All posts filed under: z31

Photo: Carlo Err/Flickr/Creative Commons

A gay activist tells his journey to Christ

Though James Parker was raised in a Christian home in a rural community in Northern England, as a young teenage boy he became convinced that he was gay. In his testimony on mercatornet, James said as he struggled with his identity he turned to alcohol, became suicidal and self harming. At the age of 17, he finally came out to his parents and friends at school. He was shocked when they not only accepted but affirmed his gay identity. When he turned 18, James moved to London and threw himself into the gay community, even taking on an activist role for homosexual causes. Despite a promiscuous lifestyle, Parker still had an interest in spiritual things and became involved in a gay lesbian Christian group, which other than promoting safe sex did not have a strong spiritual agenda. While attending university, he eventually settled down with a long-term partner and together they planned to visit a country where gay marriage was allowed and get married. But while at university he still had an inner desire for …

God wants to make appointments for you.

Divine appointments still going on today

The Holy Spirit wants to make Divine appointments for us. If we are willing to listen, He will send us to them. Other times, the Holy Spirit brings the appointments to us or it can be a bit of both. The Apostle Philip was preaching the Gospel in Samaria when the Holy Spirit fell (Acts 8:25-40). People were being saved, healed and delivered. Hearing what was happening, Peter and John joined Philip in Samaria to help in this work. After they were done, the three men decided to return to Jerusalem. But the Angel of the Lord spoke to Philip about going down a specific road — the Desert Road. Philip obeyed and ran into an Ethiopian — an eunuch who headed the treasury for Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia. Philip led the man to the Lord and even water baptized him. Many believe this Divine appointment led to the early introduction of Christianity in Ethiopia. In other instances, God brings appointments to you. After Esther was selected as the next wife of the King …

It is time to cancel the debt. Photo: Taxrebate.org.uk

How offenses become a debtors’ prison

In Mathew 6, Jesus makes an odd connection. In verse 12 — towards the end of His teaching on prayer — Jesus says “And forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors”. Then two verses later (v 14), the Lord elaborates: “For if you forgive others their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” So what is the odd connection? Well in these two verses Jesus linked the concept of “debt” with “transgression or offense.” How could these two be the same? There are many offenses that have no connection to finances. It could be something someone said, rejection or abuse. In fact most offenses are not related to money. So why did Jesus use the word “debt” to describe “offense?” The reason is simple — there are many similarities between debt and offense. Offenses create a sense of indebtedness! Though an offense does not involve money, it creates a debt in your heart. You were dealt with unfairly or unreasonably. You were mistreated or rejected. When we are offended, we feel someone …

Los Angeles Staples Center photo Luca Zappa/Flickr

‘LA Times’ reviewer says recent Justin Bieber concert reminded him of a church service

LA Times concert reviewer Mikael Wood attended Justin Bieber’s recent concert held in Los Angeles on Friday, November 13th. In his review Wood wrote: “What the vaguely billed event at Staples Center felt most like was a church service.” Wood went so far as to title one of his articles on the concert: Review how Justin Bieber turned Staples Center into a megachurch. The sold out concert coincided with the release of Bieber’s latest CD “Purposes.” I recently reported on the transformation taking place in Justin’s life which he attributes to a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ. A big part of this change also involves a friendship with Judah Smith, a pastor based in Seattle. Smith was even at the concert on stage with Justin. Wood said the two sat on stools for part of the 90-minute performance where they discussed “the importance of maintaining a positive spirit and surrounding oneself with encouraging people…” Wood said during this session “Bieber …. more or less preached.” Wearing a black hoodie, Justin also took some pre-selected questions …

Another Christian on ‘The Voice?’

Shy, unassuming Korin Bukowski was in battle with Mark Hood on The Voice tonight (November 17, 2015) for the last spot in the show’s Top 11. She and Mark had finished last in the audience voting and were forced in to a sing off where the viewing audience would vote live using Twitter. Mark sang an energetic version of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.” After he was finished, I thought Korin was in tough to move on. But her haunting version of “Don’t Know Why” clearly impressed the judges. Korin was still in the running. After counting the Twitter votes, Korin was declared the winner. Korin is pre-med student and during blind audition only one judge, Gwen, turned around to choose Korin to be part of a team. During the discussion after her initial tryout, judge Adam Levine said to Korin “You are so cool” and immediately Korin blurted out laughing “I’m not cool.” Of all the contestants, Korin seems to be the most awkward and lacking confidence. After tonight’s sing off, both Mark and Korin …

