All posts filed under: News

Streets of Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea Credit: Keith Martin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did a mystical Jewish rabbi foresee 22 years ago the rising threat of North Korea?

Breaking Israel News (BIN) is reporting on the strange prediction that Rabbi Levi Sa’adia Nachamanii made in a 1994 speech, one month before he died. In it, he discussed who would be the greatest threat facing Israel. He said it would not be Arab countries, but in fact North Korea. “Not Syria, not Persia (Iran), and not Babylon (Iraq), and not Gaddafi (Libya),” Nachamanii said, adding that “Korea will arrive here.” Nachamanii is from a mystical branch of Judaism called Kabbalah. It is a centuries-old tradition in Judaism that is derived from two ancient texts — the Zohar and Sefer Yezirah. They tend to spiritualize every word and number in the Bible. Some believe they stray into the occult through magical rites such as using amulets for healing, the belief that lost souls can inhabit people requiring deliverance that Kabbalists perform and forcing oaths on demons. But Kabbalists also have an intense interest in the end times and the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Perhaps one of the strangest stories to come out of this …

Study suggests babies feel pain in the womb in first trimester

A recent study published in the journal Cell has provided evidence that babies feel pain in the womb sooner than many in the pro-abortion camp want us to believe. In recent years, several reports mostly by specialists doing procedures on preemies or the unborn concluded that babies feel pain in the womb. For decades, most did not believe this was possible. This most recent study published at the end of March confirmed what others are saying. But this study differed in one important way from earlier reports. It didn’t analyze a baby’s reaction to pain but rather looked at nerve development and concluded that a baby’s nervous system is fully formed by the end of the first trimester (12 weeks). The study described the development as an “adult-like pattern of skin innervation” and added that the baby developed it earlier than previously thought. Despite their findings, the researchers were quick to add that this did not necessarily suggest a baby feels pain in the womb. The theory that babies did not feel pain in the …

Ancient rendering of Lambeth Palace (L) and St. Mary-at-Lambeth (R) Credit: Boston Public Library/Flickr/Creative Commons

But we still speak King James

Workers doing renovations at the Garden Museum in London, England accidentally broke through the floor and discovered a large chamber. When they lowered a mobile phone through the hole they saw 30 lead coffins, some piled on top of each other, that had been hidden from view for centuries. The Garden Museum is located in an ancient medieval church, St. Mary-at-Lambeth, found next to the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Lambeth Palace) – the head of the Anglican Church. St. Mary-at-Lambeth is considered a ‘deconsecrated’ church. This is a ceremony Anglicans perform on a church when it is no longer to be used for religious service. They essentially remove the religious blessing rendering it fit for secular purposes. The Anglo Saxons constructed the first church at the site in 1062, but over the centuries it has undergone major renovations and rebuilds. Perched on top of one of the coffins was an old gold-painted archbishop miter or crown indicating this was the burial chamber of some of the Anglican church’s long-lost archbishops. Realizing the …

Zoroaster temple in Iran Credit: Bastian/Flickr/Creative Commons

So Who is Zoroaster?

About three thousand years ago, probably in the times of David and Solomon in the Bible, a man named Zoroaster or Zarathustra began preaching about one God, and one great force of evil in the world. His home was probably near Afghanistan and his teaching came to dominate all Iranian people, from northern India to Greece, in Europe. Information about times and places is mostly lost, but scholars agree that someone tried to turn people to God, in central Asia, many centuries ago. According to Tabari, a Sunni Muslim who lived about a thousand years ago, Zoroaster the ancient prophet of Iran was from Israel and a disciple of Jeremiah, or he travelled with a Hebrew prophet. We know the Persians were often kind to Israel and their temple in Jerusalem. Kings of Persia (Iran) ordered the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem: “Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The …

Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Filip Knezic/Flickr/Creative Commons

New York Times tells remarkable story of how a Muslim Jihadist became a Christian

