Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Pope Francis' Holy Thursday Mass will be at a prison

Continuing his custom of saying Holy Thursday Mass outside a sacred place, Pope Francis this year will visit one of Rome’s most well-known prisons, the Regina Coeli, located in the historic Trastevere neighborhood.

The Pope will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper March 29. During the ceremony he will wash the feet of 12 inmates. He will also meet with prisoners and visit sick inmates in the prison’s infirmary.

The female nuclear physicist who created a fertility app

Meet Elina Berglund: a nuclear physicist who will be known as the woman who developed the first natural cycle fertility app to have been internationally certified as an effective means of avoiding pregnancy.

“It feels incredibly exciting that there is now an approved alternative to conventional pregnancy prevention methods, and that it’s possible to replace medication with technology,” Berglund told Business Insider.

The app, called Natural Cycles, was founded in Switzerland by Elina Berglund and her husband Raoul Scherwizl. They created the app as a way to go “beyond contraception,” and to “get to know your body and unique cycles,” according to their website.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

4 Tips to Aim Your Sword at the Enemy

Let me share with you some of the characteristics of men that I have seen who have their sword facing the enemy, alert like Gideon's men at the water (Judg. 7).

1) Commit to Be Clean

A man aiming his sword will one day in his life make a commitment to be clean. While speaking at singles and youth conferences, I often have young men and women come to the altar to commit their sexuality to Christ.

The Bible says, "For as [a man] thinketh (yes, I like the word thinketh) in his heart so is he" (Proverbs 23:7a, KJV). As a psychologist, I know we are today the sum of our commitments and the discipline to keep them. As a man, if I commit to something, I will attract the people and things I need to fulfill that commitment.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Free Speech Endangered If Twitter, Facebook and Google Continue Censorship, Conservative Leaders Warn

Marjorie Dannenfelser, Tony Perkins, Todd Starnes, Larry Elder, and Dennis Prager participate in a panel session on online censorship at Proclaim 18, the National Religious Broadcasters' (NRB) International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 2, 2018.
Leading tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are censoring the online posts of Christians and conservatives — and if this trend continues, it won't be long before free speech in America is gone, conservative leaders have warned.

During a session on public policy and online censorship at Proclaim 18, the National Religious Broadcasters' (NRB) International Christian Media Convention, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn shared how, last year, Twitter blocked a campaign video in which she discussed her efforts to stop Planned Parenthood's "sale of baby body parts."

US bishops voice support for First Amendment Defense Act

The U.S. bishops have voiced their strong support for a bill protecting individuals and institutions from discrimination by the federal government based on their beliefs about marriage, regardless of what those beliefs are.

"We welcome and applaud the recent reintroduction of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA),” wrote Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville and Bishop James Conley of Lincoln in a March 14 statement. Archbishop Kurtz chairs the US bishops' Committee for Religious Liberty, while Bishop Conley is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

St Louis program trains priests in business, finances

While the intellectual formation of pastors is dominated by philosophy and theology, their pastoral duties also require something beyond the intellectual and spiritual aspects – a business component.

The Pastoral Leadership Institute has developed a curriculum to train priests in business and an administration skills, enabling pastors to better understand the financial properties of a parish.

Monday, 12 March 2018

7 Sure Signs You're in a 'Christian' Cultish Church

Are you in a Christian cult? A cult-like church? Is your church leadership manipulating and controlling you?

It's hard to believe these things happen—but they do. And many times you feel like you must be crazy or that the enemy is just making false accusations. I came out of a cultish church.

I'm offering you seven signs and personal examples of Christian cults and cult-like churches.

Want more on this topic? This book really helped me understand what I was dealing with and brought a lot of healing. Check it out

Friday, 9 March 2018

Why We Must Win the Trust Battle

What is it that draws people to you? Dr. Steve Greene offers advice to Christian marketers on how to win consumers' trust and leave people with the answers they seek. Don't miss it.

Behar Reportedly Apologizes for Pence Remark, Some Not Buying It

Disney CEO Bob Iger
 A host of ABC News' The View, Joy Behar, has reportedly apologized for comments she made against Vice President Mike Pence's Christian faith.

