SUNDAY EDITION (9): "News for Christians" WEEK-IN-REVIEW May 6, 2012 Iyyar 14, 5772
'Supermoon,' Meteor Shower and Solar Eclipse To Grace May Skies The month of May looks to be a promising one for skywatchers around the world, with the largest full moon of the year — a so-called "supermoon" — kicking things off this weekend. But the moon is just one of several tantalizing sky events this month, which include a meteor shower from Halley's comet and the first solar eclipse of the year. The skywatching action starts with a celestial double-feature. On Saturday and Sunday (May 5- 6) a "supermoon" of 2012 and the Eta Aquarid meteor shower will both hit their peak. While the bright full moon could interfere with the Eta Aquarid meteor display, some of the shower's brightest fireballs should still be visible late Saturday and early Sunday, NASA scientists say. Then, on May 20, the moon will pass in front of the sun but not completely block it, creating what scientists call an annular solar eclipse. Parts of the eclipse will be visible from much of North America, though the western U.S. states are in prime position for the best viewing experiences, according to SPACE.com skywatching columnist Geoff Gaherty. MORE
Jared C. Wilson: 6 Steps to Turning Sermon Transcripts into Books ...Over the last 6-7 years, I have worked on numerous book projects for pastors, some you’re familiar with and some you aren’t. I’m not new to the work. I have worked on bad books and good books — which is to say, I’ve worked with bad sermons and good sermons. So the level of work it takes sometimes to turn a sermon transcript (the word-for-word script of what a preacher said from the pulpit) into a book chapter (a polished work of composition suitable for submission to a publisher) changes from project to project, but the process itself is fairly standard. Here’s sort of how it breaks down. MORE
Biblical Preaching: 15 Ways to Improve Clarity In Your Preaching This week I’ve been writing about the doctrine of Biblical clarity – the fact that the Bible may be understood. This is a cause for great rejoicing. Imagine for a moment that the Bible was absolutely impregnable. Anyway, one of the points I made the other day was that preachers are representing a God who made His book understandable, so we should model a passion for clarity in our communication. Let’s have a rapid-fire list of factors that influence our clarity in preaching. I’ll start, you finish... MORE
Weekend, May 5th & 6th, 2012
NEWS ITEMS OF INTEREST TO CHRISTIANS
Rare Find: Archaeologists Uncover First Temple Seal Archaeologists in Jerusalem's Old City have uncovered a rare find dating all the way back to the time of the First Jewish Temple. "We found under the base of the Second Temple period tunnel a part of house, part of building from the First Temple period," Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority told CBN News.
Anti-Bullying Speaker Attacks Bible, Christian Teens As many as 100 high school students walked out of a national journalism conference after Dan Savage, a homosexual activist and anti-bullying speaker began cursing, attacked the Bible, and used a homosexual slur to refer to those who refused to listen to his message.
Is This Evangelical Coach Out of Bounds? ...In late March the Omaha City Council held a public hearing concerning an amendment to their anti-discrimination ordinance to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The law already provides protection from discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, and disability. Brown attended the hearing and voiced his opposition to the amendment.
Canadian Student Suspended for Wearing Jesus T-Shirt A teenage Canadian student was suspended for wearing a yellow t-shirt to school that reads "Life is Wasted Without Jesus." William Swinimer, a 19-year-old Nova Scotia resident, was given multiple in-school suspensions for wearing the shirt. Finally, he was also handed a five day out of school suspension, which ends Monday.
Music Industry's 'Demonic' Edge Creeping into Gospel? Along with gold records and number one songs, the secular music world can be synonymous with addiction. R&B superstar Chaka Khan even called the industry "demonic" following the tragic death of her friend and fellow music icon, Whitney Houston.
Evangelical Pastor Ken Hutcherson: 'I am the Gayest Man I Know' ....But the thing is Hutcherson is not a homosexual, nor does the happily married man have a same-sex attraction of any kind. He is, however, on a mission to take back words, phrases and symbols he believes groups, such as homosexual activists and other liberal organizations, have "hijacked" from the American lexicon.
'We are Preparing for Massive Civil War,' Says DHS Informant In a riveting interview on TruNews Radio, Wednesday, private investigator Doug Hagmann said high-level, reliable sources told him the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing for “massive civil war” in America. “Folks, we’re getting ready for one massive economic collapse,” Hagmann told TruNews host Rick Wiles.
