"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD. read more
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After seven seasons as host of Canada's “most listened to spiritual talk show,” Drew Marshall announced to his listeners that he is no longer convinced there's a God. ABC News recently reported that a Southern Baptist pastor has become a closet atheist, and an evangelical Bible Belt pastor said that he had been living a lie and confessed, "I live out my life as if there is no God."
The doubting talk show host said that he became a follower of Christ in 1981. But it wasn’t until recently that he verbalized that he wasn’t convinced that God existed, saying “I feel pretty close to walking away from my faith.” read more
A Micah Challenge paper being released today reveals a critical need for Christians to further engage with international advocacy efforts to tackle corruption as a key tool to eradicate poverty.
Open for Service: A Case for Good Governance, being launched on International Anti-Corruption Day, refers to evidence of corruption negatively impacting the poor in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. The paper urgently appeals for transparency in government, business and the global Christian church.
The document follows discussion between development practitioners, politicians, economists and academics reflecting the views of those living in extreme poverty and proposing solutions to corruption crimes, which could prevent governments achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Joel Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge said: “Corruption is a like a tower block on a runway. It accounts for over a trillion dollars going missing, and is a massive barricade to the well-being of the poorest people in the world. It’s difficult to define, complex in its treatment and entrenched in business and political systems. No wonder it has gone on underground for so long. Simply, corruption kills people.”
The Rt. Rev. Dr Benjamin Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos in Central Nigeria, spoke on corruption as a global problem at Africa’s Transformation conference this year: “Compared to corruption in the West, Africa is an apprentice.”
The call for good governance comes alongside firsthand evidence on the effects of corruption on poverty released by multiple international stakeholders earlier this year.
Research in the World Bank's Africa Development Indicators 2010 report highlights the severe effects of “quiet corruption” such as bribery, weak regulation and poor service delivery in the health, education and agriculture sectors of Africa. In one instance more than 50 percent of drugs sold in Nigerian drugstores in the 1990s were found to be counterfeit. The study also mentions that there are as many as 91 children per primary school teacher in the Central African Republic, compared with 22 children per teacher in Mauritius, due to absenteeism.
Case studies from Peru, Cambodia and Zambia in a Tearfund report called Corruption and Its Discontents similarly establishes that corruption and a culture of bribery form one of the biggest barriers to poverty eradication.
A female interviewee from Moyobamba, Peru, said: “I took my daughter-in-law to the hospital. She was really sick with appendicitis. She was initially taken to one hospital but then she was referred elsewhere because they needed to operate on her. When we arrived at the second hospital, the nurse who was supposed to be supervising her said to me: ‘It is the end of my day and I am very busy. I cannot see to her.’ I pleaded with her to take care of her, and to give her the injections that she needed. I had to take her a gift to persuade her to take proper care of her.”
Open for Service highlights the role that churches can play in advocating for good governance in overcoming poverty. Former Director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign Salil Shetty said in the foreword: “The people in the frontend of the evangelical churches know that if public resources are managed in a transparent and accountable manner, there is nothing stopping the world from achieving the MDGs by 2015.”
President of Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Emminent Person of the Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa Goodwill Shana said: “The document captures the central role that governance plays in the broad agenda of poverty reduction and eradication.”
This paper launch follows Micah’s 10.10.10 campaign where 60 million Christians in over 70 nations prayed for an end to extreme poverty. This global event formed part of a growing movement mobilizing the church to play a greater part in alleviating poverty. read more
By Rob Hoskins and Lamar Vest
The end of the year is fast approaching. It is a time of Christmas trees, Yule logs and year-end giving. But as millions of Americans prepare to get out their checkbooks, the decision of where to give has rarely been more difficult. In tough economic times, nonprofit organizations are vying for decreasing resources and facing an uphill battle in attracting the all-important year-end donor.
(Rob Hoskins pictured left; Lamar Vest pictured right.)
For decades, year-end giving has often been driven by the stirred passions of a donor’s heart. We give because we genuinely care. Our hearts are touched by images and stories of children in poverty. Families living in squalor. Individuals that have never heard the good news that God loves them. Driven by these heart tugs, Americans currently give more than $3 billion to charitable causes each year according to the Giving USA. read more
President Barack Obama sharply and unfairly criticized Israel while visiting Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. While visiting mosques and meeting Muslim leaders and giving speeches about building better relations with Muslims, the president gratuitously chose to criticize the Jewish state for daring to announce the building of some 1,300 new apartments in Jerusalem to deal with the city’s population growth. The president said such moves were an impediment to the peace process with the Palestinians.
