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Megachurch Preacher Rick Cole Pledges to Live on Streets of Sacramento Until He Raises $100,000 to Help Homeless

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 1:34pm
Rick Cole, pastor of the megachurch Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California has ditched the comfort of his home and has pledged to live on the streets of the city's downtown area for up to two weeks or until he has raised $100,000 to help fund a program called "Winter Sanctuary" that provides food and shelter for the homeless at churches in the area during the winter months.
Categories: Christian Post

Godless 'Sunday Assembly' Opens in Rochester; Atheists Say They Thirst for Church-like Community

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 1:23pm
The church-like atheist establishment "Sunday Assembly" launched a new chapter in Rochester, New York, this month and congregants say the fellowship meets a unique need in the area.
Categories: Christian Post

Church Asks Music Director to Resign After He Married Same-Sex Partner; Congregation Laments

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 1:03pm
Members of Minnesota Catholic Church are lamenting over the resignation of their music director of 17 years who was asked to leave his position after marrying his same-sex partner.
Categories: Christian Post

'Don't Judge Me' Is Biblical...or Is it? Pastor Cautions Against Confusing Jesus' Words

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 10:21am
Don't judge me. The use of these three words to deflect perceived unwarranted criticism, is indeed biblical, according to one megachurch pastor. The problem is, as with many popular and oft-quoted Bible verses (like Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 4:13, Romans 8:28 for example), is that Jesus' words in Matthew 7 are usually taken out of context.
Categories: Christian Post

Wholly Surrendered

Christian Post - Living - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 9:52am
Do we fully understand what it costs the kingdom of God when we live with a restricted commitment to Christ? Countless souls may never hear the good news, much-needed Christian workers may never put feet to their faith, and prayers that would have been answered are never uttered.
Categories: Christian Post

Prayer Vigil for Imprisoned Saeed Abedini in So Cal Includes Greg Laurie Reading Pastor's Letter to His 8-Y-O Daughter (Photos)

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 7:22am
Evangelist Greg Laurie read a recent letter from Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is still being held as a prisoner in Iran two years after being arrested for his Christian faith, to his daughter during a somber prayer vigil held at the city of Newport Beach's civic center Friday at noon.
Categories: Christian Post

Globalization: what it means for missions

Mission Network News - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 5:00am

(Photo credit GlobalSherpa.org)

USA (MNN) -- You can deny or resist it, but globalization is making the world a smaller place. National economies are becoming increasingly interlaced, as demonstrated by the 2008 global recession. Technology is bridging borders that were previously inaccessible to Christianity and the Gospel. "Globalization is changing the world," said Robert Doll, one of the keynote speakers at this year's Missio Nexus Leadership Conference. "The only debate is the pace." According to Merriam-Webster.com, globalization is "the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets." Globalization is also a great opportunity for God's Kingdom--if Christians work together instead of just doing their own thing. Ron Houp of GO InterNational (GO) explains how they "connect the dots" to tell more people about Jesus and further the Great Commission.

(Photo credit GO InterNational)

"Through the years, we have developed a number of partnerships with indigenous leaders in about 20 different countries…so that we can take a local church mission team to that ministry setting, and be assured that it'll be a blessing to the people of that area," explains Houp. They also want to be assured "that when the church leaves, they have experienced what God is doing in that area." National ministry partners are a vital part of GO's ministry, which spans from Mexico to Russia. "We're developing new partnerships all the time," Houp notes. "We are working on a couple of partnerships in Europe right now. We've been in northern Ireland with mission teams; we're looking at France. "Those are a little different because they're first-world countries; the needs there are different than third-world countries. But the Lord is moving in all those places, and it's very exciting to be a part of what He's doing there."