Los Angeles Times reporter Daniel Miller tweeted Thursday that during a shareholders meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger "says Joy Behar apologized for things she has said about Christians and the Trump administration. Iger agrees that was appropriate."

Entertainment reporter Joe Flint of The Wall Street Journal tweeted Thursday, "Disney CEO Bob Iger says he took exception with Joy Behar's remarks about Christianity and VP Mike Pence. Says Behar apologized to Pence."

Thursday, 8 March 2018

6 Pastors Arrested in Rwanda for Planning to Defy Gov't Ban on 'Unclean' Churches

Rwandan police have arrested six Christian pastors on grounds that they are planning to defy a recent order that closed more than 700 churches that allegedly don't meet safety and cleanliness standards.

AFP reports that authorities in the African country announced Tuesday that they had arrested six "masterminds" plotting to defy the government's  shutdown of 714 churches and one mosque that were deemed unsafe, unclean and noisey in the capital city of Kigali.

The government accuses the religious leaders, all Pentecostals, of holding meetings where they discussed resistance of the order, which was issued last week.

Pentecostals worship at a church in Nigeria.
"After the suspension of churches that did not meet required standards, some church leaders began illegal meetings intended to defy and obstruct the directive," Rwanda National Police spokesperson Theos Badege told the international news agency. "Police began investigations to find the masterminds behind this illegal act."

Five Pakistan Christians attacked by mob while building a church wall

Five Christians were attacked by a mob of 20 as they tried to build a wall around their church in Pakistan on Sunday, according to the persecution website World Watch Monitor.

'Our church elder, George Masih, who is 70, was overseeing masons and labourers who were constructing the wall. We were praying [inside the church] when we heard shouting and yelling, and, when we rushed outside, we saw about 20 men, armed with clubs and axes, [who] were beating Masih and others,' said the pastor of the Pakistan Gospel Assemblies church in Yousufwala village, on the outskirts of the Punjabi city of Sahiwal.

George Masih (left) and his son Babar were taken to hospital after the attack.
The dispute is thought to centre around the use of the land, which was originally set apart for communal purposes though the pastor said they had obtained permission to build the church on the land three years ago.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Male escort outs 40 gay priests and seminarians in dossier sent to Vatican

A 1,200-page dossier compiled by a male escort identifying 40 priests and seminarians engaged in homosexual activity in Italy has been sent to the Vatican by the archdiocese of Naples.

In a statement on the diocesan website and reported by AP, Cardinal Cresenzio Sepe stressed that none of the identified priests worked in Naples, but said he forwarded the file to the Vatican because 'there remains the gravity of the cases for which those who have erred must pay the price, and be helped to repent for the harm done'.

The dossier, which contains WhatsApp chats and other evidence, was compiled by a gay escort, Francesco Mangiacapra. He has told Italian media that he outed the priests because he could no longer stand their hypocrisy.

Teach primary school children about money, says archbishop's charity

Primary school pupils should be taught how to manage money, according to a charity founded by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Just Finance Foundation, which provides training teachers and helps school savings clubs, said in a joint response with the Church of England to a Department for Education consultation that learning where money comes from, when to spend and how to save is vital to children's ability to navigate adult life.

It said teaching financial skills should be be a mandatory part of personal, social, health, and economic education (PSHE) in primary schools and warned that a 'strong focus on sex and relationships education' could squeeze out other important areas of the subject.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Vatican releases slap down document rebuking modern-day heresies

The Vatican has issued a major document slapping down what it sees as modern day heresies.

Placuit Deo, or 'Pleasing to God,' is the first major anti-heresy document for 18 years after the controversial Dominus Iesus was published in 2000.

The four-page letter released on Thursday largely steers clear of the controversies that haunted its predecessor, which was accused of having an air of superiority towards other religions, particularly in its claim that non-Christians 'objectively speaking ... are in a gravely deficient situation' with regard to salvation.

Nigerian bishops map out ways to promote 'culture of life'

Amid ongoing violence and attacks against human dignity in Nigeria, the Catholic bishops of the country released a pastoral communique promoting a culture of life within the Church and nation.
“As the Church prepares to mark the golden jubilee of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae, we call on families to embrace and cultivate the culture of life, a culture marked by faith and solidarity,” read the statement released together by the bishops.

