All posts filed under: Main

Splitting churches: That LGBTQ Issue

A very large split is happening in some churches, these days. You might have heard of the United Methodist Church, a very large denomination with many churches, and their arguments about sexual identity. One of the largest Christian communities in the world is falling apart. This morning I went for a walk with some neighbors and someone remembered me from many years ago. I asked him where we met, and he named my old family church. He still recognized me, after all these years. We talked, and he explained that he lived near us, with his husband. I tried to avoid an awkward pause in the conversation. At our church, a lady that we know was talking to some of us, including a pastor. She talked about her life, and what was happening to her. One issue was that she had recently broken up with her girlfriend. That was awkward. You probably have similar stories. So, with Gay, Trans, LGBTQ or any identification; what should we do? There are other issues, like abortion, and the …

Supernatural Patience and Endurance

By Rick Renner

Here is an important fact to know about the apostolic ministry: God didn’t leave it to us to guess who is a true apostle and who is not! I’m thankful for that! In Second Corinthians 12:12 the apostle Paul wrote by the Holy Spirit about the signs that will help us discern correctly whether an apostle is in our midst. He said, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”

‘The Chosen’ surprised and placed third in theater box office sales this past weekend

The Chosen is a multi season TV series on the life of Jesus portrayed in the Gospels. Each episode focuses on one of the stories. Now in its third season, the first two episodes were released as a special-screening in 2,012 theaters across the US this past weekend. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show shocked Hollywood as it grossed $8,7 million on its first weekend, and ended up as the third most watched movie. Leading the way was Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with $67.3 million on its second weekend of viewing. Second place fell to another new release, a comedy-horror movie called The Menu, which had $9 million in sales, but was viewed in 3,211 theaters, a third more than The Chosen. The Chosen beat out releases by such Hollywood franchises as Disney, Universal and DC Comics. It also outsold, She Said that covered the exposure of notorious Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein by New York Times reporter Jodi Cantor. Writing for the Texas Monthly, Sean O’Neal, said the show portrays Jesus’ disciples as real, …

Micro churches, the New Testament pattern?

Churches are still reporting a significant drop in attendance in 2022, following the lockdowns in 2021 that saw church services curtailed in many countries. According to reports, in 2019, 34% of Americans attended a service at least once a month, and recent surveys indicate this has dropped to 27% in 2022. The same thing is happening in Canada, where the government’s StatsCanada reported that the number of people who attended a religious service at least once a month has dropped from 23% to 19% in 2022. These are interesting days for the churches that still haven’t recovered from the pandemic and related lockdowns. But these difficult times, may also provide an opportunity to rethink church. An Assemblies of God church in Gainesville, Florida may provide a pattern for such a transformation, micro churches, AG News reports. In 2004, when Mike A. Patz became the lead pastor of the 3,500 member Greenhouse Church in Gainesville, Florida, God gave him a vision of having the church return to the pattern found in the Book of Acts of …

Roman Catholic Doctrine: the veneration of Mary

The Roman Catholic Church’s veneration of Mary started centuries ago in the church’s battle with Gnosticism, a belief that separated the spirit of a man from his flesh. Flesh was evil, and the spirit was good. As part of this belief, a person could basically sin as much as they wanted in the flesh, because the spirit remained pure, a view hinted at and condemned by Paul in Romans 6:1. The Gnostics also believed that because of the Lord’s sinless life, Jesus could not have been human or born in flesh, and that He appeared on earth in spirit form. As this heresy spread in the early church, Christ’s humanity, became a test for the spirits; 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, (1 John 4:3 NIV) To counter this heresy, the church began to push and exalt Mary, Jesus’s earthly mother, as evidence of Christ’s human birth. But by the third and fourth century, it had …

Violence: Are we ready?

