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And The Walls Came Tumbling Down in China's 'Jerusalem'

By Kate Tracy ‘Human shield’ fails to save megachurch from demolition in China’s largest Christian city. Despite the effort of hundreds of Chinese Christians who formed a “human shield” to defend their brand-new megachurch, reports of its demolition have emerged from southern China. Wenzhou’s Sanjiang Church—an impressive eight-story structure that government officials previously called a “model project”—took six years and $3.2 million in donations to build, according to The Washington Post. The congregation is listed under the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement, reports AsiaNews, yet it occupies five times more square feet than what regulations originally designated—complicating the common narrative of “atheist government persecutes Christians.” While excavators spent Monday, April 30, tearing down the church, Communist Party officials insisted the destruction was because of city zoning, not religious persecution, reports The Telegraph. Government officials claim they are cracking down on illegal structures throughout the country. ChinaSource earlier explained why the Sanjiang dispute was “more than meets the eye” and offered “concepts to keep in mind” when trying to understand China news, noting: On the face of it, it seemed like a classic case of an oppressive atheistic regime going after an innocent group of Christians. However, as …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Losing on Google, Winning in Court?

By Kate Tracy Do abortion clinic alternatives use deceptive advertising? Search engine and appeals courts weigh in. Google has removed many ads for crisis pregnancy centers from its search results over complaints that the ads are deceptive. At least, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, which claimed this week that nearly 8 in 10 ads displayed on Google searches for “abortion clinic” are funded by pro-life groups misrepresenting the actual services they offer. The pro-choice group claims it has persuaded Google to remove the majority of the problematic ads from crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). “We will continue to work with Google to ensure that their commitment results in women being directed to the resources and services they are seeking when they search online, ending this manipulation of women making vital health decisions,” said NARAL president Ilyse Hogue. The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal report more details. Google’s advertising policy states: “Misleading, inaccurate, and deceitful ads hurt everyone.” But some pro-life groups claim their ads have not been affected, reports LifeSiteNews. Online for Life was not aware of any removed ads, and says it has a “long and positive relationship with Google.” Heartbeat International told America’s largest pro-life group, …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Syrian Islamists Carry Out Mock Public Crucifixions in City Square

By Heather Clark RAQQA – Islamic militants in the Syrian city of Raqqa carried out two mock crucifixions in the public square this past week, hanging two men accused of fighting Muslims, reports state. A group called the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) is said to be behind the crucifixions, which occurred on Tuesday. In total, seven prisoners were executed in the city, which were held responsible for a grenade attack on Muslims in the Euphrates Valley. The men were captured by members of the group, some being shot in the head. “Ten days ago, attackers on a motorbike threw a grenade at an ISIS fighter at the Naim roundabout. A Muslim civilian had his leg blown off and a child was killed,” the group posted on Twitter. “Our fighters immediately set up a roadblock and succeeded in capturing them. They were then able to detain other members of the cell.” One eyewitness, Abu Ibrahim, posted photographs of the crucifixions on the popular social media site. The men were reportedly already dead when they were tied to metal poles with makeshift wooden crosses attached. Their faces were blindfolded and covered with blood. One man had a banner wrapped around his torso, which read, “This …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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"Fresh Expressions" of Church in the United Kingdom

By Ed Stetzer Christianity in the United Kingdom is not dead. In fact, it may have new life in “Fresh Expressions of Church.” Recently, there has been talk of the identity of the United Kingdom as a Christian nation. Prime Minister David Cameron first made mention of it a couple of weeks ago, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, agreed. Faith expression in the U.K. is certainly in flux. Part of that is a decline, but part of that is reconfiguration. That’s where this research comes in. Below is a summary of a study on “fresh expressions” (yes, that’s a thing) in the United Kingdom. You can download the full report here. Between January 2012 and October 2013, the Church of England’s Church Army‘s Research Unit studied over 1000 cases of church planting and church growth from 10 dioceses of the Church of England. They looked at data from 1992 – 2012. Of the 1000 cases studied, 518 met criteria necessary to be labeled as what they call a “Fresh Expression of Church.” “What is a Fresh Expression of Church?” one might ask. There are 10 basic parameters: Was something Christian and communal brought to ‘birth’ that was new …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Maybe Jesus Wants Us to Get Things Done