“This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations,” said President Obama. “I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough. … Each of these incremental steps can end up breaking trust.”
Unhelpful? Breaking trust? You’ve got to be kidding me. Netanyahu imposed a 10-month moratorium on new building in Jerusalem and the West Bank as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians to encourage them to begin direct peace negotiations. Yet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas squandered nine of those months by refusing to enter such talks. Then Abbas engaged for a few weeks, but refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, refused to agree to the Palestinians having a demilitarized state, and now has broken off direct talks and refuses to re-engage with Netanyahu, even though Israel is offering to allow the creation of a Palestinian state.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, currently visiting the U.S., immediately responded to President Obama’s criticism: “Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.” He is absolutely correct. Israel has every right to build homes for Jews, Muslims and Christians in her capital. The “unhelpful” intransigence is on the Palestinian side. If Abbas wants a state, he should negotiate for one directly and in good faith, not wait for President Obama to force Israel to accept Abbas’ demands.
Moreover, the critical question facing the U.S., Israel and the world right now should not be stopping the building of apartments in Jerusalem but stopping the building of nuclear weapons in Iran. Yet the Obama administration is not taking decisive action to stop Iran from getting the bomb, and refuses to put a credible military threat against Iran on the table.
Contrast President Obama’s deeply unfriendy approach toward Israel with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s consistently courageous pro-Israel approach.
- Harper was the first world leader to order his U.N. delegation to walk out of a speech at the U.N. General Assembly by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad several years ago.
- Harper was the first world leader to announce Canada would not be sending a delegation to the U.N.’s Durban II conference, which was supposed to be about opposing racism but turned into a vicious anti-Israel forum whose keynote speaker was Ahmadinejad, a man who has denied the Holocaust and has repeatedly called for the “annihilation” of the Jewish State.
- When the Gaza flotilla crisis unfolded, Harper stood strongly with Israel’s right to defend herself from terrorist and left-wing activist attacks, whereas the White House equivocated.
- In contrast to President Obama, Prime Minister Harper has built a warm and increasingly close professional relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
- Harper has strongly urged the world to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program before it is too late.
- Harper has been so pro-Israel that Canada recently lost a bid to be on the U.N. Security Council because anti-Israel countries coalesced against Canada and prevented her from attaining such a globally influential position.
This week, Prime Minister Harper delivered a major address saying he and the people of Canada will continue to stand with Israel and defend the Jewish people no matter what the cost.
“As long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the U.N. or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost,” Harper told a conference on anti-Semitism. ”Not just because it is the right thing to do but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.”
“We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is,” Harper said. According to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Harper noted that Israel, like any country, may be subjected to fair criticism, he said. But Harper said Canada must oppose what he called the “three Ds—demonization, double standards and delegitimization.”
“And like any free country Israel subjects itself to such criticism, healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.”
Please lift Harper and his family, advisers and his country up to the Lord. Please ask the Lord to bless them, to continue giving them courage and boldness. Please ask the Lord, as well, what we as evangelical Christians can do to properly thank and bless the Prime Minister for the courage of his convictions. read more
Lawmakers--both old and new--just got their next assignment: repeal ObamaCare, says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Representing the Washington-based constitutional law firm, which focuses on preserving religious liberties, he says voters sent a powerful message to the Obama administration on Nov. 2. The results of the midterm elections, he says, indicate Americans have rejected the president's agenda and signaled a need to repeal the health care law. Sekulow outlines his thoughts below.
"The outcome of this election underscores the fact that most Americans don't believe this country is on the right track and want a change from President Obama's failed policies of the past two years. In addition to jobs and taxes, voters sent a powerful message about ObamaCare, the government-run, pro-abortion health care law forced on the American people.
"This election was fueled by voters who were concerned less about party labels and more about troubled policies. Most Americans have said they want ObamaCare repealed. And, now with a sweeping change in Congress, it's time to do just that. The fact is with the outcome of this election--along with growing opposition to ObamaCare--this is the perfect time to act legislatively and repeal the health care law.
"We have started a nationwide petition campaign to demand that the new Congress repeal ObamaCare. We expect to hear from thousands of constitutional conservatives and others who certainly want health care reform--but believe that ObamaCare is not the reform that America needs or deserves."
In addition to legislative efforts, the ACLJ has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of five taxpayers challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law.
