All posts filed under: Religious

Credit: SAITOR/Flickr/Creative Commons

What Christians need today — courage

YouVersion Bible App was created in 2008, since then over 295 million people have downloaded the app for use on their phone, Ipads and computers. According to this year’s stats, so far this year the app is being downloaded 1.4 times every second of the day. In the same time frame, people are also sharing ten verses with friends. But YouVersion also provides the most read verse of the year and in some ways this provides an insight into what believers are facing around the world. Outside of North America, the most read verse is: 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NASV) In America, the most read verse is similar but with a slightly different twist: 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NASV) The verses portray how things are changing …

United Nations headquarters in New York City Credit: Neptull/Wikipedia

Ancient gods revival?

The same company responsible for building a full-scale model of the Arches of Baal last year has produced a full-sized replica of the ancient Roman goddess Athena. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) used the group, the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA), to make a 3-D replica of Athena and recently had it on display at the United Nations headquarter in New York City. Similar to what happened to the Baal arches, in 2015 ISIS destroyed the original statue of the goddess in a museum in Palmyra, Syria. According to UAE, this ancient goddess was “synonymous with reason, refuge and the rule of law, all the same values on which the historic institution was built.” However, this is only part of the story. Athena was also the Roman goddess of war and was valued for providing warfare strategy. The recreated idol actually portrays the goddess holding a spear, representative of her warrior symbolism. Many believe Athena was simply the Roman version of the ancient Canaanite goddess Asherah, that went by various names in different cultures — …

Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada Credit: GatorEG/Wikipedia

Strong reaction to Wilfrid Laurier’s ATTACK on free speech

Some suggest that Canadians recently got an inside look at the cultural Marxism that is dominating many universities across Canada and the US where students and those in authority are trying to stop any views that dissent with the prevailing left-wing agenda. Lindsay Shepherd is a 22-year-old graduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. She also teaches a class at the university but was called before a tribunal because she shared a dissenting opinion in her class. Fortunately, Lindsay had the presence of mind to tape this interview so Canadians could have a first-hand look on what is becoming common place on university campuses that seem less concerned with teaching students how to think and more interested in telling them what to think. In her class, Shepherd was talking about the use of non-gendered pronouns that is becoming a controversial topic on university campuses. The discussion is often centered around people who are transitioning from one sex to another. As an example, some are insisting they should no longer be referred to as …

East Coweta football team gathering for prayer before a game. Credit: Fox News Youtube capture

Victory: Youth take ownership of their faith at East Coweta high school

It was an amazing story, and despite legal threats from an atheist group, students at East Coweta High School in Coweta County, Georgia have taken ownership of their faith in a big way. At the end of October, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter of complaint to the Coweta school district that its high school football head coach, John Small, was leading a team prayer before games and demanded that this stop. FFRF argued that this violated the constitution of separation of church and state and they included an image of Small standing with his head bowed during a team prayer. In response, the Coweta school division sent a letter to all staff that they were no longer to take part in any prayer or worship while working in an “official capacity” with the school. It was expected that the team’s prayer sessions would come to an end. However, instead something incredible happened. The players took the initiative to pray before the game and instead of 100 players gathering to pray as …

Kim Clement (1956-2016): YouTube Capture

God’s prophetic voice needed today

As I read about the massacre of 26 people (ages five to 72) in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, during their Sunday morning service, it struck me how we need God to speak and warn us. Sutherland Springs located 30 miles southeast of San Antonia is a small town of just 400 people. yet somehow evil found its way there. Twenty were also injured in the attack by gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, 26. A former member of the air force, a self-proclaimed atheist and loner, Kelley apparently killed himself after careening off the road in a chase after the shooting. Two days earlier — Friday, November 3, 2017 — a neighbor attacked Christian politician Senator Paul Rand as he returned home. Rand suffered five broken ribs and lung contusions. According to a report on the Daily Caller, another person who lives on the same block alleges the attacker is an “avowed socialist” who fought with other neighbors over politics. Despite this underlying issue, recent media reports suggest that conflicts over landscaping issues …

Considered to be the location of the Garden Gethsemane located at the foot of Mount Olives in Jerusalem where Jesus sweated blood Credit: tango7174/Wikipedia

