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Dedza, Malawi site of the most recent river turning blood red. Credit: Brian Dell/Public Domain/Wikipedia

More blood-red rivers, a sign of the times?

Breaking Israel News (BIN) reported on two curious incidents that occurred the end of December when two rivers turned blood-red, one in Africa and one in Indonesia. According to a report on Malawi 24, the Linthipe River near Dedza, Malawi, Africa, turned blood-red and was first noticed when the women of the town went down to the river to launder their clothes . Dedza is located just 85 km south of the country’s capital Lilonqwe. Malawi 24 quoted one woman in the village who stated: “As usual, we came to this place to wash our clothes besides drawing water for home use. But to our surprise we saw that blood like stuff was flowing in the river. This scared us and we called some people to witness the bizarre circumstances.” It is uncertain at this point what caused the river to turn blood-red on December 24, 2018 and though the river eventually returned to its normal color, according to MWnation, the rivers sudden turning caused a panic among the people in the town quoting one …

Credit: Ben Keating/Flickr/Creative Commons

You Need A Business Failure In The New Year?

Some of us own businesses. I own a small business, very small. It exists mostly so I can get paid with invoices. There is no gleaming office tower. A few days ago I talked to a good friend who also owns a business. Well, he did own a business, until the Credit Union called in a loan. They seized his inventory, worth much more than what he owed, and auctioned it for about two hundred dollars. Now they might force the sale of his house. I met my friend for a coffee break, and when I located him, he was at a site working with another man. The other man was friendly, but really wanted to know who I was. I learned later that he owned a successful business, and he needed to upgrade some equipment. He went to a lender that specialized in business loans, and they looked at his books carefully. Their conclusion was that they would only give him a line-of-credit for ten times what he asked for. They saw great potential …

When you pray, bring the pain, pray with intensity: PODCAST

  PODCAST NOTES: Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this episode, I am discussing one of the ways Jesus recommends to get answered prayer. Jesus says we need to bring the pain, and pray with intensity. When we adopted our son from Guatemala, we did it privately working through a missionary and evangelical orphanage. However, things were quite different when we adopted our daughter from Peru where we went through government agencies in both Canada and the Peru. And unlike our son, we did not have a choice in what child we received. Because it was totally out of our hands, I spent most of my lunch breaks asking God to intervene so that we would get the child that God wanted for us. I remember it being a very intense time of prayer. It was emotional and I was praying incessantly and aggressively that God would intervene, if needed. I also remember the day, my wife and I got a call from Peru telling us that they had chosen a girl for …

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Drain the blame

If you keep doing what you’re doing, and thinking what you’re thinking, you are going to keep getting what you’ve got. Nothing will change in your world until you change. —  Gay and Katie Hendricks This message is really about me and not anyone else. My intention this year is to get hold of the blame cycle that kicks in whenever I feel overwhelmed, anxious or fearful. In times of frustration or difficulty, I want to blame others for my problems. I tend to project my frustration on those nearest me. It could be my family or friends. But if we continue to project our frustrations on others nothing will change. It only creates a vicious circle that gets smaller and smaller and pretty soon I end up acting like a caged lion without really knowing why. In other words, the only person you have the power to change is you. So rather than focusing on what you want changed in others, it’s time to create an “inner shift” that will transform what’s going on …

Victoria, BC Credit: Nick Kenrick/Flickr/Creative Commons

Who’s the Prize?

Many years ago I lived in a far away land. No not the one that is in a distant galaxy! I lived in Lotus Land. All the unfortunate souls who did not live there referred to it as Victoria, BC. Living there was wonderful, especially compared to Saskatchewan in January.  I lived close enough to Beacon Hill Park to hear the peacocks sounding like cats first thing in the morning. The ocean, the climate, the flowers, and the lack of high paying jobs…I could go on but you get the picture. I walked a lot more then. You could actually recognize people from a long way off by more than the colour and shape of their parka. “Must be Andy waddling towards us. I recognize his green parka and those are definitely his huge boots clumping along.” I love being outdoors but it is a challenge in the winter. In fact, if you do see me outside, all you will see is my eyes and that’s only because I found it unwise to cover them …

Russian supporters unveiling massive banner portraying an dangerous bear and the words "Russia Forward" prior to Euro 2008 soccer match against England Credit: Roman Kovrigin/Wikipedia

Is Russia’s first missile attack against Israel and the appearance of a Super Blood Moon a coincidence?