“In recognition of our divine mandate, may we remind all of the sacredness and inviolability of human life. No person, authority or institution has the right to terminate human life,” they continued.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Popular Christian Singer Declares Freedom From Satan's Attacks

Worship leader Kristian Stanfill says he was once held captive by the enemy and shame—but God freed him from all that. His song "Whole Heart" performed live at Passion 2018, is an ode to finding identity in Christ. Watch the official music video.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

More churches closed down in Algeria amid growing pressure on Christians

Two more churches have been closed down by local authorities in Algeria's north-western city of Oran amid growing pressure on Christians in the north African country, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM).

The two churches – L'Oratoire [The Oratory] in Oran's city centre, and a village church in Layayda (about 40km from Oran) – were sealed off by police on Tuesday this week, WWM reported.

According to the police notification, the churches did not have state approval. WWM said that the decision is not the first of its kind in Oran.

Under Algerian law all faiths are allowed to practise if they meet certain conditions, but proselytising is illegal.

The closures come after growing concerns about heightened government pressure on churches and Christians in Algeria, with the World Evangelical Alliance's (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission this week calling on authorities there to ensure religious freedom for people of all faiths.

What's in it for men? The benefits of getting married

While the phrase “ball and chain” is still sometimes tossed around by those who view marriage as a burden, a recent study shows that men who tie the knot reap a plethora of benefits.

“Indeed, the benefits of marriage for men are substantial by every conceivable measure, including money, a better sex life, and significantly better physical and mental health,” noted a recent study released by the Institute for Family Studies.

“There’s no doubt that marriage requires sacrifices… but it turns out that these sacrifices pay for themselves and more.”

Friday, 23 February 2018

What's the point of fasting, anyway?

God commanded it, Jesus practiced it, Church Fathers have preached the importance of it – fasting is a powerful and fundamental part of the Christian life.

But for many Catholics today, it's more of an afterthought: something we grudgingly do on Good Friday, perhaps on Ash Wednesday if we remember it. Would we fast more, especially during Lent, if we understood how helpful it is for our lives?

The answer to this, say both saints of the past and experts today, is a resounding “yes.”

“Let us take for our standard and for our example those that have run the race, and have won,” said Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo, founding executive director of the Institute of Catholic Culture and a deacon at Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Mclean, Va., of the saints.

“And...those that have run the race and won have been men and women of prayer and fasting.”

So what, in essence, is fasting?

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Pope Francis makes historic retreat by accepting Nigerian Bishop's resignation

Pope Francis made a historic climb-down on Monday as he accepted the resignation of a Nigerian bishop who had long been rejected by his diocesan priests but had been vocally backed by the pontiff.

Francis had warned priests in Nigeria's southern Ahiara diocese that they could lose their jobs if they did not accept Monsignor Peter Ebere Okpaleke as their bishop, according to Associated Press. The priests were given 30 days to confirm their obedience to the appointment, and the pope told rebellious priests to write a letter of apology to Okpaleke. Though 200 priests backed Okpaleke, several others did not, the Vatican said yesterday.

Okpaleke was appointed as bishop of Ahiara, in the Mbaise region, by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, but had been opposed by local priests who rejected the leadership of a bishop who hailed from Anambra region, outside of Mbaise. The opposition was such that Okpaleke had to be installed as bishop outside the diocese.

Monday, 19 February 2018

James Goll: 15 Essential Keys for Dream Interpretation

Walking in dream language and tapping into the mind and heart of God can be an exciting and exhilarating journey. But understanding and interpreting the revelation He gives in dreams can often be a complex and even confusing process.

These 15 keys will help you to simplify the process of dream interpretation:

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Palestine asks Vatican to defend Jerusalem’s status quo

Ryadh al Maliki
The Palestinian Foreign Affairs minister, Ryadh al Maliki, met officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State Feb. 16, asking the Holy See to amplify its voice defending the status quo in Jerusalem.

“It is important to understand that the situation of Jerusalem also deals with Christians,” the minister told CNA after the meeting, during a short briefing with journalists in the State of Palestine’s recently opened embassy to the Holy See.

“We would like the Holy See lead a conference of Christians in the Middle East, in order to make their voice stronger.”