A few years ago, I was driving on a wide and busy road. It was a warm summer evening, and I was caught in a slow stream of traffic. It all seemed normal. On the other side of the wide road, and slightly ahead, I noticed a group of people. I glanced over at them, and it looked like an argument was starting. It looked a bit scary, when I looked closely. One older man was talking to some younger men. The older man was not old, just older than the others. He was probably native. The young men were white, and they looked like skinheads. They had short hair and work boots, and they seemed aggressive. The boots are important in this story. If we could describe a racialized and ugly encounter, like a scene in a movie, this was it. Then the fight started. The lone, older man was shoved, and he fell to the ground, on his hands and knees. The fight continued, and I can still picture one of the young …

To the ‘Holy Ones’ in Corinth: Insights into How God’s See the Church

By Dr. Michael Brown We are often in the habit of reading the Bible without paying attention to what we’re reading. The words are so familiar that we just gloss over them. Or the biblical terminology has lost its meaning to us, so the significance of what we’re reading fails to register. In that light, we should revisit Paul’s words to the believers of Corinth. He wrote, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people . . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:2, NIV, my emphasis). Or in the old English of the King James Version, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints . . . .” Five more times in this letter Paul referred to the believers in Corinthians as “saints” (or “holy ones”) which was a common expression for God’s people in the Bible. Yet these believers were hardly saints (and I don’t mean that in the later, …

Roman Catholic doctrine: What is Purgatory?

The Roman Catholic Church has several beliefs that differ from Protestant doctrine. One of them is purgatory. The American Heritage Dictionary defines purgatory this way: In the belief of Roman Catholics and others, a place of purgation in which the souls of those dying penitent are purified from venial sins, or undergo the temporal punishment which, after the guilt of mortal sin has been remitted, still remains to be endured by the sinner. Catholics believes purgatory is a place where the souls of Christians will go after death in order to pay the penalty for their ‘venial’ sins. Though the punishment can include fire (though some Catholic theologians disagree), it is looked upon more as a purifying process than a punishment, which is what hell involves. Nevertheless, it is a place where people will receive punishment for their sins, and once that punishment has been paid, they will be allowed to enter heaven. The idea of purgatory, which comes from the Latin word purgatorium and means to cleanse, was officially incorporated into Roman Catholic doctrine …

Man’s rescue involved ‘a bit of divine intervention’

There was an amazing story of how a man out kayaking on Lake George, a long narrow lake located on the Southern edge of the Adirondack Mountains in New York State was rescued by several missionaries after his kayak overturned. The lake drains into Lake Champlain through the rapidly flowing La Chute River which drops over 200 feet (ca. 61 m) and has several waterfalls and rapids. This has resulted in the formation of strong currents on the narrow lake. In September, Jimmy McDonald, a former drug addict, was out kayaking with his family when he unknowingly drifted into a section of the lake with a strong current while taking photos and videos with his new cellphone, God TV reports. After realizing what was happening, McDonald tried to paddle back but was unable to because it was too strong. Then McDonald’s kayak flipped, and he found himself in the water. His lifejacket, which didn’t fit properly, was now being pushed over his head. McDonald was unable to right the kayak, and sitting in the cold …

Addressing Self-Delusion

By Dr James Emery White

Money blogger Carl Richards of the New York Times used to think that helping someone get very clear on their current financial reality was the easy part of financial planning. Once reality was framed, the hard part started: like determining where you want to be in 20 years, and then guessing at such things as the rate of return you will earn and inflation.

The Euphrates River: Can we believe the predictions?