The Surprising Threat from Mexico's Awakened Volcano North America's second-tallest volcano recently rumbled to life, putting authorities on edge. Big eruptions of Mexico's massive Popocatepetl volcano are "few and far between," as one geologist says. Yet even without any dramatic fireworks, 17,800-foot (5,425-meter) "Popo" has the power to wreak havoc.
Christianity in the Holy Land A Palestinian pastor is currently in the U.S. to raise money for a building in east Jerusalem, and he's telling about the plight of Christians in the Holy Land.
Canada To Establish International Religious Freedom Office ....A few years later, El Shafie became one of the key people pushing the Canadian government to launch an international religious freedom office. Now Canada’s Conservative government is working on creating such an office in its Foreign Affairs Department for the first time—the hope is to officially open the office in the next few months....
Campus Ministry Stays Despite Vanderbilt Policy Reformed University Fellowship has decided not to give up its official status at Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt recently implemented a controversial policy that forces campus organizations to consider any and all students for leadership regardless of their beliefs.
Eric Metaxas: New York and Christianity ...Now, if all you have to go on are television and movies, then I can see why you might think that New York is particularly hostile to Christians and Christianity. The reality is different.
Am Thinker: What Dan Savage Doesn't Know about the Bible and Slavery During an April 13 keynote speech delivered to thousands of people attending a high school journalism conference in Seattle, "anti-bullying advocate" Dan Savage launched an expletive-filled tirade against Bible, stating that people should "learn to ignore the bulls--t in the Bible" about homosexuality because...the "Bible is a radically pro-slavery document" and....
Am Spectator: The New Face of Terrorism There is something very disconcerting about the faces of the five young men arrested in Cleveland last week for planning to blow up a bridge on a federal highway....If this is the new face of terrorism, we're in big trouble. And it seems very likely.
Am Thinker: Global Warming Melts Away Wondering where things stand on global warming? Let's go to the science of it. And by "science" I mean physical observations. Nothing complicated. What do thermometers say? What's happening with polar ice caps? And carbon dioxide?
Am Spectator: Allen West and His Critics Congressman Allen West is being hammered for his comments alleging that certain Democratic members of Congress are communists. It's the kind of accusation (West is not backing down) that sets liberals seething in rage.
Zack Eswine: Why Alcohol But Not Sex? Parents, Confusion and Culture ABC Family offers an evening television show that my family enjoys entitled, Switched at Birth. A recent episode focused on prom night for teenagers. Parents remove alcohol from the party but actively provide a hotel suite and condoms for their teens (hoping they won’t be used). Drinking alcohol is forbidden. Sex is provided for. Good parents find our cultural moment confusing. Why?
Am Spectator: Cheap Savage, Dear Prudence Americans used to ask advice from bluestockings named Prudence. Now we seek guidance from an unbalanced guy named Savage. Only a barbarian would miss the symbolism.
MINISTRY & SCRIPTURE RELATED ARTICLES AND ESSAYS
Pray for Revival—in the Other Guy’s Church What if you spent years faithfully and earnestly praying for revival to come to your community, and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, God dramatically answered your prayers? All across your city, every day people begin crowding into the church to hear the gospel from God’s Word. MORE
Sharper Iron: Believers Before the Bench Should a believer take another believer to court? Should a believer initiate a lawsuit against another believer to regain that which his brother owes him? These are relevant questions in today’s world. In 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, Paul answers that a believer should not take...
Challies: Prayer Is Hard Work Instinctive as is our dependence upon God, no duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him. The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer.
Sharper Iron: On the Subtle Sin of Jealousy I have always thought of jealous adults as childish. But as I thought more and more about matters, I came to realize that many of the sins we see so clearly in childhood carry over into adulthood. We simply learn to hide them better. For many of us, the weaknesses and....
Kevin DeYoung: Jesus Is What the Old Testament Promised Him to Be ...Ben Falconer, our excellent associate pastor, preached a sermon called “Immanuel” on Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and promise. He concluded the sermon with a worshipful list of all that Jesus is....
Daniel Darling: God’s Favor Versus God’s Love ...However, if there is one concern I have with the movement, I might say that there is a danger of a pendulum swing. As a reactive measure against the idea that you must work really hard to earn God’s love (a frustrating and often false gospel), it seems we are saying that obedience has no connection to your day-to-day walk with God.
