The Bible was absent from President Obama’s second swearing-in on Wednesday, but a U.K.-based ministerial alliance has sent him one for future use.
Marvin Sapp recently took home seven awards during the 24th Annual Stellar Awards, which celebrated the achievements of African-American gospel music artist.
Jan. 22, 2009 -- Marvin Sapp took home seven Stellar Awards during last weekend's award show, garnering trophies in the Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, CD of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year categories.
Capitalizing on the success of his crossover R&B hit “Never Would Have Made It” and album Thirsty, Sapp was recognized during the 24th Annual Stellar Awards, which celebrated the achievements of African-American artists in gospel music at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 17.
Thirsty also generated Stellar trophies for Aaron Lindsey in the Producer of the Year category and Michelle Lukianovich in the Recorded Music Package of the Year category. read more
Christian leaders said the swearing-in of the nation's first African-American president is a sign of racial progress but worried that the battle to end abortion and defend traditional marriage would intensify in the coming months.
[01.21.09] Record-setting crowds braved frigid weather on Tuesday to witness the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. But while many applauded the event as a victory for racial progress, several ministry leaders warned that Christians must remain vigilant in a fight against abortion and same-sex marriage that is likely to intensify.
During his invocation, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren called the swearing-in of the nation’s first African-American president a “hingepoint of history.”
“We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African [man] can rise to the highest level of our leadership,” Warren prayed. “We know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.” read more
Michael Sweet, lead singer of resurrected glam metal band Stryper, says prayer is desperately needed for his wife, who is suffering a two-year battle with stage four ovarian cancer.
[01.20.09] The frontman of a legendary Christian metal band says the pain and discomfort his wife has suffered since being diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in 2007 is “break[ing] my heart into a million pieces.”
In an intimate letter written in a hospital by his ailing wife’s bedside, Michael Sweet, who formed hard rock band Stryper in 1983 with brother, Robert, told fans last week that that he and his wife, Kyle, are walking through the darkest time of their lives.
The execution-style murder in Mosul has renewed concern about violence against the religious minority ahead of provincial elections on Jan. 31.
[01.20.09] A Christian businessman was killed execution-style in Iraq on Thursday, renewing concern about anti-Christian violence that saw thousands flee the area last fall.
The 36-year-old man, who owned an auto repair shop in Mosul, was shot in the head several times, police told the Associated Press (AP) on Saturday. No one took responsibility for the murder.
Another Christian, a city engineer, was kidnapped in early January but returned four days later when his family paid a $50,000 ransom, according to the AP.
Israel’s prime minister initiated a unilateral ceasefire over the weekend while also addressing the devastation faced by Palestinians in Gaza.
[01.19.09] Israel agreed to a ceasefire Saturday after its three-week operation in Gaza significantly disrupted anti-Israel military operations ran by Hamas, an Islamic militant group and U.S.-classified terrorist organization that violently seized control of Gaza in 2007.
“Conditions have been created [in Gaza] so that our targets, as defined when we launched the operation, have been fully achieved, and more so,” said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. “Hamas was badly stricken, both in terms of its military capabilities and in the infrastructure of its regime.
“Its leaders are in hiding,” he said. “Many of its members have been killed. The factories in which its missiles were manufactured have been destroyed. The smuggling routes, through dozens of tunnels, have been bombed. The Hamas’s capabilities for conveying weapons within the Gaza Strip have been damaged.” read more
Despite a legal challenge by several atheist organizations, President-elect Barack Obama will repeat the words “so help me God” when he is sworn in as president on Tuesday.
[01.19.09] A U.S. District judge denied a California atheist's request to remove references to God from President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in on Tuesday.
After a two-hour hearing last Thursday, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied plaintiff Michael Newdow’s request to bar Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts from administering the president’s oath with the words “so help me God.”
In their lawsuit filed in early January, Newdow and 11 atheist and humanist organizations also claimed that references to God in the invocation and benediction and the use of a Bible during the swearing-in ceremony violated the Constitution’s ban against respecting an establishment of religion and discriminated against them as nonbelievers. read more
As one of his final acts as president, George W. Bush called on Americans to put aside this Sunday to honor the sanctity of human life.