Are huge rivers disappearing? Are we moving to Armageddon? Is there any reason to believe Bible prophecy? The Bible makes many predictions about the times that we are living in. In general, things will get worse, even terrible, and then God will intervene. Intervention is also known as the second coming of Jesus. I am a Christian, but imagine taking the point-of-view of a doubter, a skeptic. If we don’t believe, why should we start now? There are different ideas about where our world is going. One of my best answers is, see the possibilities. Recently, scientists have become worried about the Euphrates river, and its twin, the Tigris. The cradle of ancient civilization formed near them, and they are important in many Bible stories. They form a huge fresh-water system that millions of people depend on, in the heart of the Middle East. The Bible predicted, thousands of years ago, that the Euphrates will dry up, and this will be important for events at the end of this age. Huge armies, from the east, …

Prove all things

By Rick Renner

I once bought a violin that I was sure was an authentic Stradivarius violin. Of course, if it was real, it was worth several million dollars. Before I purchased it, I studied documents about how to recognize a real Stradivarius compared to a well-made copy. After convincing myself that I had found a real Stradivarius in a remote antique shop in Russia, I purchased it. But after an examination by a violin expert, it proved to be nothing more than a very old, fabulous fake.

Why forgiveness is like an onion

According to a recent survey conducted by the American Bible Society, Americans who regularly read their Bible are more able to forgive others than those who don’t. In its survey, ABS asked people to respond to this statement: “I am able to sincerely forgive whatever someone else has done to me, regardless of whether they ever ask for forgiveness or not.” The survey found that 94% of those who considered themselves to be scripturally engaged agreed with that statement, compared to only 6% who did not. Scripturally engaged people were defined as those who believe the Bible impacts their daily lives and relationship with God and others. In comparison, only 59% of the people who were not scripturally engaged agreed with that statement. As believers, we understand that we must forgive those who hurt us. This was one of Christ’s major messages, we have to forgive, because we have been forgiven. But I would like to point out one important point about forgiveness. You may need to forgive the same incident more than once. When …

Have you been to an angry demonstration lately? Who do you blame?

So, how are you? Are you angry, sad, anxious, excited …? The list can be long. Our culture is changing. People are arguing about things we didn’t talk about a few years ago. Do you believe in a climate emergency, or are those climate people crazy? We also have politics, and abortion, and sexual identity … and that list is long. What we seem to have is a cultural civil war, and the arguments are getting louder. This “war” can become violent. I don’t know how many have died, but some people have been injured in the fights: In the country of Brazil, which makes up about half a continent, a recent election split the vote evenly between liberals and conservatives. The liberals won by about one percent, and now the country is divided. I hope they can work out their differences, but it’s not easy to win a cultural civil war. Expect demonstrations. So, what is happening to us? Why are we changing? There may be many reasons, but psychologists have an expression that …

Is a blood moon occurring on the night of the 2022 American mid-term election significant?

The astronomical phenomenon referred to as a blood or red moon, occurs when the sun, earth and moon align in such a way that the earth partially blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the moon. In a sense, the moon is moving into the earth’s shadow. However, the earth is not large enough to completely block the sun. As its rays move through the edges of the earth’s atmosphere, the blue is basically scattered, and the red is deflected towards the moon giving it an orange or red hue. Curiously, CBN is reporting that there will be a blood moon on November 8, 2022, the night of the midterm elections in the United States. Some have wondered if there is some special significance to this coinciding with what many believe is a major political event in the US, which could see a shift in the political climate in both the America’s Senate and House of Representatives. When God created the universe, the lights in the night sky were intended to serve as signs: 14 And God …

Forgiveness

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. — Luke 17:3 By Rick Renner When I was a young boy, I had a baseball coach who really disliked me. No matter how hard I tried to please him, he poked fun at me and tried to embarrass me in front of my teammates. His words and behavior would hurt me deeply, but I can remember my father telling me to forgive him. My dad would gently urge me to “grin and bear it” because these things happen in life. So when my coach insulted me, I’d do my best to forgive him and then muster the strength to wipe away my tears and walk back onto the ball field. It was wrong of that baseball coach to treat me in that way, but his negativity provided a good learning experience to help prepare me for life. I’m so thankful my father taught me to forgive, get back on the field, and not let the words …