Italian woman sweats blood confirming Luke 22:44

The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently published an article on the case of a 21-year-old Italian woman who has been bleeding blood from her face and hands. Italian doctors reported that over the past three years the woman has gone through episodes were she spontaneously bled blood without any breakage in the skin. According to their report the episodes would last up to five minutes. Though they occurred at any time from sleep to periods of exercise, doctors noted the bleeding intensified when she was under emotional stress. Embarrassed by her condition, the young woman was becoming a loner refusing to leave her home. After ruling out chromhidrosis, a condition that causes discolored sweat, doctors diagnosed the young woman with a rare condition called hematohidrosis – ‘blood sweat’, when people actually sweat blood. Some believe it’s caused by rupturing capillaries near the sweat glands. This can happen during times of extreme fear or stress. An Indian health journal reported ‘blood sweat’ in cases of people about to be executed and even cited an incident that …

Photo from South Dakota 1936 during the drought that hit North America during the 1930s. Credit: United Stated Department of Agriculture/Wikipedia

A different kind of famine?

With the Canadian government planning to legalize recreational marijuana effective July 1, 2018, Bill C-45 that is working its way through parliament includes a provision that could have disturbing ramifications for young people. Though the bill sets a minimum age of 18 for a person to legally buy marijuana, the curious provision allows young people between the ages of 12 to 18, to possess under five grams of marijuana without being criminally charged. This is the equivalent of a 12-year-old walking the streets with shot of whiskey in his or her pocket without any consequences. The biggest problem is the message the government is sending young teens through such a provision. It leaves the impression that marijuana is a safe drug, which is the mantra activists use to push governments to legalize Cannabis in the first place. There have been many voices responding to the Canadian government’s decision to legalize including the prestigious Canadian Medical Association Journal that condemned the decision in a recent editorial. As governments around the world legalize recreational marijuana, concerned medical researchers are releasing a staggering …

Brooke Simpson Blind audition Credit: Youtube Caputer/The Voice

Church youth leader wows ‘The Voice’

It was a four-chair turn for church youth leader Brooke Simpson on ‘The Voice’ as she sang a song by Demi Lovato called Stone Cold. Entering is sixteenth season, the winner of ‘The Voice’ receive $100,000 and a recording deal. Simpson is a graduate of Lee University, a Church of God University based in Cleveland Indiana. She works for Potential church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In a YouTube video uploaded earlier this year, Brooke said that she and her husband Ray started a program called ‘Youth in Revolt’ encouraging youth to live as rebels for God in a society that is increasing becoming anti-Christian. Before she was done all four coaches were standing applauding her performance. Pop Singer Miley Cyrus said “You know you’re good because I am a little speechless and that never happens.” Adam Levine called her “one in a million.” I find it more than a coincidence that Simpson is following in the footsteps of another Lee graduate Jordan Smith who won ‘The Voice’ in 2016. All four judges turned their chairs …

Asteroid collision artist's representation Credit: NASA/Wikipedia

Oh no, not again — prediction made world will end September 23

Up to this week, I had never heard of Jason Meade. But over the last couple weeks he has certainly gotten his 15 minutes of fame when under the banner of a Christian numerologist he claimed that the countdown for the world’s end will start tomorrow — September 23, 2017. Several secular media outlets have picked up the story including Foxnews and the Washington Post. Unfortunately, when Meade’s prediction doesn’t come true tomorrow, it will be another stab in the back for Christians. I know Meade is wrong, because the Bible says he is wrong. Jesus speaking to his disciples about the end-times said: 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36 NASV) The Lord says very clearly that we will not know the day when Jesus will return. What does this mean? Well I could guess the day. I could pick a date out of a hat and predict Christ will return on say February 18, 2034 and …

Groom, Texas Credit: maciek/Flickr/Creative Commons

Report: Persecution of American Christians up 133% between 2001 and 2016

A report recently released by First Liberty Institute (FLI) entitled “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America” outlines the growing number of attacks on religious liberty in America. Founded in 1972, First Liberty Institute fights for religious liberty in the US through advocacy and litigation by providing pro-bono legal defense to those being persecuted or discriminated against for their faith. According to the organization’s report, the number attacks on Christians jumped by 15% between 2015 and 2016. Since FLI started tracking attacks on religious liberty in 2001, the number has increased by 133% over the following five years. In 2011, FLI reported 600 attacks on religious liberty and by 2016 the number had reached 1,400. FLI’s CEO Kelly Shackelford noted that the cases they cited are just the ones that were published. She described them as just the “tip of the iceberg” as many cases of faith persecution and discrimination are simply not reported. This is not even referring to the number of attacks on Christians that now routinely take place in the …