Mike Riccardi: Acknowledging Sin’s Role in Suffering ...the need for Christians to learn how to suffer well—how to suffer righteously.It is necessary it is to be equipped with a theology of suffering while not yet in the midst of a particular trial. The fact of the matter is, the heat of an intensely trying time often clouds our vision and our judgment, so that we fail to act the way we know we should. We respond to suffering sinfully because we have not prepared to suffer righteously beforehand, when our vision is clear.
Jesse Johnson: Why I’m Happy to NOT be a Senior Pastor ...Before I came to Immanuel Bible Church, I had always simply imagined myself stepping into the role of a “Senior Pastor,” but had never given the nuances of the title much thought. My goal was simply to shepherd the flock of God through loving and preaching, and I had simply taken for granted that the best way to do that was through being a Senior Pastor.
Jeremy Pace: The Dangers of Fundamentalism in Leadership ...When fundamentalism becomes the lens by which church leaders lead, two primary dangers await they and their people: a loss of love and a distraction from the mission of God.
Joe Wooddell: Some Benefits of Christianity Christianity has many benefits for the believer, some of which I shall mention here. First, of course, is peace with God (Rom. 5:1). It’s nice not to be an enemy of the most powerful being who has ever existed. Because of this friendship with God believers have assurance....
Ron Edmondson: 10 Symptoms of the Unaware Leader A couple years ago there was a consistent problem in one of our areas of ministry. It was something which I would have quickly addressed, but no one brought it to my attention. Thankfully, I’ve learned the hard way that what I don’t know can often hurt my leadership...
Michael Horton: Has the Gospel-Centered Emphasis Gone Too Far? ...Over these two decades, we’ve been through a series of controversies within evangelicalism about the character of God and his gospel: open theism, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and the “emergent” movement, to name a few.
RELATIONSHIP, MARRIAGE & FAMILY
Kevin DeYoung: Ten Years Married, Ten Lessons Learned ....Since our tenth anniversary was just a few months ago, I’d thought I share ten things I’ve learned about marriage. Guys, feel free to take notes. Honey, I know I still have more to learn.
Friday, May 4th, 2012
NEWS ITEMS OF INTEREST TO CHRISTIANS
China Activist Appeals to Obama Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng appealed to Obama to help get him and his family out of China, saying he feared for his life just hours after leaving the US embassy in Beijing.
National Day of Prayer Participants Call for Wisdom and Unity The 61st annual National Day of Prayer saw participants focus on emphasizing their belief that the United States of America is a nation founded under God, and pray that President Barack Obama and other political leaders would use wisdom in their roles.
Eurozone Crisis: Joblessness Hits Record High Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro has reached a record high,reflecting the strength of the eurozone's spreading recession. Official figures show joblessness across the single currency bloc rose by 169,000 in March, taking the rate up to 10.9 % - its highest level since the euro was launched in 1999.
Muslims Bypass Mormons as Fastest-Growing Religion In Illinois Muslims have become the third-largest religious group in the state after Roman Catholics and independent evangelicals. Not to mention, the fastest-growing one. That's according to a census of American religious congregations unveiled Tuesday in Chicago.
Religion Census Shows Surprises A decennial census of U.S. religions in America was released Tuesday by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB). The results show a dramatic increase in the number of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, and Muslims, a modest increase in the number of evangelical Protestants, and a drop in the number of Catholics and mainline Protestants.
Ethics for Evangelicals The National Association of Evangelicals has commissioned a code of ethics for ministry leaders.
Faith Leader: Nigeria Christians' Restraint at an End A Christian leader in Nigeria is warning the government that it must stop the attacks by a radical Muslim group. The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ayo Oritsejafor, said that if the government won't put an end to the violence, Christian worshippers may take matters into their own hands.
Pro-'Gay' Disruption at UMC Conference Delegates to the United Methodist Church General Conference in Tampa had to deal with some demonstrations Thursday after defeating two moves to change church policy on homosexuality.
Bible-Basher on Cable TV An advocacy group for parents says an MTV host's recent tirade against Christians and the Bible is just the latest example of why consumers should be allowed the freedom to choose when it comes to purchasing cable TV.