At the end of March, New York Time’s journalist Patrick Kingsley wrote an unusual article  on the stunning conversion of a Muslim Jihadist to Christ. He stumbled upon the man while visiting a basement room filled with 22 Christian refugees in Istanbul, Turkey. Kingsley noted many had Muslim sounding names. Though Kingsley noted that it is not unusual for Muslims to convert to Christ as a ruse to claim asylum in other countries, there was one man, Bashir Mohammad, 25 who did not fit that narrative. He was a Christian, who wasn’t interested in asylum. It was also obvious he had a leading role with this group. As Kingsley talked with Bashir, he found out more about his story. At age 15, Bashir began listening to extremist preachers calling for violence. This led him to eventually join the Nusra Front, an off shoot of Al Qaeda, that was seeking to set up a Muslim Caliphate in Syria. Fighting with this group, Bashir witnessed prisoners being run over with bulldozers and another prisoner forced to drink …

View of the Dome of the Rock and Western Wall. Many believe the Muslim Dome of the Rock is built on the original site of the Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 AD. Credit: Boris G/Flickr/Creative Commons

Will God allow a third Jewish temple to be built?

Many orthodox Jews and Evangelical Christians are looking forward to the day when Jews build a third temple in Jerusalem, replacing the one destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD during the Bar Kokhba Jewish revolt. Both groups believe its construction would fulfill Biblical prophecy. And recent events in Jerusalem added to the excitement. According to Breaking Israel News (BIN), the Jewish Sanhedrin reenacted the Jewish Passover on Thursday, April 5, 2017 near the site of the original Jewish Temple. This was the fifteenth year that they held the Passover in Jerusalem that included building an altar and the actual sacrifice of a lamb using Jewish Priests. According to BIN, this year’s Passover was held closer to the Temple’s location than it had been in earlier years.  In order to accommodate a sacrifice this close to the Temple Mount, the Sanhedrin used the courts to get police protection. Jewish priests performed the sacrifice with instruments, utensils and clothing provided by the Temple Institute an organization dedicated to rebuilding the Jewish Temple. Attendance at the Passover …

Hitler in Finland Credit: Wikipedia/SAkuva/Creative Commons

Those Pictures of Hitler

A few days ago I met a man who saw Hitler. He told a small group, including me, that he was four years old, in Czechoslovakia, and he remembers shiny black cars and a man in the distance. He says the memory is still clear. If you follow news on the Internet, there are several photo albums and collections of pictures that show the ordinary life of Hitler. For some reason, this information seems to be in the news now. I don’t know why some of these pictures were kept hidden, and have emerged this year. One example of a photo collection is a recent article with a free discussion by the readers: 50  rare photos of Adolf Hitler. There are several other sources of these pictures of the “human” Hitler: Unseen photographs reveal the private life of Adolf Hitler Never before seen photos Adolf Hitler found in an album in mistress Eva’s bedroom These pictures of an ordinary man, doing ordinary things, have generated angry debate. In the discussions, some people openly speak out …

Balaam's donkey could count. Credit: JohnBWilson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Can horses count and does it matter?

I have always wondered what is going on in my dog’s mind other than the obvious – did I leave the cupboard door open to the garbage can? In 2008, Dr Claudia Uller from the University of Essex in Essex, England was speaking at the British Psychological Society conference in Dublin, Ireland when she announced that horses can count. She came to this conclusion based on a study she conducted along with Jennifer Lewis on 13 horses from Colchester, England. In the study, they had several buckets in which they placed either three apples or two apples. They only used plastic apples to eliminate the possibility that smell affected the results. They found in their testing that 11 of the 13 horses consistently chose the buckets with the most apples. In a second test they had buckets containing either two equally sized small apples or one large apple that was double the size of the two smaller apples, making them equal in amount. Ten of the 12 horses consistently chose the two apple containers over …

Lahore, Pakistan Credit: Usman Malik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Pakistani prosecutor tells 42 Christians to convert to Islam to escape murder charges

