All posts tagged: Christianity

Chinese Communist Party's hammer and sickle appearing along side McDonalds Credit: Phillip McMaster/Flickr/Creative Commons

Just in time for Easter: Chinese city offers a Judas’ reward for citizens turning in Christians

I have written several articles in the past how China has taken a sharp turn to the left under its latest president Xi Jingping. The communist trademark hammer and sickle is showing up in public displays around China. Now Asia News is reporting that the Chinese city of Guangzhou is offering rewards of as much as $1,500 US for people to turn in Christians to authorities. Over the previous couple of decades China entered an unprecedented time of prosperity and freedom. During this time, Christianity, that was flourishing in the underground church, moved above ground and this resulted in the construction of several mega churches. However, under Jingping this is all changing. The government is now cracking down on these churches. In early December, police demolished one of the the country’s largest church, The Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province, using dynamite and heavy machinery. As a result of this crackdown, Christians are heading back underground where they flourished before Jingping gained tyrannical control of the nation. Now the leaders of Guangzhou want its citizens …

Credit: Sydney Daoust/Flickr/Creative Commons

Oh, you are such a loser!

A new buzz word in pop psychology is “vulnerable.” There is some good advice out there, and this idea can be good for us. If I looked at you and said “loser!” I would be rude, and you would take that as an insult. We learned that in elementary school. So, “loser!” I just called you a loser, and you can say the same to me. If we are not losers, we are failures. Every Christian should know the words in the Bible “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) That is the bedrock of our Christian faith. Jesus made it right, after we made it wrong. A few days ago, I had a meeting with an old friend. We talked about business and we also had time to catch up on our personal stories, like old friends. This man is a Christian, my brother in Christ, and he described himself as …

Polwarth, England Credit: Hamish Irvine/Flickr/Creative commons

The Critical Mass: How We Can Fail

On Sunday, in church, the pastor told us about people who had been helped in the last year. He told testimonial stories about cancer patients and struggling families. And then he told us about a man who had walked into the church to learn more. He was not a Christian, but he was interested. The pastor talked to him and gave him a book, and a few weeks later the man called to say that he had decided to become a Christian. Now he attends the Sunday services as a new Christian, growing in his faith. The man’s name is Mohammed. We live in interesting times. Now Muslim majority countries are modernizing, and Muslims are migrating to other countries with high levels of personal freedom. That means people can break free from the group, and choose how they want to live. This is becoming a crisis, as some young Muslims identify as atheists. Others, like Mohammed, choose another religion. RELATED: Losing their religion: the hidden crisis of faith among Britain’s young Muslims: The Guardian The …

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 …

Fall sunset over Zurich, Switzerland. Photo: Werner_B/Flickr/Creative Commons

Swiss agency reports large numbers of Muslims converting to Christ

It’s happening all across Europe — Germany, England, Austria — Muslims are turning to Christ by the thousands. Despite all that is happening, the Holy Spirit is moving. The latest country added to that list is Switzerland. According to Switzerland’s Counselling Center for Integration and Religious Affairs (CCIRA), since 2004 over 2,000 Muslim refugees have become Christians. And it does not appear that the conversion rates will be slowing down any time soon. The ones turning to Christ are mostly Kurds and Afghans. In an interview with a Swiss TV news program, 20 Minutes, CCIRA coordinator Kathrin Anliker said a couple of factors are at play here. First Muslims are increasingly horrified by the brutality of extremists in the Middle East. Just recently a Sharia court in ISIS controlled Mosul, Iraq ordered nine young men to be publicly executed. According to reports, ISIS accused the nine of being members of a resistance movement.  The court ordered the men be tied to iron posts then cut in half with a chain saw. Secondly, Anliker noticed that some of the refugees had …

The Muslim Qur'an written several centuries after the Bible states that Jesus never died on the cross. Photo: Katrine Kaarsemaker/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is Jesus the slave of Allah?