Christian Post: Joel Osteen's Cotton Candy Gospel Joel Osteen doesn't like to ruffle feathers; he is known for his open-arms, positive-thinking, God-wants-to- bless-you approach to Christianity, which has earned him a loyal following of millions worldwide and the largest and fastest growing church in U.S. history. But ironically by striving to not exclude anyone and embracing all, Osteen has in fact alienated a segment of evangelical Christians who accuse him of watering down the Gospel or preaching a "cotton candy Gospel." MORE
Marvin Olasky: Spotlighting Christ ...Spotlighting Christ means more than a lack of selfishness, because it also means not making our chief end the winning of support on a favorite issue. For example, let's say you can show that same-sex marriage is not good for children and even for the partners themselves.
Chuck Missler: Rise of Muslim Brotherhood Received Warily The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has raised the trepidation level of many, including faithful adherents to the group itself. The Saudis are concerned that the political nature of the religious group will upset their own influence in Egypt.
Olivier Melnick: The Convergence of Israel's Enemies The source of anti-Semitism "Old" and "New" has never changed. The battle is not a historical, geographical or even a socio-political one, it is purely a SPIRITUAL battle to completely destroy the people that God chose to call The apple of My eye in in Zechariah 2:8.
Kevin Theriot: Dan Savage Speech Reveals Double Standard ...This is a perfect example of the anti-bullying campaign double standard. While homosexual activists contend that anti-bullying laws should protect people who practice homosexual behavior from hearing the negative opinions of others regarding that behavior, and shield....
Maggie Gallagher: Dan Savage and Carrie Prejean A few years ago, beauty queen Carrie Prejean innocently answered a question about gay marriage with a polite 'no.' She was viciously personally attacked by Miss USA pageant judge Perez Hilton, who posted a video of himself cursing at her.
MINISTRY & SCRIPTURE RELATED ARTICLES AND ESSAYS
Is 'the Culture' Really the Church's Problem? Author Ken Myers doesn't believe "the culture" is the biggest challenge facing the Church today. Rather, it's the culture in the church that's the problem as many believers live not fully transformed by the Gospel.
Bill Kynes: The One Thing Good Pastors Must Be Competent to Do ...I have concluded that when it comes right down to it, there is really only one thing I as a pastor have to offer my congregation---and only one thing that the church has to offer the world...I am a physician with but one medicine to prescribe, and that is the gospel of Christ.
Mark A. Howard: Youth Need the Church, and the Church Needs Youth ...But hope is an elusive target in the world. Many of their parents have put their hope in the economy, politics, and the military strength of America. Their children, however, see a failing economy, political unrest, and an ongoing terrorist threat. The future doesn't seem that rosy.
Paul Martin: Why We Need Youth Ministry ...Youth ministry is also at least partly responsible for the most biblically illiterate, unchurched generation of Americans. Fewer and fewer young adults return to the church after they leave home. Caught in that paradigm, very few of us would belabor the end of youth ministry.
Nathan Busenitz: Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Gift of Prophecy ....We no longer need direct revelations of truth; the truth is in the Bible. We must never separate the Spirit and the Word. The Spirit speaks to us through the Word; so we should always doubt and query any supposed revelation that is not entirely consistent with the Word.
Paul Tautges: A Wife’s Submission is Not… The Bible’s call to the wife to submit to her husband is one of the most misunderstood and confused areas of the Christian life. Therefore, sometimes, when defining what something is, it is helpful to consider what it is not.
Wyatt Graham: Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation ...Spiritual stagnation is a problem that will bombard everyone at one point or another. Depression, fears and anxiety gush out, because we feel “separated” from God, from grace. We feel alone, sinful, dirty and unloved—or perhaps unloving.