After Muslim extremists blew up a Catholic church in Lahore, Pakistan in 2015 killing 14 and injuring 75, Christians took to the streets. In the mayhem that followed, the police captured two Muslim men accused of the brutal bombing and handed them over to a Christian crowd who then lynched the Muslims. After the two Muslim men were murdered, Pakistani authorities arrested 500 Christians and kept most of them in jail for nearly 18 months under brutal treatment that included torture. However, after finding most had nothing to do with the crime, about 450 were let go, leaving 42 men still in prison. The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) that is monitoring the situation and providing legal help to the those arrested was horrified by the killing of the two Muslim men, but it said that at least 30 of the men still in jail had nothing to do with the crime. The BPCA then reported on a disturbing story published in a national Pakistani paper, The Express Tribune. The paper wrote about a bizarre …

Credit: Brandon Watts/Flickr/Creative Commons

Post Modernism: The Case for Rachel Dolezal

You might have heard of Rachel Dolezal, also known by her new legal name Nkechi Amare Diallo. She was once the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington. Her parents, who apparently had been Pentecostal Missionaries in Africa, exposed her as a white woman with Czech, German, and Scandinavian ancestors, and she was forced to resign in disgrace. Today Rachel, or Nkechi, is labeled as a liar and a fraud and life is difficult for her. She is famous enough to have her own article in Wikipedia, and you can read more about her interesting life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Dolezal Rachel is someone I have never met, and probably never will, but I know there are some lessons for us in her story, and Christians should be careful with their judgment. Rachel Dolezal is an expression of a philosophy called Post Modernism. Most of us live in Modernism, with the idea that people belong to groups, them and us, and the differences between groups never change. With that thinking, …

Young Turkish women in traditional head scarves. Credit: Ozgur Mulazimoglu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Muslim woman hated Christians, but Jesus spoke to her in a dream

A story on Christian Aid about the conversion of a young Muslim women living along the coast of the Black Sea in Turkey tells us not to underestimate the work we are doing for God. Matte, name not fully disclosed for security reasons, pastors a church in Turkey. He faithfully puts his sermons online, but often wondered if they were having any affect as he was seeing no results. “I sometimes wonder how many people watch the videos, and what is the result? Many are watching the videos, but why do they not believe?, ” he told Christian Aid. But his opinion changed after a young Muslim women wearing a traditional Muslim scarf showed up at church because of a dream. She had started watching the pastor’s videos online because she “hated the Christians” and wanted to make fun of his messages. But the sermons slowly started having an impact as they addressed deep needs in her life. She eventually decided to become a Christian, but did not go to church because of her strict …

Near Apache, Arizona Credit: Scott Sanford/Flickr/Creative Commons

An act worthy of repentance?

It was early in the morning on January 12, 2017 when Arizona state trooper Ed Andersson responded to calls a man was shooting a gun at cars on a highway near Tonopah, Arizona. After arriving and exiting his vehicle, Andersson was immediately hit with a freak shot in his right shoulder — a little to the left the bullet would have struck his bullet proof vest and an inch and a half to the right, it would have missed him completely. But it didn’t. Instead the bullet partially paralyzed Andersson’s right shoulder making him unable to draw his gun. Fortunately, Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, 37, the man who allegedly fired at Andersson had run out of bullets. Penuelas-Escobar attacked the officer trying to grab his gun, but Andersson fought off the attempt with his good left hand. Penuelas-Escobar pushed Andersson to the ground, got on top of him and repeatedly smashed his fists into the officer’s head. When Andersson tried to resist, Penuelas-Escobar started slamming the trooper’s head into the ground. Minutes after the shooting took place, …

A woman prays near the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Jelle Drok/Flickr/Creative Commons

About Jerusalem

In recent years, I have been blessed to spend several weeks in the eternal city of Jerusalem. This is the only city on the earth which the LORD God of Israel declared, “In Jerusalem, I will put my name forever” (2 Kings 21:4-7). During my time in Israel, Psalm 122:6 was constantly before my eyes;  “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.” Jerusalem is the most prayed for city in the universe.  At every meal, Jews pray the blessing, “Blessed are you, O LORD, who will build up Jerusalem in mercy.” Every Monday the Jews recite Psalm 48 from their Prayer Book; “Walk about Zion and go all around her” (verse 12). Jerusalem is a spiritual city (not sinless), set apart for a Holy God. Many days I spent just walking around Jerusalem and was constantly reminded of the  blessings connected with Israel that can only come from the true LORD God.  Indeed the peace of Jesus Christ is evident in the streets and there are places where one can …

