Category Archives: Good news

A death row inmate changed, and like him we all have a need

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer had freedom even though he lived in Germany under Hitler

Dietrich Bonhoeffer resisted Hitler because of his faith in Jesus Christ, and as a result of standing up for the Jews, he died in a concentration camp. His bravery left a legacy throughout the generations.  He spoke often about freedom, and he was living under one of the most evil, repressive regimes in all history. He knew that true freedom could only be found in one place- Jesus Christ.

He had an opportunity to flee to safety. When the Nazis were hot on his trail, he had a brief trip to America. He could have stayed. He could have “saved” his life. But he knew the words of the Scriptures to be true, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). He also knew that because of Jesus Christ he was, “free indeed.” So he was faithful to God’s direction- he knew he needed to lead his fellow Germans through their darkest hour. No matter the cost! He knew his freedom was in Christ- not in the safety of a free country. So he returned to Germany, and he would die, but upon his death he spoke these last words, “This is the end, but for me it’s the beginning of life.” What a testimony! His eternal perspective allowed him to absolutely change history. What about you, my friend? Are you free indeed? Are you eternity-minded? Just imagine how God could use you now.

 

This is Luis Palau.

Flirty the miniature service horse

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Impacting the small places like Village Mission Pastor’s are doing

A lot of us want to do great things for the Lord. But great doesn’t necessarily mean big.

We’re all familiar with Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep, in which a man leaves his 99 sheep to find the one that is missing. But a lot of pastors today, in their understandable passion to minister to the 99, have left the one all alone. I speak of the forgotten sheep of rural America.

The great missionary statesman William Carey once said, “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” And the open maps of today are telling us that there is a massive shift to the cities from the countryside. Operation World points out that the global share of people living in urban areas has shot up from 13 percent in 1900 to above 50 percent today.

In America, the trend is even stronger. According to the USDA, overall, the country’s “non-metro” areas have lost an average of 43,000 residents every year since 2010. Job prospects in the countryside are falling, and poverty rates are rising. According to one report, deaths are now outpacing births in hundreds of rural counties.

So it’s hardly surprising that urban and suburban ministry is a focus for so many. But what about the lost sheep scattered in the countryside? Well, as you might expect, their churches are shrinking and their pastors are disappearing. The National Congregations Study finds that the percentage of rural congregations has plummeted from 43 percent in 1998 to 32 percent in 2012.

And what about the pastors? With so many churches struggling to keep their doors open, fewer and fewer can afford to pay a pastor, and thus many of them are going without.

Well, that’s where an innovative and yet back-to-basics ministry such as Village Missions comes in. Village Missions, which was founded in 1948 by an Irish Presbyterian pastor named Walter Duff Jr., has sent out hundreds and hundreds of what it terms “missionary pastors” to the lost sheep in America’s rural areas—places like Volga, Iowa.

According to a great article by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra at the Gospel Coalition entitled “Reviving the Dying Small-town Church,” Volga, a farm community of about 200 people, has four churches. Jeremy Sarver, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, was sent by Village Missions to revitalize Volga’s Calvary Bible Church, which had 12 members when he got there. Zylstra says none of the other churches had a single full-time pastor at all.

Ministry in the countryside may be on a smaller scale than a lot of pastors are used to, but it allows them to really get to know their flocks. Village Missions requires its missionary pastors to invest about 20 hours a week getting to know the locals in order to become a part of these often tight-knit communities.

“I could put up office hours all day long in rural America, and nobody’s coming,” Sarver says. “But if I sit in the combine with them, or go to the coffee shop, or watch a volleyball game with them—they don’t want me to use the word ‘counseling,’ but we talk through things.” After this kind of slow relationship-building, the church doubled in size—to 30 members.

And each of these sheep is precious. Last year, Village Missions reported 459 salvation decisions, 179 adult baptisms, and 127 child baptisms.

 

For more information on Village Missions, come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We’ll also link you to Sara Eekhoff Zylstra’s outstanding article.

Bring your Bible to school is October 5th

 What book is most needed in our public schools, but least likely to bethere? I bet you can take a guess.

Not all that long ago, Teddy Roosevelt could say without fear of contradiction, “A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education.” In more recent times, Ronald Reagan said, “Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”

Now aside from the Christian worldview it teaches and the moral lifestyle it commends, the Bible also tells us how to know and love God and how to love and serve our fellow man. No wonder it was at one time required reading in practically every school in America.

But today, this Book, which laid the foundation for modern science, political freedom, and Western culture, is seen as unacceptable in American education. Yes, politicians in both parties often selectively quote the Bible when it serves their purposes, and educational progressives will, reluctantly, allow the Old and New Testaments to be studied as an academic subject in our public schools.

But since 1963, if there’s even a hint of moral teaching or proselytizing, well, forget it. And yet we wonder aloud where the increasing levels of suicide, sex, and drug abuse in our young people have come from.

That’s why I’m thrilled to tell you about a growing movement to re-introduce the Bible in our public schools—not by teachers or administrators, but by the kids themselves. It’s called Bring Your Bible to School Day, and this year’s event is tomorrow, Thursday, October 5th.

