’ll Fly Away,” he took away this message: It’s all going to burn anyway, so why bother with the environment or curing diseases? That’s a distraction from the gospel. Our bodies don’t go to heaven, just our souls.When he started studying the Bible for himself and reading authors like N. T. Wright and C. S. Lewis, Redding formed a theology that more closely embraces the material world. “If we believe the material world is good, we have to engage in the transformation of it,” he said. He sees science and technology as part of God’s vision for the world, which, for him, includes radical life extension.Redding points to Isaiah 65, where “one who dies at a hundred years will be thought a mere child,” as well as the extremely long-lived Genesis patriarchs. “Scripture really places this value on human life, relationality, and productivity,” he said. “We have to appreciate that idea as part of our embrace of the material life.”In 2013, Redding founded the Christian Transhumanist Association (CTA), a group bringing faith and ethics into transhumanist conversations. Transhumanists, who believe that human capacities can be enhanced by science and technology, hold a gamut of views. Some are anti-aging researchers applying biomedicine to improve humanity. Aubrey de Grey, for instance, who headlined a recent CTA conference, studies preventative maintenance for the human body and believes the first human to live to 1,000 has already been born. ...Continue reading...
After LifeWay pulls James MacDonald's Bible studies, Christians consider if and when a leader's teachings remain edifying after a scandal.When a prominent pastor is forced out of the pulpit in the midst of scandal, scrutiny, or wrongdoing, the body of Christ winces. “Not another one.”As more preachers gain national (and global) followings through books, podcasts, and other resources, the fallout around disgraced leaders extends across the church at large. Christians are left to reckon with how or whether they will continue to engage their past teachings.America’s largest chain of Christian bookstores, LifeWay Christian Resources, decided to stop selling titles by former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor James MacDonald after his termination this week, taking down all 58 of his items from its website.LifeWay, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), will also no longer print the books MacDonald released over the past three years through LifeWay Press and B&H Books, including Lord, Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late;Think Differently, Act Like Men—The Bible Study; and The Will of God is the Word of God Companion Guide.Previously, LifeWay has pulled titles from Mark Driscoll and Jen Hatmaker and books about heaven tourism due to doctrinal standards. Individual churches have also opted to no longer make resources by their former pastors available, as Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale did with Bob Coy’s popular sermon podcast after he resigned due to a “moral failing” in 2015.But the decision of whom to continue to read, listen to, learn from, and support is often left up to individual believers. Christians understand that none are without sin, and God uses imperfect vehicles to convey his perfect gospel—but when do their personal shortcomings affect the message they teach?CT asked several ...Continue reading...
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our March issue).James MacDonald takes indefinite sabbaticalThe founding pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel stepped away from preaching and leadership duties in January while the megachurch undergoes a “peacemaking process” after a legal clash with longtime critics. James MacDonald and Harvest dropped their defamation lawsuit against two bloggers and former Moody Radio host Julie Roys, who had alleged mismanagement at the Chicago-area multisite church. MacDonald confessed to battling “cycles of injustice, hurt, anger, and fear, which have wounded others without cause.” During his sabbatical, the church has pledged to hear out former members and critics and review church processes.World Vision forced out of PakistanAfter 13 years of providing emergency relief and children’s programs in Pakistan, World Vision has been ousted from the Islamic Republic along with 17 other international NGOs representing $130 million in assistance. After Pakistan revised its registration process for foreign charities following the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, dozens of groups—including World Vision and two Catholic charities—failed to secure legal status and spent years appealing the decisions before being expelled in late 2018. The Christian aid organization said it “regrets the effect that the cessation of our work will have on the vulnerable communities with whom we worked, but respects the government’s right to decide who may work in the country.”Ukraine’s Orthodox Christians split from RussiaThe Ukrainian Orthodox Church was officially granted ecclesiastical independence this year, marking the biggest schism in Christianity since the Protestant Reformation. Amid ongoing political clashes ...Continue reading...