Crystal Bassette and her husband Credit: YouTube capture -- This Morning show

From porn star to Christian to pastor

It’s a story that is sure to turn some heads. When she was 21 years old, Crystal Bassette performed in her first porn video. According to the British Newspaper, The Sun, after the shoot she sat in her shower and cried for two hours. She was supporting a son after becoming pregnant at age 16 and was working in a California bar with dreams of becoming an actress. And though initially uncertain about continuing, the draw of a monthly salary of $25,000 proved too much and a month later she did her second porn shoot. Over the next several years, she would make over 100 porn movies. With the money the lifestyle provided, she lived in a mansion complete with a maid, a gardener and seven cars, but to cope Bassette turned to alcohol and drugs. But that all changed in 2014 when she had a serious car accident where police charged her with impaired driving. After the crash, Bassette attended her sister’s church on Easter Sunday and became a Christian after the pastor preached …

Pope Francis Credit: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston/George Martell/Pilot News Media/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is Pope Francis paving the way for a second exodus from the Catholic church — Reformation Part II?

When Martin Luther, a Catholic seminary professor and priest, pounded his 95 thesis on the door of a Roman Catholic church in Wittenburg Germany on October 31, 1517, he was not setting out to start a new church, he was trying to reform the Catholic church. He was responding to the efforts of Johann Tetzel, a Dominican monk, who arrived in the area selling indulgences to help build a new cathedral in Rome. The indulgences allowed people to buy their way into heaven. Martin Luther said people are saved by faith, not by money. The Roman Catholic church reacted to Luther’s call for reform birthing the protestant church. Now on the 500th anniversary of this reformation is a second one brewing? I have been reading comments on a number of conservative Catholic sites of grave concerns about Pope Francis. Pope Francis who campaigned and won the papacy in 2013 as a conservative Catholic is anything but. Conservative Catholics call Francis a Marxist and a liberal. In 2015, Eugenio Scalfari, publisher of the Italian newspaper La …

Rural village in Sierra Leone Credit: martagiqs/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christian pastor finds one of world’s largest diamonds

Emmanuel Momoh pastors an evangelical church in the village of Yakadu in the Kono region of Sierra Leone, a small country located along the Western coast of Africa. Found in the eastern part of the country, the province of Kono is famous for its diamonds. When he isn’t serving as a pastor, Momoh also works a small artisan mine where he recently found the 706-carat diamond, slightly smaller than a hockey puck. According to experts, it is very unusual for diamonds of any significant quality to be found in these smaller mines, much less one of this size. Yet to be fully evaluated, it is expected the diamond is worth upwards of $50 million — a 813-carat diamond recently sold for $63 million. There is hint of a possible flaw in the diamond that could affect its value. If its size holds true, it could potentially be the tenth largest diamond ever found in the world. Perhaps the most stunning part of the story is Pastor Momoh’s decision to turn it over  to the government …

Brussels, Belgium Credit: Francisco Antunes/Flickr/Creative Commons

I am heading out for ‘stem cell’ therapy

I am heading out-of-town for ‘stem cell’ therapy on my knees, so posts will probably be a bit sporadic over the next few days. There has been a lot of news recently on stem cells therapy for multiple areas from knees to hips to heart and even the brain. After conception, a baby forms through the use of stem cells and because of this some have described them as mother cells. After you are born, you have stem cells inside you used to repair damaged tissue. They are described as undifferentiated cells, meaning a stem cell can repair a damaged knee or that same stem cell could repair a damaged heart. It is basically blank and takes on the characteristic of the tissue it is repairing. Because of this unique ability, doctors are using stem cells to repair damage in multiple areas of the body. They basically harvest stem cells and then insert a concentrated amount into the damaged area such as a knee or shoulder to encourage repair. Though success is not guaranteed, it …