(Photo credit GO InterNational)

GO ministries include church planting, evangelism, pastoral and leadership training, children's ministry, aid to the poor, medical ministry, and community health evangelism. Short-term teams are typically on the field for 1-2 weeks at a time, but GO works with national partners in the context of a long-term relationship. "If you've not been on a mission experience, if you've not gotten outside of your comfort zone, I would really encourage you to do that," Houp presents as a challenge. "That may mean just traveling across your town to a poor neighborhood. It may mean going to another state, or it might be another country. "GO International provides all of those types of experiences, as well as internship experiences for university students." Find an opportunity to "go" with GO InterNational here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Gospel team heading to Philippines

Mission Network News - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 5:00am
USA (MNN) -- It's been months in the planning stages. Now, Christian Resources International is ready for what could be an historic series of events in the Philippines. CRI Executive Director Jason Woolford, his son, and the Michael Maher Band will be a part of a Gospel team heading there this week for Gospel meetings, a free concert, and a book and Bible distribution. MNN told you about this event on previous newscasts. Woolford says with your help, CRI is sending free Bibles and Christian books worth more than $3 million to six different locations in the Philippines. As part of that effort, they'll also be opening a CRI distribution center in the north. Lord willing, this distribution center will be an ongoing source of Christian resources for years go come. According to Woolford, there are still many in the Philippines--new Christians, rural pastors, and evangelists--who still need Bibles and Christian books to help them not only grow in their faith, but lead congregations. That’s not all. In addition to the shipment of books, Woolford and his team will travel to the Philippines to hold Gospel meetings. The trip is scheduled for the first week in October. “I’ll be ministering in the Cuneta Astrodome in Manila. We’re expecting a minimum of 10,000 people [to] come and hear a free concert from the Michael Maher Band and then be ministered to. Each person will walk out with a free Bible or Christian book."

The Michael Maher Band from the Detroit area will join a CRI Gospel team heading to the Philippines this week.

The Michael Maher Band will also be presenting a free concert at the Gospel meetings. Woolford says, they stepped out on faith for this outreach. "That's kind of on my mind, but God always...touches the hearts of the right people at the right time to give financially, so I know He's going to bring that to pass. So, if listeners want something to do and pray about, those are things for sure." By supporting CRI, you become an international missionary without leaving your home. How will you know if you've been effective? Woolford says, "When you get to Heaven, there will be people there who will greet you and say, 'It was me who got the free gift of God's Word that changed my life for eternity.'" The impact will be profound, says Woolford. "This specific [Gospel meeting], Bible give-away, concert is expected to impact five million people in the next six years. So you can imagine the impact and the fruit that will have." If you'd like to contribute to CRI, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Healing began with forgiveness in Egypt

Mission Network News - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 5:00am

Egypt is free (Photo courtesy of Hossam el-Hamalawy/Flickr creative commons)