[01.16.09] One of George W. Bush’s last acts as president this week was declaring Sunday, Jan. 18, the National Sanctity of Human Life Day. “All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection,” Bush said from the White House on Thursday.
“On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us.”
The pro-life movement has commemorated the third Sunday in January as a sacred day to reflect on the value of human life ever since former President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first ever National Sanctity of Human Life Day on Sunday, Jan. 22, 1984. Reagan designated the new national observance on the 11-year anniversary date of Roe v. Wade, the federal court case that legalized abortion. read more
Months after the revivalist announced he was divorcing his wife and stepping down from ministry, the board at Fresh Fire Ministries gave their perspectives on Bentley’s current status.
[12.04.08] Leaders of the Canadian ministry evangelist Todd Bentley founded a decade ago say the one-time revivalist is “intent” on divorcing his wife and is yet to begin a restoration process.
In a six-page letter to ministry supporters, the board of Fresh Fire Ministries (FFM) released more details about the circumstances that led to Bentley’s departure in August from the Lakeland, Fla., revival meetings he led for four months.
“Todd Bentley has demonstrated himself unfaithful to his wife by entering into a relationship with another woman while still legally married,” the board said in a statement issued last Friday. “Todd has yet to enter into a clear system of accountability with the leaders he identified that would be involved in such a process.”
The leaders claim Bentley, 32, has no biblical grounds for leaving his wife, Shonnah, and their three children, and that the nature of his relationship with his children’s former nanny is “that of adultery.”
“The legal separation from Shonnah was initiated completely by Todd and he has not seen her or the children since the last week in July,” they stated.
“It also needs to be clarified that Shonnah has in no way initiated this divorce and has no present intention to do so at any time in the future. She is understandably hurt by Todd’s infidelity, but is not asking or pressing for a divorce.”
On Tuesday, Bentley said there had been no sexual immorality between him and the former nanny. He claimed that for two years no “spark or interest” in the former staff member existed, and that the two developed only an emotional relationship several weeks after July 1, when Bentley filed for divorce.
He admitted, however, that the budding relationship was “absolutely” bad timing.
“I would call it an inappropriate relationship, in the sense that it was too soon, too quick, and should’ve never happened the way that it happened,” Bentley said. “Emotionally, she had stepped in to comfort me as a friend would.
“But I never left my wife to be with another woman,” he said. “There was nothing premeditated or inappropriate in my heart. I had never even entertained the idea that I liked this girl. It never went there.”
Claiming to have gone through years of counseling with his wife, Bentley said he is divorcing her over “irreconcilable differences.”
He denied disconnecting from his children and told Charisma he is in constant phone contact with them and plans to see them as soon as he sorts out issues with his visa.
Bentley said FFM let him review the letter before they made it public and that he was unhappy with portions of it. He said he felt the letter implied that the breakup of his marriage could be blamed on his relationship with his former nanny and the pressures of leading daily nonstop revival meetings in Lakeland.
“I have the utmost respect for my team in Canada and we have had a lot of years together,” he said. “[But] I’m not in agreement with my board on this. The point is, [the former nanny] wasn’t the cause. And I don’t want to blame Lakeland. I want to blame a bad marriage.”
Bentley said he is willing to take 100 percent responsibility for his actions and that he readily admits he’s guilty of doing a lot of things wrong over the years. “In a lot of ways, the ministry has been my mistress,” he said. “That did destroy my marriage. That I have to take responsibility for.”
The FFM leaders said they had been on an “emotional rollercoaster” for several months before releasing the statement, seeking to persuade Bentley to abandon his relationship with the former nanny, return to his wife and children, and quickly embrace a process of counseling and accountability.
In the letter, the board thanked leaders of other ministries who have reportedly tried to help implement a process of restoration for Bentley. “But what we have come to realize is that ultimately, the buck stops with the FFM board of directors,” they said. “No one knows Todd better, or has more access to all the facts from both sides than we do.”
MorningStar Ministries’ founder Rick Joyner announced in October that he would be leading a team to help restore Bentley and would be assisted by Revival Alliance member Bill Johnson and Texas pastor Jack Deere, along with pastors John Arnott and Che Ahn serving as advisers.