By Jen Pollock Michel Discovering women’s place in the time management conversation. My pastor recently approached my husband to lead a “Gospel and Productivity” class for our church. He’s an executive at a Fortune 500 company, a logical choice for talking about time management. But, as he would admit, he doesn’t read the volume of productivity books I do. A writer and church staffer, chief laundress and cook, chauffeur and lunchbox-packer extraordinaire, I have felt it more necessary to learn the skills of time management. I recently read Matt Perman’s book, What’s Best Next, written especially for an age of being constantly busy and chronically overwhelmed. In a provocative blend of Jonathan Edwards and David Allen, Perman defends productivity as a discipleship matter and argues for the Christian’s call to get things done. (In his chapter entitled, “Managing Email and Workflow,” Perman reminds us that, “Keeping on top of your email is a way of serving people.” Preach it, brother.) To love God and love neighbor requires skilled stewardship of our time, and Perman defends that obedience to these two greatest commands makes productivity not just a marketplace virtue, but a Christian discipline. “Sometimes when things get overwhelming, it is suggested that we need to ‘take a retreat …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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A World Vision for Church and Parachurch

By Mark Galli Why the organizations that come alongside must also lead. “IT is difficult to overstate the significance of parachurch organizations in contemporary American evangelicalism.” So writes historian John G. Turner in Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America. That’s due in part to the size and scope of such organizations. Evangelical Christians donate billions of dollars annually toward humanitarian, political, and evangelistic causes, from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to Youth with a Mission to Young Life to Prison Fellowship to the Evangelical Environmental Network—the list goes on and on. The extraordinary anxiety—and relief—over World Vision’s (WV) twin policy statements about hiring married gay men and women signaled again the centrality of parachurches to evangelical life. In fact, the incident suggests that parachurches do not merely come alongside the church in ministry, but also lead it in crucial ways. Parachurches have played a long and important role in our movement, beginning with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1810. But since World War II, evangelicalism has more or less been defined by parachurches like BGEA, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Compassion, and WV. Michael Lindsay, in Faith in the Halls of Power, argues that cosmopolitan …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Teen Murders Newborn Out of Fear of Losing Boyfriend as Baby Resembled Ex

By Heather Clark CHICAGO – An Illinois teenager is facing first-degree murder charges after she allegedly suffocated her newborn son out of fear that her boyfriend would leave her because the child resembled her ex. Ana Rosa Mora, 18, of Chicago is accused of placing her baby in a plastic Walmart bag following birth on April 19th and leaving him outside to die. A construction worker located the child hours later, but the baby was already deceased. Mora then returned to school at Kelvyn Park High School, where staff members recognized that she had given birth. The student then pulled out her iPad, where she began showing pictures of a baby girl to staff. Mora also asked about a dead baby that was discovered near her home, and asked whether police might be able to locate the mother. An on-campus police officer soon approached and congratulated Mora, asking the teen how old her baby was. After one of the staff members heard Mora claim that the child was six months old, knowing that she had given birth just recently, she later expressed concern to the officer. The officer then phoned a detective, and days later, Mora was arrested. While she initially denied that the infant found near her …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Dobson Defies Obamacare Abortion Pill Mandate: ‘Come and Get Me’

By Heather Clark WASHINGTON – Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and Family Talk Radio, expressed his defiance of the Obamacare abortion pill mandate on Thursday, stating that the president would have to “come and get ” as he would not “yield to wicked regulations.” Dobson, 78, made his remarks during his speech in Washington, D.C. at Thursday’s annual National Day of Prayer event. He read a letter that he had circulated to his supporters as to why he chose to buck the system and fight the requirement in court. “I believe in the rule of law, and it has been my practice since I was in college to respect and honor those in authority over us. It is my desire to do so now,” he stated, according to video footage from WND.com. “However, this assault on the sanctity of human life takes me where I cannot go. I will not pay the surcharge for abortion services.” “To pay one cent for the killing of babies is egregious to me, and I will do all I can to correct a government that lies to me about its intentions and then tries to coerce my acquiescence with extortion,” Dobson declared. “It would …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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The Good News About Bad Churches

By Diane Leclerc They’re broken and messy. But God is remaking them in his holy image. Charlie was an active 11-year-old with autism. His parents had been thinking about attending church. They decided it was time to try to find a congregation that would love them, and love their son. About halfway through Sunday school one morning, Charlie’s parents were summoned. The volunteers couldn’t handle him. They were asked to find another church, because this church “just couldn’t meet his needs.” Other churches conveyed the same sentiment. The family finally gave up and decided that attending church was too hard. We all know people who have been hurt by the church. People who have been so offended, wounded, or even abused that they have given up on it. Perhaps you’ve had this experience yourself. Church is sometimes dysfunctional, uncomfortable, cross-purposed, and painful. We have pastors who fail God, themselves, and their congregations. We endure grumpy, self-righteous criticism reminiscent of the Pharisees. We fight each other, sometimes to the point of parting ways for good. Some observers say we are in danger of losing a whole generation of embittered souls who believe the church has lost its relevance and neglected their needs. And yet we continue to call …read more Source: Christianity Today     ...
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Week 18, One Year Bible Challenge: “Unforgiven”

