Category Archives: America

21 Days of Prayer for Life

21 Days of Prayer for Life

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Baseball and faith along with good values don’t mix

The baseball team at Stony Brook University won’t be able to travel to Mississippi next month for a three-game series with Southern Miss. But it’s not the weather keeping them home – it’s New York’s governor.

Governor Mario Cuomo has banned all non-essential travel to Mississippi because of the Magnolia State’s “religious freedom law” – which is formally known as the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523). It took effect in October.

Tim Wildmon, president of Mississippi-based American Family Association, says the Stony Brook Seawolves will miss out on the chance of some warmer weather baseball against a quality opponent. The three-game series was scheduled to take place in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, between February 23 and 25.

“What usually happens during college baseball season is that teams from the North come south so they can play baseball in February,” he tells OneNewsNow, “and it’s oftentimes difficult to play baseball in February, even in the South.”

Wildmon

 

Mississippi’s law protects people from discrimination who, because of their faith, believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman, that sex should be reserved for marriage, and that one’s gender is set at birth.

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The Iranian Protests and the Church

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The protests currently shaking Iran have enormous implications for U. S. foreign policy—and for the Church.

Iranian citizens are rising up against their oppressive Shiite government. They shout, “Death to the Dictator!” while enduring tear gas, water cannons, arrest—and death.

The demonstrations initially had to do with the sagging economy, high unemployment, and the increased cost of basic foods. As one protester quoted in the Washington Post said, “When we don’t have bread to eat, we are not afraid of anything.”

But these protests may have evolved into “an open rebellion against Iran’s Islamic leadership itself.”

The outcome of these protests of course will have enormous implications for the Middle East and for U. S. foreign policy. The Iranian government is a staunch ally of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, supports Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group and arch-enemy of Israel, and is fomenting unrest (and that’s putting it mildly) throughout the Middle East.

And no doubt you’ve heard about the Iranian government’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But there’s another reason Americans—and especially American Christian—should be following events there: the growth of Christianity in Iran.

In the online journal “The Stream,” my friend Michael Brown writes that Iranian converts, Christian leaders, and missiologists all tell him the same thing: “Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity at an unprecedented pace.” Indeed, according to the Iranian Christian News Agency, Islamic clerics are alarmed at the growing number of Iranian youth who are abandoning Islam, converting to Christianity, and joining house churches. That despite the enormous risks of conversion in a country that openly suppresses the Christian faith.

The news comes as no surprise to Reza Safa, a Muslim convert to Christianity and the author of “The Coming Fall of Islam in Iran.” Safa, who now lives in the U.S., notes on his website that “Despite severe persecution by the Iranian government against underground churches, God’s Word is spreading like a wildfire all over Iran.”

That’s exciting news. And the protests against the regime raging across Iran may be a sign of hope for Christians, according to Iranian journalist and Christian convert Sohrab Amari. Amari told the Catholic News Agency that “the Iranians who are pouring into the streets have had it with an ideological regime that represses them.” Many are even chanting “nostalgic slogans” about pre-revolutionary Iran—a time when religious minorities like Christians, Jews, and Bahai’s could live well enough alongside their Islamic neighbors.

The outcome of the protests remains to be seen. Will they lead to more freedoms, or to even worse repressions?

And as the number of conversions continues to rise, will the government target churches even more fiercely, or will those who have tasted the freedom to become children of God through Jesus Christ act as leaven in Iranian society, inspiring more people to seek freedom from their authoritarian overlords?

We don’t have to look far back in history to see epoch-shaking movements of God’s people. As Chuck Colson documented masterfully in his book “Being the Body,” the fall of communism in Poland, in Romania, and throughout eastern Europe was fueled by Christian faith—and the human desire for freedom kindled by that faith.

At one time, those of us old enough to remember the Cold War couldn’t have imagined the demise of European communism. But it happened. The fall of an authoritarian Islamist regime should not be beyond our hopes and prayers.

So please, join me in prayer for our brethren in Iran—for safety, for wisdom, and for the conversion of many more to freedom in Jesus Christ.

 

The Iranian Protests and the Church: Bread, Freedom, and Faith

As events are unfolding in Iran, believers everywhere have the opportunity to intercede for Christians and new converts in that country. Read more about this critical news and its implications by clicking on the links in our Resources section.

Resources

What No One Is Telling You About Iran

  • Michael Brown | Townhall.com | January 2, 2018
Could Iranian protests bring religious freedom for Christians?

  • Michelle La Rosa | Catholic News Agency | December 29, 2017
Christianity is Rapidly Growing in Iran

  • CBN News | August 15, 2017
Being the Body: A New Call for the Church to Be Light in Darkness

  • Chuck Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn
  • Thomas Nelson
  •  

  • 2004

Farmers and Suicide ( pray for those in that field of work )

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If I were to ask you which professions have high suicide rates, you would probably mention military veterans suffering from PTSD. In their latest report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have found that the suicide rate for young male military veterans is higher than previously thought. But they found that it is lower in some states than the suicide rate for farmers.

The high suicide rate for farmers is only just now beginning to get media attention. Some mental health experts are saying that we probably need some sort of federally funded prevention resources similar to what is provided to veterans.