Bentley said he is still involved at an emotional level with his former nanny and soon plans to move to Joyner’s headquarters in Fort Mill, S.C., to “fully embrace a healing and restoration process.”
Joyner confirmed that the process could begin as early as January. He did not confirm if abandoning his relationship with the nanny was a precondition Bentley would need to agree to before entering a healing process led by Joyner.
Joyner did express disappointment with FFM’s recent statement about Bentley and said he tried to persuade them not to send the letter in its current form.
“There is almost always another side to a story, as there is to many of the things they presented in this letter,” Joyner said. “Sometimes the truth is found somewhere between the two sides, but if we're going to ever get to real healing and reconciliation I don't think this kind of thing helps.”
The FFM board said they decided to send the letter to supporters after spending months of silence “in deference to [the] leaders” involved in trying to lead Bentley through a restoration process. “We struggled for a while with the question of how to satisfy two important obligations—that of honoring Todd, while believing for his restoration, and at the same time, our obligation to be completely honest and open with you.”
Although Bentley experienced a moral failing, the FFM leaders said the Lakeland Revival he led was an authentic move of God. “Through the weakness and failure of man, the enemy seeks to defame and discredit what God has done,” they said. “[But] Lakeland was and is an authentic move of God. God poured Himself out in Florida and through the Internet and television around the world.”
FFM is in the process of restructuring its ministries with assistance from Johnson’s church in Redding, Calif., and Joyner’s ministry in South Carolina.
Their letter also stated that Bentley has officially resigned and that the Abbottsford, B.C.-based FFM is searching for another leader. “We love Todd dearly, [and] it is our deep desire that our brother should be restored,” they said.
“Please let us make it clear, that although what Todd has done is inexcusable, it is not unforgiveable. We do not judge him unworthy of a second, third or even fourth chance.” —Paul Steven Ghiringhelli read more
Today there is growing hostility toward belief in a Creator.
Ken Ham says that when talk-show host Bill Maher traveled to the Creation Museum two years ago, the outspoken atheist used devious means to secure an interview.
Maher then used footage of his visit in his 2008 documentary Religulous-which mocks a variety of faiths and takes aim at Ham, founder of the Kentucky-based ministry Answers in Genesis.
The museum, located near Cincinnati, has attracted more than 600,000 people since it opened in 2007. And despite Maher's criticism, Religulous didn't stem the flow of visitors.
Religulous grossed $12 million its first month. But the film generated less attention among Christians than Expelled, the documentary by Ben Stein that questions the truth of evolution.
Yet Ham doesn't expect harassment of his $27 million museum to cease, especially with this year's anniversaries of Charles Darwin's birth and his book The Origin of Species.
There is growing hostility in our culture toward creationism. Secular humanists fought Ham's attempts to acquire property several years ago, and many universities host lectures on how to oppose creationist groups.
"That's the sort of thing we see happening with education groups and museums," Ham said. "As far as the media is concerned, the worst ... is the BBC and the British press. They have a real agenda to mock Christians and denigrate those who believe as we do."
Other creationist organizations have faced legal battles. Two examples:
¥ The Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research is appealing a 2008 decision by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to deny its application to grant masters of science degrees in the state. A lawsuit is possible if the appeal fails.
¥ In December of 2007, professor Nathaniel Abraham filed a federal lawsuit against the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, saying he was fired soon after telling a superior he didn't accept evolution as scientific fact. Though a court dismissed the suit, an appeal is pending.
Still, not all Christians agree with the young-earth views that Ham espouses. One example is British professor Denis Alexander, whose book Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? released in the U.S. in January.
The director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund's College in Cambridge, Alexander says creationists hold less sway in England. There, he says, many Christians accept evolution as an explanation of God's creative process.
Although Alexander believes God created the world, the professor argues that early church fathers believed Genesis was written in metaphorical language rather than literal. For example, he points out the word "day" is used in three different contexts in Genesis 1-3.
"I think Genesis 1 is saying that God has carried out creation in an orderly way, and a way that is always good in bringing order out of disorder," Alexander says.