Li River, China Credit: Charlie fong/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

China forbids children from attending church

According to reports coming out of China, several provinces have stepped up their persecution of the Church by prohibiting children from attending religious services. Recently, over 100 churches in the Chinese province of Zhejiang received notice that minors can no longer attend any type of religious activity including church and summer camps. In some jurisdictions, parents were required to sign papers saying their children will not be attending religious services. Officials threatened parents with legal action if they disobeyed. This is not the first time Zhejiang officials had taken a hard-line against Christians. In late 2015, officials ordered the removal of all crosses on government-run churches. When Christians protested, some were arrested and several churches destroyed. Related: Chinese Officials Tear Down More Christian Crosses, Beat Protesters: Breitbart It is uncertain how widespread this recent edict is, but Amnesty International reported receiving news on this prohibition from around the country. In Hunan province, politicians stated they will be investigating both government-run churches (both Catholic and protestant) and the underground churches to make sure they are not …

London Bridge tower highlighted Credit: Wikipedia/cmglee

Who do British Jews consider their biggest threats?

Using YouGov, a survey company, the British organization Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) has conducted an annual survey of English attitudes towards Jews since 2015. Perhaps the most disturbing fact to come out of this year’s survey is that over the past two years a third of the Jews living in England had considered leaving due to the growing antisemitism in that country. The survey also found that 25% do not believe Jews have a long-term future in England with a further 21% stating they were uncertain. However, this was still better than what they see going on across the English Channel when 35% said they did not believe Jews have a long-term future in Europe and 24% stating they were unsure. This is certainly paving the way for further Jewish migration to Israel, an event prophesied in the Old Testament centuries earlier: 3 “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture… (Jeremiah 23:3 NASV) Perhaps not surprisingly …

Hall of Supreme Harmony, Beijing, China Credit: See-ming Lee/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is the world building for a revival?

Amid news of the Chinese government’s crack down on Christianity, reports are also circulating of the remarkable growth taking place in the Chinese church. Of course, with the government being so tight-lipped it is impossible to verify the accuracy of these accounts. It is also difficult to know how many Christians there are in China. In 2010, the Chinese government officially said it had 23 million Christians. However, that only included those attending the legally sanctioned church — the one run by the Communist government. When you include the underground church, the numbers would obviously be higher.  A 2010 survey conducted by Dr. Yanga Fenggang of Purdue University put the total number of Christians closer to 33 million (30 million protestants, 3 million Catholics). However based on a 2011 survey,  Pew Forum estimated the number of Christians at 67 million. If this number is right, the underground church is nearly twice as large as the officially sanctioned church. Curiously, a recent Global Trends (GT) survey of 23 countries in September-October 2016 uncovered evidence that may …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Crosses overlooking Matera, Italy. Credit: Hugh Bell/Flickr/Creative Commons

Religion Doesn’t Work Anymore

In 2015, Muslim pilgrims in Mecca were caught in a human stampede and thousands were killed. The Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, is a requirement for all Muslims. A devout Muslim should do the Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once. Now, squeezing millions into a small place in the desert, for a few days, and keeping things traditional, is becoming impossible. When things go wrong with the Hajj, thousands die in the stampedes and governments almost go to war. Now the lunar cycle for setting the date has come to the hot desert summer, and it will stay on the summer for a decade. Management of the Hajj has become a crisis. Believers must go, but it’s so hard. I remember when I was in High School, my church told me to “win my friends for Christ.” I looked at my school friends and I didn’t see any way to make that happen. At church we had music with a piano and organ, and a strict Sunday schedule, and so much more. We had a …

The Bell tower of the Sand covered church sticking out of the ground near Skagen, Denmark Credit: Myrna Petersen