When looking at the Bible’s end times prophecy one thing keeps showing up, blood moons. The prophet Joel refers to a blood moon appearing before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Joel 2:31). As well, the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John’s vision of end times events, speaks of a Blood Moon (Revelation 6:12). But Blood Moons are a regular occurrence and take place when the Sun’s light is reflected through the earth’s atmosphere during a lunar eclipse. Some describe it as the red of an earth’s sunset appearing on the moon. So because of that, Blood Moons in themselves are only significant in Biblical end times as they appear along with other events. Joel speaks of columns of smoke (Joel 2:30) that suggests volcanic activity in association with the Blood Moon and the Book of Revelation speaks of a great earthquake and the world being pummeled with either meteors or asteroids along with its Blood Moon. So when an article on Foxnews, announced there will be a rare “super blood moon” appearing …

Franklin Graham speaking in Lincoln, Nebraska as part of his 2016 Decision America tour Credit: Matt A.J./Wikipedia

Facebook apologizes for censoring Franklin Graham’s post

Facebook recently apologized for closing down Evangelist Franklin Graham’s Facebook page for 24 hours. According to a Foxnews report, a moderator (one of 15,000) working for the giant social media company pulled Graham’s page based on a post the evangelist wrote in 2016 defending North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB20 law. The state introduced the law after the city of Charlotte introduced a regulation allowing people to use public washrooms based on the sex that they identified with. This meant, that a person born a biological male, but who now identified as female, would be allowed to use a female washroom and shower. HB2 was intended to modify the Charlotte regulation. After this legislation was introduced, there was an immediate backlash from activists. In an April 9, 2016, post Graham responded to Bruce Springsteen’s decision to cancel a concert in the state because of HB2: Bruce Springsteen, a long-time gay rights activist, has cancelled his North Carolina concert. He says the NC law #HB2 to prevent men from being able to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms …

Credit: Mahmoudreza Shirinsokhan/Flickr/Creative Commons

Are You Lazy, Stupid, Evil, or maybe Anointed?

Español: ¿Eres perezoso, tonto, malvado o quizás ungido? Everyone believes. I am a Christian, there are millions like me, and the world is also full of other religions. Atheists, who don’t believe in God, believe in something. They have some way to make sense of life in this world. I don’t want to single out Atheists for special criticism here, but I am sure that they believe, just like the rest of us. It’s a human condition. The problem is with believers who become “anointed.” That’s a special status, in any belief system, where we become so convinced, we arrive at a stage where can never be criticized. We just know we are correct, and that means every dis-agreer is wrong. We don’t need to discuss it, they are just wrong. Have you heard of the “Vision of the Anointed?” Thomas Sowell presents the concept that we are governed by self-congratulating elites, the “Anointed.” His language is religious but he writes about politics and society. Many of the secular “Anointed” today have a PhD and …

We need to unlock from our past to push ahead Credit: Antoine Robiez/Flickr/Creative commons

Unlock yourself from the past and push ahead into 2019

I want to honor my spiritual journey over the past 30 years.  To sit here today and dismiss it all would be wrong.  It wasn’t all bad all the time. Looking back it was my life experiences that shaped me into who I am today.  I am so thankful  for the opportunities and resources along the way that helped me heal, grow and move forward.   God has made His provision for healing and wholeness readily available to us. Unfortunately, we often stubbornly hold onto our pain by refusing to forgive. It acts like a soother keeping us trapped in a “poor me” mindset. There were two people in particular that I chose to forgive and when I encountered them again, as I did from time to time, it was like nothing had ever happened allowing me to treat them respectfully. I was able to climb out of the confusing muck of bad experiences and memories they brought me by forgiving them.  My emotions and even my body embraced the release I experienced as I literally …

Edinburgh, Scotland Credit: Ethan Trewhitt/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is the Scottish police’s anti-hate poster actually a bigoted, hate poster?