Mike Rosman is a psychologist who has been studying this issue for decades and has an appreciation for the stresses on farmers since he is also an Iowa farmer. Writing in the journal Behavioral Healthcare he reminds us that, “Farming has always been a stressful occupation because many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the producers.”

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Nebraska Christmas card sent back since 1941 ( forget email )

DANNEBROG, Neb. (AP) — For three quarters of a century, the same Christmas card featuring a Scottish man in a kilt has made its way through the mail either to or from a Nebraska woman.

The Kearney Hub reports that it began in 1941, when Lois Margaret Frandsen of Dannebrog sent the card to her cousin and life-long friend Janice “Neicie” Hansen, who was living with her husband at a Washington State military base at the time.

In 1942, Hansen sent it back to Frandsen. The next year, Frandsen sent it back to Hansen.

 

And so it has gone, every year since the early days of World War II, despite Hansen’s death in 2009. Her daughter is now the recipient.

 

“Why did I keep sending it?” Frandsen, 94, asked. “We had a heck of a lot of fun together. That card traveled a lot of miles. I would keep it in the China hutch so it wouldn’t get lost.”

( Read the rest of this Story.)

The voters of Alabama demonstrated that there are limits to conservative tolerance when it comes to questions of character.

What we find is that an incredible number of Republican voters in Alabama simply did not vote. They could not vote for a pro-abortion candidate like Doug Jones but they also would not vote for a Republican like Roy Moore.

( Read the rest of of this commentary


BreakPoint: Who Cares How Taylor Swift Votes? Our Silly Obsession with Pop Stars’ Politics

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I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d talk about Taylor Swift on BreakPoint. Just look what you made me do.

It’s not exactly a secret where the entertainment industry stands on conservative politics, especially President Trump. With few exceptions, this president has only intensified the full opposition by actors, producers, singers, and performers of all stripes to the GOP. But one pop singer—the world’s most successful pop singer, in fact—has remained strangely quiet.

A recent editorial in The Guardian called Taylor Swift an “envoy for [Donald] Trump’s values,” not because she’s ever expressed public support for the president, but because she hasn’t said much of anything about him at all. Swift, you see, isn’t much for politics. She hasn’t joined other entertainers in denouncing Trump with sufficient enthusiasm. And so that’s gotten her in trouble.

Her critic in The Guardian writes that “[Swift’s] silence is striking, highlighting the parallels between the singer and the president: their adept use of social media to foster a diehard support base; their solipsism; their laser focus on the bottom line; their support among the ‘alt-right.’”

This is just the latest in a drumbeat of demands that the 27-year-old singer take a side in this current political scrum. Some have gone much further, suggesting that she’s a secret admirer not only of President Trump, but of the less savory among his supporters. Reports surfaced last year that Neo-Nazis and other racist groups have adopted the tall, blonde pop artist as an unofficial mascot. Some even called her an “Aryan goddess,” and claim that she has secret Nazi sympathies—a charge she has flatly denied.

Still, with no college education and no political experience, this young woman is expected—purely because of her fame—to tell her millions of fans not only how to vote, but which side of the political aisle are the good guys and which are the bad.

Swift, for her part, has consistently refused. “I chose to do music,” she’s said before. Last year before the election, Swift clarified, “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling other people who to vote for.”

Well, good for her!

But the burning question through all of this is why on earth we should care about Taylor Swift’s political views! It’s ridiculous that so many people are obsessed with getting celebrities to take sides on candidates and policies. But we’ve got to move beyond this.

First, celebrities aren’t specially endowed with insights into good government. They have the right to express their views like everyone else. But the idea that somehow what they say matters more—well that just proves Neil Postman was right, we are amused to death.

So our celebrities have become our experts and our heroes. That’s a bad idea.

Also this unrealistic expectation of celebrities reveals our culture’s terrible spiritual thirst. Particularly its lack of religious and moral authority. Celebrities are, for too many, the closest things we have to gods.  They are idols, pure and simple.

But there’s still another, and yet more practical reason why setting our political and social compasses by the opinions of entertainers is a bad idea: It poisons entertainment itself. There must be a space that exists outside of politics if our culture is to remain sane—a place where we can set aside our debates and just live together as human beings.

I’m no fan of most pop music, but we do need cultural places where we can live together civilly in our society that are not dominated by political rancor. If everything becomes just another place for a party power struggle, we’ll stop seeing each other first as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, and only look at one another instead as members of opposing armies.

If we can’t figure out a better source for political insights than Taylor Swift or the other celebrities that we already pay too much attention to, we’re in trouble, trouble, trouble. See what I did there?!

 

Who Cares How Taylor Swift Votes?: Our Silly Obsession with Pop Stars’ Politics

As John has pointed out, our culture’s obsession with celebrities betrays a spiritual hunger that only Christ can quench. Why not talk about that, winsomely, in one of your conversations with family, friends, or neighbors?

