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Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Hang for Refusing to Convert to Islam Gives Birth

By Heather Clark KHARTOUM, Sudan – A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death by hanging for refusing to convert to Islam has given birth in prison, reports state. As previously reported, Meriam Ibrahim, 27, was officially sentenced on May 15th after she was convicted of apostasy against Islam for professing to be an Orthodox Christian. Ibrahim was born to a Muslim father, but was raised by an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother as the father left the home when Ibrahim was a child. In Sudan, children are expected to follow the religion of their fathers, and her father’s family had reportedly turned her into authorities for rejecting Islam. Ibrahim was also sentenced to 100 lashes for allegedly committing “zena”—that is, having illegitimate sex by marrying a non-Muslim. The expectant mother married a professing Christian man, Daniel Wani, in 2011, and the two have an 18-month old son together, along with the child in Ibrahim’s womb. Sudanese law prohibits women from marrying non-Muslims, although men can marry whomever they wish without penalty. Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy on May 11th for rejecting Islam and was given four days to recant, which would have saved her life. Unlike others who have faced similar sentences in Sudan, …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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School District Apologizes for Imposing Homosexual Propaganda Film on Students

By Jason Storms JANESVILLE, Wis. – A school district in southern Wisconsin has publicly apologized for a highly controversial film promoted to students that endorses same-sex marriage while disparaging those who disagree. Last month, students at Craig High School were shown the short video Kids React to Gay Marriage. Controversial statements in the film include calling those who do not approve of same-sex marriage “outrageous” and “insane.” The video was selected by the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance and approved by both the club’s advisers and Craig High Principal Dr. Alison Bjoin to be shown as part of the Day of Silence observance on April 11. The Day of Silence is an effort to call attention to harassment and discrimination supposedly faced by LGBT high school students. Several families with children at the school felt that the video didn’t have anything to do with bullying and brought the matter to the attention of the public. “I felt it was very misleading and I felt it was propaganda,” said Jo Yungerman, the grandmother of a Craig High freshman. Tom Yungerman said that his son left the room when the video began playing. “He was basically horrified by it,” Youngerman stated, who said he teaches his sons about biblical marriage. “What’s disappointing to me …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Un-’United Methodist Church’ Faces Split Over Embracing of Homosexuality

By RNS A group of 80 pastors is suggesting that the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination is facing an imminent split over its inability to resolve long-standing theological disputes about sexuality and church doctrine. But more than lamenting the current divisions, the pastors indicated there is little reason to think reconciliation — or even peaceful coexistence — could be found. Like a couple heading to divorce court, the pastors cited “irreconcilable differences” that can’t be mended. “We can no longer talk about schism as something that might happen in the future. Schism has already taken place in our connection,” said the Maxie Dunnam, a retired president of evangelical Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, who joined the statement. It’s a marked shift in tone from 10 years ago, when conservatives rejected a proposal for an “amicable separation” as premature. “I don’t want us to talk about separation,” Dunnam said after the church’s 2004 assembly, before the same-sex marriage issue swept the nation. “That’s not a game where our energy needs to be focused.” As 19 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex civil ‘marriage,’ the debate has consumed America’s mainline denominations, with the outcome ranging from bitter divisions to agree-to-disagree compromises. The issue is especially heightened within …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Interview: Letting Scripture Interrupt You

By Interview by Laura Turner When a verse or passage grabs your attention, don’t be afraid to stop and ask why. Marilyn Chandler McEntyre’s many books show a concern for fostering careful habits of reading and writing among Christians. In her new title, What’s in a Phrase? Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause (Eerdmans), McEntyre, professor of English at Westmont College, offers brief meditations on biblical phrases that, for one reason or another, have stopped her short and occasioned further reflection. Laura Turner, a Her.meneutics contributor, spoke with McEntyre about the value of dwelling on passages of Scripture that grab our attention. How should we react when a Scripture passage gives us pause? For me, it is rooted in lectio divina, the practice that Benedict taught his monks in the fifth century. It’s slow reading of very short passages of Scripture, listening for the word or phrase that addresses you. You’re listening for something that invites the Spirit to open doors of association, memory, and feeling. Say you encounter a phrase like “is my shepherd.” On the second reading you might ask, “What is this about? Where I am being summoned? Why did this touch me in some way?” Then you could give those thoughts some silence. On the …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Publisher of Popular Christian Books to Release Jennifer Knapp’s Lesbian Memoir