Barnabas Fund is an organization dedicated to helping Christians being persecuted for their faith around the world. The organization has offices set up in over 50 countries that are typically run by nationals. Though headquartered in England, Barnabas Fund recently made an accusation against the Scottish police for promoting hatred of Christians. This was the first time, Barnabas Fund had ever made such a charge in England where the organization was founded. The charge was the result of a poster campaign the Scottish police ran in October in c0njunction with an organization called One Scotland. The posters had the logo of the Scottish police displayed along the bottom. One of the posters started off with “Dear Bigot” and reads: “Division seems to be what you believe in. We don’t want your religious hate on our buses, on our streets and in our communities. We don’t want you spreading your intolerance. Or making people’s lives a misery because of their religious dress. You may not have faith in respect and love, but we do. That’s why …

De Peer city hall Credit: Royalbroil/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Big court case defends religious freedom in small city

It was an early Christmas present for churches in De Pere, Wisconsin and perhaps across the US. On Friday, December 21, 2018, the Pacific Justice Institute was in court in Green Bay, Wisconsin successfully defending religious freedom. The case revolved around an ordinance passed by De Pere, Wisconsin in November 2017. De Pere is a small city with about 25,000 residents, but the court case was huge and if left unchallenged could have set a precedent across the US. The law that came in effect in March, 2018, decreed that churches were for the most part “places of public accommodation.” Churches were only exempt from this ordinance during church actual services. This meant at all other times, churches, as places of accommodation, were subject to the city’s non discrimination law. This meant churches would be required to hire gay staff and would be restricted from what they could say publicly on sexual ethics including sermons posted on the internet. The law would also force churches to allow their facilities to be used for gay marriage. …

Christmas truce celebration between German and British soldiers on December 24, 1914. Illustrated by A. C. Michael and published in The Illustrated London News on January 9, 2015/Wikipedia

How ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ stopped a brutal war for nearly two days

Silent Night, Holy Night, one of the most popular Christmas hymns, turned 200 this year or 202 if you go by the year the words were written. The verses to this popular Christmas classic were written in 1816 by Joseph Franz Mohr, a Roman Catholic Priest living in Austria. However, it didn’t become the hymn we know today until 1818 when, Franz Xaver Gruber, a music teacher and good friend of Mohr wrote the music for the song. It was all sparked by a broken-down organ. The song was first performed publicly at a Christmas eve service 200 years ago today at a small church in the village of Oberndorf, near Salzburg, Austria. The organ had broken down in St Nicola church (Nicholas in English) and because of this Mohr who was serving as a priest, asked his friend to put music to the words he had written two years earlier that could be accompanied by a guitar so they could sing it that night as part of the Christmas eve service. Gruber agreed. He …

Photo taken on May 21, 2011, the day predicted as judgement and rapture day by American Christian radio host Harold Camping. Credit: Just call me Jac/Flickr/Creative Commons

For Bad Religion, Just Add Armageddon

In November of 2017, the police arrested some kidnappers in an industrial suburb, close to where I live. Nisku, the suburb, is a huge oilfield service area. If any place is good for a kidnapping, Nisku is not it. The place is filled with large trucks and welding shops. When the details were told, the story got stranger; the kidnappers were mostly naked, in cold weather, and they fiercely resisted the police, who tasered and pepper sprayed them. One of the kidnap victims was a tiny baby. The three kidnap victims escaped unharmed, and the kidnappers have been tried and just recently convicted. The whole story is bizarre, and it was all about religion. The kidnappers are Jehovah’s Witnesses who worked themselves into a frenzy for several days, and there might have been some hallucinogenic tea in the house. They all decided that November 6, 2017 was the day of Armageddon, and then they decided to save their neighbors from the destruction at the end of the world. They rushed to the rescue-kidnapping so quickly …