Egypt (BP) -- (The following article is from the International Baptist Mission Board). A year after more than 85 churches and Christian institutions across Egypt were destroyed and burned, and three years after the country’s longest-serving president stepped down in the wake of nationwide protests, Christian workers here are finding an openness rarely experienced before. Forgiveness, it seems, changes everything. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after 18 days of nationwide demonstrations during what is now called the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Since then, Egypt has gone through various protests, elections, presidents, and the quake of upheaval. In August last year, more than 85 churches and Christian institutions were attacked and burned as a result of demonstrations across Egypt calling for an Islamic state. There was “a profound blow of disgrace and humiliation in this culture of honor,” said Ramez Atallah, General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt. “The non-retaliation of Christians was both unexpected and unprecedented,” he said. Egyptians are now openly questioning everything, including their faith, and expressing doubts aloud, said *Patrick Stein, a Christian worker in Egypt and leader of a church-planting team here. To doubt isn’t rare, he said, but to openly challenge beliefs they have held onto is. “They are hungry for truth in a way that was not present before the revolution and the ensuing turmoil,” said Stein. “If I am talking to people at a tea shop, people around who are not a part of the conversation will often stop me afterwards and want to know more,” he said. “They will ask me their deep questions that have been troubling their hearts for years, but they never felt the ability to put those questions into actual words before.” This year’s Ramadan observances provided opportunities for Muslims and Christians in Egypt to continue building relationships, Stein said. Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting that is observed around the world each year. “The team had been invited to several Iftar dinners and got to share their faith at those,” said Stein. Iftar is the evening meal during Ramadan, breaking the fast for each day. These meals allow for relaxed conversations about life and faith. “When visiting homes, it is easy to ask questions about their religious practices during [Ramadan],” said Christian worker *Adam Tate. “As a result, conversations often lead to the topics of fasting, forgiveness of sin, and assurance of salvation.” Stein spends much of his time training local Christians from Coptic and Muslim backgrounds to share the Gospel and who to share it with, along with finding safe places to practice sharing. “To be caught evangelizing to a Muslim is, firstly, against the law,” Stein said. “[Those who evangelize] could go to prison for many, many years, lose their businesses, their children would have no income, no way to pay for schools, etc. Many people just disappear in prisons here. “Are they scared? Of course they are. Are they being obedient and sharing? Yes, they are. Do they sometimes hold back because of the fear? Yes, but not nearly as frequently as we do, and all we face in America is some small social stigma,” he said. “I might be kicked out of Egypt for sharing; they may lose their very lives and place their loved ones in danger,” Stein said. “Despite the costs and implications of what they are doing..., despite many of their families begging them not to share, they continue to share. They inspire me.” Faithful prayers for Egypt and Christians in Egypt have not gone unnoticed by Atallah, Stein, Tate, and other Christian workers here. They recognize God’s faithfulness in the prayers, giving, and encouragement from around the world. As a result, “There are people in Egypt who have heard the Gospel, some for the first time,” Tate said. “We don’t take for granted our cars and houses,” Stein said. They are provided through special missions offerings. “We try to use our houses as meeting places for prayer and worship, and the mobility of a car allows us to go to communities that would be difficult to get to without a private vehicle,” he said. Stein added, “Often our families seem to be attacked by sickness and discouragement from the enemy [Satan], yet we know that people around the world are lifting us up, which gives us persistence and perseverance.” Tate asks for prayer for wisdom and integrity in Egypt. *Name changed for security. William Bagsby is an IMB writer based in London.
Categories: Mission Network News

The cost of ignoring religious freedom

Mission Network News - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 5:00am

(Image courtesy USCIRF)

USA (MNN) -- Religious freedom is at risk. How the United States deals with it sets the stage for global credibility on similar issues. Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, explains, "The State Department issues a report. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom issues a report. But the reality is, this administration has not placed an emphasis on religious freedom." Nettleton goes on to clarify that the Office of International Religious Freedom is headed by the Ambassador-at-large, hence the problem. "This Ambassador for International Religious Freedom is a post that's been vacant for about half of the Obama Administration, so it's clearly not something that they are putting a high priority on." With ISIS, Boko Haram, and al-Shabaab making advances, carving out caliphates, and demanding recognition, this is an issue that has national security attached. Slow movement on filling the post is costly. "That affects our standing in the world. When we go to hold other countries accountable, we have clearly said by our actions, 'This is not that big a deal to us.' That decreases our ability to go to other countries and ask them for better treatment of religious minorities." A recent congressional oversight committee hearing was held to check on government compliance with the International Religious Freedom Law. Although the law was passed 16 years ago, this is the first time Congress has checked on whether the State Department is implementing it. A panel of advocates told the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security that the United States needs to both strengthen its religious freedom policies and take more seriously the position of the ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.

(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

In October 2013, the sitting Ambassador-at-large Suzanne Johnson Cook resigned the post. It took until late July 2014 for a new nomination. The new nominee is Rabbi David Saperstein. Seems like progress, and yet, there are more delays. Nettleton blames mid-term elections. "I don't anticipate that there will be any significant changes between now and the elections. I think after the elections, there is at least the possibility that there will be a change. Obviously, it's a new season." All the time the post was vacant means that the United States has had virtually no impact on the global rise of religious persecution. While American diplomats have helped in individual cases, there has been no comprehensive policy in place to help the millions who suffer because of their faith. What would change this? Training for State Department workers, giving the ambassador-at-large more clout, and asking high-ranking officials to speak out on the importance of religious freedom. All three items were part of the recommendations made to the oversight committee. Who cares? After a new Congress gets seated and the dust settles, there are still confirmation hearings before a nomination goes through. In all that time, thousands more religious minorities--most often Christians--will be displaced or killed One of VOM's main missions is to encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a big part of why they're speaking out on this issue. It's not all bad news. "The treatment of religious minorities is a significant factor in our battle against the Islamic State. That may raise the value of the issue. That may raise it more so than it has been, just because right now we're paying so much attention to the Islamic State." Nettleton urges prayer on the issue. Keep in touch with your Congressman, too. If the issue is important at home, it'll be important to those elected to represent the people at home.  
Categories: Mission Network News