By Tom Truex Christ the Rock Community Church, Saturday Morning Men’s Bible Study Samson and Delila, by Pompeo Batoni (1708–1787) This week’s reading April 30 to May 61Judges 11:1 – Ruth 4:22John 1:1 – 4:54Psalm 101:1 – 105:36Proverbs 14:13 – 14:27 Next Week’s Reading May 7 to 131 Samuel 1:1 – 14:52John 5:1 – 7:53Psalm 105:37 – 109:31Proverbs 14:28 – 15:7 Discussion Questions:Old Testament Samson killed himself, together with a lot of Philistines. Should we construe this story to mean that Suicide is sometimes justified? Who were the “good” and the “bad” people in the story of “the runaway concubine?” Judges, chapters 19-20. New Testament What is the significance of the phrase, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us?” John 1:14 (RSV). Why did Nicodemus come to see Jesus at night? Are we ever guilty of behaving the same way for the same reasons? FOOTNOTE: If you are participating in the Saturday morning class, “The One Year Bible Challenge,” …read more Source: K_Line Christian Online (ReadTheWholeBible.com)     ...
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Kenya Legalizes Polygamy

By Editor (CNN) — A new law that went into effect in Kenya this week makes it legal for a man to marry as many women as he wants. And a leading women’s group is applauding it. President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the polygamy measure into law Tuesday, formally recognizing what has long been a cultural practice in the nation. Parliament passed the bill in March despite protests from female lawmakers who angrily stormed out of the late-night session at the time. this story >> …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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The Third Chapter: Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them

By TomTruex The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à KempisBOOK THREE: INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Third Chapter: Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them The Voice of Christ MY CHILD, hear My words, words of greatest sweetness surpassing all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of earth. My words are spirit and life, and they are not to be weighed by man’s understanding. They are not to be invoked in vanity but are to be heard in silence, and accepted with all humility and with great affection. The Disciple “Happy is the man whom Thou admonishest, O Lord, and teachest out of Thy law, to give him peace from the days of evil,” and that he be not desolate on earth. The Voice of Christ I taught the prophets from the beginning, and even to this day I continue to speak to all men. But many are hardened. Many are deaf to My voice. Most men listen more willingly to the world than to God. They are more ready to follow the appetite of their flesh than the good pleasure of God. The world, which promises …read more Source: Imitate Christ     ...
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Report: Abducted Girls Being Forced to Marry Islamic Captors

By Editor Scores of girls and young women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Islamic extremist abductors, a civic organization reported Wednesday. At the same time, the Boko Haram terrorist network is negotiating over the students’ fate and is demanding an unspecified ransom for their release, a Borno state community leader told The Associated Press. He said the Wednesday night message from the abductors also claimed that two of the girls have died from snake bites. this story >> Photo: Delapo Falola …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Chinese Government Demolishes Wenzhou Church

By Editor Demolition teams began destroying parts of a Chinese church that has become a symbol of resistance to the Communist Party’s draconian clutch on religion, activists and witnesses said on Monday. Sanjiang church in Wenzhou, a wealthy coastal city known as the “Jerusalem of the East”, made headlines earlier this month when thousands of Christians formed a human shield around its entrance after plans for its demolition were announced. Church members accused Communist leaders in Zhejiang province of ordering an anti-church crackdown and claimed there were plans to completely or partially demolish at least 10 places of worship. this story …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Court Rules in Favor of Evangelist Charged with Trespassing on Public Sidewalk

By Heather Clark MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. – A Maryland district court has ruled in favor of a Washington, D.C.-based evangelist who filed a lawsuit against a Maryland county and its police department after being cited with criminal trespass for engaging in free speech activity on a public sidewalk. As previously reported, evangelist Michael Corral was reading the Bible aloud, distributing tracts and speaking with passersby about his Christian beliefs outside of a movie theater in Silver Springs, Maryland in March 2012 when he was approached by a security guard. Corral was informed by the guard that the sidewalk he was utilizing was privately-owned, and that he must discontinue his activities. Michael Corral Following a brief disagreement, the two then approached a nearby police officer, who was mounted on a motorcycle, in order to obtain resolution. The officer advised Corral to move across the street to the Veteran’s Plaza area, and contended that the sidewalk adjacent to the theater was private, stating that owner had a right to bar Corral from engaging in religious expression on it. In response, Corral, who states that he was careful to stand out of the way so as to not block any pedestrian traffic, noted …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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The Second Chapter: Truth Speaks Inwardly Without the Sound of Words