Credit: Vankfire/Flickr/Creative Commons

How did December 25th end up as Christ’s birthday?: PODCAST

EPISODE NOTES Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this episode we will try to find out why December 25th was chosen as the date for Christ’s birthday. The real reason may surprise you. With Christmas around the corner, many of the less-reverent types like down-playing the day by telling us the early Church chose December 25 as the date to celebrate Christ’s birth because it was trying to stamp out the celebration of a pagan festival that took place at the end of December. Originally called Saturnalia, this pagan celebration marked the end of winter solstice, that typically takes place on December 21, when the days start getting longer. Essentially, this pagan festival was a form of sun worship as people celebrated the sun’s victory over darkness and it was typically celebrated between December 17 and 23. However, that all changed in 274 AD, when Roman Emperor Aurelian set December 25 as the day for the celebration, and gave it a fancy new name Aurelian Dies Natalis Invictis. Yes in typically despotic fashion, he …

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Rewire your brain

Español: Renueva tu cerebro As a Christian woman, I kept waiting for God to change things in my life.  I had a very fixed mindset about how things should work. Literally, I was rolling around in the mud of a helpless “poor me” mindset. Shifting out of  “poor me” to an  active and positive  mindset  that propels you forward is the only way to keep growing spiritually. We must want personal growth and change. We need to be able to look back over the year and say yes, I grew. I changed. I made progress. It’s about standing our ground and saying ‘no more’ to the thoughts that debilitate us.  Let’s make choices and grab hold of the opportunities that are available to help us break out of old patterns of thinking that have become strongholds in our lives; “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) There are two kinds of strongholds. There are demonic strongholds that …

Joseph and Mary traveling to Egypt by Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427) Credit: jean louis mazieres/Flickr/Creative Commons

The red dragon and the Christmas story

Diana Rowland from Louisiana recently caught the ire of a neighbor when she set up a Christmas display featuring large, inflatable dragons. Rowland, an author who writes on zombies and demons, has set up a similar display for several years at both Christmas and Halloween. But this year, a neighbor sent Rowland a message complaining about the dragons. When Rowland tweeted the letter, it went viral. The neighbor wrote: “It is totally inappropriate at Christmas. It makes your neighbors wonder if you are involved in a demonic cult.” The anonymous writer asked Rowland to take down the dragons and went on to say that Rowland did not understand the true meaning of Christmas which involved the birth of Christ. So what was Rowland’s response? Well, she briefly considered taking them down but then decided against it. She shared the letter with her sister who promptly donated two more dragons to the display. Rowland then added halos to a couple of the dragons and called them angels. While the neighbor complained the dragons were totally inappropriate, …

Jesus cleansing the Temple by El Greco (1541-1614)/Wikipedia

What is the division of Abijah and what does it have to do with Christ’s birth?

In the first chapter of Luke, before the story of Jesus’s conception by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the record of John the Baptist’s miraculous birth. He was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Zacharias was a priest and he and  is wife were unable to conceive. But that all changed when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias, who was working in the temple, saying his wife would have a child in their old age (Luke 1:12-13). And we know Elizabeth’s pregnancy is connected to Mary’s, because we are told around the six month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy that Mary conceived Jesus (Luke 1:24-27). But the passage provides a bit of information about Zachariah’s priestly service that may hint at what month Jesus was born: 5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth ….. 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service …

Book Release: ‘Captivating Creative Craftsmen and Study Guide’

We don’t normally do this, but Myrna Petersen, a popular author on opentheword.org, has just published a book on Christians and the arts and we decided to provide a bit of an overview of the book for those who might be interested in purchasing it. Inspirational stories behind Biblical artisans. As we draw closer to the Creator of the universe, we’ll be inspired to create new works. Written by Myrna Petersen with editing and graphic design by Open the Word’s Dean Smith, this is a great read for individuals or in a small group study. It is not how-to-instruction in the art of one’s choice but rather, a book to help crafts people, artists and musicians draw closer to the creator of the universe to release one’s creativity. When you know and work with the Creator of the human spirit, you’ll be inspired to create new works. In the beginning God created man in His own image. Since human beings are created in the image of our Abba Father, we should function as creators, making new …