By Garrett Haley A company known for publishing books of interest to Christians has generated criticism for agreeing to publish a memoir from Jennifer Knapp—a former contemporary Christian singer who now describes herself as a lesbian. Jennifer Knapp, now 40, was a popular Christian singer who won Dove Awards and a Grammy Nomination during the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, twelve years ago, Knapp suddenly left the Christian music industry, moved to Australia, and entered into a relationship with another woman. She now describes herself as a lesbian but claims she is still a Christian. “I am who I am,” Knapp stated in a 2012 interview with TheBlaze. “If God is a God who judges and strikes people of same sex attraction—then he’s going to strike me down. This is the way that I am and now I know what it means to fear God.” “I’ve never heard an audible voice from the heavens—and you go ahead with as much as you can with your head and your heart,” she asserted. “There’s a point where I just accepted who I am, and that may be right— that may be wrong.” Knapp recently launched “Inside Out Faith”—an initiative designed to help homosexuals reconcile their behavior with their …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Woman Who Refused to Abort Conjoined Twins Sharing Same Head Gives Birth

By Heather Clark SYDNEY – A woman who refused to abort her conjoined twins, diagnosed with a rare condition in which they share the same head, has given birth. As previously reported, Renee Young and Simon Howie have seven children, and were excited about their new pregnancy when they were informed in January that their unborn baby, a girl, had craniofacial duplication, also known as disprospus. There are only 35 cases of the condition known in the world, and there are no known living survivors of craniofacial duplication. The abnormality is believed to result from the failure of a fertilized egg to completely split into two separate babies early in the pregnancy. According to Renee and Simon, doctors urged them to obtain an abortion “because it (the child) would be looked upon by the public as a freak.” They were told that if the baby survived, she would have a non-existent social life and and would have a hard time making friends. But Renee and Simon said that they wanted to give their daughter a chance at life and enjoy her for as long as they could. “We both decided that we were going through with it,” Renee said in February of this year. “We believe …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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The Eleventh Chapter: The Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And Moderated

By TomTruex The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à KempisBOOK THREE: INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Eleventh Chapter: The Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And Moderated The Voice of Christ MY CHILD, it is necessary for you to learn many things which you have not yet learned well. The Disciple What are they, Lord? The Voice of Christ That you conform your desires entirely according to My good pleasure, and be not a lover of self but an earnest doer of My will. Desires very often inflame you and drive you madly on, but consider whether you act for My honor, or for your own advantage. If I am the cause, you will be well content with whatever I ordain. If, on the other hand, any self-seeking lurk in you, it troubles you and weighs you down. Take care, then, that you do not rely too much on preconceived desire that has no reference to Me, lest you repent later on and be displeased with what at first pleased you and which you desired as being for the best. Not every desire which seems good should be followed immediately, nor, on the other hand, …read more Source: Imitate Christ     ...
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Court: Rights of Captain Punished for Refusing to Attend Islamic Service Not Violated

By Heather Clark TULSA, Okla. – An appeals court has ruled that the rights of an Oklahoma police captain that was punished in 2010 for refusing to attend an Islamic service were not violated. As previously reported, three years ago, Captain Paul Fields was ordered to attend “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” which was hosted by the Islamic Society of Tulsa at a local mosque. The event, held on an Islamic holy day, was to include a tour of the mosque, an Islamic prayer service, lectures on the Islamic faith and meetings with local Muslim leaders. Because Fields is a Christian, he felt uncomfortable with attending the event, which was not an official police function. He reportedly met with his superiors to express his concerns and outline why he believed that it was unlawful for the Tulsa Police Department to force him to attend. “This event is not a police ‘call for service,’ which I would readily respond to as required by my oath of office,” Fields wrote in an email. “It is my opinion, and that of my legal counsel, that forcing me to enter a mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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News: The Quick Take for May 23, 2014