What we learn about Bible figures from the clothing they put on, take off, and tear apart.Storytellers know that the unfolding of dramatic events can be hard to follow. So to help their audiences make sense of what is happening, they often insert symbolic clues. In cartoons, the villains scowl and speak with gravelly voices, and the heroes smile and sound all-American. In movies, a menacing bassline announces the arrival of a dangerous person, while comic figures appear with bouncier melodies.In the story of Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David, you can guess what will happen by looking at their clothes.Some of this works at a simple level. When we first meet Goliath, he is covered from head to foot in scaly armor, which makes him look like a serpent or even a dragon. So when we find the snake-like accuser lying dead, his head crushed by the anointed king, we are not especially surprised. We first meet Samuel as “a boy wearing a linen ephod” (1 Sam. 2:18). Straightaway, we know he will function a bit like a priest.Right after this, we hear that “each year his mother made him a little robe” (2:19). This garment will represent Samuel’s prophetic authority throughout the book. When Saul rips Samuel’s robe, he accidentally foreshadows that his kingdom will be “torn” away from him and given to David (15:27–28).Saul, likewise, has a robe that symbolizes royal authority (or lack thereof). In one of the story’s dramatic moments, David refuses to kill Saul while he is going to the bathroom, instead cutting off a corner of his robe (24:4–5). At face value this is an act of kindness, as David spares the man trying to kill him. But as readers, we know there is more going on. Saul’s kingdom will indeed be “cut off” and given to David, and it ...Continue reading...
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhDBwJVQv_oFormat: VideoTopic(s): Audio and MultimediaHeresy and Bad TheologyAuthor(s)/Speaker(s): Bible Teacher
Link: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/no-creed-bible-subverts/Format: Web PageTopic(s): Creeds and ConfessionsAuthor(s)/Speaker(s): Owen Strachan
Dear Friends,In recent weeks, as the Democratic Party further entrenches itself in the support of late-term abortion to the point of infanticide, I have often found myself feeling angry and disgusted toward these elected officials who seem so lacking in basic human decency. (If these politicians were standing in the room where a late-term abortion was taking place or where a baby was literally born alive after a failed abortion, would they still hold the same view? One has to wonder…)During such highly-charged emotional times in public life that we are currently in, I’ve found it very easy to demonize and dehumanize these pro-abortion elected officials in my own mind. We human beings have a tendency to condemn without a second thought, and condemnation can quickly become personal. You’ve probably heard it many times before, but it bears repeating: we must condemn actions, not people. But there’s something else we must do as pro-life Christians that goes beyond condemnation of actions, and it’s more important: prayer. Our Savior Himself commanded it: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).Are we praying every day for Andrew Cuomo, for Ralph Northam, for Nancy Pelosi, for Chuck Schumer, for all other elected officials who publicly support abortion, that they will have a change of heart? As Christians, prayer must be our very first impulse whenever we face any kind of challenge, or before we do anything at all, for that matter (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we feel powerless to affect change for good, prayer gives us peace of mind to know that we are doing something. For we know that God listens to and answers our prayers (1 Peter 3:12).Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC MediaIssue Brief: Rebels Without a Clause: When Senators Run Roughshod Over the "No Religious Test" Clause of the U.S. Constitution – Alexandra McPheeIssue Analysis: Department of Defense on Why Those with “Gender Dysphoria” Are Disqualified from Military Service – Peter SpriggA Christian War Memorial in No Way Violates the Establishment Clause – Alexandra McPheeWhen Free Exercise Comes at a Price – Alexandra McPheeWhat a Title IX Proposal Means for Religious Liberty – Alexandra McPheeDemocratic Congresswoman Condemns Religious Bigotry, Standing up to Her Party in a Rare Act of Courage – David ClossonChris Pratt’s Bible-inspired diet highlights a discipline from a spiritual dimension – Tony PerkinsNew York and Planned Parenthood, a eugenic match made in Heaven – Patrina MosleyThe Conscience of A Nation: Defeating Democrat Extremism – Ken