Forgiving ourselves

Though we are exhorted throughout the Bible to forgive others, perhaps the biggest challenge that believers face is forgiving ourselves when we have done wrong. Maybe our actions, intentional or otherwise, caused harm to others or maybe we failed to help, and we just can’t seem to shake these feelings of failure and condemnation. Though the Bible does not directly state that we must forgive ourselves, it is implied throughout the scriptures. We start with how God treats our sins by tossing them into the deepest part of the ocean, which some have described as the sea of forgetfulness: He will again have compassion on us;    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.You will cast all our[a] sins    into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19 ESV) Isaiah describes God putting our sins behind His back, so He sees them no more (Isaiah 38:17). God has chosen to forgive and completely forget our sins, but many of us struggle with seeing ourselves as God sees u. The Jews understood the importance of this and actually developed the tradition …

Hezekiah’s Pool of Siloam plaque?

Hezekiah was the 13th King of Judah and by all accounts one of Judah’s better kings. He is better known as the king who changed God’s mind after, the prophet Isaiah delivered a message that Hezekiah, who was probably 39 years old at the time, would die from the boil that was plaguing him. After receiving the news Hezekiah turned to prayer and this literally changed God’s mind, who told Isaiah to return and pronounce healing to the sick King (2 Kings 20:1-5). There have been several archaeological discoveries confirming Hezekiah’s reign. The most recent took place in 2007, when archaeologists discovered a fragment of a larger limestone plaque that was possibly installed on a building that contained Hezekiah’s name and a possible reference to one of his achievements. The 5.3 inches (ca. 13 cm) by 3.7 inches (ca. 9 cm) piece found by Archaeologist Eli Shukron and University of Haifa professor Gershon Galil in the old city of Jerusalem contained two lines. They believed it was part of a larger plaque because there was a …

Burning Bibles? How about eating them?

Did you know that burning bibles is a common thing, during protests? To make some point, Bibles put in a fire, and somehow that level of aggression communicates something useful. Really, burning books is irrational behavior. The person who owns the book can replace it, and continue reading. With online books, a cell phone can hold a large library. Angry protesters are not trying to destroy all copies of a book. They are trying to emphasize an angry point. I don’t think it’s working. The world is not being moved by displays of anger, book burning. Different books may be burned, but the one that gets burned the most seems to be the Christian Bible. The video linked here is more than a year old, but if you can access it, the fuel in the protest fire is the pages of a Bible. Recently, a speaker was invited to a College, in Wisconsin, U.S. and were confronted by protesters outside. The contentious issue seemed to be about trans-sexual ideas. A young man decided to make …

Don’t Allow the Media to Shape Your Opinions and Views

By Dr. Michael Brown Has this ever happened to you? You form an opinion about someone based on what others have said, only to meet them and find out that you had a totally wrong impression? Or you’ve read select quotes from a person, only to learn that these quotes, which were taken out of context, painted a very false picture? Headlines and Soundbites Are Manipulated to Mislead I had been following a political race in one state from a distance, very much opposed to the Democratic candidate but not particularly happy with the Republican candidate, either. He sounded like an unreasonable extremist, not to mention a loose cannon. At least that’s the way I often saw him portrayed while surveying a number of different websites. Finally, I decided to listen to him firsthand, and I was totally surprised. He was well spoken. He was careful in his choice of words. He was reasonable. And he sounded like a solid conservative rather than an extremist. I had been misled by a caricature of the man …

The Christian and pagan roots of Halloween

Halloween has its roots in both the ancient Roman Catholic tradition of All Saints’ Day and Celtic paganism. Traditionally, All Saints’ Eve or All Hallows Eve from which we get the term Halloween has been celebrated on Oct. 31 by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. All Saints Day was first commemorated by Pope Gregory III (731-741) on Nov 1, to honor the construction of an oratory for Saint Peter. The day was set aside to commemorate all who had died, particularly the saints and martyrs. All Saints’ Eve was celebrated the night before on Oct 31. Since the Roman Catholic Church believes in praying for the souls of the dead, this quickly became the main feature of the All Saints’ Day/Eve celebration. Roman Catholic theology believes in purgatory, which is a place where people can go to pay penance for their sins, before continuing on to heaven. The prayers for the dead are intended to shorten a soul’s stay in this intermediary state. The practice dilutes Jesus perfect sacrifice for the sins of the …