Central Java, Indonesia Photo: Piyaphon Phemtaweepon/Flickr

Dealing with fear

In December 2001, Pastor You Yong was praying in his church in Magetan, Indonesia when members of the Laskar Jihad army surrounded the church and kidnapped the Christian pastor. Pastor You had started a small church in 1996 and it grew to over 100 people. The majority of the congregation were converts from Islam. The Muslims were outraged. Indonesia has a population of about 250 million and 85% are Muslim. In a couple of provinces, they have even managed to set up Sharia law. Though Christians only make up 12% of the population, they are the fastest growing religion in Indonesia. Yong’s church was part of that growth. The Muslims complained to local authorities that Yong was causing disharmony. When they were put off, the Islamic leaders called in the Laskar Jihad army to deal with the situation. The Jihadists threw a bag over Yong’s head and dragged him off for interrogation. They beat and threatened Yong. They held a machete to his neck and Yong thought he was going to die. But during this …

Jesus cleansing the temple by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765)

The problem of the Jewish Messiah and the Temple

As they did in Jesus day, many Orthodox Jews reject Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Even today they still await their Messiah’s coming. In the Old Testament, there were a number of prophecies that spoke of the Messiah and Jesus fulfilled them all including being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and even riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). But there is one prophecy from the Book of Daniel that is very problematic for the Jews and it involved a prophecy about the Messiah and the Temple. In some ways it explains the love hate relationship Jesus had with the Temple. On one hand Jesus cleansed the Temple by taking a whip and driving out the money changers claiming it was supposed to be a House of prayer (Matthew 21:12-17). But Jesus also prophesied the Temple’s destruction telling His disciples that not even one stone would be left standing on another (Matthew 24:1-2). In the end, it would be Jesus’ public statements about the Temple that got Him into trouble with the ruling class. After Jesus …

Marriage is a balancing act Photo: kylesteed/Flickr

Study: Thankfulness is the key to a successful marriage

A survey conducted by researchers with the University of Georgia concluded that thankfulness is a key to success in a marriage relationship. They even suggested that thankfulness will actually protect a marriage from divorce. The researchers gathered this information through a telephone survey of 468 married people. They quizzed them in several areas including financial, feelings of gratitude and communication. They discovered that gratitude or thankfulness was the most important indicator of the quality of the marriage, even exceeding good communication. They found that  during times of marital conflicts involving fighting and other forms of negative communication that expressions of thankfulness can counteract these feelings. Speaking on behalf of the group, Allen Barton, a postdoctoral research associate at the university’s Center for Family Research, said: “It goes to show the power of ‘thank you.’ Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other area, gratitude in a relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.” The researchers found that financial stress in particular can lead to criticism or nagging which can cause the other …

(Left) Metal with Bible page fused on it: Photo Jin Lee National September 11 Memorial Museum (Right) Twin Towers in flames Flickr/Michael Foran

Powerful words of forgiveness from a Red Letter edition of the Bible

Anger is such a powerful emotion. But nothing drives this emotion more than paying someone back for a wrong they committed against you. Though most of us never act out on this, how many have thought and even plotted revenge in our minds? Or am I the only person who has ever done this? There was a powerful story that came out of 9-11 when New York’s Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001. Six months later, as people were cleaning up the mess, a fireman found a piece of metal with paper fused to it. I have no idea how this can happen without burning the paper but there it was paper melted to metal. Not just any paper, it was a page from the Bible and not just any Bible, it was a King James red-letter edition with Jesus’ words are all in red — for emphasis. It was not just any page, but a page from Jesus’ sermon on the mount found in the Gospel of Matthew and front and center …

Study of identical twins shows homosexuality is not genetic

For the past several years, some have claimed same-sex leanings are genetic. This means people have no control over their desires and can’t change. However there has been one major problem with this theory namely identical twins. Identical twins have the same genetic make up, so if one twin was gay the other should automatically be gay as well, if it is based on genes. However, this is not the case and it was confirmed again in a recent study conducted by the University of California (UCLA). In this study, researchers looked at the the genetic make up of 27 identical twins where at least one twin was gay and ten sets where both were gay. The researchers concluded that environment, not genetics, determined if a person was gay or not. While we have our basic genes that determine our make up, there is another molecular layer of information called “epigenetics” that influences how we live. This layer has the ability to affect our genes. It is described as “molecular switches” that they believe turn …