Ham doesn't agree, insisting the Bible is the starting point for explaining the earth's origins. "As soon as you believe in an old earth, you didn't get it from the Bible," Ham says. "An old earth comes from man's interpretation of the evidence."
—KEN WALKER read more
Sanford, Fla., pastors stood united on Friday morning in front of Holy Cross Episcopal Church to declare unity among local clergy.
More than 20 pastors crossed ethnic and denominational lines in a pledge to work side-by-side to bring healing and reconciliation to the community in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.
“We call not on our city but on our state and our nation to work toward reconciliation,” said Rory Harris, pastor of Holy Cross Episcopal Church. “There are certain things we need to deal with. There is work to be done. We have to get past this and move forward.” read more
Digital magazines are gaining momentum in the iPad age. Now, Charisma Media is delivering news, information and inspiration to Spirit-filled believers through the Charisma Media iPad app.
The Charisma Media iPad app is the fruit of nearly two years of research, development and approval processes with Apple. With the launch of the new app, Charisma Media’s vision for reaching the nations for Christ through advanced technology charges ahead on yet another platform. Readers can download the iPad app free and subscribe to Charisma Digital to read Charisma anywhere they go.
"When I launched Charisma magazine 30 years ago, I never dreamed I'd one day read it on a large-screen mobile device like the iPad," says Steve Strang, founder and CEO of Charisma Media. "We've always been at the forefront of Christian movements with our editorial perspective. With Charisma Digital, we're on the cutting-edge of Christian media delivery as more consumers read their news on portable devices."
For readers, this new digital platform offers an opportunity to experience Charisma magazine on a whole new level. Readers can navigate through interactive pages loaded with rich media and experience the convenience of Charisma on the world’s most popular tablet device. A new report from the The Magazine Publisher’s Association (MPA) reveals that tablet owners are reading more thanks to the rise of digital magazines. In fact, 66 percent of people who read magazines on tablet devices and e-readers expect to spend more time with digital issues in 2012—and 90 percent say they are reading as much, if not more, magazine content since buying a tablet.
“Interactive digital magazines like Charisma Digital are ideal for tablets and e-reader devices—devices on which the next generation of charismatic Christians are consuming media,” says Marcus Yoars, editor of Charisma magazine. "With Charisma Digital, you can tap into Spirit-filled news, inspiring features and teaching articles that help equip you to make a difference in your world."
For advertisers, Charisma Digital presents a new opportunity to reach a growing market of savvy consumers. The MPA survey reveals that 59 percent of consumers want to buy directly from advertisements and 79 percent say they want the ability to purchase products and services directly from editorial features. Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed say they typically engage with digital magazine ads.
“Digital magazines are taking the medium to the next level,” says Christopher Kevorkian, executive vice president of Digital at the MPA. “While various research has long proved that print magazines drive purchase behavior, digital magazines hold the promise of creating a direct link between purchase intent and actual transaction. The study proves that consumers look to magazine media to create that opportunity.”
How to get Charisma on your iPad:
1. Subscribe to Charisma Digital online at www.charismadigital.com and create your username and password for full access to Charisma Digital.*
2. Open the iPad Newsstand store.
3. Search for "Charisma" or "Charisma Media."
4. Download the free Charisma Media app (Internet connection and iTunes account required).
5. Sign in with your Charisma Digital username/password and download individual issues, with more added every two weeks.
Click here to get started.
*By subscribing through iTunes, users currently can’t access all issues of Charisma Digital. (This will be fixed shortly.) read more
Living Hope needed ‘faith and a fight’ to hold on to its former Kmart campus
Despite high-profile ministry bankruptcies in the past year, Living Hope Church is proving God is still faithful by raising more than $1 million in just 40 days to maintain possession of its Vancouver, Wash., campus, a former Kmart retail store.
Of course, no one said the miracle came without faith and a fight.