Christian Bakery wins Freedom of Religion case in California

A California court has just ruled in favor of a Christian bakeshop owner in Bakersfield who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2017. After Cathy Miller, the owner of Tastries Bakery, turned down their request, the couple took their case to California’s Department of Fair Housing. The agency in turn sued Cathy arguing she had discriminated against the lesbian couple under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The Thomas More Society, which represented Tastries Bakery, ironically noted that the Unruh Act intended to prevent discrimination based on religion, race or ethnicity was being used to enforce religious discrimination. However, the judge ruled that under the protection offered by America’s first amendment, Cathy could not be forced to perform an activity that violated her Christian beliefs. During the initial conversations with the lesbian couple, the bakery had no problems providing a cake or previously decorated cake, but would not custom decorate a cake to specifically promote their Lesbian wedding, since it violated their religious beliefs. The case itself took many unusual turns. …

In celebration of the church’s 3 main holidays, Christmas, Easter/Passover and Oct 31?

Christians all over the world would probably agree that the celebration of Christ’s birth and His death and Resurrection are the two most important days in the church’s calendar. But allow me to now add a third day, Oct. 31. No, I am not referring to Halloween or even All Saints’ Day. Halloween, birthed in pagan fears, has to be the worst thing for believers to celebrate. Overindulging in sugar and wearing silly outfits often glorifying evil is strange because evil does exist. Years ago when I did security for a large corporate hotel, Halloween was the worst day of the year for the drunks, fights and all-around mayhem. Yet, we, the church, already have this date, Oct. 31, to celebrate. It is the most significant date in church history since the Book of Revelation was written. The problem is that we collectively have all but forgotten what we have and where we came from. Most Christian historians and theologians agree that the Protestant Reformation started on Oct. 31 in 1517. On that auspicious day, …

Why is that Danish preacher in jail … in Florida?

Have you heard of a man named Torben Sondergaard? Probably not, but you can expect to hear much more, soon. I learned a few things, for the first time, recently, and the story is puzzling. The story that we have is; A man, who apparently worked as a Christian street preacher, in Denmark, left his home country and moved to the United States. He had argued with the authorities in Denmark, and he believed he was in danger of being persecuted. In the U.S. he was detained for smuggling weapons from Mexico. He claimed that he was innocent and that he had never been in Mexico or near the Mexican border. Also, he had never smuggled weapons, or used drugs, at any time. From his own words, when the authorities dropped the weapons accusations, he expected to be released, on bail. At that time, he did not get what he expected, he was kept in jail, in solitary confinement, and no one told him why. Apparently, he was recently released from solitary, and he began …

Study: Religion helped young people’s mental health

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV) A study conducted by Springside Research Institute (SRI), based in Winona, MN, has concluded that there is a positive relationship between religion/spirituality and good mental health, the Christian Post reports. The study entitled The State of Religion & Young People 2022: Mental Health–What Faith Leaders Need to Know came to the conclusion after surveying nearly 10,000 people between the ages of 13 and 25, also known as Generation Z. The study which focussed on the pandemic and related lockdowns found that during this period over half (53%) of those surveyed said they struggled with mental health issues during the pandemic years. The survey then questioned the remaining 47% who didn’t have mental health issues to find out why they didn’t struggle. The survey found of those who described themselves as …

What is a Plague?