By Larisa Kline Looking for something to watch this weekend? That, and more, in this week’s Quick Take. Streaming Picks Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon’s modern take on the Shakespearean classic comedy, is newly available on Netflix streaming. For a throwback to a young Johnny Depp, check out the 1990’s cult classic Cry Baby now streaming on Netflix. Our classic pick of the week, the original Cheaper by the Dozen, doubles as a substitute for a family favorite and is also available on Netflix. And if your family is looking for something a little more current, Saving Mr. Banks, the new instant classic starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, is now available on Amazon Prime. Critics Roundup Critics are split on the new Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore rom com mash-up Blended, but in both camps, the good intentions of the film do not go unnoticed. Most critics are merely upset due to the downturn of Sandler’s once comedic genius seen in his other two collaborations with Barrymore. According to the Associated Press over at NPR, “Some of us are old enough to recall a time when Sandler made movies that were authentically funny, and didn’t merely earn laughs by reminding people of their most …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

By Jackson Cuidon The latest installment’s failure to actually focus on its characters is a giant, ironic misstep. mpaa rating:PG-13 (For sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language.) Genre:Superhero Directed By: Bryan Singer Run Time: 2 hours 11 minutes Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence Theatre Release:May 23, 2014 by 20th Century Fox X-Men: Days of Future Past is a disappointing entry in a film series that now stretches back 14 years and almost half as many movies. It’s disappointing mostly as a matter of pedigree; had Days of Future Past been made right after, say X-Men 3: The Last Stand, or the regrettable X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Days would seem like a genuine improvement. As it stands, though, the movie suffers from its placement after 20th Century Fox’s two most recent X-Men knockouts—the surprisingly adroit X-Men: First Class in 2011, and 2013’s (and this reviewer’s favorite X-Men iteration) The Wolverine. The greatest irony of Days is that it wouldn’t seem half so bad if it weren’t for the presence of movies like The Wolverine, which make explicit the problems that are implicit in movies like Days and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But first, some plot: it’s the indeterminate future, and …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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An Update on My Preaching for a Small Church Pastor

By Ed Stetzer On Sunday, May 25, I’ll be preaching at The Branch in Canmore, Alberta, Canada Last week I threw out an offer. Basically, when I am on vacation, I like to take a little time to encourage a normal church. Here’s what I wrote: Since I am now pastoring a church, I preach most Sundays at Grace Church. However, once every six weeks or so, I preach somewhere else (and I tend to blog about that as I will soon about my recent preaching at Sojourn Church in Louisville and my forthcoming visit to Truro Church, the historic Episcopal Church in Fairfax, VA). In my world, I tend to speak at abnormal churches like the two I mentioned—and I am glad to do so. But, I want to make space in my life to always speak at a normal church—not the ones that make the news. A normal church has under 100 in attendance each week, might have a bivocational pastor, is probably plateaued or declining, and the pastor is tired. So, here’s the deal. I’m looking for a small church in the Banff area to encourage on Sunday, May 25th. Basically, I …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Ron Luce, World Magazine Debate Why Teen Mania Is One of America's Most Insolvent Charities

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (UPDATED) Acquire the Fire leader says investigation ‘included false statements, errors and misperceptions.’ World reveals audit advice as evidence. Teen Mania’s finances are on the rocks. The Acquire the Fire organizer, recently named one of the most influential ministries of the 21st century, is currently No. 5 on Charity Navigator’s list of 10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble—and has been on the list since December 2012. But why the ministry’s finances are so rocky has become a subject of public debate, after an in-depth investigation by World magazine of the foreclosure of Teen Mania’s sprawling campus headquarters—among the termination of its ECFA accreditation and other financial concerns—sparked a public rebuttal from cofounder and president Ron Luce. Luce said World‘s article—which detailed expenses such as $100,000 for T.D. Jakes to speak at a 2008 New York City event, $21,000 for his private jet, and $10,000 for gifts for Jakes’s family—”included false statements, errors and misperceptions regarding the current state of our ministry.” “Teen Mania never paid the stated amounts for guest speakers nor provided gifts as alleged,” Luce wrote in a public letter to alumni earlier this month. He also responded to a charge from a former Teen Mania development director, who said Luce …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Would You Share the Gospel with Hitler's Worst Henchmen?