BlackwellTargeting of Karen Pence is wake-up call to all Christians – Travis WeberFRC Speaker Series: Religious Freedom, Trade Talks, and ChinaFRC Speaker Series: Should We Pull Our Kids Out of Public School?FRC Speaker Series: The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives – Jennifer Roback MorseParty of “Tolerance” is Intolerant to American’s Views on Late-Term Abortion – Patrina Mosley3 Things to Remember About the Importance of Marriage This Valentine’s Day – Hugh PhillipsWill Women’s Restrooms Be Ruled Obsolete? – Peter SpriggContributors to Sexual Exploitation are Called Out – Patrina MosleyReturn to the Constitution: Judicial Activism or Originalism? – Zachary RogersThe Cost of Sending Your Kids to Public School Just Might Be Their Souls – Cathy Ruse10 Nominees Have Faced Unconstitutional Religious Tests in Less Than 2 Years – Alexandra McPheeMarriage Gives Love a Canvas to Paint On – Dan HartPresident Trump’s Pro-Life Proclamation – David ClossonThe Pro-Infanticide Party – David ClossonHotel Trans: Check In Any Time, But Never Leave – Cathy Ruse Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareThe Ever-Present Totalitarian Temptation – George Weigel, First ThingsVermont discriminates against students of religious high schools, lawsuit claims – Jess Aloe, Burlington Free PressJewish Therapist Sues New York City Over Law Banning Faith-Based LGBT Counseling – Joshua Nelson, The Daily SignalJudge says Tampa ban on conversion therapy may violate therapists' free speech rights – Avery Anapol, The HillInternational Religious FreedomPakistan’s Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to Asia Bibi Blasphemy Acquittal – Hannah Brockhaus, National Catholic RegisterAsia Bibi stuck in Pakistan, frustrated and afraid amid threats – Brandon Showalter, The Christian PostPhilippine Church Bombing Kills 20 After Vote for Muslim Governance – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity TodayN. Korean Christians keep faith underground amid crackdowns – Hyung-Jin Kim, APMilitary Religious FreedomAmericans Tell Atheists: Keep Your Hands Off Our War Memorials – ToddStarnes.com LifeAbortionOB/GYNs, Nurses Speak Out Against NY Abortion Law: It Is Never Necessary to Kill Baby for Health, Life of Mother – Heather Clark, Christian NewsPlanned Parenthood Made $245 Million Last Year Killing Babies in Abortions – Lauretta Brown, LifeNewsVermont Abortion Bill Goes Further than Virginia and New York’s – Wesley J. Smith, National ReviewNew York, Abortion, and a Short Route to Chaos – Bishop Robert Barron, Word on FireBookstore Owner Makes Viral Statement About New York Abortion Law – Mary Margaret Olohan, The Daily CallerInfanticide Becomes Justifiable – Wesley J. Smith, First ThingsAbortion’s Devastating Impact Upon Black Americans – Arthur Goldberg, Public DiscourseAdoptionMothers Are Killing Babies Who Could Fill The Empty Arms Of Millions Of Loving Couples – Adam Mill, The Federalist FamilyMarriageHow Can Marriage Be Good for Mental Health? – David Levine, U.S. News & World ReportGiving Up Good Things for the Best Things in Marriage – Selena Frederick, Focus on the FamilyResources for Building a Marriage that Lasts – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesHow We Saved Our Marriage in the Final Hour – Her View From HomeA Finance Guide for Married Couples – Phillip Holmes, The Gospel CoalitionDon’t Put Your Hope in Date Night – Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler, The Gospel CoalitionMore Tips to Promote a Strong Marriage – Jim Graves, National Catholic RegisterMy Husband Isn’t Romantic, But He’s Still Mr. Right – Jenny Albers, Her View From HomeParentingDad—A Girl’s First and Most Influential Love – Timothy Rarick, Family StudiesParental Involvement: How Much Is Too Much? – Child TrendsWhat It’s Like When the Kids Grow Up: A Conversation Between Two Moms – Carolyn Lankford and Anna Meade Harris, rootedWebinar: The Unique Contributions Of Fathers To Their Children’s Development – Institute for Research on PovertyEconomics/EducationDespite Government Shutdown, Job Growth Soars in January – Timothy Doescher, The Daily SignalThe “Green New Deal” Would Only Crush People’s Spirit – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamFaith/Character/CultureMarijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence – Alex Berenson, ImprimisThe Internet and Satan’s Game – Bishop Robert Barron, Word on FireYou Don’t Have to Have a Well-Formed Opinion on Everything – Trevin Wax, The Gospel CoalitionPsychology as Indoctrination: Girls Rule, Boys Drool? – Leonard Sax, Family StudiesAre Smartphones and Social Media Hurting Our Kids? – Charles Fain Lehman, Family StudiesA Different Kind of Love – Nancy Flory, The