Category Archives: faith

Mourners to say goodbye to Billy Graham, ‘America’s Pastor’

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How to keep from being grounded

HOW TO AVOID BEING GROUNDED 

 

 
 
 
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When our son entered high school, he carried with him the study habits that had served him well in junior high. They didn’t serve him well in high school. He learned a whole lot about studying his freshman year. His grades weren’t awful-they were just, you know, like below his potential. So the last part of the year, we resorted to, uh, martial law. We enforced three hours of study nightly and we allowed no calls…no going out until his homework was done. Now, turn the page to his second year in high school. I’d go into my study at night and I’d find him with these books and notebooks all spread out across my desk. Sometimes I’d tell him there was a phone call for him. And he’d answer, “Tell them I’ll call them back later. I’m not getting on the phone, Dad. Not his year; not till my homework’s done.” I didn’t have to discipline my son. He was disciplining himself.

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  • Sin
  • distractions
  • temptation

 

 

21 Days of Prayer for Life

21 Days of Prayer for Life

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
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  • 2004

BreakPoint This Week: Where Was God in 2017?

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“Where was God?” It’s a question that John and Ed believe Christians must be prepared to answer in the midst of natural and man-made disasters. Certainly in 2017 we saw God at work in and through his people, the Church, as they responded with love and relief efforts in the wake of the monster hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.

John and Ed also review the tumultuous political year, the fate of religious liberty as we know it before the Supreme Court, and what the declining fertility rate means for Western nations.

Resources

BreakPoint: 1.77 Kids Aren’t Enough

  • John Stonestreet
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  • BreakPoint
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  • December 18, 2017
BreakPoint: Dying Alone

  • Eric Metaxas 
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  • BreakPoint
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  • December 19, 2017

Thank God for Jose Altuve An Athlete We Can Look Up To

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I love improbable success stories. And even more, I love it when the person who has succeeded recognizes his story’s Author.

Sports Illustrated recently named J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros as its “Sportspersons of the Year.”

Both are among the best players in their respective sports, but that’s not the only, or even primary, reason they were selected. As the magazine put it, these “athletes spoke loudest in their actions and words off the field.”

In the case of Watt and Altuve, the emphasis is on “actions.” Specifically, their contributions to Houston’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

Most sports fans, including Christian ones, were already familiar with the almost literally larger-than-life Watt, whose freakish combination of size and athleticism has made him the most dominant defensive player in the NFL.

But until this October, few, if any, knew much about Altuve, the American League’s 2017 Most Valuable Player. His is a story that is so improbable and inspirational that Hollywood would have rejected the script. But, as Altuve will tell you, the Author of his story doesn’t reside in Hollywood.

Part of the improbability is obvious when you look at him. He is listed at 5’6”. That’s two inches shorter than I am and no one has ever called me “tall.” As Tom Verducci pointed out in his article on Altuve, “Over the past decade every one of the MVPs in the NFL and NBA stood at least 6’ 1” with 18 of those 20 standing 6’ 3” or taller . . . The most popular players in baseball, either by All-Star votes . . . or jersey sales . . .  are at least 6’ 3”. We literally look up to them.”

Despite being the smallest player in Major League Baseball, Altuve is its best hitter and arguably its best player. He has won three batting titles, led the league in stolen bases twice, has won a Golden Glove for his fielding, and is a five-time All-Star. According to the advanced statistical metric known as “wins above replacement,” Altuve did more to help his team win games in 2017 than any other player in baseball.

To call this “improbable” is an understatement. At age 16, he was invited to tryout camp in his native Venezuela. He wasn’t invited back for the second day because he was only 5’5.” Urged on by his father, he returned, uninvited, for the second day of camp and over the next few days played well enough that the Astros offered him $15,000 to sign. That was literally one percent of what another Venezuelan player at the camp who eventually washed out of baseball was paid, but, as Altuve says, he would have signed for free.

The rest is, as they say, history. Among baseball’s all-time hit leaders, only three had more hits at age 27 than Altuve: Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, and Hank Aaron.

As I said, an improbable story whose author, Altuve will tell you, is God. Altuve told the Houston Chronicle that, for him, achieving success wasn’t getting “into the major leagues or [having] the best season in the world. The best success is to live your life the way God wants you to.”

He added, “We need to not just ask God but thank Him for everything like our health, our family.” He told CBN, “I feel like every morning when you wake up you have to thank Him just for another day. I do it every day.”

All of which makes Jose Altuve someone we should all look up to, no matter our height.

 

Thank God for Jose Altuve: An Athlete We Can Look Up To

It’s refreshing to hear about a sportsman who acknowledges God’s providence in his life. As believers we should all be able to agree, as Jose Altuve says, “The best success is to live your life the way God wants you to.” To find out more about this exciting athlete, check out the resources linked below.

 

 

 

What God wants to do in you, and through you in the new year

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Mormon Baptisms of Holocaust Victims Draw Ire

Mormons are posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims as well as grandparents of public figures like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Steven Spielberg, despite church rules intended to restrict the ceremonies to a member’s ancestors, according to a researcher who has spent two decades monitoring the church’s massive genealogical database.

The discoveries made by former Mormon Helen Radkey and shared with The Associated Press likely will bring new scrutiny to a deeply misunderstood practice that has become a sensitive issue for the church. The church, in a statement, acknowledged the ceremonies violated its policy and said they would be invalidated, while also noting its created safeguards in recent years to improve compliance.

Proxy baptisms are tied to a core church teaching that families spend eternity together, but the baptisms do not automatically convert dead people to Mormonism. Under church teachings, the rituals provide the deceased a choice in the afterlife to accept or reject the offer of baptism.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only major religion that baptizes the dead, and the ritual has contributed to struggles by the faith to combat the mischaracterization of its beliefs.

 

The church’s stance on family and the afterlife is behind a massive collection of genealogical records the Utah-based church compiles from around the world and makes available to the public through its website http://www.familysearch.org . Proxy baptisms are recorded in a password-protected part of the database accessible only to church members.

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A 2018 Resolution that every Follower of Jesus should have says Cal Thomas

IT’S NEW YEAR RESOLUTION TIME.

 

         FOR THE SERIOUS FOLLOWER OF JESUS OF NAZARETH, LET’S RESOLVE TO PLACE LESS EMPHASIS ON THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND MORE ON THE KINGDOM AND KING NOT OF THIS WORLD?

         HERE’S A RESOLUTION ALL OF US SHOULD ATTEMPT TO KEEP: IN 2018, I WILL BECOME MORE OBEDIENT TO THE COMMANDS OF JESUS.

( Billy’s thoughts – The above is part of a radio commentary Cal Thomas did today. Read the whole column here or listen to the audio.)