Luxli's MRI revealing the tumor in the scan on the left and and then its miraculous disappearance in the scan on the right. Credit: Youtube screen shot KVUE-TV and USA TODAY

Texas doctors stunned as rare, deadly, incurable brain tumor miraculously disappears

For several months, the media has been following the case of, Roxli Doss, 11, a girl living in Buda, Texas who neurosurgeons diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in June 2018. It all started with Roxli’s complaints of head aches and double vision and after going to the doctor she was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of brain cancer — Diffuse Instrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). According to doctors it was an incurable form of brain cancer that would begin to affect her breathing and heart rate and areas of the brain that affects how we “see, hear, walk, talk and eat.” Eventually it hindering your basic ability breath, eat and live. When news came out, the community rallied around the family. Fundraising events were held and a Gofundme page was set up for help to pay the medical bills. Though there was no hope for a cure, in an interview with KVUE TV back in August, Roxli’s father Scott said the family was turning to God and praying and believing for a …

Fireworks in Spain Credit: Ryan/Flickr/Creative Commons

“Now That’s Worth Celebrating!”

Now that’s worth celebrating! I remember those words being said on the very rare occasion I actually did something worth celebrating. I think one time was when I was managed to convince my wife to actually say I do and not run screaming back up the aisle! Of course the ten pounds of concrete I put in her shoes helped as well but I digress. Back in the day, whatever day you pick, let’s say Saturday. Saturday December 12, 1986, the day Stella married me. I married her too but I wasn’t the pretty one! That day we celebrated! There was food, music, dancing, and fun. We celebrated other life’s milestones and achievements. Whatever the reason, we always knew why we celebrated. Now I think the art of celebration is gone. We celebrate for the sake of celebration. We even celebrate Fridays! Or cheap wing nights! We don’t save it for significant milestones or events. Like the two greatest events of all time. Christmas and Easter are the birth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. …

Credit: Mark Lehigh/Flickr/Creative Commons

Fake Christian Conversion and Migration

Sometimes a news organization will report that migrants are converting to Christianity, and it’s obvious that the conversion allows them to make a refugee claim, if they come from a country where Christians are persecuted. As new Christians, they can say they will be punished or even killed if they are deported to their home country, since they have converted away from the approved religion. In Iran, for example, the only religious conversion permitted, is to Islam, and I imagine that means to the approved sect of Shia Islam. Saudi Arabia has a similar policy, and conversion away from Islam, apostasy, can be punished by death. There are many places in the world where conversion away from the religion of the ancestors, and of the government, can bring severe punishment. Many of those countries are Islamic, but I’m sure a Buddhist in Myanmar (Burma) or possibly Thailand would cause an offense if they converted away from the national religion. I don’t know if they would be punished severely, but I’m sure they would be criticized. …

Credit: Adriana Lukas/Flickr/Creative Commons

Can Christians have an unhealthy fear of the demonic? An interview with Wayne Johnston: PODCAST

Audio Notes: Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this episode I am interviewing Wayne Johnston and asking the question: “Can Christians have an unhealthy fear of the demonic?” Wayne serves as an elder at Rock of the Valley church and also functions of the prophetic ministry and I’ve been wanting to interview him about an interesting experience that he had with both a demon and an angel of the Lord. Dean Smith: Welcome Wayne. Wayne Johnston: Thank you Dean: So how would you describe your prophetic ministry? Wayne: So I function in the area of the prophetic. God clearly gave me a gift of prophecy. It wasn’t my choice, but it came down to God wanting to encourage others through the gift just like any other spiritual gifts in the New Testament. Dean: I’ve seen people who have referred to you as a prophet. Do you consider yourself a prophet? Wayne: No. I just don’t think it’s my job to put a title on the gift. So it’s in the area of the …