In support of other legal challenges to ObamaCare, the ACLJ has filed an amicus brief in Virginia's legal challenge of the health care law, representing 28 members of Congress and more than 70,000 Americans. The ACLJ will soon file an amicus brief supporting Florida's legal challenge.Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. read more
Here's a Christian response to the Millennium Development Goals.
In 2000, global leaders met for a United Nations summit and agreed to "spare no effort" to rid the world of the scourge of extreme poverty, which has kept more than 1 billion people in degrading and inhuman circumstances.
Ten years later, 190 world leaders returned to the U.N. building in New York to assess our progress on those promises to the world's poor, and it was hard to escape a sense of significance, but outright expectations were muted by the "outcomes" document that had already been agreed upon by governments before they even met.
By common agreement it was little more than diplomatic speech for, "We're doing OK, but we still have a long way to go." read more
You cannot fail if you never quit. What looks like failure today is merely a stepping-stone into your future. The lessons learned through the difficult places along the path will cause you to accelerate into a new level.
Don't allow the frustrations, losses and uncertainty of today cause you to miss your tomorrow. Declare that quitting is not an option. Declare that failure is not an option. Declare that your only option is winning and that today you are stepping into your future. read more
In this season of seeing and gaining new vision, the eyes of the church must be cleansed and focused. We cannot "see" through the traditions of our past or the fears of our future. We must restore a true vision of the one who liberated us to represent Him in sharing the Good News of the kingdom and take dominion in our generation. This rearrangement of vision is causing leaders for a new generation to see beyond the world's filters. These conforming screens have caused us to lose the same boldness and transformational change that Jesus of Nazareth displayed. He represented the Father and resisted the opposition of a supernatural foe that longs to mold us into an image denying the power of the King of all Kings.
A new governmental order will arise. The key to the civil government war will be the restored government of God regaining power to legislate the heavens. Binding and loosing, forbidding and permitting will be transferred to the hands of the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists of the future. The government of God will lose the political spirit of Judas, align itself with heaven and represent the order of God. This means that these gifts-leaders in the church must be restored from territory to territory and nation to nation. The voice of God in His leaders must be restored and heard, just as Moses represented the Lord before Pharaoh, and as Jesus represented His Father before the Sanhedrin. We must do likewise! read more
Worldwide, more than 5 million Christian missionaries are connecting with people to share Christ's love with their neighbors. Of these, according to Todd M. Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, roughly 30,000 are in the parts of the world where little is known about Christ. Each day these people put their lives on the line to share the gospel with those who may otherwise never know Him.
Evangelism is built on relationships, which take years to establish. With the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, sometimes it's hard to imagine that in some parts of the globe people are beaten, jailed and killed for their faith. The danger of Christians taking an extreme approach to other belief systems is that it could bring about a tsunami of disaster for the missionaries and other humanitarian groups around the world. read more
The greatest mosaic of all is the kingdom of God. Diversity and multiethnicity exist not as an attempt to incorporate politically correct ideas into the church but as a manifestation of God's love toward all His children. Pentecost was a multiethnic, multilingual experience. American Christianity is not. That's about to change.
For too long the church in America has embraced defacto segregation whereby we define the church not only by its denominational affiliation but even more so by its racial and ethnic composition. This emerging generation is privy to a powerful truth: Only a multiethnic kingdom culture can repudiate the spirits of Herod, Absalom, Jezebel, and Sodom and Gomorrah.Racial diversity may very well save American Christianity. Historically, white evangelical believers focused on righteousness or vertical issues such as abortion and marriage while ethnic believers channeled resources into the horizontal issues of justice, poverty and equality. Next Generation believers will converge at the nexus of the gospel message-where John 3:16 meets Matthew 25; where righteousness marries justice while moral relativism, cultural decay and spiritual apathy simultaneously acquiesce before a robe of many colors.
In other words, American evangelicalism will be less segregated, more integrated and more committed to authentic community outreach. Be advised, our young people have no interest in sitting in the pews of a church that is entirely white, black or Hispanic. They desire diversity, not in the context of political correctness, but in the Spirit of Pentecost.