The Buried Church

On a recent trip to my ancestor’s homeland, a visitation to an old church buried in the sand gave some insight as to the way we build our faith, will have a lasting impression in how future generations view the church. The Sand-Covered Church (Danish: Den Tilsandede Kirke, also translated as The Buried Church) is the name of a late 14th-century Danish church dedicated to Saint Lawrence of Rome. Built between 1355 and 1387, the red brick church was 45 meters long and the tower was 22 meters tall. Between 1600 and 1800, desertification or sanding-over of land occurred in the North Jutland coastal areas near the now artistic tourist town of Skagen, Denmark. Desertification destroyed the fields and buried a village near Skagen. By the close of the 18th century the drafting sands had reached the Saint Lawrence of Rome Church. Each time before a service was held, the parishioners had to dig out the entrance. The struggle to keep the church free of sand lasted until 1795, when it was abandoned and front …

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Credit: Wikipedia/Michael-David Bradford

Coincidence or is this the reason why membership in the Southern Baptist church shrunk?

On May 13, 2016, the missionary arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) announced that it will now allow its missionaries to speak in tongues privately. This ended a policy initiated in November 2005, when the board said it would no longer accept missionaries who spoke in tongues. Originally the board allowed missionaries to speak in tongues in their personal prayer life, but forbid any public expression. On its application form one of the first questions asked was if the person spoke in tongues. The question will remain but will not impact a person’s ability to work as a missionary with SBC. The Southern Baptist church, the largest protestant denomination in North America, believes the gift of tongues, also called glossolalia, ended with the age of the apostles and is no longer valid today. Then the very next year, 2006, in a nearly unanimous vote (36-1) trustees of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced they will no longer allow anyone to promote speaking in tongues on campus and will not hire any person who knowingly …

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Pedro Szekely/Flickr/Creative Commons

Major improvement in Google translation of nine languages

I have received a number of comments on an article published on opentheword.org two days ago in a strange language. Some wondered if opentheword had been hacked. Others asked what language it was. A couple wanted an English translation of the article. All that happened is I took a story on the website and translated it into Turkish using Google translator: English: Former Muslim imam says the Qur’an is the reason he converted to Christianity Turkish translation: Eski Müslüman imam, Hıristiyanlığa dönüşmesinin sebebi Kuran olduğunu söylüyor Here is the back story: A couple of days ago, I received an article in French that I needed to read in English. So I threw it in to Google translator to see what it was about. I have used the service in the past and it provided a basic, but rough rendering of the article. But this time when it spit out the English translation, I was stunned by how well it read. The English was clear and readable. The grammar was correct and I had no trouble …

Abandoned Coptic Church in Suez, Egypt Credit: Nathaniel Page/Flickr/Creative Commons

The horrific persecution of the Egyptian Coptic Church

Many consider the Coptic church as the oldest church in the world. It traces its beginnings back to the work of the gospel writer Mark who they believe came to Alexandria, Egypt in 42 AD during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. For those who believe Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Copts   have been undergoing horrific persecution in the Middle East, most recently with the bombing of St. Mark’s Coptic Church in Cairo on December 11, 2016.  According to Egyptian authorities a suicide bomber was carrying 12 kilograms of TNT when he set it off in the Sunday morning service killing 24. The Copts make up 10% of Egypt’s population of 91 million. Though authorities were quick to condemn the slaughter, there has been a significant increase in Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt, since the military overthrow of Egyptian president Mohammaed Morsi in 2013, The Muslim brotherhood who backed Morsi, blames the Coptics, who supported the overthrow, for the …

The Singing Contractors: Facebook

‘The Singing Contractors’ unexpected climb to fame

Two general contractors working in and around Indianapolis, Indiana have taken social media by storm, not by displaying teaching videos on contracting techniques, but by singing. Aaron Gray, 39 and Josh Arnett, 40, have been friends since childhood. Today, they work as contractors — pounding a hammer. Living about an hour apart outside Indianapolis, they often work together on projects. Initially they started out singing together while they worked, but at one point they decided to record the songs on their phones. All their songs are ‘a cappella’ but often have a cathedral type sound as they sing in empty homes. Both Arnett and Gray come from Christian homes, but neither of them had sang professionally. The turning point came last year when pastor Paul Biggar joined them in singing “How Great Thou Art.” They sang it in three-part harmony in the basement of a home they were working on. They shared it on Facebook and within a few weeks the video was viewed 19 million times. Because of their almost instantaneous climb to fame, …

Antioch Church pastor Jimmy Seibert with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Credit: Antioch Church