Brazilian Amazon Credit: Guto de Lima/Flickr/Creative Commons

From Debutante balls to the Brazilian jungle

The National Post ran a fascinating article on Canadian Ruth Thomson who 50 years ago left her high-class life as a Toronto debutante to serve in the jungles of Brazil as a Wycliffe missionary. Her father was a highly successful Toronto lawyer, and Ruth grew up in a mansion and attended private school. She became so proficient at horse riding that another wealthy family — Pittsburgh’s Mellon family — asked Ruth to ride their horses competitively. As she came of age, her parents expected Ruth to attend Downton Abbey debutante balls where parents signaled to Toronto society their young daughters were ready for dating and marriage. It featured flowing gowns and elbow-length gloves. She recalls having disagreements with her parents in 1959 who wanted her to attend a number of  balls held at private clubs and the major event on that year’s social calendar  — the Governor General’s Ball. She said “I had no patience for any of it. It all seemed so artificial. It wasn’t the life for me.” But despite their wealth, she …

Vickie Williams-Tillman (right) Credit: Baton Rouge Police Department

Vickie Williams-Tillman — a 21st century Good Samaritan in more than one way

Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, a black Christian woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana was on her way to the store when she saw a white police officer, Billy Aime, being assaulted by another man. She was also doing what she normally does when driving, Vickie was listening to Gospel music. The police officer had come upon the man sleeping in his vehicle. When Aime saw drug paraphernalia in the car he woke Thomas Bennett, 28. However, after getting out of his car, Bennett quickly gained the advantage. He grabbed Aime’s baton and began beating the police officer on the head. Bennett was also after the police officer’s gun. When Vickie saw the confrontation, she immediately called the police for help. But she did more than that. She got out of her car and jumped on Bennett’s back. This caught Bennett totally off guard, confusing him and hindering him from grabbing the gun. When another police officer showed up a few minutes later, he subdued Bennett with a stun gun. The police charged Bennett with assaulting a police …

Nambia desert Credit: John Adams/Flickr/Creative Commons

Healing our rejection

Using a MRI scan university researchers discovered that emotional pain associated with rejection is as real as physical pain. In 2011, the group led by University of Michigan associate professor Ethan Kross studied 40 people who had recently gone through a romantic break-up within the previous six months. All the participants chosen mentioned having felt intense feelings of rejection due to the ending of the relationship. The 40 people were then put through two tests one related to the emotional pain they felt over the rejection and the other actual physical pain. In the first test, the study subjects viewed an image of their ex and were asked to think about the break up.  In the second stage, thermal devices were attached to their arms that created heat the equivalent of hot coffee. As the 40 people went through these and other comparative tests, the researchers monitored their brain activity using MRIs. The researchers found that feelings of rejection sparked neural activity in the same area of the brain where people felt physical pain. In …

Pray for those who mistreat you. Credit: MissTessmacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: prayer calms the angry heart

A 2011 study conducted by researchers from universities in America and Europe concluded that prayer helps a person calm their anger. The study conducted by Brad Bushman a psychology and communications professor from Ohio State University, Sander Koole of Holland’s VU University of Amsterdam and University of Michigan’s Ryan Bremner found that prayer quelled a person’s anger even if they were not particularly religious. There were various stages to this study. In one session, the researchers asked the participants in the study to to write a paper that was then evaluated by a partner who purposely and aggressively criticized the paper. They were extremely negative about what the participant had wrote. They then had some participants of the study group think about what their partner had said and others spend five minutes praying for them. Once they had gone through this process, the participants then played a game with their partner. If the participant won, they were allowed to blast their partner with loud music. The participant also determined how loud the music was and …

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega sharing on their devotional Vlog WOW (Words of Wisdom): Credit YouTube Capture