Chronic shortage in Religious Education teachers could fuel prejudice

Religious Education is facing a chronic shortage in teachers prompting warnings of an increase in prejudice and stereotyping because pupils will grow up with knowing about other faiths.

The Department for Education is failing to recruit enough religious studies teachers, the Religious Education Council (REC) said, after government statistics revealed it was one of the worst subject for attracting new teachers.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Lust and Being in This World but Not of It

The concept of being in the world but not of it has been interpreted in different ways. There are those who believe that you need to physically move away from society and put yourself in a monastery or some other isolated place in order not to be of this world. I don't believe that this is biblical even though some people may temporarily go to an isolated place for prayer.

The biblical alternative is found in 2 Peter 1:4, which speaks of "having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Lust is what makes us participants in the corrupting influences of the world. Lust is a form of desire, which makes us believe that our happiness or contentment depends upon acquiring a certain thing. It could be a person or any material object. The world presents us with many false promises of happiness. Our primary source of peace and contentment should be from God.

Florida school shooting: America must 'call on the Lord' after 17 killed in deadly attack

At least 17 people are dead in yet another horrific school shooting in the US after a teenage gunman opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, with an AR-15 assault rifle.

The suspect has been named as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former pupil who was expelled from the school. It is the 18th school shooting incident in 2018 alone and the deadliest since 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook school in 2012.

Emergency services attend to one of the victims outside the school. Another 12 were shot inside the school building.

Three were shot dead outside the school when the attack began at 14.30 local time (19.30GMT) before the attacker went inside the building and killed another 12, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters. Another two later died in hospital. Some victims are still being identified and three people remain in a critical condition while three others are in stable condition.

South African bishops welcome president's resignation

Catholic leaders in South Africa applauded news of President Jacob Zuma’s resignation, stressing the need to root out corruption at all levels of government.

A Feb. 14 statement from the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference welcomed news of the resignation, calling it “long overdue.”

“While for some it may be a painful event, we call on all to accept his decision as part of our democratic process,” said the statement, signed by Archbishop Stephen Brislin, president of the bishops’ conference.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

9 Churches Burned to the Ground In New Wave of Attacks

In Nigeria, a new wave of attacks has seen dozens killed in Christian communities across the country.

The violence has hit the northeastern state of Adamawa, one of the most affected by Boko Haram, and also the Middle Belt states of Nasarawa and Benue, where Fulani herdsmen have caused havoc in recent years.

In Adamawa state, a Christian student was killed, and others injured, in an attack by Muslim students at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH) of Yola, the state capital, on Feb. 4.

A local source, who wanted to remain anonymous, told World Watch Monitor that the incident started around 7 p.m., as some students were in their classes, studying for their exams scheduled the following day.

Why Churches and Religious Organizations Should Celebrate This New Law

Previously we have told you how churches and places of worship were being discriminated against and were prohibited from even applying to receive grants from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) in the wake of natural disasters.

Thankfully, FEMA announced in January of 2018 that they would put an end to these discriminating policies and that churches and places of worship would no longer be prohibiting from receiving these grants.

Are Selfies Evidence of the 'Last Days'? John Piper Answers

Theologian and Desiring God founder John Piper is weighing in on selfies, urging Christians and social media users to recognize that in a self-obsessed culture their self is actually meant to point to God.

In response to a question he was asked Monday about whether the large presence of selfies and self-centered social media is an indication that the last days are near — where 2 Timothy 3:1-2 speaks of "difficult times" and people being "lovers of self" — the theologian said yes and no.

Muslim teens sentenced to studying Qur'an references to Virgin Mary after mocking Christianity

In a refreshing twist on blasphemy sentences from the Middle East, three Lebanese teenagers who were charged with insulting Christianity have been given the unusual sentence of studying the references to the Virgin Mary found in the Qur'an.

It is relatively little-known that Muslims believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus Christ. And in a move that is being hailed as a progressive step towards interfaith relations, a Christian judge, Joceline Matta, found the Muslim boys guilty of 'contempt of religion' for insulting Mary.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Why Your Jealousy Might Be a Sign You Have a Poverty Mindset

What's the thing in your life that you desperately want God to change? Is it a cycle of insecurity, your personal health and fitness, the courage to get over your fear of speaking in front of people? Perhaps it's that you're longing for reconciliation in a particular relationship? I know that when you're in a season of waiting and holding onto God's promises, that one of the most painful things is seeing someone else walking in the very breakthrough you'd give anything to have. It feels like salt in a wound, and if you're not careful, you can allow this to magnify your perceived lack.