By Lyle Dorsett Meet Henry Gerecke, the American chaplain who embodied Christ’s mission to seek the lost, no matter how loathsome. Many heroes emerged from World War II. Some of these men received awards such as the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Distinguished Flying Cross. Most combat veterans wore their awards humbly, insisting that many of their fellow warriors did as much or more as they did but were not noticed during the thunderous roar of fire and smoke of battle. And nearly all combatants argued that the real heroes were the chaps who died and never heard the good news of the enemy’s surrender. Among the unsung heroes of World War II was U.S. Army Chaplain Henry Gerecke (pronounced Cherokee). Born in southeastern Missouri in 1893 to German-American parents, Henry grew up in a rural community populated by first- and second-generation Germans who farmed the land and worshipped God in the Missouri Synod Lutheran tradition. In his teens young Gerecke heard God’s call to preach. He left the farm and worked his way through St. John’s Academy and College in Kansas, and then moved to St. Louis, where he attended Concordia Lutheran Seminary. During his St. Louis years he met Alma, …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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A Gospel for Everyone

By Mark Dever What we mean when we profess ‘one catholic church.’ If we spotted a church located in a racially mixed neighborhood, and all its worshipers were white, we’d rightly be concerned. Or if we attended a church that focused so much on reaching young families that singles and seniors felt uncomfortable, that too would bother us. Most of us would suspect the first church to be racist and the second, exclusivist. Both suspicions might certainly be true. But there is more going on: Each church is failing to live out the gospel. An essential part of the gospel is that it is catholic—that is, the Good News is given to all people. And the church the Holy Spirit creates is catholic. Putting the matter like this may make some Christians squirm. Many Protestants affirm, either weekly or semi-regularly, the Nicene Creed, proclaiming, “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church,” but many balk at that word, catholic. (That’s why in my own congregation, we use the word universal rather than catholic, because the original Greek term katholikos means “whole, entire, universal.”) When most of us hear the word catholic, we think of the Roman Catholic Church. By naming itself “Catholic,” the Roman Church has …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Louisiana Passes Admitting Privileges Bill that May Close Most Abortion Facilities

By Heather Clark BATON ROUGE, La. – Legislators in Louisiana have passed a bill requiring abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a move that some say will shutter most abortion facilities in the state. HB 388, proposed by Rep. Katrina Jackson (R-Monroe), passed the Louisiana House of Representatives overwhelmingly on Wednesday 88-5. It had passed the Senate earlier this month 34-3. “On the date the abortion is performed or induced, a physician performing or inducing an abortion shall have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced and that provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services,” the bill reads. Governor Bobby Jindal, a Roman Catholic, Tweeted following the passage of the legislation that he intends to sign the bill into law. “Looking forward to signing HB 388 by @Repkjackson,” he wrote. “This bill will give women the health and safety protections they deserve.” Reports state that three out of the state’s five abortion facilities will likely close as a result, namely the locations in Baton Rouge, Metairie and New Orleans. As previously reported, 20 abortion facilities in Texas have now closed—or have announced their closure—due …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Prayer Added to City Council, County Meetings Following Supreme Court Ruling

By Heather Clark A number of city councils and county commissioners nationwide have decided to add prayer to their public meetings following this month’s Supreme Court ruling that declared invocations at government gatherings constitutional. As previously reported, in a divided 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld prayers predominantly in Jesus’ name amid a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Greece, New York residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens. Galloway and Stephens contended that the prayers made them feel “marginalized” as they are not followers of the Christian faith. Galloway is Jewish and Stephens is an atheist. “t’s a form of coercion,” Stephens told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “Some of these pastors tell you to stand up and bow your heads to pray to Jesus, and what if you don’t believe that? And if you refuse to stand up and bow your head, you stick out. It’s a coercive situation.” But the Supreme Court found otherwise, noting the nation’s history of government prayer. “The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy on behalf of the majority. “To hold that invocations must …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Christian Colleges Win Injunction Against Obamacare Abortion Pill Mandate