 

 

Resources

The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It

  • Os Guinness | HarperOne Publishers | January 2008
Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype & Spin

  • Os Guinness | Baker Books | February 2002
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

  • Neil Postman | Penguin Books Publisher | December 2005

Cal Thomas says EVANGELICALS are wrong to support Roy Moore ( he is spot-on )

SUPPORTERS OF MOORE SAY HE IS PRO-LIFE AND JONES IS NOT, AND THAT IS A LITMUS TEST FOR MANY. BUT A MOORE VICTORY WILL NOT AFFECT ABORTIONS IN AMERICA, WHICH ARE DECLINING THANKS IN PART TO THE EXCELLENT WORK PERFORMED BY PREGNANCY HELP CENTERS.

         THE LEFT PLANS TO COME AFTER PRESIDENT TRUMP, USING HIS SEXUAL HARRASSMENT ACCUSERS TO GAIN TRACTION IN NEXT YEAR’S CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS.

 

         ARE REPUBLICANS AND ESPECIALLY EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS, WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO STAND FOR FAMILY VALUES, WILLING TO MAKE THIS KIND OF BARGAIN TO WIN A SENATE SEAT? JUST ASKING. I’M CAL THOMAS IN WASHINGTON.

( Read the whole commentary by Cal Thomas , or listen to the audio of it. )

A Date of Infamy

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Today is December 7 – a day that President Roosevelt said would be “a date which will live in infamy.” On that fateful morning of December 7, 1941, America was attacked without warning. More than 2,400 Americans died and 1,100 were wounded. Our country was changed forever. This attack led us into war, and the citizens of America responded with courage and resolve. So it may be well to reflect on what took place and how we today must also rise to the occasion of the attacks on America by Islamic extremists.

Today is known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It is a day when we honor the lives lost in that attack on Pearl Harbor and also honor the veterans of World War II. But it can also be a day in which we pay tribute to the men and woman who are currently serving in the armed forces in an effort to promote freedom and justice around the world.

( Read the rest of this spot-on commentary. )

BreakPoint: Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

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I was honored yesterday to rally in support of Jack Phillips on the steps outside the Supreme Court. Now I’d like to tell you what went on inside.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Eric Metaxas and I have given you the details before, of Colorado master cake designer Jack Phillips who declined to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

As David Brooks wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, “Phillips is not trying to restrict gay marriage or gay rights; he’s simply asking not to be forced to take part.”

Neither the couple or the state of Colorado saw it that way. Phillips was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, and forced to choose between his convictions and losing forty percent of his business. Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court.

While Phillips’s actions were grounded in his religious beliefs, the legal argument was primarily about whether Colorado had violated his right to free speech.  Unlike those commentators who disparaged the idea that creating custom cakes constitutes a form of speech, yesterday the Court took the question seriously.

Phillips’ lawyer, Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that “the first amendment protects bakers such as Mr. Phillips against being forced to express any belief, and that as a custom-cake maker, he sketches, sculpts and hand-paints—in other words, he’s an artist.”

Waggoner had barely gotten started when the questions began.

Responding to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she reiterated that neither she nor her client were challenging his obligation to sell his ordinary wares to everyone. In fact, he offered to sell the couple any already-made cake in his store.

Custom cakes, Waggoner told the Court, were a different matter. The use of writing and symbols convey a message in a way that a cake off the shelf does not.

Inevitably the comparison to race came up. The best answer was given by U. S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Francisco, in response to several justices, argued that discrimination on the basis of race, such as refusing to serve an interracial couple, was different than refusing to participate in a ceremony.

He also argued that upholding Phillips’ free speech rights would not damage civil rights protection because it would only apply to “a small group of individuals” in “narrow circumstances.” However, Justice Breyer disagreed.

But the roughest treatment was reserved for Colorado’s Solicitor General Fred Yarger because of Colorado’s treatment of Phillips throughout the whole ordeal. Justice Kennedy—likely the swing vote in this case—told him that tolerance must go both ways, adding that, “It seems to me the state has been neither tolerant nor respectful” of Jack Phillips views.

He cited a comment by a member of the Civil Rights Commission, who called Phillips’ religious beliefs “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric.” He then asked Yarger to disavow the comment. After Yarger lamely replied that he wouldn’t counsel a client to say a such a thing, Kennedy pressed him, and Yarger disavowed.

It’s never a good thing when a judge asks you to disavow your client’s statement.

So where are we? Justice Kennedy definitely seems troubled by the way Phillips was treated, and it’s encouraging that he insisted tolerance is a “two-way street.”

Heartening as well was Justice Breyer’s asking Yarger if some kind of compromise might be possible. Whatever else Breyer is thinking, he seems to be concerned that Colorado didn’t make sufficient allowance for people with dissenting views.

I can’t tell you whether Phillips will prevail, but there’s reason to be encouraged. It’s also possible that Kennedy could side with Phillips, but in a narrow opinion that would open the floodgate for future cases. Even then, that better, far better than a Phillips loss.

So let’s continue to pray earnestly that Phillips, and freedom, prevails.

 

Jack Phillips Before the Supreme Court: “Tolerance Is a Two-Way Street”

As both John and Eric have stated, this free speech case is extremely important. So continue to pray for the justices of our Supreme Court, that God would guide them in their deliberations and decision in this free speech and religious freedom case.

Resources

Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today | December 5, 2017