Today I want to tell you that this thinking is not helping you in any way, and in fact, it could be keeping you from your breakthrough. What if I told you that the thing you're jealous of might very well be the answer you're looking for?

Pope, Bangladesh Prime Minister discuss Rohingya crisis at Vatican

Just two months after his recent visit to Bangladesh, Pope Francis Monday welcomed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the Vatican, where they discussed positive inter-faith relations in the country and the need to find a lasting solution to the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis.

According to a Feb. 12 Vatican communique, the conversation was cordial and highlighted the positive bilateral relations between the two and the success of Francis' recent, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 visit to Bangladesh.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Winter Olympics already setting records with 110k condoms available to athletes

Both men and women Olympic athletes at the Winter Games in South Korea will be given an average of 37 condoms each.

Olympic officials are distributing 110,000 prophylactics in grab-as-many-as-you-want baskets at athlete bathrooms, apartments, medical clinics, media rooms, and wherever the competitors gather, according to the South China Morning Post.

CNN asked if Olympic organizers are “expecting the most promiscuous Winter Games in modern history?”

Spirit-Filled TV Station Reaches Even More Viewers

GEB continues to expand its availability to viewers across the country. The Faith-and-Family Network is now on Amazon Fire TV. Viewers just need to search for GEB to watch live 24/7.

"We want viewers to find great faith and family programming on every platform possible," said GEB's Chief Executive Officer Ossie Mills. "Amazon Fire TV joins a long list of options for viewers to find GEB's inspirational programming."

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Cardinal Marx: Bill banning circumcision in Iceland a threat to religious freedom

A new bill proposed in Iceland that would make circumcision punishable by up to six years in prison is a “dangerous attack” on religious freedom, Cardinal Reinhard Marx has said.

“Protecting the health of children is a legitimate goal of every society, but in this case this concern is instrumentalized, without any scientific basis, to stigmatise certain religious communities. This is extremely worrying,” Marx said in a statement.

Mike Pence Will Be Replaced By This Famous Face at National Prayer Breakfast

It has been quite the hectic week for star quarterback Carson Wentz, and it looks like it just got even more exciting.
After the Eagles took home the Lombardi trophy at the weekend, Wentz announced his engagement to long-term girlfriend Madison Oberg. Here's the third piece of the trifecta: Wentz is reportedly replacing Vice President Mike Pence as the keynote speaker for the National Prayer Breakfast, taking place Thursday in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Baptist Theologian Likens Football to 'Gladiators Killing Each Other'

While much of America was watching Super Bowl LII and hailing the Philadelphia Eagles' championship win, a Baptist theologian argued that the sport causes brain damage and likened its celebration to people cheering on gladiators fighting to the death.

Roger E. Olson, professor of Christian Theology of Ethics at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, wrote in a blog post Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl, that the facts are "irrefutable" when it comes to "long-term and irreversible brain damage in many players."

"Anyone who doesn't know this simply hasn't been paying attention. And in some cases, that brain damage has probably led to violent behavior, including suicides and murders, that probably would not have happened otherwise," he argued.

RISE up and be a man – 30 day challenge builds masculine and Catholic habits

A new 30-day challenge maps out daily actions for men hoping to live authentic masculine Catholicism by reclaiming the identities of sons, brothers, fathers, and spouses, its creators say.

“This program is rooted in four primary identities that sum up masculinity … that all men share in the call to fatherhood, all men are sons, all men are brothers, and all men are spouses,” said Chris Stefanick, host of EWTN’s “Real Life Catholic” and co-creator of RISE.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Mass Graves of Rohingya Refugees Discovered in Myanmar Reveal Shocking Horror of Faces Burned by Acid

Mass graves where Rohingya Muslims refugees have been buried in Myanmar reveal the shocking extent of the genocide that has been taking place, an investigative report has found.

"The faces of the men half-buried in the mass graves had been burned away by acid or blasted by bullets," began an Associated Press report documenting the graves on Thursday.