And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. — Mark 5:29 By Rick Renner Do you know anyone that has ever been subjected to a plague? Have you ever had a plague afflict you? Technically, what is a plague? We tend to use this word “plague” to describe worldwide pandemic outbreaks, but that is not the way it is used in Mark 5:29, which tells of a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years. Specifically, Mark 5:29 says that when this woman touched Jesus, she was healed of her “plague.” Yet this woman’s sickness was not contagious, nor was it imminently life-threatening, since she had been sick with it for 12 years. So today I want to tell you about how I discovered the meaning of the word “plague” in the New Testament and why this was such an important discovery to me. As a university student, I suffered tremendously from allergic reactions. In fact, a simple …

How Anne Wilson’s gospel hit, ‘My Jesus’, helped a woman contemplating suicide

Popular Gospel singer Anne Wilson recently told the story of how her hit song, My Jesus, helped a suicidal fan. Raised in a Christian home, Anne rose to fame after she posted a YouTube video of a song that she sang at her brother’s funeral entitled, “What a Beautiful Name.” Her brother, 23, died in a car accident in 2017. This song caught the attention of a Nashville music producer and in April 2021, Anne released her first single, My Jesus, that went on to become a gospel hit. It reached the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs that year, and is currently in the running for the song of the year in the contemporary pop category at this year’s Dove Awards. But in an interview with Christian Headlines, Anne shared the remarkable story of how God used ‘My Jesus‘ to save a woman who was contemplating suicide. Anne told Christian Headlines: “There is a lady that came up to me at the show the other week, she was struggling with cancer and …

‘A new age of Christian persecution’

Earlier, this month an Australian businessman, Andrew Thorburn, was appointed president of the Essendon Football Club, a successful professional rugby-rules football club, based in Melbourne. The very next day, he was forced to resign not by anything he said or did, but after it came to light that he was also chair of the City on a Hill, an evangelical Anglican church in that city. After stories surfaced on how the church’s pastor had preached a sermon nine years earlier revealing his disapproval of sex outside of marriage, abortion or homosexuality, a left-wing hateful mob rose up demanding Thorburn’s dismissal. It was technically guilt by association because though Thorburn had never personally expressed those views, he was guilty because the pastor of the church he attended did. There is no room for dissenting opinions in the new progressive cult trying to dominate society. In an article for Evangelical Focus, David Robertson pointed to a headline by the Herald Sun, that read, “Essendon’s chief executive Andrew Thorburn has stepped down after shock link to church was …

Is Saudi Arabia’s massive city of the future threatening ancient Biblical sites?

CBN is reporting that Saudi Arabia’s proposed city of the future, Neom, may endanger some ancient Biblical sites. Over the past couple of decades there have been several attempts to build the city of the future, including Alphabet’s recent failed attempt at a similar project in Toronto, Canada. But concerns are being expressed about a new futuristic city being proposed for Saudi Arabia that will cost billions of dollars. The construction of Neom, the vision of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, started in January 2021. Also nicknamed, The Line, because of its unique look, it is expected to cost well over $500 billon, if and when it is completed. The city gains its nickname because it will be about 110 miles (ca. 177 km) long and only 600 feet (ca. 183 m) wide. It will be surrounded on the outside, by a 1,500 feet (ca. 457 m) tall building-like walls with an open area in the middle. There will be three distinct layers within the city that will be as tall as New …

Sex Positive: What is that?

One of the most dangerous practices, in our modern culture, is giving names to things. Have you noticed, that we give a name to something and then everyone knows if that thing is good or bad? There is no need to think about it. I used to work as an English teacher, I taught language more than literature, and I notice this. We make the language do all the work, so we don’t have to think, or take responsibility. That is one of the drivers of “Cancel Culture.” The name “Cancel Culture” is one of those shorthand descriptions. If I use that name, you know that you are not supposed to like or approve of that thing. Can we agree, that we will not play the shorthand-blaming game? We are just using a name for something that people do. If we want to form an opinion, we should learn more. Here is one thing to know; we have a shallow and thoughtless way to approve or disapprove of things. We can easily communicate our opinion …