Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Close Ad Cute Christmas Message

A couple is using 'Friendship Evangelism' to share the Gospel

Africa (MNN) ― How do you share the hope of Christ in an area where 99% of the population is Muslim? Michael and Ann* live in Africa and use what they call "friendship evangelism."

Everything they do is designed to build friendships with their neighbors in towns and villages out in the bush. They are involved in Bible distribution, Christian education, hosting short-term medical workers, drilling wells, and working with the national evangelical church.

In order to avoid accusations of coercion, these TEAM missionaries don't freely distribute the Bible and other Christian literature. Instead, they charge a very small amount--about 20 cents--and give them only to those people that ask.

A complete translation of the New Testament into the local language should be done by the end of 2012. It will be printed into one book, which will make it even easier for people to read the Bible.

Michael and Ann are also active in the private Christian school in town. The school serves around 600 children in grades one through nine. The school openly shares God's word, even though 80-85% of the students are Muslim.

The students who attend get the highest grades in the province on the national tests. Christian, non-Christian, and Muslim parents are eager to send their children to the school because of its high-quality education.

Organized violence not enough to stop Gospel work

India (MNN) ― It's not unusual to hear about persecution in India, especially in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
"In Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa--those states in what's called the 'Hindu Heartland,' there is a very organized violence against Christians, trying to stop the growth of the Church," says Dave Stravers with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.
However, reports of police helping Hindu extremists attack Christians in Madhya Pradesh is a little disconcerting. Usually, Stravers explains, extremists go to police before they engage in violence against believers; then when the attack is reported and police are called in, they often arrest the Christians.
"This is the first time I've heard a case that confirmed police officers were part of the attackers," Stravers says.
A church pastor told Morning Star News that at the end of November, four police officers broke into his church during worship service and ordered Christians to leave. Close behind was a mob of Hindu extremists who told the leader "Jesus' name will not work in Madhya Pradesh" and warned against future mention of His name.
"The extremists further threatened to kill us, cut off our legs, burn down our houses. and expel us from the village if we speak the name of Jesus again and conduct meetings in the future," the church leader said.
When a church member tried to file a complaint at the local police station, an officer slapped him twice in the face.
"India has been resistant to the Gospel for centuries, and just in the last 10 or 15 years, places that once [had] just no Christians at all are now open to Christ, and people are coming to Jesus," says Stravers. "This is found to be very threatening by the Hindu and some community leaders."


Christmas music enjoyed by 70% of Americans

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Christmas music is nearly inescapable every December and most Americans enjoy it.

According to a new LifeWay Research study, 70 percent of Americans enjoy hearing Christmas songs in December and 86 percent believe school choirs and bands should be allowed to perform religious Christmas music.

However, in the November 2012 online survey of 1,191 Americans, one in five Americans (21 percent) said the prevalence of Christmas music in December is "overdone" while 7 percent find it "annoying."

"When seemingly everyone does something," LifeWay Research director Scott McConnell commented, "it is sure to grate on someone's nerves. But 10 times as many people find Christmas music everywhere enjoyable than find it annoying."

More than eight in 10 (83 percent) Americans who consider themselves to be a born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian say they find the prevalence of Christmas music enjoyable compared to 59 percent of those who "never" attend religious services, according to the survey, which was released Dec. 17.


Holidays Present Opportunity for Christian Consumers to Make a Difference

A blend of consumerism and charity often takes over the spirit of America during the Christmas holiday season, and for conscientious consumers there are a number of opportunities to find great gifts and at the same time provide help for someone in need.

A number of different companies, for example, make a charitable donation with each purchase of their products. TOMS Shoes has started the One for One movement, in which they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe purchased from their company. The company also sells eyewear, and helps those with vision issues by providing prescription glasses, eye surgery or other medical treatment for each pair of glasses it sells.

Krochet Kids International, a nonprofit Christian organization founded by three high school friends in 2008, sells products crocheted by people in impoverished communities in Uganda and Peru, allowing them to make a fair wage. The organization seeks to not only provide much-needed economic opportunities to people in developing nations, but also provides them with education, mentoring and encouragement.

"We believe actions rooted in love bring lasting and powerful change," the Krochet Kids website states. "Our model for love is that of the ultimate servant: Jesus."