The 21 Day Challenge: How 3 weeks could revolutionise your spiritual life

Christian commitment to a year of spiritual resolve can be a daunting prospect, but three weeks may be all it takes to revolutionise your life. YouVersion, the team behind the popular Bible App, is once again inviting users to undertake the 21 Day Challenge, starting February 1.

The task is to commit to a Bible-reading plan (or several), of which there are many hosted by the app, for 21 consecutive days. Succeeding at this relatively modest commitment is believed to be the path to establishing a long-term habit.

YouVersion wrote: 'Just three weeks of consistent behaviour can carry you well on your way to a new habit. That's why we created the annual 21-Day Challenge: to help you engage with the Bible every day. Start a new plan now... and start each day in this new year with a fresh perspective.'

The approach draws on the popular notion, drawn from the thought of Dr Maxwell Maltz, that 21 days of resolve are what it takes to form a habit. It may also be a complete myth that the idea belongs to Maltz or that it reliably works, but it remains influential. Like the progressive stretching of a muscle, daily, dedicated exercise of the human will can train and expand its potential.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

One Dead After Train Carrying GOP Members Crashes Into Dump Truck

An Amtrak passenger train carrying Republican members of the U.S. Congress from Washington to a retreat in West Virginia slammed into a garbage truck on Wednesday in Crozet, Virginia, killing one person aboard the truck, authorities said.

There was one confirmed fatality and one serious injury in the collision, the White House said. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, who was aboard the train, said on Twitter that three people were in the truck and one was killed. Of the other two, Cassidy said, one sustained major injuries and one had minor injuries.

The Rise of Generation Z

It was 1971 when I was a young teen like my grandson. Back then, we wrote our assignments in cursive, went home to houses that cost about $25,000 to build. Our parents paid 35 cents for a gallon of gas, while they earned about $10 thousand per year. No kid imagined having an iPhone.

There's another change since then. More Americans have no religious identity—many have no need for God.

This is especially true in my grandson's generation—the so-called Generation Z. The Barna Group recently published their findings about those born between 1999-2015. While you couldn't pick a better time to live in a technologically advanced society, it looks grim for the American faith community. Only 4 in 100 teens in this group have a Biblical worldview. Generation Z is the least Christian generation in American history.

Does this matter?

‘Google Home’ refuses to answer ‘Who is Jesus,’ but has lots to say about Muhammed, Buddha, Satan

While 'smart' technology gives the impression that it knows just about everything, it appears that Google Home cannot answer the question, "who is Jesus?"

Author and television producer David Sams conducted an experiment and streamed it live on Facebook. He noted answers from the most popular “smart” machines when asked, “Who is Jesus Christ?”

When he asked Google Home “Who is Jesus Christ?” the reply he received was, “I’m not sure how to help you with that.”

Monday, 29 January 2018

This One Area Can Make or Break You in the Spiritual Realm

I have counseled with many men over the years who have doubled or more than doubled their income shortly after cleaning up the area of sexuality in their lives.

Sex can make or break your spiritual realm and other areas of authority that God has given to you. Both contemporary and biblical examples demonstrate the connection between sexuality and authority.

Why Do So Many Christians Overlook This Common Way God Answers Prayer?

Gazing at creation, all around we see the results of the power of God, who flung the stars into place, the planets into alignment and brought about life—all out of nothing. Reading our Bibles, we see stories of dramatic encounters with God and His miracle-working power to heal, deliver and protect. We are assured of promises that through Him, all things are possible.

Have you ever wondered, then, "Why do we have doctors and medicine if God can heal?" "Why security if God can protect?" Or even, "Why preachers if God can reveal Himself?" Ever felt guilty for using some of these manmade creations, fearing a lack of trust or patience in God? I have.

God Partners With People

Although the Bible clearly illustrates God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and that He did and continues to perform mighty miracles, it also uncovers what may be an equally astonishing truth: God uses people.

Consider just a few examples from Scripture. To protect His people from impending disaster, God used Noah to build a boat. When Israel needed deliverance from captivity in Egypt, God used Moses to bring them out. To reveal Christ to people who did not know Him, He used the preaching of Peter and Paul. In each instance, God chose to partner with people for feats that He was more than capable to do all by Himself.