Credit: ScrewJ/Flickr/Creative Commons

Look to the Mountains of Mercy

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13 NIV) We so easily fall into the trap of religion where we judge people by what they do or don’t do and the choices they make. The reason we judge others is it gives us a reason to not show mercy or kindness. Yet that is so contrary to how God treats us, who remains faithful even if we are faithless. We do not serve a pagan god who requires rules and regulations to please or appease him. God’s judgement towards us has been appeased by Christ’s blood shed on the cross. Whatever thoughts or struggles I may have with someone, I am learning to first look at myself and see if there is a personal message about my own shortcomings and poor choices. As I have dealt with my personal struggles in this area, I keep seeing a vision of God’s mountains of mercy that surround us. And as we walk through the valley that winds between the mountains …

Monument displaying Communism's hammer and sickle being installed in a park in China: Credit: Serpentaz/Youtube capture

The Communist revival and rising persecution of Christians

Two recent stories this Christmas season reveal Communism’s utter hatred for Christians and it is concerning because it may be a foretaste of what is coming in North America as some political parties seem to be taking a radical turn to the left. Writing for Faithwire, Vernon Brewer shared a story of what is happening in North Korea under its Communist despot Kim Jong-un.  Brewer regularly helps bring Bibles into North Korea that is not only dangerous for him, but those receiving them. On one of his journeys into the communist country, he shared a story told him by a young man who Brewer referred to as Eun to protect his identity. Eun was in the third grade when his teacher made an unusual request of her class: “When you go home, I want you to look for a book. Normally [the book] is black. Normally it’s hidden, and your mom or dad read it when you are asleep. If you look hard enough, you can find the book. And if you bring it, we …

Listening to God’s voice saved their lives

In an interview with Foxnews, two men on their way to a pastor’s conference stated that Jesus spoke to them saving both from imminent death. Jordan Cole and Kenneth Bryant were traveling the Ohio Turnpike on a trip from Montana to Philadelphia when the truck they were driving broke down. The men were in their Mudman Burgers (Food Truck), that is part of a nonprofit organization selling burgers in support of Potter’s Field that ministers to children around the world. Still in their stopped burger truck, Bryant was using the generator in the back to charge his cell phone while Cole remained in the cab. Suddenly both men were warned to get out of the vehicle. Cole said he heard a voice and Bryant received what he described as a vision. The two men immediately jumped out and seconds later a large semi truck veering out of control smashed into their vehicle, destroying it. Ohio State Police said that if both had still been inside, they would have undoubtedly died. In an interview with Fox …

Nativity scene in France Credit: (required by the license) © Guillaume Piolle / CC BY 3.0/Wikipedia

Did an ‘all-knowing’ God impregnate Mary without her consent?

Minnesota State University (MSU) professor Eric Sprankle recently received his 15 minutes of fame when he  tweeted that God impregnated, Mary, the mother of Jesus, without her consent. Similar to many provocateurs, Sprankle sent the tweet out purposefully during the Christmas season. In his tweet, Sprankle wrote: The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays. — Eric Sprankle, PsyD (@DrSprankle) December 3, 2018 Apparently, Sprankle considers himself as an expert on sexuality and leads the Sexual Health Research Team at MSU and now he claims to be an expert on theology and the Bible as well. Well, let’s take a closer look at Sprankle’s tweet. He describes God as “all-knowing,”  In theological terms, God is “omniscient” which mean He knows everything, past, present and future. So if God is all-knowing, would He know if Mary would consent to being impregnated? Obviously yes. And that is exactly what happened in the birth story found in Luke. An …

Rene Martinez walking in the streets of Nicauragua in lead up to a bare knuckles fight. Credit Rene Martinez/Fox News

The power of testimony: Former ‘Latin Syndicate’ gang leader now preaching Christ