Hollywood celebrities Carlos and Alexa PenaVega talk about the power of prayer

Actress Alexa PenaVega (nee Vega) recently shared an Instagram post on how prayer raised her 93 year-old-grandmother from the deathbed. This past week has been a struggle for my family as our beautiful abuelita (grandma) was on life support. It has been a bitter sweet experience. Here is this woman who has had such a full and beautiful life… 93 years old…12 kids… more than 50 grand kids…10 great grand children… just the most incredible little Colombian woman inside and out. This week her lungs collapsed. Her heart started failing. Her stomach stopped working and she fell into a coma. As we all prepared ourselves to say goodbye my family’s local church members came to her side and prayed over her for over five hours. When I say the power of prayer can bring forth the most amazing miracles THIS WILL FLOOR YOU. Our abuelita Yeya woke up completely healed. The Dr.’s cannot find anything wrong with her. They can’t explain it. They keep running tests to try to make sense of it all. But …

Award Credit: Youtube capture/The Recording Academy

A grandmother’s prayer leads to Chance the Rapper’s worship service at the Grammys

At the 59th Grammy Awards held Sunday, February 12, 2017, Chance the Rapper won three Grammys. The Grammy Awards are put on by The Recording Academy to honor outstanding achievement in music recording primarily in the English-speaking world. Chance the Rapper who recently became a Christian received “Best New Artist,” Best Rap Album” and “Best Rap Performance” at this year’s awards. He was nominated for seven in total for his recent 14-song album The Coloring Book. Five of the album’s songs have a significant Christian theme that marked the remarkable spiritual transformation that has taken place in the life of Chance the Rapper. In a radio interview he shared what happened. His grandmother saw him while he was performing on his Acid Rap tour — the name reveals where he was at spiritually — and she began to pray for her grandson. Chance the Rapper said: “One day during my Acid Rap tour, my grandmther saw me and began to pray. She said ‘I break off anything in your life that is not God.’ After …

Denzel Washington Credit: GabboT/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

An old woman’s prophecy over actor Denzel Washington said he would speak to millions

Denzel Washington, 62, is a popular American Actor, playing major roles in such movies as Remembering the Titans, Training Day and one of my favorites — The Book of Eli. He has won two Academy awards and three Golden Globes. In an interview with Parade Magazine, Denzel spoke of his strong spiritual roots, including his father who was Pentecostal preacher for nearly five decades. Denzel added that he reads the Bible daily and has read it through completely three times. God had a call and a purpose for Denzel and he tells of a prophetic word given him by an older woman at their church who many considered a prophet. She told Denzel that one day he would speak to millions of people. Denzel was 21 years old and had just flunked out of college. He was sitting in his mother’s beauty shop, when the old woman approached him. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Denzel recounts what happened next: It was March 27, 1975. I started acting four months later. She said, “You know …

Children need married parents to thrive Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

Children do better when parents are married versus living together

A recent study by the Institute for Family Studies found that children raised in a family where parents marry have the best chance of success. The study reported in The Federalist analyzed data from 100 countries. The study found that where there is no marriage commitment — this included situations where both of the child’s biological parents were living together — there was a greater chance the child would face a union transition. This takes place when parents end their relationship and start a new sexual relationship. These types of transition create a major time of instability for children often resulting in emotional and behavioral problems, educational difficulties and even a higher risk of death for the child. The report stated that “[C]ohabitation continues to confer a stability disadvantage on individual children even as cohabitation has become more normative.” The report disputes those who suggest that because of the rise in rates cohabitation it should be looked upon as the new form of marriage. Writing for The Federalist, Holly Scheer said: “Couples who commit to …

Village in Indonesia Credit: Jose Javier Martin Esparto/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Muslim man’s journey to Christ through the Quran

Evangelical Focus recently shared the testimony of a young Muslim man who became a Christian because of what he read in the Quran — Islam’s version of the Bible. Markus was raised in a strict Sudanese Muslim family in Western Java, Indonesia. His father, a high ranking Muslim leader, led the Muslim University that Markus eventually attended. As part of an Islamic youth group, Markus actively shared Islam with non believers. It was the result of one encounter with a Chinese Christian man who led Markus to leave Islam and become a Christian. As he shared his Islamic views with the man, he responded stating he was confident that he was going to His Father in heaven. For Muslims, heaven is a such a sacred place, they rarely talk about it. Markus was also puzzled over how this man referred to God as his father as Muslims consider themselves slaves of Allah. When Markus challenged the Christian on who his God was, the man answered simply Jesus. This answer began to haunt Markus. According to …