As God is certainly aware His choice to use people brings plenty of limitations. In almost every case, it means His desired outcome takes much longer to come to pass. Or, unfortunately, because of human missteps and mistakes, that it doesn't come to pass at all. At times, it means people get hurt, they pass on, and consequently, that God's reputation gets tarnished by it all.

We Are Christ's Body on Earth

But as an example of a perfect delegator, God is willing to take these risks and more as an act of love for us. In using people to do what He could otherwise do instantly and flawlessly, He gives us a sense of worth, purpose and affirmation. In the process of obedience, we are fine-tuned and perfected. But perhaps most of all, God knows that flesh best relates to flesh. That is, after all, why He came to earth through Jesus as a human being. He knew He needed to become one of us, with all the human limitations, in order to show us the way out of our brokenness. Now today, as the body of Christ on this earth, in all kinds of ways, God chooses to use people as His hands, feet, mouth and heart.

Certainly, pray for God's instant breakthroughs and the manifestations of His miracle power. But be careful not to reject the people He puts on your path to help you. The answers to your prayers might come through community, the talent of a God-gifted person or the story of someone who's "been there, too."

Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Disgusting Thing 'Shape of Water' Reveals About Our Culture

The Shape of Water received 13 Academy Award nominations yesterday, one short of the record. The plot follows a mute custodian who develops a sexual relationship with a humanoid-amphibian creature.

Due to the film's graphic nudity, I will not see it. As to why it received so many nominations, I defer to a film critic who noted: "Perhaps the best argument in its favor is that, in a weird way, it's a film that speaks to our times. One could interpret The Shape of Water as being about a mute woman who finds her voice with the help of her gay and African-American friends to take down the sexually predatory, bigoted patriarchy."

Doomsday Clock: We're Two Minutes From Midnight

The atomic scientists behind the doomsday clock just bumped the ticking hands to two minutes before midnight.

According to their latest bulletin:
2018: The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity's future is lamentable—but that failure can be reversed. It is two minutes to midnight, but the Doomsday Clock has ticked away from midnight in the past, and during the next year, the world can again move it further from apocalypse. The warning the Science and Security Board now sends is clear, the danger obvious and imminent. The opportunity to reduce the danger is equally clear. The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation. But there is a flip side to the abuse of social media. Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren. They can insist on facts, and discount nonsense. They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Let's brush up our animal theology

I saw a very touching news item. A cancer charity is investing in donkey therapy for young survivors of cancer. For a few months the youngsters get to spend time with their donkey. Animal and human get to know each other. In fact, donkeys are incredibly empathetic to human suffering.

Over the weeks, alongside other young cancer survivors, as they nurture and look after the donkeys the youngsters find time to talk about their problems and begin their road to emotional recovery.

The charity is so thrilled by the results that it is looking to extend the project.

In my parish we have a donkey in a field next to us. Or we had one. His name was Herbie and he was a beautiful creature. If I was having a bad day I would go over and pet him. Herbie used to have a partner. They were friends for years. When his friend died, Herbie stood next to the body for a day, mourning the loss of his mate.

Donkeys are incredibly sensitive and gentle creatures. I wonder if that's why Jesus rode on one. But this opens us up to think about the creative universe and how iit reveals God. The ancient Celts understood this very clearly – seeing God in the whole of creation.

I own three cats. Cats are graceful and gentle creatures and they have extraordinary powers of empathy. Ten years ago my wife had a brain haemorrhage. She had to lie flat for a whole year at home. It was torture. But my lovely tom cat Lance spent each and every day on her pillow and would cheer her up, groom her and give her a good purr. She says she would never have got through the year without him. Now she is better he has gone back to sleeping all day. Job done! Mission accomplished.

My little cat Luna has become a pastoral star as well. People come to see me and sometimes they are dealing with very upsetting issues in their lives. One big fella came last week and he was crying. The next minute Luna had jumped up onto his lap and began licking his bald head.

Damascus bombing kills 9 in Christian districts

An estimated nine people were killed in a bombing on Monday afternoon in Damascus. The shelling targeted the Bab Touma and al-Shaghour districts, which are historically Christian areas, and several churches were damaged as well.

At least 18 additional people in Old Damascus were injured in the bombings.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A bomb reportedly caused “severe damage” to the Maronite cathedral in Damascus. According to Archbishop Samir Nassar, the bomb also knocked out water and electricity.