Not only did the 6,000-member church have its challenges, senior pastor John Bishop personally felt the impact of principalities and powers that opposed his gospel mission. Bishop suffered health problems even as his son battled with drugs. read more
Crazy Love author wants to plant 586 churches—all in apartment buildings
San Francisco’s Tenderloin district houses 37,000 people in 586 apartment buildings—all in just one square mile. The multi-denominational ministry San Francisco City Impact (SFCI) dreams of planting churches in those apartment buildings—in every single one of them.
Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love and former pastor of Cornerstone Community Church, is working with the SFCI team on an initiative called Adopt a Building. Their mission: to “holistically heal and transform” the San Francisco community through urgent-relief works and preventive works. read more
Counterculture farm’s organic community a rich soil for God’s love
Three couples. One vision. And a 40-acre farm. That’s the genesis of Nomad’s Land, a cooperative community that aims to give road-weary travelers a place to rest and find fellowship with like-minded believers—and offer a new beginning to hippies, gutter punks, train hoppers and societal outcasts.
Joshua Hanson and his wife, Shallyn, along with Beau and Ashley Armistead, founders of Lone Sheep Ministries, and evangelists Al and Tina Nord, purchased the Alabama farm to fulfill a common vision: bringing together nomadic ministers and counterculture youth for an organic experience sprinkled with the love of God. read more
Evangelist endures “toughest year of my life” but says Jesus has healed him
The evangelist perhaps best known for the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Fla., Steve Hill battled melanoma for more than three years—and refused to give up despite what sounded like death knocking at his door. Now he’s preparing to run back to the battle line with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Steve Hill Ministries’ staff in June called for 48 hours of focused prayer and fasting on behalf of the evangelist who founded Heartland Church in Las Colinas, Texas, after the battle for his life intensified. What the staff didn’t tell the world at that time was that doctors had given him three days to live. read more
Holy Spirit sweeps over 14,000 conference attendees from 49 nations who gathered in Indonesia
Fourteen thousand people from 49 nations recently convened in the world’s most populous Muslim nation for a single purpose: to unite the Spirit-filled movement across Asia to focus resources on the harvest.
After the dust settled on the four-day Empowered21 Asia Congress, Spirit-filled Christian leaders spoke out about what they experienced in Jakarta, Indonesia, and what it means for the global church.
“I believe those who were present received the fire of revival and will bring that fire to the nations,” says Empowered21 Asia host Niko Njotorahardjo, senior pastor of Gereja Bethel Indonesia. “This fire of revival was initiated by prayer, praise and worship, and unity over the past four days.” read more
It’s not unusual for churches to rent school auditoriums for worship services. The Bronx Household of Faith just wants the same rights other community groups have to assemble in public schools during off hours. But school officials who preside over the New York borough are allegedly discriminating against the group because it would use the facility for religious services, the church claims.
The New York City Department of Education consistently rejected Bronx Household’s request to meet at a school building for weekend services until a federal district court in 2002 issued an injunction prohibiting the department from keeping churches out. Now the U.S. Supreme Court may decide the matter. It’s a case that could have far-reaching ramifications for churches across the nation that wish to hold meetings in public schools. read more
Should government regulate Sunday morning sermons about political candidates? Most Protestant pastors don’t think so. A survey shows they want the freedom to preach what the Bible says about candidates’ positions.
According to LifeWay Research, nearly nine out of 10 Protestant senior pastors believe government should not regulate sermons.
“The survey confirmed what pastors of nearly every persuasion have told us for years: They don’t want the IRS or any other governmental agency to censor what they say from their pulpits,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. read more
Religion is on the move in Europe, but it’s heading in the wrong direction for Christians.
On the one hand, the pilgrim industry is booming. The European Union, local governments and liberal churches are investing millions to modernize and market medieval pilgrim routes. Millions—including a growing number of nonbelievers and charismatic Christians—have set out on holy trails.
On the other hand, campaigns are mounting against Bible-believing Christians who hold on to Jesus as the only way. Europeans, even within the churches, perceive biblical persuasions and morals as fundamentalist and anti-democratic. In some cases biblical Christianity is already illegal.
For centuries European emperors and kings imposed their religion of choice upon subjects—and European governments still claim the right to control religion. Authorities increasingly intervene, judging which religious convictions are compatible with the ruling definition of European democracy—which is secular pluralism. read more
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