Ever heard of “compassion fatigue”? Neither had I…until very recently. But now that I know about it, I have definitely experienced it. Probably you have too, especially if you’re involved in ministry or caregiving. Compassion fatigue is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. Common among caregivers, it was first diagnosed in nurses in the 1950s. MORE
....Osteen is the latest embodiment of the American Religion —Revivalism. For centuries now, preachers have known how to fill stadiums or circus tents and send people home with hope in their heart and a skip in their step. Osteen promises you will leave a transformed person—at least until his tour comes around again next year, when you can be transformed again. Osteen’s message is a positive one for a difficult time. Every one of us has seeds of greatness inside, potential that has not yet been released, buried treasure waiting to be discovered. Before God created you, he planned great things for you....That’s a pretty positive message. What could be wrong with that? MORE
....Last week, my wife’s unbelieving uncle committed suicide. This was an uncle beloved by not just the family, but especially my wife and kids...The pastor leading the service first and foremost did not preach the gospel in any form or fashion. This was tragic on several levels, but the most obvious was the overwhelming majority of those attending the funeral were unbelievers and needed to hear the gospel. It did not end there. After the service as the family mingled and visited, the pastor proceeds to tell my wife and several of the family standing around that he thought this uncle was in heaven. Not only was this man an unbeliever, but everyone who knew him, knew he hated Christ to the day he died. MORE
...In the drive to make churches more guy-friendly, we risk confusing cultural (especially American) customs with biblical discipleship. One noted pastor has said that God gave Christianity a "masculine feel." Another contrasted "latte-sipping Cabriolet drivers" with "real men." Jesus and his buddies were "dudes: heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch- you-in-the-nose dudes." Real Christian men like Jesus and Paul "are aggressive, assertive, and nonverbal." Seriously? The back story on all of this is the rise of the "masculine Christianity movement" in Victorian England...D. L. Moody popularized the movement in the United States and baseball-player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday preached it as he pretended to hit a home run against the devil. For those of us raised on testimonies from recently converted football players in youth group, Tim Tebow is hardly a new phenomenon. MORE
It’s no surprise that major news networks, casting about for an expert on Christianity, would ring up Joel Osteen, senior pastor of the nation’s largest megachurch. The title “senior pastor” rests a little awkwardly on someone whose shiny, eager demeanor recalls a perpetual 20-something, but when duty calls Osteen can turn down the smile and look thought- ful. Last week’s duty was to appear on Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room on CNN and answer Blitzer’s questions relating to Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president, including one asking Pastor Osteen how he would respond to a congregant who wants to vote for Romney but isn’t sure he’s a Christian. MORE
....I agree with Stanley about Grace and Truth, but I disagree with Stanley about the example he used to make his point because the conclusion seems to approve of sin. Also stated earlier, approving of sin deludes people into thinking themselves saved when they are actually damned. I focus on a different part of the example from what Albert Mohler focuses. Allowing sinners to attend church and participate in church can be a very good thing because it can exhibit Grace. Approving of sin goes against the Truth. MORE
The Obama campaign apparently didn't look backwards into history when selecting its new campaign slogan, "Forward" — a word with a long and rich association with European Marxism. Many Communist and radical publications and entities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries had the name "Forward!" or its foreign cognates. Wikipedia has an entire section called "Forward (generic name of socialist publications)." "The name Forward carries a special meaning in socialist political terminology. MORE
Larry Elder: If Mormonism Is Fair Game, So Is Jeremiah Wright....By making Romney’s Mormonism an issue, the Obama campaign has, as trial lawyers like to say, “reopened” the issue of religion. The Romney campaign can therefore revisit the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s close relationship to him. True, Obama apparently severed ties to Wright, but Obama did so only after the very salvation of his first presidential campaign depended upon it. Wright, Obama’s pastor for some 20 years, was described by Obama as his “spiritual advisor.” Wright married the Obamas, baptized their children and blessed their home. MORE
One in Seven Think World Will End SoonGlobally, about 15 percent of people believe the world will end during their lifetime, according to a new Reuters survey. The Mayan calendar sets 2012 as the year of the apocalypse. About 10 percent of people worldwide believe that calculation to be true. "Whether they think it will come to an end through the hands of God or a natural disaster or a political event, whatever the reason, 1 in 7 thinks the end of the world is coming," explained Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Public Affairs, the group that conducted the poll for Reuters. About 1 in 10 respondents also said they were experiencing fear or anxiety about the possibility of the world ending in 2012. MORE
David Cloud: What's Wrong With Most Soul Winning Courses?Since attending Bible School in the 1970s, I have gone through several evangelistic courses and found them to contain many helpful things. Yet something is wrong with the standard technique, because all too often they produce a host of empty professions, and hopefully we know that an empty profession of faith that doesn’t change the life is not biblical salvation. I read about a pastor who reported 4,000 professions in five years of ministry, but the church only grew from 98 to 100. MORE
Churches May Be Forced to Rent Their Facilities to Gay CouplesThe city of Hutchinson, Kan., is mulling over a proposed law that would force some churches in the community, regardless of their religious convictions, to rent their church halls to gay couples for events. The proposal came about after the Kansas Equality Coalition encouraged the Hutchinson City Council to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the city's human relations code. The law would make it illegal for churches that rent their facilities to the public to prevent anyone from renting their facility based on sexual orientation or gender identity. MORE