ISIS puts out quarterly Arabic magazine called Dabiq. Also available in English, in its  latest issue ISIS reveals the stark contrast that Muslims have in their concept of God with Christians. In its publication entitled “Break the Cross,” ISIS tells the world that Jesus is “the slave of Allah.” It was part of the overall theme of the magazine attacking Christianity and particularly our concept of Jesus. The Muslim Qur’an speaks a lot about Jesus and even Jesus’ mother Mary has more verses dedicated to her than the prophet Muhammad. According to the Qur’an, Jesus is considered a prophet of Allah (Surah 2:136) and one who performed miracles including raising the dead and healing the sick (Surah 3:49). Many Muslims look upon Jesus as the healing prophet. Muslims do not believe Jesus is God or even the Son of God (Surah 19:88-92) because in their thinking the latter meant God had sex with Mary. Of course, the Bible does not say that. The Holy Spirit conceived Jesus supernaturally and even Mary was shocked by her …

Another media report of Muslims turning to Christ in significant numbers, this time in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Photo: Stoke-on-Trent, Futurilla/Flickr/Creative Commons

Media reports Muslims turning to Christianity in England

I have written several articles on Muslims converting to Christianity in unprecedented numbers. Stories tell of Muslims turning to Christ after Jesus appeared to them in dreams, a fulfillment of Joel 2:28. In Iran, thousands are becoming Christians despite the fear of persecution when they make that decision. And now with the recent influx of hundreds of thousands of Muslims into Europe, several secular media report that thousands of Muslims — many fed up with the violence of the extremists — are becoming Christians across Europe. Now we can add England to this list. A prominent English newspaper, The Guardian wrote a curious article on what is happening at Church of St. Mark in Stoke-on-Trent, England. The story stated that one recent Saturday morning, 15 Muslim refugees were baptized in the church. Rev Sally Smith who serves as the church’s vicar, says that three to four Muslims turn to Christianity weekly. According to the article, part of the reason for the growth is that the church is supplying the refugees assistance in the form of …

Photo: Leonard J Matthews/Flickr/Creative Commons

How Christianity is dying …. or is it?

There is a huge debate about Christianity these days. Many people thinks it’s an antique ideology, disappearing rapidly. I don’t want to argue, but my recent experience might help. My home city used to be the Bible belt of Canada. Our provincial premier, similar to a state governor, was also a Baptist radio preacher. My brother once went to a children’s meeting at the Fundamentalist Baptist Church, and a dignified older man said hello. That was him. We also had a mention in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” for Holy Row, or Church Street, a small area with the highest concentration of churches in the world. That Ripley’s thing might be an urban legend but we all believed it. Today, that inner city street is crowded with old churches and my personal favourite is the Danish Lutheran building. Some of those churches are still open, but Holy Row not so holy now. A few years ago my church moved to some place north of the city, into cow and chicken country, and I moved south; …

Guarding Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China Photo: Stephan Rebernik/Flickr/Creative Commons

China: When church and governments collide

In 2014, speaking at a religious forum in Shanghai, Wang Zuoan a senior bureaucrat with China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs told of the government’s plans to “nationalize” Christianity in that country. Though Zuoan didn’t couch it in exactly those terms he spoke of Christian theology adapting to Chinese conditions and culture. There was no doubt in the minds of Chinese Christians that this meant the communist party was planning to take over Christianity and use it to promote its platform. Since that announcement, the Chinese government has moved forward on its plan, that included the removal of crosses from Churches. To date citing building code violations over 1,200 crosses have been removed and in some instances churches destroyed. The government even sent a number of Christians to jail for opposing the cross removals including Pastor Huang Yizi, from the eastern province of Zhejiang. The government also recently sentenced Pastor Bao Guohua and his wife Xing Wenxiang to 14 years in prison for leading opposition to crosses being removed. The government also falsely accused them …

Survey reveals critical difference between Christianity and other world religions

A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2014 revealed how different Christianity is from the world’s other main religions. The dramatic difference showed up when Pew asked people if they believed in a personal God or if they considered God an impersonal force or an “it.” The key being a personal God is one you can have a relationship with. According to the survey, 70% of Christians believed in a personal God. Among Christians, Evangelicals scored the highest with 80% believing in a personal God. But in one sense I was shocked that 20% didn’t believe this. Among Catholics only 61% believed in a personal God. Even though they were on the low side for Christianity, the Catholic percentage was double that of the other four main world religions. Pew found that only 25% of the Jews surveyed considered Jehovah a personal God. They were higher than the Buddhists where only 23% believed the same, but lower than Muslims and Hindus where 32% of respondents believed in a personal god. I was surprised by …