I believe the church will experience five radical shifts by the year 2020. First, there will be a renewed emphasis on integrity, purity and example—the three pillars of Paul’s model. Results will no longer substitute for character, and gifts will no longer replace anointing. Secondly, I believe that discipleship will be more prominent than events or attendance. A new generation of American believers will be on the scene emphasizing radical prayer, radical evangelism and radical discipleship. Thirdly, there will be a new missions movement sweeping our nation. Churches that have lost their world vision will be planting thousands of churches at home and abroad. Fourthly, along with harvest will come hostility. The darkened minds of people will see the church as their enemy and focus on eliminating us as their primary threat to their new morality and Christ-less religion. Finally, the power of God will return to the American church. The need for deliverance and healing will spark a hunger for the gifts of the Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit and the testimony of signs and wonders.
Larry StockstiII is senior pastor at Bethany World Prayer Center.
The last few weeks have provided a fascinating insight into U.S.-Israel relations and how the leaders of both countries see the Iran nuclear threat. Monday’s Oval Office meeting was important, but it needs to be put in context with recent statements by CIA Director Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Let me explain.
- If this was the first meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, it would have been great. The President was warm and friendly. He reaffirmed the “special relationship” and “unbreakable bond” between the U.S. and Israel. He said he trusted the Prime Minister and appreciated the steps Mr. Netanyahu is taking towards peace and security. Netanyahu publicly invited Obama to come to Israel and meet there, and Obama smiled and said, “I’m ready.” read more
With the advent of the Internet, advanced telecommunications and satellite uplinks, technology has changed how we communicate. Most of us never would have imagined these developments would also impact how we worship. However, in recent decades, the church has entered a new era: technology.
Traditionally the church brought the people to the message; now the challenge is taking the message to the people, regardless of geographic location or status. Today technology enables the church to reach multitudes worldwide through various modes: movies, television, podcasts, satellite, streaming and social Web sites such as Facebook.
The church is using these advancements to bridge the generational gap. Although baby boomers are accustomed to human interaction, this new generation isn’t. Progressive churches must use both the personal and the technical contact of the times. This generation will sit at the dinner table and text one another, even though they’re sitting nearby. Because churches are beginning to utilize technology, they are now able to effectively reach younger and older generations globally.
For the church to continue reaching people, we must be willing to change with the times. The Bible says for us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but who would have thought that the assembling could one day include a chat room called the sanctuary?
Bishop T. D. Jakes is pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas. read more
It is a decision that is both disappointing and troubling. By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court dealt a damaging blow to First Amendment law for religious organizations in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.
The Supreme Court was presented with the following question: "May a public law school condition its official recognition of a student group-and the attendant use of school funds and facilities-on the organization's agreement to open eligibility for membership and leadership to all students?" read more
Christianity has always had its controversies and robust debates. The charismatic movement alone has been riddled with arguments over flamboyant ministers, the so-called prosperity gospel and modern-day apostles and prophets.
The same types of debates also have rattled atheism. The most recent major controversy was the defection of the late Anthony Flew—once called the most famous atheist in the world—who in 2004 said evidence and science led him to conclude there was a God. read more
Everyone needs encouragement. Encouragement helps you reach goals that you thought were impossible. Discouragement will cause you to operate at a lower level than your optimum potential and it will limit your vision.
I read the story of a man who was told by a teacher that he was not very smart. He needed to quit school and learn a trade. He followed the advice of the teacher and became an itinerant worker for 17 years. When he was in his 30s he took an IQ test and discovered that he was a genius. He later became the chairman of the Mensa Society, which requires an IQ of 140 for membership. For so many years of his life, this man operated far beneath his potential. Why? Because someone discouraged him. How different could this man's life have been if he had received encouragement.
Things are tough for many people right now. Give someone a word of encouragement. Give that person a word of hope. Meet their need for encouragement and watch that person achieve a great goal in their life. read more
In 2020 the church will have to rebuild families in an unprecedented manner. We will have to specialize in deeper mentoring, inner healing and deliverance ministries for men who have been captured by the allure of pornography, promiscuity and, in some cases, prostitution. The open struggles of Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Larry Craig and others show us the emerging need of this for the future generation of men.
Just as natural technologies evolve every few years, so our spiritual technologies for ministry must evolve to keep pace with cultural challenges. We must place greater emphasis on Christian courtship and youth discipleship. In 2020 I believe the average age for Christian marriages will actually decline.
Parents, pastors and young people must better understand the wholesome expression of sexuality in the context of marriage. In a nutshell, the church will rebuild broken men and women while launching younger, stronger couples to create a new culture of marriage within the church. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, but the things of the kingdom will endure forever (see Heb. 12:27).
Harry Jackson is senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD.