All posts filed under: News

Guatemala City Credit: Carlos Reis/Flickr/Creative Commons

The elevator ride

We were on an elevator at the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala City heading up to the fifth floor to pick up the visa that would allow us to bring our adopted son home to Canada. We were passing the fourth floor when the elevator lurched and began to jerk downward. Our one year old son, who was in my arms, began to cry. Then it stopped. We were stranded halfway between the 3rd and 4th floor. The frantic pressing of buttons did not produce any movement. Our lawyer, a Christian woman, began to confidently and loudly pray in tongues.  We waited holding our breath. After what seemed like hours, but was only a few minutes, the elevator began to inch upwards to the fourth floor. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then there was another lurch. The elevator stopped and we began rapidly descending down. We watched the numbers flickering by as we passed the main floor to the basement. It seemed we were descending much faster than we should be. Just before we hit …

Tolerating Muslims

Last Sunday, as I drove to church, I noticed police cars on the road ahead, with flashing lights. It looked like a big accident or a crime scene, but when I got to the site I saw people coming out of the Islamic Center. Muslims celebrate Eid, at the end of the fasting time of Ramadan, and the police were managing traffic and providing security. With crowds of people and busy parking lots at an Islamic center, the police were being careful. So, are we supposed to tolerate those people? They were mostly new immigrants and most wore ethnic costumes from the old country. And they certainly have values that are different from mine. So, should we tolerate them? No, certainly not. I am a Christian and I follow the example of someone who loved us so much He died for us. Barely tolerating my neighbor is wrong for me. What I give out must be in the higher levels of kindness, at least; God’s love is the language of Christians. This is not even …

Credit: Stefan Georgi/Flickr/Creative Commons

Raging Billboards

Someone put a religious message on a sign beside a freeway near Indianapolis. You can see what they wrote in the picture. The message is a summary of some things conservative Muslims believe about their founder. In the twenty-first century, these ideas don’t look good, but people are outraged that the sign is critical and hateful. There are some lessons for us in this story. You can’t win against the critics: Every human organization or movement has skeletons in the closet, historical things we wish would go away; and the Internet lets the critics dig out those facts and tell the world. In Canadian and Australian history, people who called themselves Christians forced native children into residential schools, away from their families. Today this is a national embarrassment. The Mormons have many things to explain. In the U.S. the Democratic Party was the political base for slavery, segregation, and ugly racism. They are trying to do better now. The message on the sign was skillfully written and researched. If the author is sued, he will …

The Peruvian desert, one of the driest places in the world. Credit: Mariano Mantel/Flickr/Creative Commons

A rose in the desert

We were in shock. We had just been pulled off a bus by two armed soldiers.  I thought it was the last time I would see my husband. Terrified, we stood as they searched our passports and found what they were looking for.  A small piece of paper stuck in our passports stamped with our entry date to Peru. We had no idea how important that inch-sized paper was. It was all that stood between us returning to the bus or jail. The soldiers motioned for us to return to the bus and we sat in unbelief about what had just happened. The terrain around us was all desert. Tall, barren mountains hung over us as we traveled on to our destination. Two hours later we entered a valley. Suddenly there was vegetation as the landscape turned green. This valley had been irrigated and the small town in its midst survived because of it. The desert in Southern Peru is one of the driest places in the world. We learned later it hadn’t rained there …

Hillary Clinton Credit: Aaron Webb/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is a prophecy about Hillary Clinton coming to pass?

Prior to America’s recent presidential election, several Christian prophets predicted that Donald Trump would become the next president of the United States. One of those was Kim Clement who hinted at Trump’s presidency in 2013. Trump would not officially seek the Republican nomination until June 2015 and most considered the chances of him even winning that nomination as very remote, much less the US presidency. Kim died on November 23, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump won the presidential election. But Kim Clement, who had gained a reputation in Charismatic circles as  a prophetic worshiper, also had a prophecy for Hillary Clinton. He gave that prophecy back in 2006: “And some of you said, when the Spirit said, ‘Hillary Clinton,’ some of you shouted out, ‘yes!’God said, ‘I have already dealt with her heart, not to be president of this nation, but to be president in a Christian world. She will have a testimony second to none and will eventually come out with it and make declaration that Christ Jesus saved her marriage, saved her …

Credit: Thomas Hawk/Flickr/Creative Commons

Faith under pressure…

Considered a rising star in women’s soccer in America, Jaelene Hinkle, 24, recently announced she will not be playing for the US women’s national soccer team in two exhibition games scheduled for June. No explanation was given about why she pulled out and in its news release announcing her withdrawal, US Soccer stated Hinkle cited “personal reasons.” Hinkle has played in eight international games with the America’s national soccer team since 2015. However, Hinkle who plays defense is also a Christian and is very vocal about her faith on social media. She even posted her opinion of the Bible on Instagram stating: “It’s not a fictional book. It’s not pick and choose what you want to believe. You either believe it or you don’t.” Because of this, many wonder if she made the decision after US Soccer announced it would honor gay pride month in June by using rainbow numbered jerseys on both its men’s and women’s national uniforms. As soon as news surface she had withdrawn, gay activists tweeted their disappointment saying they were …

Marijuana being illegally grown in North Cascades National Park in the US. Credit: Park Ranger/Flickr/Creative Commons