The main hindrance to constructing the Third Jewish Temple is the Muslim Dome of the Rock that Orthodox Jews believe sits on the original site of the Jewish Temple. Credit: Davit Ortmann/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jewish Sanhedrin re-introduces the half-shekel Temple Tax

A report in Breaking Israel News (BIN) says the nascent Sanhedrin has introduced an official half-shekel temple tax. Referred to as the mitzvah or commandment, the money will be dedicated to operating a third Jewish temple if it is ever built. The half-shekel tax was first set up under Moses to help fund the tabernacle. Jews paid it when Israel conducted a national census (Exodus 30:15). The Jewish leadership then introduced a one-third temple tax during the rebuilding of the temple under Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:32; Ezra 6:8). It was collected annually. The tax was re-introduced when Herod built the second temple in 20 BC. The half-shekel tax, worth about $4 today, was collected three times a year during annual pilgrimages to the temple. They had actual tax collectors whose job was to collect the tax. We even have an account of Jesus and Peter paying the temple tax (Matthew 17). However, it is clear that Jesus felt no obligation to pay the mitzvah (verses 25-26). So why did Jesus pay it? He agreed …

Morgan Freeman Credit: Nathan Congleton/Flickr/Creative Commons

Morgan Freeman on the Gift of Tongues

The Christian Broadcasting Network published an article on comments actor Morgan Freeman recently made on his encounter with the Gift of Tongues at Newlife Pentecostal Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was part of a documentary series Freeman is doing called “The Story of God.” In a recent episode he describes this charismatic gift as “powerful.” Freeman said: “All around me people have been swept up by an invisible force. And now they speak what they believe is the language of Heaven. I can see on their faces that they are genuinely somewhere else. “Now, whatever it is, they felt that power; they are not the same. Experience changes them, how they see themselves, how they relate to others, how they change their lives. “That was a powerful experience. I could feel the energy in that space. Normal people suddenly transformed by some power and then just suddenly return to normal. But Pentecostals believe they are bringing heaven down to earth.” These are interesting statements as the experience seems to have genuinely impacted Freeman. The …

A Divine coincidence?

As a quarterback for the University of Florida Gators, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as the best player in college football.  In 2010, the Denver Broncos chose Tim in the first round of the NFL draft. After the Denver Broncos started off the 2011 season with a record of one loss and four wins,  Tebow took over quarterbacking the team leading them to an 8-6 season, the AFC West title and first playoff victory since 2005. But winning isn’t everything in the NFL, because that was the last season Tim started an NFL game. Questions about his throwing ability led to Denver trading him to the New York Jets in 2012 and by 2013 he was basically out of football. But his strong Christian faith was prominent every time he stepped on the field. The son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines, one of Tebow’s trademarks in college was citing the Bible verse John 3:16 on the eye-black many football players put under their eye to reduce sun glare. During one Gator …

Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) Viet Nam. Credit: Colin Key/Flickr/Creative Commons

Original sin

Studies show that the average person lies about 100 times a day. As one writer tactfully noted, this was not talking about you specifically, but the average person. In the study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman recruited 121 pairs of men and women attending classes at the university to take part in the study. They had no idea what it involved at this point. They were then brought together and asked to have conversations with the other participants. Most of them did not know each other. They were unaware that the conversations were being recorded and researchers received the required permission after, before moving to the next stage. The students were then asked to view the video and to pick out the lies — from the most innocent to the most blatant. They found that over 60% of the participants lied within the first ten minutes of their conversation and told an average of 2.92 lies. They found men and women lied the same amount, …

England's Parliament Building Credit: Jim Nix/Flickr/Creative Commons

In the midst of trials and tribulation lies a ‘Great Opportunity’