StreamHuman SexualityThe Left is Shunning Liberals With Concerns About Transgender Agenda – Ryan Anderson, The StreamPressure to conform – Jamie Dean, WORLDTrue love waits: Suggestions for a more holistic purity culture – Alex Ward, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionCohabitation Doesn’t Compare: Marriage, Cohabitation, and Relationship Quality – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies6 ways pastors can care for victims of sexual abuse – Trillia Newbell, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionHuman TraffickingHow to Spot Sex Trafficking; Super Bowl Sunday and Beyond – Tiffany Powell, National Center on Sexual ExploitationNevada Has the Highest Rates of an Illegal Sex Trade in the Nation – National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyWhat kids aren’t telling parents about porn on social media – Gail Dines, The Boston GlobeSeeing is (Not) Believing: How Viewing Pornography Shapes the Religious Lives of Young Americans – Samuel L. Perry and George M. Hayward, Social ForcesWant To Connect More Deeply With Other People? Consider Quitting Porn – Fight the New Drug
This grain's genome echos of the strength found in the diversity of God's people.Like many kids, I grew up picking wild grasses believing that they were wheat. I would pick one from the yard of my childhood home, believing the harvest I held in my hands could be transformed into food. As I grew up, I quickly learned that the “wheat” in my yard was far from a bountiful harvest and instead was actually weeds and wild grasses.Yet, my childhood confusion about wheat is, in one sense, understandable. Wheat is a part of the grass family. In Matthew’s telling of the Parable of the Weeds, the “weeds” represent darnel, “a poisonous weed organically related to wheat, and difficulty to distinguish from wheat in the early stages of the growth,” writes New Testament scholar Craig Keener.In the Bible, wheat is used as a metaphor for the people of God. The scientific study of wheat prompts reflection on how what distinguishes God’s people and how our vast diversity can strengthen us all.Wheat’s genetic makeup has baffled scientists. But last summer, after 13 years of research, a team of international scientists cracked the wheat’s genome to reveal the baffling, beautiful genetic material that makes wheat, well, wheat.Essentially, a genome contains all of the genetic knowledge needed to create and sustain an organism.It would be easy to assume that the wheat genome would be more straightforward to sequence than the human genome. After all, human beings are the crowning achievement of God’s creative work while wheat is a mere plant. However, the wheat genome holds mysteries that offered significant challenges to research scientists who wanted to understand this plant at the most minute level.The full sequence of the human genome was published in 2003, ...Continue reading...
Now we live in a new age of technology, and it is having massive, unforeseen effects.We live in the age of technology. This age has been characterized in other ways by other people, social commentators, and gurus of culture.Famously, Canadian philosopher Dr. Charles Taylor calls our age the “age of authenticity.” To be authentic is the final word in credibility. We must be true to ourselves. Dr. Ed Stetzer calls our age the “age of outrage.” We are constantly annoyed at each other and positioning for our tribal groups to gain precedence over one another.What is behind this?Part of it is philosophical. Dr. Neil Shenvi has described how “critical theory” is moving from the universities to the mainstream, and in some cases to the unthinking church. Critical theory is based on the proposition that we are defined by the group to which we belong—gender, race, culture, and others—and that each of these groups is vying for hegemony over the other.In addition to these philosophical roots, there is also a technological engine that is driving the development. The printing press changed Europe and changed the world. The use of gunpowder changed the world through shifting the balance of power to those who could employ it best.Now we live in a new age of technology, and it is having massive, unforeseen effects.Not all of technology, by any means, is bad. Just as pornography is widely available across the globe and into the privacy of home more than ever before through the smartphone, so also are Bibles, various translations, biblical teaching, and spiritual resources.In the smallest village where books would take months to penetrate, there are now farmers with smartphones.We must not be luddites when it comes to technology. But we must also be aware of what it is doing to ...Continue reading...
The fruit of the Spirit is No. 1 at Bible Gateway—in both English and Spanish queries.Of the 920 million readers who visited the world’s top Bible website last year, most are literally searching for love more than anything else.Only 3 of the other 9 fruits of the Spirit joined love among Bible Gateway’s top searches of 2018: peace (No. 2), faith (No. 3), and joy (No. 4). The pattern holds true in Spanish-language searches, though gozo (joy) ranks 12 slots lower [full lists below].Love has been the most popular topic at Bible Gateway, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year by reaching more than 14 billion views, ever since the site’s inception in 1993. Such searches perennially spike on Valentine’s Day.“This may be the time of year that we talk most loudly about love, but [our] usage statistics show us that we long to understand and experience love throughout the year,” stated Andy Rau, Bible Gateway’s then-senior manager for content, in a 2017 post.In 2014, when the site first offered more detailed stats, CT reported how “the word never fell out of the top 10 searches, and was the top searched word more than 200 days of the year.”In contrast, searches for lust only came close to love on one day: September 30, 2015.Overall, searches for heart, pray, and spirit rose the most from 2016 to 2018. All rose in rank by double digits. (CT analyzed the top 2018 verses of Bible Gateway vs. YouVersion in December.)Among CT’s coverage of Valentine’s Day, last year—on the first VaLENTine’s Day since WWII—CT noted how Twitter suggested chocolate and alcohol would be absent from many dates, while Tish Harrison Warren reflected on God’s message on “Ash Valentine’s Day.”Bible Gateway’s top 25 topic searches ...Continue reading...
The fruit of the Spirit is No. 1 at Bible Gateway—in both English and Spanish queries.Of the 920 million readers who visited the world’s top Bible website last year, most are literally searching for love more than anything else.Only 3 of the other 9 fruits of the Spirit joined love among Bible Gateway’s top searches of 2018: peace (No. 2), faith (No. 3), and joy (No. 4). The pattern holds true in Spanish-language searches, though gozo (joy) ranks 12 slots lower [full lists below].Love has been the most popular topic at Bible Gateway, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year by reaching more than 14 billion views, ever since the site’s inception in 1993. Such searches perennially spike on Valentine’s Day.“This may be the time of year that we talk most loudly about love, but [our] usage statistics show us that we long to understand and experience love throughout the year,” stated Andy Rau, Bible Gateway’s then-senior manager for content, in a 2017 post.In 2014, when the site first offered more detailed stats, CT reported how “the word never fell out of the top 10 searches, and was the top searched word more than 200 days of the year.”In contrast, searches for lust only came close to love on one day: September 30, 2015.Overall, searches for heart, pray, and spirit rose the most from 2016 to 2018. All rose in rank by double digits. (CT analyzed the top 2018 verses of Bible Gateway vs. YouVersion in December.)Among CT’s coverage of Valentine’s Day, last year—on the first VaLENTine’s Day since WWII—CT noted how Twitter suggested chocolate and alcohol would be absent from many dates, while Tish Harrison Warren reflected on God’s message on “Ash Valentine’s Day.”Bible Gateway’s top 25 topic searches ...Continue reading...
The Bible Paragraph which we are about to study reminds me of my country, the United States of America. Not completely, for we still do have “pockets” (or maybe better said, a “remnant”) of Bible Believing people, and dedicated Men of God to feed them … but we are progressively drifting toward a national state […]
Communicating Christ's Love to Others February is the month for expressing love. I am glad there is one day set aside on our calendar to let others know how much they mean to us; yet does expressing our love have to be a “one day” event? The quality of our relationships is certainly not defined by the events of a single day! Valentine's Day should just be one of the many special days of the year that we focus on communicating Christ's love to others.So this year instead of expressing our love to our family and friends on just Valentine's Day, lets commit to expressing our love on a more consistent basis. I recently read a touching story of one man's daily expression of love:Some of you probably remember the comedian Jack Kublesky. He was from Waukegan, Illinois and passed away years ago. His professional name was Jack Benny. When Jack was a young man, he was working in the same studio as a young lady he wanted to date. He thought she was beautiful, but he was too shy and embarrassed to ask her out. He couldn't get up the courage or the nerve so he started sending a single, red rose to her desk with no note attached to the rose.Every day she received the red rose. Finally one day, she asked the delivery man who was sending her the roses. He said a guy named Jack who worked in the same studio. She found out who he was. Finally they began talking and Jack asked her out for a date. She thought that after they started dating the roses would stop. But they didn't. They kept coming…a single rose every day.They were engaged and she thought the roses would stop. But they didn't stop. They even kept coming after they were married. Every day a single rose would show up for Mrs. Benny.After five years, and ten years, and decades later a single red rose continued to show up. Jack Benny died. The day after the funeral, a single rose showed up for Mrs. Benny. After several days Mrs. Benny went to the florist and said, “I don't know if you realize this or not, but Mr. Benny passed away. I know it is kind of you, but you don't need to do this any longer.” The florist responded, “Mrs. Benny, you don't understand. Jack made provisions years ago to provide you a single red rose every day you are alive.”This story challenged me to communicate my love more consistently! Perhaps you, too, need to express your love more often. Here are a few ideas to help get us started:Celebrate the 14th of each month as Valentine's Day.Buy extra Valentine's Day cards and send them on a no special occasion day.Email someone special Bible verses that show love.Bake heart-shaped cookies in August!Leave ‘heart shaped' notes in inconspicuous places for your loved one to find.Have a “Child of the Week.”“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”—1 John 4:7
Leak of “highly inappropriate” comments by founding pastor of Chicago-area megachurch caps months-long clash with critics.In the midst of efforts to reconcile with longtime critics, Harvest Bible Chapel fired its founder and senior pastor James MacDonald for “engaging in conduct … contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church.”Harvest elders announced this morning that they were forced to take “immediate action” on Tuesday to end his 30-year tenure.“Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported,” they wrote.“This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors.”MacDonald took an “indefinite sabbatical” in January, following a tumultuous few months defending Harvest in a defamation lawsuit against its critics and in the aftermath of a World magazine investigation into mismanagement at the church.The public scrutiny continued with pushback against MacDonald’s decision to preach at a Harvest affiliate in Florida during his sabbatical. Then, a famous friend of his, Chicago shock jock Mancow Muller, spoke out in a local newspaper against the manipulation and ego he observed around MacDonald’s “cult of personality” at Harvest. On his radio show, Muller later aired what sounded like clips of MacDonald making harsh comments toward media who had covered the story.Now, the church has decided its longtime leader won’t be coming back.Muller had prematurely announced the ...Continue reading...
CT's editor in chief on today's aired remarks.The controversy around James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, swirls ever more intensely. I would like to clarify a few things so that in the debate surrounding this topic—especially CT’s coverage—people can have a better notion of how we cover such controversies.First, we want to address MacDonald’s alleged derogatory remarks about various members of CT’s staff broadcast today on Mancow, a radio show based in Chicago. MacDonald is clearly angry with the way CT has covered his leadership at Harvest, and he’s succumbed to the temptation to slander me, threaten our CEO, and denigrate others. This is unfortunate. But this is part of the life of journalism, because we know that we’re not exactly popular with people about whom we have to report bad news. We also know that people (including me) privately say things in anger that they later regret. So we’re not going to blast back at MacDonald or to demand a public apology. The only things we demand are that he deal fairly with his accusers, that he tell the truth about what’s been going on at Harvest, and that he make amends if and where he has misused his office.Second, as MacDonald’s reaction demonstrates, it’s common for people on both sides of a dispute to believe that CT is against them. It’s pretty clear by his slanders that MacDonald thinks we have it out for him. That’s ironic, because his accusers, whom he sued, believe we’ve taken his side. They base their accusation on the fact that we gave him space on our Speaking Out forum to explain why he believes it is biblical to sue fellow believers.In fact, this is a tradition at CT: to allow mainstream, otherwise orthodox evangelicals ...Continue reading...
Leak of “highly inappropriate” comments by founding pastor of Chicago-area megachurch caps months-long clash with critics.In the midst of efforts to reconcile with longtime critics, Harvest Bible Chapel fired its founder and senior pastor James MacDonald for “engaging in conduct … contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church.”Harvest elders announced this morning that they were forced to take “immediate action” on Tuesday to end his 30-year tenure.“Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported,” they wrote.“This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors.”MacDonald took an “indefinite sabbatical” in January, following a tumultuous few months defending Harvest in a defamation lawsuit against its critics and in the aftermath of a World magazine investigation into mismanagement at the church.The public scrutiny continued with pushback against MacDonald’s decision to preach at a Harvest affiliate in Florida during his sabbatical. Then, a famous friend of his, Chicago shock jock Mancow Muller, spoke out in a local newspaper against the manipulation and ego he observed around MacDonald’s “cult of personality” at Harvest. On his radio show, Muller later aired what sounded like clips of MacDonald making harsh comments toward media who had covered the story.Now, the church has decided its longtime leader won’t be coming back.Muller had prematurely announced the ...Continue reading...