Save1.com, a coupon website, says 17,000 children die every day on average from the effects of malnutrition, which is why the company is working to feed hungry children around the world. Each time an online coupon is used through the site, Save1 uses a portion of the commission they receive to provide a meal. As of Friday afternoon, the organization has provided over 90,700 meals to those in need.

And One Hope Coffee, a self-described "social impact coffee" company, sells coffee beans to help wake people up in the morning while, at the same time, making a positive impact on important social issues. Each month the organization chooses a cause to support, then donates half of its profits from each bag of coffee beans sold to that cause. In the month of November, for example, the company donated half of its profits to creating more awareness about men's health issues, and its website specifically mentions the issue of prostate cancer and the importance of getting screened. One Hope also sells wine, and uses half of its profits to fund a number of other causes, including ending childhood hunger, fighting breast cancer, providing support for veterans and more. One Hope has, to date, raised over $1 million for charity.

It's Not Santa They're Tracking; It's Downloads of the Christmas Story via YouVersion

The makers of the popular Bible app YouVersion, who have logged 72 million downloads onto smartphones and tablets, are tracking downloads of their Christmas Story reading plan in somewhat similar fashion to the way the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) does with Santa Claus every year.

Every Christmas season NORAD "helps ordinary citizens track Santa's progress as he delivers gifts to good little boys and girls around the world.

"Now, for the first time, you'll also be able to track the beloved story that gave birth to the season," stated YouVersion this week.

YouVersion already offers more than 400 versions of the Bible available free in more than 200 different languages, and there seems to be no end in sight. "We're literally reading the Bible like never before anytime and anywhere with millions of new people starting every month," says LifeChurch.tv Pastor Bobby Gruenewald, 36, the app's creator.

A running tally of everyone who reads the story of the birth of Jesus, worldwide, through YouVersion can be seen at http://christmas.youversion.com/ while stars light up at every download on an online global map.

"Every time a reader clicks on the story, a star lights up on the site's world map and the ticker grows by one more soul," according to YouVersion.

'Bigger Than Life' Christian Radio Personality Frank Pastore Dies

Christian radio talk show host Frank Pastore, who was described by his colleagues and friends as "larger than life," died Monday, one month after a motorcycle accident on a Southern California freeway left him in a coma. He was 55. In perhaps prophetic words on the same night as the accident, the former Major League Baseball pitcher had talked about a strikingly similar scenario in which he said his soul would leave his body.

In a discussion about life after death, Pastore said, "I mean look, you guys know I ride a motorcycle don't you? So, at any moment … I could be spread out all over the 210 (Freeway), but that's not me, that's my body parts."

His pastor, David Rosales of Calvary Chapel Chino Valley, released a statement in the afternoon.
"It is with sorrow mixed with joy that I share with you that my dear friend Frank Pastore went home to be with Jesus today," stated Rosales. "[Pastor] David Bustamante and I went to pray for him, and while we were there he passed gently into the loving arms of Jesus.

"Frank was a bigger than life kind of guy, and over the many years I have been his pastor, he became a true voice for Jesus as he hosted his daily talk show on KKLA. Our love and prayers are for Gina, Frankie, and Christina, as well as his precious grand baby.

"Ps 116:15 reads, 'Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.' Indeed, Frank is now beholding the face of the one he faithfully served, and knowing this is what gives all who loved him joy. Please keep his precious family in prayer as so many arrangements now need to be made, and the grief will be great. We will hold a memorial service here in the near future, and the date will be announced for those who might be able to join us. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord."

Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

Why does God allow pain and suffering? This age-old question, of course, presumes that a higher power exists — a notion that some individuals most certainly reject. Regardless, the vast majority of society believes in a creator and, when tragedy strikes, most people find themselves questioning the allowance for such horrendous events and personal pain.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Friday, a traumatic event that left 28 individuals dead, including 20 small children, this pertinent question is at the forefront of peoples’ minds. While it’s perfectly natural to wonder why an all-loving and all-powerful deity would allow such horror to befall kids and families, alike, finding viable and definitive answers is a monumental — and some might argue, impossible — task.

TheBlaze reached out to faith leaders and Biblical experts to ask why, from a Judeo-Christian perspective, the Lord (for those who believe in his existence) would permit such horror. Their responses may bring comfort to some, may satisfy others — and will likely still leave additional Americans with new and unanswered questions.