By TomTruex The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à KempisBOOK THREE: INTERNAL CONSOLATIONThe Second Chapter: Truth Speaks Inwardly Without the Sound of Words The Disciple SPEAK, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” “I am Thy servant. Give me understanding that I may know Thine ordinances . . . Incline my heart to Thine ordinances . . . Let Thy speech distil as the dew.” The children of Israel once said to Moses: “Speak thou to us and we will hear thee: let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die.” Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened all the prophets; for You alone, without them, can instruct me perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They, indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the spirit. They do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they …read more Source: Imitate Christ     ...
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Week 17, One Year Bible Challenge: “Obedience”

By Tom Truex Christ the Rock Community Church, Saturday Morning Men’s Bible Study This week’s reading April 23 to 291 The Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna, 1490 Judges 1:1 – 10:18Luke 21:29 – 24:53Psalm 90:1 – 100:5Proverbs 13:24 – 14:12 Next Week’s Reading April 30 to May 6Judges 11:1 – Ruth 4:22John 1:1 – 4:54Psalm 101:1 – 105:36Proverbs 14:13 – 14:27 Discussion Questions:Old Testament During the time of the Judges, the Israelites continued in their cycle of turning from God, suffering the consequences of rebellion; and finally returning to God. Why did the Israelites behave this way? Why did God continue to forgive their serious sins? What is the significance of the story of Ehud and Eglon, king of Moab? Why does the Bible mention that Ehud was left handed? Judges 3:12-30. Was it wrong for Gideon to test God with the wet and dry fleece? Judges 6:36-40. New Testament Jesus was tried during …read more Source: K_Line Christian Online (ReadTheWholeBible.com)     ...
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Minister Claims He Received ‘Strong Nudge from Jesus’ to Announce Support for Homosexuality

By Heather Clark ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A Vineyard minister in Michigan is claiming that he received a ‘strong nudge from Jesus’ a few years ago to announce his changing views on homosexuality—a topic that he is now discussing in a new book about embracing homosexuals in the Church. “It’s about welcoming previously excluded groups,” Ken Wilson Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor recently told the Detroit Free Press. “That’s what it means to be evangelical—to make the good news accessible to those who haven’t had access to it. That’s my task. That’s what a church is supposed to do.” Wilson, 62, states that he had opposed homosexuality for much of his life, including when he launched the church in the 1970′s. However, with the turn of the century, his views began to change as he discussed the matter with members whose family members were homosexual. Wilson Wilson claims that in 2011, God told him to write a letter to his congregation to explain that he was rethinking his position on homosexuality. “I got a strong nudge from Jesus,” he asserted. Last month, Wilson released A Letter to my Congregation: An Evangelical Pastor’s Path to Embracing People who are Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Into the Company …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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Christian Legal Group Appeals Ruling Barring NYC Churches from Meeting in Public Schools

By Heather Clark NEW YORK – A nationally-recognized Christian legal organization has filed an appeal of a ruling that barred churches in New York City from meeting in public schools on Sundays. As previously reported, the case of Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York has been circling through the court system for the past 17 years. It began in 1995, when Bronx Household of Faith submitted an application to rent a public school building for its worship services, but was denied by the Board of Education. The matter then went to court, which turned into an emotional roller coaster, resulting in both temporary victories and losses to both sides. The Board of Education argued that allowing churches to use school facilities and to advertise their services amounted to a violation of the Establishment Clause in the United States Constitution. The Bronx Household of Faith, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), pointed to the fact that religious student groups already use school rooms after hours for Bible reading and prayer. The case went all the way up to the United Supreme Court, which declined to hear the matter. In 2012, however, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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California City Agrees to End Prayers at Public Meetings

By Heather Clark PISMO BEACH, Calif. – Officials in a California city have agreed to end their practice of presenting prayers at public meetings in order to settle a lawsuit with a local atheist organization. City officials in Pismo Beach state that they decided to settle the matter because they did not want to spend taxpayer money to fight the legal battle. The announced their decision on Wednesday. As previously reported, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a complaint against the city in November, asserting that the prayers offered regularly by Pismo Beach chaplain Paul Jones promote Christianity to residents. The organization stated that Jones’ prayers often morph into sermonettes in a manner that appears to “advance and proselytize for Christianity.” “The Scriptures teach us, saying, ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,’” Jones is quoted as declaring in one prayer. “Too long, we have neglected Your word and ignored Your laws. We have tried to solve our problems without reference to You. Your word is so clear, and is so simple. For Your Word says: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach and an embarrassment to any people.’ And so we confess to You our sins, and ask …read more Source: Christian News Network     ...
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