Sidokarto, Indonesia Photo: Jose Javier Martin Espartosa/Flickr

Burning Churches

Recently, Muslim extremists in Indonesia have been burning Christian churches. This is news around the world, and it seems to be another example of Muslim intolerance, but I think there is a hidden story here. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country. It’s interesting that the second largest Muslim population is in India. The mostly Hindu population of India is so large, that close to 200,000,000 Muslims are a minority. Asia is amazing. Indonesia also has close to 200,000,000 Muslims, with large minorities of Christians, Buddhists, Confucianists, and Hindus. Hindus dominate the island of Bali. The country is a democracy, and the government strives for unity. And until recently, Muslims in Indonesia were known as tolerant and inclusive. The most northern province of Indonesia is Aceh, a conservative Muslim region where Sharia law is imposed on everyone, including Christians. That’s where churches are being burned. Religious divisions could lead to civil war. In July a mosque was burned in Papua, which is predominantly Christian, and the nations largest province. In Aceh, Christians defended …

Justin Bieber in concert. Photo: Joe Bielawa/Flickr

Pop star Justin Bieber ‘comes out’ about his faith in an interview with ‘Complex Magazine’

In a recent interview with Complex Magazine, Canadian pop star Justin Bieber had some interesting things to say about Jesus, Christianity and the Church. There have been reports over the past several months that Justin is making a serious attempt to straighten out his life — and a big part of it has been his return to Christianity. Justin comes from a Christian home and has a praying mom. This past spring, the mega pop star was even seen attending a music worship conference put on by Australia’s Hillsong, but it was noted he wore a controversial Marilyn Manson t-shirt one day. Though some question the sincerity of Justin’s faith, it is becoming increasingly clear that he is serious and it is changing his life. For a while it seemed he was getting in trouble with the law almost weekly from drag racing while intoxicated with an expired driver’s license in Florida to accusations of assault in Canada, but more recently Justin’s biggest controversies center on his faith in Christ. In his interview with Complex …

Why is the Christian population exploding in Iran?

Iran is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian, so why does the country have one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. Elam Ministries recently announced the release of a new Bible translated into modern Persian, the language of Iran. In its news release, the organization stated that in 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians in Iran. Today, Christians number in the hundreds of thousands in that country. Speaking on behalf of Elam, David Yeghnazar said: “A very conservative estimate puts the number of Christians in Iran at 100,000.  The generally-accepted estimate is 370,000. Some believe there are 700,000, some over a million.”

Study shows church goers commit less crime

Researchers at Manchester University in England discovered church goers commit less crime, particularly when it comes to illegal drug use, music piracy and shoplifting. The research group led by PhD student Mark Littler surveyed 1,200 people ranging in age from 18 to 24. The researchers asked the study group about their history of criminal activity in eight specific areas and what the possibility was they would commit future crimes. 

“Little Drummer Boy” as it should be played — on a drum

In 2011, 16 year-old Winnipeg high school student Sean Quigley produced this unique arrangement of the traditional Christmas carol Little Drummer Boy. Sean not only sang, but he also played all the instruments, directed and edited the video. Winnipeg is located in the province of Manitoba in Canada. The YouTube video went viral and now has over 2.8 million views. The Winnipeg Free Press did an interview with Sean, then 18, in December 2013.  A lot has changed and not much has changed. What hasn’t changed is Sean still wears shorts in the middle of winter. Sean said he only owns one pair of long pants. What has changed is that He graduated from High School and started his own band  — Bold as Lions. The name comes from Proverbs 28:1: The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion. (NASV) Sean is also engaged to fellow band member Karli Gerbrandt. In the interview, Sean spoke of his faith: We want to be a light in the darkness in the music …

The Kirsten Powers story: Jesus still does Damascus road interventions

In an account reminiscent of the Apostle Paul’s Damascus road experience, Foxnews Democrat commentator Kirsten Powers tells of her life-changing encounter with Jesus in an interview with Christianity Today. Powers, who worked for the Clinton administration from 1992 to 1998, said her religious views “wavered between atheism and agnosticism.” Politics was her religion and liberalism her theology. But that all changed in 2006 on a trip to Taiwan. Kirsten said, “I woke up in what felt like a strange cross between a dream and reality. Jesus came to me and said, ‘Here I am.’”