With a tagline of “Bring It. Share It. Live It,” Bring Your Bible to School Day began in 2014 and is sponsored by our friends at Focus on the Family. Last year more than 350,000 young people participated. This year, they expect half a million public school students in all 50 states to bring their Bibles to school and tell their friends about the hope they have. And the best part is, it’s perfectly constitutional.

“Over the years,” says Focus President Jim Daly, “we’ve heard from many kids and teens who want to meaningfully engage in conversations with peers to share their perspective on important issues. The good news is—they can.

Daly adds, “The Constitution recognizes students’ rights to share their biblical viewpoints in a way that doesn’t disturb instruction time, and to exercise their faith at school. ‘Bring Your Bible to School Day’ celebrates these rights and gives Christian students a chance to share a bit about their faith, which is an important part of who they are.”

Indeed. To see what it’s all about, just go to bringyourbible.org for all the details. You’ll see testimonies there of students boldly standing up for Jesus at their schools. There are sections for parents, for pastors, and for teachers, plus vital information on what’s legally permissible. And an awful lot is permissible! As the Supreme Court has noted, “It can hardly be argued that students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech at the schoolhouse gate.”

Look, let’s be honest: a big part of the reason there’s so little Christian influence in our public schools is that, as our friends at Gateways to Better Education have argued for years, people on both sides of the argument simply don’t understand what’s legal and constitutional and what is not. But an even bigger part is because too many of us have become afraid or passive in the face of our culture’s growing unbelief. As Chuck Colson used to say, Christians need to courageously break the spiral of silence. Bring Your Bible to School Day—again, it’s tomorrow—is a great way do just that, winsomely, and completely legally.

 

For you and your children to learn more about how they can take important early steps in standing up for Jesus with their friends, visit bringyourbible.org. It has all the resources you’ll need to be a part of this superb movement.

 

Man who made a difference in those in need, retires from his job

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Never too late

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They give us hope and the winner ( s ) is

The world needs hope. Which is why I’m glad WORLD Magazine has announced the winner of its Hope Awards!

During the summer, I told you about the finalists for WORLD Magazine’s Hope Awards for Effective Compassion—Christian organizations that make a positive difference in their communities without receiving government funds. We now have a winner, so let’s end the suspense—the envelope, please! And the winner is … all of us!

Well, actually, after tallying the record number of votes from readers, WORLD selected Delta Streets Academy in Greenwood, Mississippi. DSA, which began just five years ago, has 55 students, all black and all male, in grades 7 through 11. The school aims “to equip the young men who walk through our doors daily with the gospel of Christ, and the skills needed to live a life that honors God.”

In 2008, Thomas McMillin Howard, 32, known as T. Mac, moved to the Mississippi Delta and taught math at the local public high school. T Mac found the students floundering academically. A third were dropping out; the ones who remained treated their school responsibilities as a joke. Eventually, he decided the at-risk young men needed a disciplined approach grounded in the Christian faith. So in 2012, T Mac left the public school and opened Delta Streets Academy, which began as an after-school and summer program for young men from at-risk neighborhoods.

The discipline is obvious. According to WORLD, “[Students] must tuck in their shirts, complete homework, and act respectfully toward adults and each other. They have a mandatory study hall period during the day and access to tutors after hours. And DSA is reluctantly willing to lose students who refuse discipline.”

The Christian element is more subtle, but no less real. DSA, which for now is housed in the downtown First Baptist Church, seeks to “weave the Gospel of Jesus Christ into all areas of the school believing that glorifying God and enjoying Him forever is the foundation upon which all else is built.” Imagine that.

A minister from another Greenwood church tells The Christian Science Monitor that T Mac wants white churches and civic groups to help heal the community’s racial tensions “in a society still recovering from segregation…. He’s a window into a world that many [white] Christians in Greenwood didn’t know existed.”

Says Marvin Olasky, the editor-in-chief of the WORLD News Group, “I’ve visited DSA twice and been hugely impressed by the way this Christian school educates African-American young men intellectually and spiritually. It’s our 100th national or regional winner over the past 12 years, so Christian compassion is alive and well.”

And that is just the tip of the compassion iceberg, according to journalist Warren Cole Smith. “Those of us involved in ministry or in our local churches know that if the great work of Christian ministries and local churches went away, there would be a giant sucking sound in civil society,” Warren says. “However, most churches and Christian ministries do their work quietly, with little fanfare, so—according to a Pew study—many Americans don’t understand that . . . Christians are more generous with both time and money than their secular neighbors, and that without this generosity, America would be in deep trouble.”

But not if the other Hope Awards regional winners—and countless other organizations offering compassionate ministry—have anything to say about it. These are Navajo Ministries in New Mexico, Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Montana, Village of Hope in Zambia, and New Life Home in New Hampshire.

 

In their great book, Restoring All Things, my friends Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet ask a great question: “What is good in our culture that we can promote, protect, and celebrate?” It’s safe to say that WORLD’s Hope Awards are a small but significant answer—and we are all winners because of them

Miss Amazing’s 10th year

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Local Christian School remembers First Responders on 9/11/17

A Christian School here in Omaha, Nebraska displayed this outside their school on 9/11/17.

Thanks to the Omaha Christian Academy ( staff, students, parents ) and to  my friend Denny for posting this picture on his Facebook page.