BuzzFeed article on Chip and Joanna Gaines called a ‘hit piece’ on Christians

Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the popular reality program Fixer Upper on HGTV, have come under fire because they attend a church that does not agree with same-sex marriage and considers homosexuality a sin. On the show that’s in its fifth season, the Gaines work with clients to find and remodel homes. Joanna provides the design and Chip heads the construction. The Gaines attend Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. In an article on BuzzFeed, Kate Arthur recently reported on a sermon by the church’s pastor, Jimmy Seibert. Though he called homosexuality a sin, Seibert stated that Christians must show compassion for those in the gay lifestyle. He adds that contrary to popular opinion gays can change, as Seibert has helped many who struggle with same-sex attraction. As soon as that article came out, a handful of Fixer Upper viewers and other secular media such as Cosmopolitan demanded to know where the Gaines stood on same-sex marriage. To this point, the Gaines have not responded. Though the Gaines have been very outspoken on …

Church in Iceland Credit: washingtonnydc/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey shows believing the Bible the key to church growth

According to survey by researchers in Ontario, Canada, churches with Conservative, Bible-based theology are the fastest growing of Christian churches. In fact, the membership numbers for churches that have rejected a literal interpretation of the Bible are in a free fall. According to the English newspaper, The Guardian, attendance at liberal mainline churches in Canada has dropped by 50% since the 1960s and in England Sunday attendance at the largely liberal Church of England has fallen by a similar percentage since the 1980s. The research team led by David Haskell described those with a “conservative Protestant theology” as the “clear winner.” In their report entitled “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Churches” the group surveyed 2,225 people attending churches in Ontario and conducted more in-depth interviews with 195 church attendees and 29 clergy. According to The Guardian, while studies in the past concluded that theology had no impact on church growth, this survey showed it clearly did. Haskell noted that growing churches “held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity and …

China’s insidious attack on the underground Church

The Chinese government has recently instituted an insidious attack on Christians in that country after distributing a survey to all teachers and parents. The communist party who has ruled China for decades is trying to crack down on the rapidly growing Christian population. The changes are being instituted by President Xi Jinping. Described as a fanatical Maoist, he is trying to consolidate the communist party’s control of China. In an interview with the Christian Post, Bob Fu who heads Christian Aid believes the real concern is that there are now more Christians in China than members of the communist party. There are two types of Christian churches in China. One group is controlled by the state through its State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). These legal churches are required to register with one of three organizations such  as the Three-self Patriotic Movement. There are about 57,000 government-sanctioned churches (both Catholic and Protestant). The second group is the larger unregistered house church movement. It is difficult to nail down how many Christians China has due largely …

When national leaders choose to believe a lie

The Nation of Israel and Jews have been part of the Middle East for thousands of years. One of the earliest non-Biblical references to Israel is found on the Merneptah Stele in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. The stele, a 10 foot high (3 meters) granite stone monument, was discovered in 1896 during archaeological work on the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes Also called the Israel Stele, it is dated to the reign of the Egyptian king Merneptah (1213 BC – 1203 BC). It outlines his various military victories. The last three lines list his defeat of Canaan including Israel: “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not;” Yet despite this find and thousands of other archaeological discoveries, in a recent UN vote Egypt along with 23 other nations passed a motion that effectively denies any Israeli connection to Jerusalem’s temple mount and Western Wall (the Jewish Wailing Wall). This  motion declaring the Temple Mount a purely Muslim site was passed in a 24-6 vote by the United Nations Educational and Scientific and …

Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Credit: Youtube capture

Birthed in suffering: The enchanting music of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

A friend recently attended a performance by the Christian group Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus that is currently touring Canada. She described it was one of the most incredible events she has ever attended, Christian or secular. Oddly this group from the Ukraine, now working under Music Mission Kyiv, was not always Christian. A year after the fall of Soviet Union in December 1991, an Episcopalian church in Kiev, Ukraine invited American Christian choral director Roger McMurrin to present Handel’s Messiah. The atheistic communist government had forbid sacred music and Handel’s Messiah had not been played in the Ukraine for an estimated 70 years. After his arrival in 1992, McMurrin who had served as choral director for several churches in the US, hired a local symphony and 37 singers to put on the Christian classic. The performance had a profound impact on the people, the media and the choral group. McMurrin described the presentation as an “explosion of light.” On his flight home to America, God asked McMurrin to move back to the Ukraine, to …