By Heather Clark SIOUX CITY, Iowa – An Iowa-based federal judge has granted an injunction to two Christian colleges who are seeking an exemption from the abortion pill mandate in Obamacare. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett, nominated to the bench by then-President Bill Clinton, issued the restraining order on Wednesday, allowing Dordt College in Iowa and Cornerstone University in Michigan a reprieve while their case moves forward in court. “I find that granting Plaintiffs preliminary injunctive relief is appropriate,” he wrote. “First, Plaintiffs may suffer irreparable harm without an injunction in that they would be forced to comply with the Mandate to the detriment of their religious exercise. Even if I were to later grant Plaintiffs relief on their underlying claims, that would not remedy the harm caused by forcing the Plaintiffs to do something they deem religiously objectionable.” The two colleges had been represented in court by the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which argued that the mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. “With full knowledge that many religious organizations hold the same or similar beliefs, the Defendants issued regulations that…trample on the freedom of the …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Police Chief, Rabbi, Boy Scout Leader Among 71 Busted in Child Porn Probe

By Editor (New York Daily News) — A shocking investigation resulted in the arrests of 71 “twisted individuals” who swapped thousands of sick kiddie porn images on the Internet like baseball cards, officials said Wednesday. Nabbed in the crackdown were an NYPD officer, a Westchester County police chief, a Brooklyn rabbi, two registered nurses, a paramedic and an au pair. One suspect was both a Boy Scout den leader and a Little League baseball coach. The arrests also included High Bridge, N.J., mother Lori Bauer, 38, who was charged with producing and distributing pornography involving her own child. Officials said the voluminous evidence seized suggests the sexual exploitation of children in the New York City area has hit “epidemic proportions.” Continue Reading This Story >> …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Week 21, One Year Bible Challenge: “Nobody’s Perfect”

By Tom Truex Christ the Rock Community Church, Saturday Morning Men’s Bible Study This week’s reading May 21-271 Mary Anointing Jesus Feet, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640) 1 Samuel 29:1 – 2 Samuel 12:31John 11:55 – 16:33Psalm 118:1 – 119:80Proverbs 15:24 – 16:5 Next Week’s Reading May 28 to June 32 Samuel 13:1-39 – 21:22John 17:1-26 – Acts 1:26Psalm 119:81-96 – 121:8Proverbs 16:6-7 – 16:18 Discussion Questions:Old Testament In 1 Samuel 31:1-7, Saul and his armor-bearer were overtaken by their enemies in battle, and each fell on his own sword to kill himself. Did the armor-bearer act correctly when he refused Saul’s order to kill him. Are these death’s properly called “suicide?” How do they compare to the death of Samson in Judges 16:30? God himself called David “a man after his own heart.” 1 Samuel 13:14. How do we reconcile …read more Source: K_Line Christian Online (ReadTheWholeBible.com)     ...
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The Bible's Unequivocal 'No' to Domestic Violence

By Rachel Marie Stone Justin and Lindsey Holcomb offer the hope of grace to victims of abuse. I can’t write about domestic violence without a nod to my current context: I live in a small, impoverished country in sub-Saharan Africa where domestic abuse, including physical and sexual violence against women and girls, is rampant. Women have few resources for getting out, getting safe, and getting help. One of my friends and colleagues—a minister in the largest Protestant church in this country—says churches are seldom able to address the issue. Domestic violence is considered more or less “normal,” she tells me, and clergy are inclined to dismiss it either as unimportant or as something to which a God-fearing woman should submit. Until I read Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence (Moody Publishers), by Justin S. and Lindsey A. Holcomb, I had no idea that the leading cause of death for African American women ages 15 to 45 is murder at the hands of a partner. Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who has faced domestic violence (90 percent of the victims are women). As the Holcombs show, the effects of domestic abuse are wide-ranging, unpredictable, severe, and long-lasting, affecting …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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