It has been a remarkable transformation for notorious gang leader Rene Martinez, 44. Martinez, who has been in jail several times, has been behind bars for everything from  attempted murder to drug dealing, theft (including guns), and fights. In an interview with Foxnews, Martinez said: “I did some horrible things in my life that I know that it’s only by the grace of God and His mercy that I’m alive and free. I was gang affiliated from the 80s to 2012. I have seen a lot of people die in front of me and I’ve been through a lot.” It started early in life. Martinez said his mother, who was involved in Santeria, sacrificed an animal over him as a child and growing up he was literally seeing demons. 1n 1989, at the age of 14,  he joined the infamous Latin Syndicate on Halloween night. But when his mother became a Christian shortly after attempting suicide, she began praying for her son and in 2013, while Martinez was performing gangster rap in his garage, Jesus …

Nativity Scene, New York City Credit: Gary Wong/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christmas Without Jesus

When I was in high school, we had a Christian club called BASIC. That meant “Bothers And Sisters In Christ.” Looking back, our weekly huddle in a classroom, with our dry sandwiches, was the first time I got to be a Christian without supervision. My older generation liked to control the kids, and religion was pushed on me constantly, at home and in church. We knew how to behave, to avoid criticism and discipline, but I think most of my friends dropped out of church as soon as they grew up, and they don’t identify as Christian now. In BASIC, we made our own choices. Maturity had to start somewhere, and I learned about Christianity that was just Jesus. The members of BASIC came from different churches, and some had no family church. I remember two girls from a Plymouth Brethren group, and they seemed to detest Christmas. To them, the season was filled with pagan symbols and idols and shrines, especially those decorated trees. I struggled with their ideas, but I learned that the …

Credit: Jim_McGlone/Flickr/Creative Commons

How I see others?

I have been seeking ways to view  people in the world around me through the lens of Christ’s love.   When I am disappointed, and focus on the flaws of others from my high and lofty position of arrogance on the mountain of judgement, I am failing not only my fellow man but myself as well. I earnestly desire new eyes, to change the lens of my perceptions and the way I view people — friends, other Christians and strangers. Sometimes people don’t return phone calls, or show up when their supposed to (like me on occasion) or answer e-mails or follow through on things they said they would.  People are not perfect but we expect it more from others than we do ourselves. A daily devotional I read recently summed it best with these words: “We see ourselves through rose-colored glasses and everyone else through a microscope.” If I do not look with eyes of hope on those around me as our Lord did. . . then I have not really  embraced the message of …

Credit: Marie Coleman/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Liberal Grinch who just about stole Christmas: She wanted ‘J’ for Jesus banned?

According to Liberty Counsel, candy canes are now in the sites of liberal wanting to wipe out any hint of Christ this Christmas season. The story of the Grinch who just about stole Christmas was reported by The Blaze. Liberty Counsel is a non-profit law firm that fights for religious liberty in the US and it recently sent a demand letter to the superintendent of Elkhorn Public Schools about the actions taken by Jennifer Sinclair the principal of of Manchester Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. Apparently, this is Sinclair’s first year as principal at the school and she wanted it to be a memorable one. It worked. She is getting her 15 minutes of notoriety. She sent a memo to teachers in her school telling them what their children may or may not do at school to celebrate the Christmas season. In her memo, Sinclair wrote that she “come(s) from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in school.” RELATED: Read Sinclair’s Memo So what is on Sinclair’s banned list? Well Candy …

Credit: Jason Pearce/Flickr/Creative Commons

What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol?

Several decades ago, I was part of a church that took a strong stand against drinking alcohol, but it wasn’t just alcohol, it also had an opinion on several other things like long hair on men. The list of unwritten rules and regulations was quite extensive. Looking back now I realize the church was caught up in a religious spirit which I define as making up rules for Christian living that are not required by Scripture. The church leaders were essentially adding man-made rules to Christianity. In fact, one of the respected teachers that the church connected with wrote a book trying to prove that when the Bible talked about wine, it was speaking of non-fermented grape juice. Yes, he believed when Jesus turned water into wine at the Cana wedding, the headwaiter was shocked that the bridegroom had reserved the “best grape juice” for last (John 2:1-11). Though the Bible condemns becoming drunk, it does not forbid drinking wine. In fact, the exhortation forbidding drunkenness proves that the wine people were drinking was alcoholic. …

Morris home with its 200,000 Christmas tree lights Credit: Youtube capture/Fox News

Hide your faith?