Dr. Darrell Bock, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and author of “Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith,” explained the role and prominence of personal decision-making when asked why God allows pain and suffering.

“We are human beings endowed with the image of God. So God made us to make choices and have responsibilities for how we exercise our choices,” he wrote in an e-mail, going on to also explain that personal freedom and choice are mutually exclusive.

“Although it is a mystery why such specific and quite tragic things happen and no one can explain them, those who often ask where God is and why he does not stop it are often those who wish to have the maximum freedom to be humans and makes choices for their lives,” Bock added.


Google Puts Dead Sea Scrolls Online

Comfort Dogs’ Sent to Newtown, CT for Healing & Comfort

NBC’s ‘The Voice’ Performs Touching Tribute for Sandy Hook Shooting Victims

‘Quit Being Ashamed That We Believe in God’: Fox’s Gretchen Carlson Moved to Tears During Huckabee Interview About Shooting

Nativity Flash Mob: Palisades Park Santa Monica, CA 2012

The Decline of Evangelical America

Prescott, Ariz.
IT hasn’t been a good year for evangelicals. I should know. I’m one of them.
In 2012 we witnessed a collapse in American evangelicalism. The old religious right largely failed to affect the Republican primaries, much less the presidential election. Last month, Americans voted in favor of same-sex marriage in four states, while Florida voters rejected an amendment to restrict abortion.
Much has been said about conservative Christians and their need to retool politically. But that is a smaller story, riding on the back of a larger reality: Evangelicalism as we knew it in the 20th century is disintegrating.
In 2011 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life polled church leaders from around the world. Evangelical ministers from the United States reported a greater loss of influence than church leaders from any other country — with some 82 percent indicating that their movement was losing ground.
I grew up hearing tales of my grandfather, a pastor, praying with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. My father, also a pastor, prayed with George W. Bush in 2000. I now minister to my own congregation, which has grown to about 500, a tenfold increase, in the last four years (by God’s favor and grace, I believe). But, like most young evangelical ministers, I am less concerned with politics than with the exodus of my generation from the church.
Studies from established evangelical polling organizations — LifeWay Research, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Barna Group — have found that a majority of young people raised as evangelicals are quitting church, and often the faith, entirely.
As a contemporary of this generation (I’m 30), I embarked three years ago on a project to document the health of evangelical Christianity in the United States. I did this research not only as an insider, but also as a former investigative journalist for an alt weekly.
I found that the structural supports of evangelicalism are quivering as a result of ground-shaking changes in American culture. Strategies that served evangelicals well just 15 years ago are now self- destructive. The more that evangelicals attempt to correct course, the more they splinter their movement. In coming years we will see the old evangelicalism whimper and wane. 

Faith Leader Encourages the Christian Community to Look at Their Responsibility in the Sandy Hook School Tragedy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Director of the Washington, D.C based Christian Defense Coalition challenges the church to reach out in love and compassion to the "Adam Lanza's" within their communities.

Below are the comments of Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition:

    "The entire nation will spend the next several weeks searching for answers in the Sandy Hook massacre. In my heart, I always look inward first for spiritual guidance and direction.

    "In doing that, I have been obsessed with this singular question. What would have happened if one Christian had reached out in love to Adam Lanza and befriended him?

    "All the media reports say, he had NO friends. He was isolated, rejected, alone, broken and struggling with mental health challenges. He lived in a vacuum with his own personal demons and fears.

    "Think of how history might have have looked if the Christian community had passionately followed the teachings of Christ in reaching out to most needy and broken in our society.

    "In other words, reaching to people like Adam Lanza.

    'Think if there was someone to pray with Adam. To cry with him. Someone to make him feel he had dignity and worth and that God loved him.

    "The greatest 'firewall' against violence, injustice, and suffering in our society is a vibrant, energized loving church which brings hope and healing to the broken.

    "Now is the time for the faith community to purpose in their hearts to reach out with greater passion to the unloved, wounded, rejected and forgotten. It is time time to embrace the heart of Christ for all those who are lost and alone so we never have to grieve the loss of innocent children again."
For interviews or more information call: Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 540.538.4741

Christian Newswire