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News collect 380 allegations spanning 20 states in an unprecedented look at sexual misconduct across the denomination.A landmark investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches opened with a collage of pictures of the offenders, row after row of headshots and mugshots of men who had been accused of abusing a total of 700 victims over the past 20 years.In Sunday’s report, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News were able to do what victims say the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has failed to for years: provide a picture of the extent of the abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention and a database of those found guilty of their crimes.With allegations against 380 church leaders in 20 states (a majority of whom were convicted or took plea deals), it’s believed to be the biggest report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists in the movement’s history. The report confronts the longstanding defense that the organization can only do so much to monitor abuse since affiliated congregations operate autonomously.Another set of pictures captures a sense of the impact of abusers in Southern Baptist congregations. In response to the investigation, Southern Baptist women and fellow Christians shared childhood photos on Twitter from the age when they first suffered abuse.Dozens joined a thread started by Living Proof Ministries founder and popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, including advocate and abuse survivor Jules Woodson and other ministry leaders.Over the past couple years, the #MeToo campaign has raised awareness about abuse within the SBC and galvanized official efforts to improve the denomination’s response. Last December, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram rounded up more than 400 allegations among independent Baptists, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission ...Continue reading...
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News collect 380 allegations spanning 20 states in an unprecedented look at sexual misconduct across the denomination.A landmark investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches opened with a collage of pictures of the offenders, row after row of headshots and mugshots of men who had been accused of abusing a total of 700 victims over the past 20 years.In Sunday’s report, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News were able to do what victims say the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has failed to for years: provide a picture of the extent of the abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention and a database of those found guilty of their crimes.With allegations against 380 church leaders in 20 states (a majority of whom were convicted or took plea deals), it’s believed to be the biggest report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists in the movement’s history. The report confronts the longstanding defense that the organization can only do so much to monitor abuse since affiliated congregations operate autonomously.Another set of pictures captures a sense of the impact of abusers in Southern Baptist congregations. In response to the investigation, Southern Baptist women and fellow Christians shared childhood photos on Twitter from the age when they first suffered abuse.Dozens joined a thread started by Living Proof Ministries founder and popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, including advocate and abuse survivor Jules Woodson and other ministry leaders.Over the past couple years, the #MeToo campaign has raised awareness about abuse within the SBC and galvanized official efforts to improve the denomination’s response. Last December, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram rounded up more than 400 allegations among independent Baptists, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission ...Continue reading...
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News collect 380 allegations spanning 20 states in an unprecedented look at sexual misconduct across the denomination.A landmark investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches opened with a collage of pictures of the offenders, row after row of headshots and mugshots of men who had been accused of abusing a total of 700 victims over the past 20 years.In Sunday’s report, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News were able to do what victims say the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has failed to for years: provide a picture of the extent of the abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention and a database of those found guilty of their crimes.With allegations against 380 church leaders in 20 states (a majority of whom were convicted or took plea deals), it’s believed to be the biggest report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists in the movement’s history. The report confronts the longstanding defense that the organization can only do so much to monitor abuse since affiliated congregations operate autonomously.Another set of pictures captures a sense of the impact of abusers in Southern Baptist congregations. In response to the investigation, Southern Baptist women and fellow Christians shared childhood photos on Twitter from the age when they first suffered abuse.Dozens joined a thread started by Living Proof Ministries founder and popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, including advocate and abuse survivor Jules Woodson and other ministry leaders.Over the past couple years, the #MeToo campaign has raised awareness about abuse within the SBC and galvanized official efforts to improve the denomination’s response. Last December, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram rounded up more than 400 allegations among independent Baptists, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission ...Continue reading...
Israelis are demanding that killer of teenage girl be executed, but what does the Bible say about capital punishment?

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