In our rapidly changing culture, some are now demanding that Christians hide their faith in public. Recently, First Liberty, a non-profit legal organization defending religious freedoms in America, sent a letter to a school district in Texas that allegedly forced students wanting to pray at lunch time to hide behind a curtain. According to First Liberty the problem started when a group of students from Honey Grove Middle School in Honey Grove, Texas met during lunch hour to pray for a former student who had been injured in an accident. When the school principal saw them praying he ordered them to stop. When the students met the next day to try praying again, the principal said that they needed to either go behind the curtains in the cafeteria or into the gym or even outside if they wanted to pray. At the bequest of student Hannah Allen and her mother, First Liberty sent a letter to the school district telling them that under the US Constitution the school had no business infringing on student’s right …

Lahore, Pakistan Credit: Dr Ranjha/Flickr/Creative Commons

Oops, Did the Muslim Prime Minister of Pakistan just question the Koran?

I know it wasn’t his intention, but Imran Kahn, the Muslim Prime Minister of Pakistan, inadvertently took a swipe at the Koran, while bashing the Christian faith. Officially known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the country has a population of 212 million where 94.6% of the people are Muslim and only 1.5% are Christian. Yet despite the small percentage of Christians, in his speech honoring the birthday of Mohammad on November 30, 2018, Kahn decided to take a swipe at Jesus stating that He is not mentioned in human history: “There were prophets of Allah other [than Muhammad] but there is no mention of them in human history. There is negligible mention of them. Moses is mention of Jesus in history… But the entire life of Muhammad, who was Allah’s last prophet, is part of history.” Khan made this statement as part of his push to have any defamation of Muhammad and the Koran declared illegal by the international community. Now here is where it gets tricky. Because the Koran cites Jesus several times. …

Churches in South Korea often display red crosses. In what is described as Reverse Missionary, South Korean Churches are sending missionaries to the West. Two churches side by side in Suwon, South Korea Credit: donut2D/Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you met a Reverse Missionary?

Recently, a young man named John Allen Chau traveled to a place that belongs to India, North Sentinel Island, where the natives attacked him and probably killed him, although some family members think he might still be alive. The North Sentinelese have a long history of killing anyone who visit their island, and it is likely that Mr. Chau is dead. The government of India bans all travel to the place, and now no one can recover the body, or even identify it. RELATED: Missionary wrote ‘God, I don’t want to die’ right before tribe killed him Mr. Chau was a missionary, he went to the island to tell the natives about Jesus. His las name “Chau” might seem Asian, but he is from the U.S. Apparently his home is Vancouver Washington, on the north side of Portland Oregon, and I think he trained to be a missionary in Kansas. His story, and his probable death, have generated some discussion, like ‘He’s crazy.’ and ‘Those Christians are colonial imperialists.’ and ‘Why do those island people …

Credit: Blake Chen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Breaking out of your victim cage

I am on an email list for Lana Vawser who has a prophetic ministry in Australia. Almost every time I receive a prophetic email from her it speaks directly into my life about where I have been and where I am now and where I am headed spiritually in the future. Even though she has hundreds of followers, her emails often address issues I am facing at the moment.  She recently sent out a prophetic word about an issue that has controlled my life for many years: “The enemy has tried so hard to place false lenses on you in your battles and attempt to cage you in fear … “You see not through eyes of defeat, you see not through eyes of a victim mentality, you see not through eyes of fear, but you are now arising and seeing with greater clarity and vision through My eyes.  The enemy has tried so hard to place false lenses on you in your battles and attempt to cage you in fear, but now you are arising …