Medical journal condemns Canada’s plan to legalize Marijuana in 2018

As the Canadian government pushes ahead to legalize Marijuana, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published an editorial condemning the proposed legislation. The Liberal government plans to legalize Marijuana by June 2018, fulfilling a campaign promise. According to Global News that reported on the CMAJ editorial, the legislation in its current form would: Legalize the recreational use of the drug for anyone 18 years of age and older. Allow Marijuana to be grown at home for personal use, but would limit the number of plants to four and height to under one meter. Not control the potency of Marijuana. CMAJ is concerned because several studies show that Marijuana usage can have a profound impact on the developing brain of a young person. In its editorial, the publication stated since a person’s brain is not fully developed until 25, legalizing the drug before that age could potentially have a devastating impact. Recently, several studies have shown that regular marijuana usage can distort and shrink the developing brain of a teen. It can result in increased rates …

Coptic Christians were traveling to Saint Samuel the Confessors monsatery (above), when they were attacked by Muslim extremists. Credit: Roland Unger/Wikipedia

As in the Days of Noah — ISIS slaughters 28 Egyptian Coptic Christians?

On Friday, May 26, 2017, a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians were traveling by bus to pray at a monastery when they were attacked by Muslim extremists. Their destination was the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor located a hundred miles south of Cairo, Egypt. At least 28 were killed when the bus and an accompanying half ton truck were stopped by three SUVs containing upwards of ten ISIS militants. After storming the bus, the masked extremists demanded the people on board recite the Muslim profession of faith called the shahada: La ilaha illa Allah wa-Muhammad rasul Allah. English: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. When they were unable to do this, the heavily armed militants opened fire killing. In addition to the deaths, they wounded at least 22. TV images of the attack showed the bus riddled with bullet holes and its seats covered in blood. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s population of 94 million and over the last several years have been under …

Pray for those in authority. Credit: thisisbossi/Flickr/Creative Commons

Breaking curses being cast on government leaders

Charisma News recently reported on a bizarre op-ed that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on May 23, 2017. The author, Diana Wagman, has written several articles for the paper. In her most recent, Wagman wrote about putting a “binding spell” on US President Donald Trump. What makes it even more strange is that Wagman claims not to be a devil worshiper, but decided to do her part joining thousands of like-minded people seeking to put a curse on  President Trump and his associates. Wagman wrote: “I cast a spell on the president. I was not alone. Thousands of witches, believers and people like me all over the world performed “A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him” under the waning crescent moon last month. It was not meant to physically hurt him, only to keep him from succeeding at his tasks. Now he’s complaining he’s the object of a “witch hunt.” Maybe the spell is working …” Wagman actually researched “binding spells” before doing it. As part of her ritual, …

Custom House in Dublin, Ireland Credit: motorito/Flickr/Creative Commons

Can Blasphemy be a Crime?

If I told you the police were investigating a famous man for blasphemy, possibly resulting in criminal charges, what country would you locate the story in? There is a famous trial in Indonesia, of a man who identifies as a Christian. Several people in Pakistan are in prison and charged with blasphemy, and Iran and Saudi Arabia, and probably other Muslim majority countries have blasphemy laws. This is one way for conservative Muslims to protect their religion from critics. Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists cannot apply the laws against their critics, in those countries. But this story is not about Muslims. Would you believe that the police investigated a man for blasphemy in the Republic of Ireland? And the accuser identified as an offended Christian. It’s all true, and on the surface it seems very strange. Apparently the police have decided to drop the investigation and not proceed with charges, just today, a few hours before I wrote this. The subject of the police investigation was an English comedian named Stephen Fry. The Irish anti-blasphemy …

Credit: Ruby Babson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgive for your heart’s sake

When Jesus spoke on forgiveness He was very clear on one thing: if we don’t forgive those who offend us, God would not forgive us. 14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15 NASV) I sometimes wonder if we struggle to forgive ourselves for things that we have done in the past, that it is a sign of spiritual blockages caused by our unwillingness to forgive. These blockages hinder us from fully experiencing God’s forgiveness. But an article on John Hopkins Medicine, Forgiveness: Your Health depends on It, provides one more reason to forgive. We need to do it for the sake of our physical health. Like many of God’s commandments, such as circumcision that improves a man’s health, the need to forgive is another section in God’s user’s manual on proper operation of the human body. According to the John Hopkins’ article, studies show that people who hold grudges and …

President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen Credit: Die Grunen

President of Austria says all women in that country may be forced to wear a Muslim hijab

The British newspaper, The Independent, is reporting on the bizarre statements Austria’s left-leaning president, Alexander Van der Bellen, made to students in March. He told the group that at some point all women in Austria may be required to wear a hijab to fight Islamaphobia in that country. The hijab or scarf is a head covering worn by many Muslim women for religious reasons and differs from a burqa that covers the face. Van der Bellen was responding to a young woman’s question who was opposed to recent moves by Austria and other European governments, such as Germany and Holland, that are passing legislation that would limit the wearing of a burqa, and in some instance a hijab, in public. The school girl stated that removing the scarf or burqa would result in women relying on their appearance when making their way in society instead of their accomplishments. In his response that was videoed back in March, but just recently broadcast on Austrian TV, Van der Bellen said that it was every woman’s right to …

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 …