The great pretenders: Look who is infiltrating the church

It shouldn’t surprise us. The Apostle Paul warned this would happen a couple of centuries earlier. The Apostle Paul was on his way to Jerusalem and in what was his last good-bye to the elders of Ephesus, Paul charged them to watch for wolves who would try to infiltrate the church (Acts 20:17-38). Jesus made the same warning, though He was a bit more descriptive describing them as wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing (Mathew 7:15a NASV) Wolves disguised as sheep. It is not something believers in the West understand. But Christians in communist and muslim countries are always on their guard as governments and religious extremists purposefully try to infiltrate churches with their agents. These are the wolves being referred to by Jesus and Paul.

Oh God, we cry out for Your mercy

Oh God, we cry out for Your Mercy. Oh God, we cry out for Your Grace. Oh God, we cry out set us free. Oh God, we cry out once again. I never heard of Kim Walker, but I love this song.  She is singing with her worship group the “Jesus Culture Band.” Kim resides in Redding, CA with her husband Skyler and son Wyatt. She is a recording artist and worship leader at Bethel Church in Redding. I came across this song on, the official blog for Two Rivers, a new church work in Binghamton, New York. It is an interesting blog, check it out.  

What Britney Spears teaches us about parenting and planting seeds

In a Twitter question and answer to promote her latest CD “Britney Jean,” pop star Britney Spears caused a stir when asked what her favourite book was. Britney tweeted “Anything by Max Lucado.” Lucado is a preacher and prolific Christian writer. He ministers at Oak Hill Church in San Antonio, Texas and has written 100 books including “You’ll get through this.” Britney’s choice of Lucado proved controversial among Britney’s gay followers as Lucado publicly opposed gay marriage. Though her interest in Lucado seems surprising, it shouldn’t. Britney comes from a Christian home.

Did Duck Dynasty editors censor “in Jesus’ name” so not to offend Muslims?

Ok, I know I am a Duck Dynast addict. But here is one more story on them, and I promise it will ‘probably’ be the last for a while. In an interview with Sports Spectrum TV, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame addresses some of the issues the family has faced with the producers  since the show’s inception March 21, 2012. (Note: the sound is not the best quality.) A&E’s Duck Dynasty is currently the top-ranked reality show in the U.S. It features the Robertson family and their involvement with Duck Commander — a multi-million dollar duck call manufacturer based in West Monroe, Louisiana —  started by Phil and his wife Kay. All family members are born again Christians and most of the males feature full blown beards. In the interview, Phil discusses the problems of the ‘fake bleeps’ and praying ‘in Jesus’ name.’

What Stormy teaches us about trials, trust, faith and hearing the voice of God

[by Dean Smith] In 2010, Beka and her horse Stormy competed in the “Extreme Cowboy Race,” part of the Equine Affair held annually at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. Over 100,000 people attended the four-day affair. Though dozens of riders apply to compete only 30 are accepted. The event features obstacle courses, timed and judged events. But there was something about Stormy that set him apart from every other horse in that year’s event. Stormy is completely blind. This amazing story in many ways illustrates the believers faith walk with God. But perhaps the greatest lesson we learn is the vital connection between trust and faith. When she was 8-years old, Beka thought her parents were taking her to Dairy Queen to celebrate her birthday, instead they took Beka to a farm and introduced her to Stormy, a three-year old, unbroken horse they had bought for her. Beka said she immediately fell in love with this gangly colt, and despite being bucked off on her first ride attempt, she stubbornly broke the horse and …

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

Is mocking Christians ultimately an act of cowardice?

On August 9, 2013, Greg Gutfiled of the O’Reily Factor interviewed Washington Post contributing editor Cathy Areu on the establishment’s double standard on how it treats Christians and Muslims. Earlier that week, Atheist Richard Dawkins tweeted: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though. “ There was an immediate backlash from people offended by the tweet. Celebrities, fellow atheists, liberals and Muslims alike condemned Dawkins’ tweet accusing him of racism for

Christians must adjust to our rapidly changing culture

Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in Western culture. The question is how can Evangelical Christians adjust to this change. Foxnews interviews John S. Dickerson author of the book, The Great Evangelical Recession. Dickerson says over the past number of years, Christians have focussed on changing government policy — in some instances spending millions of dollars in pursuit of this goal. Dickerson says for the most part that has failed and Evangelicals are entering what he describes as a spiritual recession. To pull out of this recession, Dickerson says Evangelicals need to focus on changing our culture instead changing government policy.