Interesting days in England and it probably  indicates what the so-called progressive left eventually wants to see happen in North America. A new law is being debated in England’s House of Commons and if passed, the government’s revised Policing and Crime Bill will see the penalty for a “racially or religiously aggravated offense” increased from its current seven-year imprisonment to 14 years. Since the revised law implies that a person could be thrown in jail for simply offending someone, during the debate UKIP Member of Parliament Lord Pearson asked the following question of the government: “Could such an offense be caused by a Christian preaching the supreme divinity of Christ and thereby denying the supremacy of Muhammad? Would various assembled Muslims be free to regard that as a religiously aggravated offense under this section?” He wanted to know if a person could be thrown in jail for simply stating their belief Jesus is Lord? As an opposition party, UKIP led the charge in England’s decision to leave the European Union. Rather than saying there was …

Credit: Antonio Ponte/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sex addiction is real

Dr. Stefanie Carnes is president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). She recently came out against those in the therapy community who do not believe people can be sex addicts. IITAP provides materials and support for those working in the addiction community. She pointed to several studies that show sex addiction is a very real problem. In particular, she cited the recent research of Ji-Woo Seok and Jin-Hun Sohn at Chungnam National University in South Korea. The two work at the university’s brain research institute. Their findings confirmed what earlier studies have shown — sex addiction is real for both men and women. In their study, Seok and Sohn found that people with a sex addiction share many similarities to those with alcohol and drug addictions. Like other addicts, those with a sex addiction spend an inordinate amount of time searching for pornography to satisfy their craving. Sex addicts have the same level of sexual desire as the normal population, but similar to other addictions have a higher degree of wanting …

Huli Wigmen tribesmen, Papau, New Guinea Credit: Didrik Johnck/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ten-foot angel said “I am not going to let you kill her”

It was February 24, 2009, when Canadian missionary Sue Ambrose heard the sound of someone running up behind her. She turned and saw a madman coming at her with an upraised machete. She remembers screaming “No” and the crazed man yelling “Yeah, you” then the blade deflected off her skull, chipping bone, and slicing off skin and hair. Stunned Sue fell to the ground, but continued to fight back. When the man thrust the large knife into her hip, she grabbed the blade to stop him from striking her again severing several tendons in her hand. From Salmon Arm, BC, Sue and her husband Mark serve as Wycliffe missionaries in Papua, New Guinea. She was returning to the missionary compound after buying food at the local market for the students at the Bible and literacy school where she and her husband minister. She used these walks as a time of meditative prayer and that morning she was contemplating a verse she had spoken to people about that morning: “Whoever desires to save his life will …

Credit: shutter-fotos.com/Flickr/Creative Commons

But Satan hindered us

It was a cold winter night in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada as my wife, then fiancé, and I drove a lonely highway to visit my parents. We had started late afternoon for the six-hour drive. Other than a car following behind us, there wasn’t much traffic. But two flickering lights off in the dark distance warned of an approaching vehicle. As the car got closer, it suddenly veered into our lane. Panicked my wife who was driving wrenched the steering wheel to the right and our car plunged into the ditch. We hit the ditch at full speed and the deep snow gripped our front wheels and our car rolled. Not sideways, but end over end — back over front. Suddenly my wife and I were hanging upside down in our car. I remember fumbling with the keys and turning off the vehicle. We released our seat belts and collapsed on the ceiling of the car. Other than being in total shock about what had just happened, we were unhurt. But the deep snow, that had …

Fortified bridge of the town of Besalu, Spain Credit: Mariluz Rodriguez/Flickr/Creative Commons

Evangelical church growing in Spain and France

Reading reports out of Europe, you get the impression that the Christian church is not doing well. And though it’s true the Roman Catholic and liberal churches are in decline pretty much like they are around the world, the Evangelical church is doing fine. A recent report by the Spanish Government says the Evangelical church is on the upswing in Spain. According to the Religious Plurality report released by the country’s Justice ministry, as of December 31, 2016 there are 3,910 Evangelical churches in Spain, up from 3,769 in 2015, an increase of 141. In other words, last year a new Evangelical church opened in that country every two and a half days. These numbers only included registered churches and do not include unregistered house churches or Bible study/prayer groups. The report added that the Evangelical church is also the fastest growing religion in Spain. Religion analyst Maximo Alvarez who described the increase as a “great upturn,” said the growth has been most pronounced since 2000. With 46 million people, there is still a need …