This is not Archbishop Samir’s first brush with death this month: a bomb hit his bedroom Jan. 8. He survived unscathed due to an extremely well-timed trip to the bathroom before the bombing began.

The Maronites are an Eastern Catholic Church that is in full communion with Rome. There are about 3 million Maronites in the world. Although the church originated in the Levant, there are now significant Maronite populations in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. The Maronites have faced persecution throughout their history.

The Syrian civil war began nearly seven years ago, in March 2011. More than 400,000 people have been killed. At least 4.8 million have become refugees, and another 8 million have been internally displaced.

What began as demonstrations against the nation’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has become a complex fight among the Syrian regime; moderate rebels; Kurds; and Islamists such as Tahrir al-Sham and the Islamic State.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Bolivia's ban on evangelism causing mounting concern around the world

Concern is mounting rapidly among Christians over a new law that threatens to ban evangelism in Bolivia.

The World Baptist Alliance is the latest in a number of prominent organisations to protest the legislation that brackets criminal groups with religious organisations and bans people trying to 'recruit' others to take part in 'armed conflicts or religious or worship organisations'.

It means that those holding evangelistic events could face imprisonment.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Why do some young people leave the Church? A new study investigates

A national two-year study released this week offers a look at why young people are leaving the Church as early as age 13.

The study was released yesterday by St. Mary’s Press and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (CARA).

Of those who left the Catholic Church, the median age for doing so was 13 years old, the study found. Seventy-four percent of the 214 former Catholics interviewed said that they decided to leave the Church between the ages of 10 and 20.

“We heard young people describe the beginnings of their questioning and doubts as early as fifth grade, some even younger,” said John Vitek, one of the principal authors of the study.

Peace and progress start with education, Francis says at Chilean university

Speaking to Chilean university students and academics Wednesday, Pope Francis said Catholic educational institutions play a prophetic role in helping future generations tackle problems with an integrated, inclusive approach.

“In our day, the mission entrusted to you is prophetic,” the Pope said Jan. 17 to a crowd of  some 2,400 students and academics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. “You are challenged to generate processes that enlighten contemporary culture by proposing a renewed humanism that eschews every form of reductionism.”

This prophetic role on the part of Catholic universities is a key motive in seeking out “ever new spaces for dialogue rather than confrontation,” he said.

Christ statue in Peru suffers smoke damage

Last weekend, just days before Pope Francis’ visit to Peru, a fire was set that damaged part of Cristo del Pacifico, a 120 foot tall statue located in Lima, the nation’s capital.

According to RPP News, five fire department units responded and put out the fire Jan. 13, which caused noticeable smoke damage to the back part the the statue.

“So far the motive leading to the incident is unknown; but the theory has come up that this may have been done  because of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit,” RPP stated.

Cristo del Pacifico is a 70 feet tall sculpture set on a 50 foot base and can be seen from several areas of the capital. It was dedicated June 29, 2011.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Man Undergoes 167 Gender-Reassignment Surgeries, But Peace Still Eludes Him

Recently I interviewed a person whose experience with gender-change surgeries was so extreme, it gained him entry in the Guinness World Records book for the most gender-reassignment surgeries for an individual person.

Blair Logsdon's story is a cautionary tale for anyone today who is considering the use of cross-gender hormones and gender-change surgery to feel better about themselves.

Logsdon underwent 167 surgeries from 1987 to 2005 in his quest to resolve gender dysphoria with surgery. On a cold, snowy December morning in a Maryland coffee shop, he shared with me his story.

Ear Buddies

The company water cooler, a symbolic gathering post for employee chatter disguised as a refreshment center, has gurgled into a resting place for analog office tools.

I read a brief story about digital chatter in the Jan/Feb edition of The Atlantic.

While reading the story, I could only respond with a deep "Duh!" This is the sentence that evoked my guttural response:

     "Workplace technology is revolutionizing how we communicate in the office."

The horse left that barn many years ago.

Companies discovered open office structures in the 1950s. Walk through any collection of cubicles or divider-free tables and you'll find digital walls guarding the mind-space of knowledge workers. The walls bear striking resemblance to earbuds or, perhaps, headphones.