With Syria campaign needs you

Mission Network News - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 5:00am
Syria (ODM) -- Open Doors International, a global charity serving Christians who are under pressure because of their faith, has joined 38 non-governmental organizations in a campaign demanding diplomatic action to protect civilians amid Syria’s civil war.

(Screen shot from the With Syria campaign Web site)

The campaign, called With Syria intends to redouble pressure on United Nations members to live up to promises they made in February. At that time, the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed a resolution condemning both sides in the conflict of "besieging civilians as a tactic of war" and demanding that the Syrian government permit humanitarian access to civilians. "Six months later, the country is more chaotic than ever, with more than 1,500 armed groups in operation across the country and fighting spreading into northern Iraq," the With Syria campaign said in a Sept. 23 press release. The campaign has created an online petition, addressed to "world leaders," to "use your power to hold the UN Security Council to its word." The coalition, comprised of organizations in 27 countries, announced its campaign just ahead of last week's week-long session of the UN General Assembly. Open Doors International operates in more than 50 countries, providing Christian materials, training, trauma counseling, emergency relief, and other services. The With Syria campaign joins humanitarian and development NGOs. The Open Doors affiliate in the United Kingdom said OD was joining the partnership "to bring the suffering Syrian population back into the center of the debate, where they belong." The initiative, it said, is in line with "the church's call for a ceasefire and protection for all." Syria ranks No. 3, behind North Korea and Somalia, on the Open Doors World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Before the war, the government’s "totalitarian paranoia" was the primary source of pressure on Christians. Now, it says the biggest source of persecution is "extremist Islamist elements."
Categories: Mission Network News

The Fourth Man in the Flames

Christian Post - Living - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 9:30pm
Not many of us, perhaps, will face tests as great as Shadrach, Meshach, or Abed-Nego faced on the day when the king threw them into a fiery furnace. Even so, tests will come. Temptations will come. And many of those moments of great testing will come when you are alone, with no one looking.
Categories: Christian Post

Over 500 Prayer Vigils Held on 2nd Anniversary of Pastor Saeed's Imprisonment; Greg Laurie's Church Joins Riverside Vigil

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 9:14am
More than 500 prayer vigils were held around the world Saturday, including one in which pastor Greg Laurie's Harvest church participated in California, to mark the two-year anniversary of when pastor Saeed Abedini was arrested by Iranian officials for his Christian faith.
Categories: Christian Post

Family Members of Late Pastor Chuck Smith Sue Calvary Chapel, Claim Elder Abuse and Wrongful Takeover of His Property

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 7:53am
Family members of Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, have filed a lawsuit against the church, claiming elder abuse and wrongful takeover of his property, according to local news reports and court records. Smith had been struggling with lung cancer and died last October.
Categories: Christian Post

Failing to Protect Our Future

Christian Post - Living - Sat, 09/27/2014 - 4:36pm
Several Bible stories can teach us lessons about protecting our future.
Categories: Christian Post

Rapper Trip Lee Has a Few Words for Skeptical Christians and Hip-Hop's Doorkeepers

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Sat, 09/27/2014 - 4:27pm
Trip Lee, an award-winning MC, author and speaker, embraces the uniqueness of being a "pastor-rapper," but he has some frustrations with a hypocritical hip-hop industry as well as with Christians who kick against his particular brand of artistic and cultural expression.
Categories: Christian Post

Drug Dealer and Pimp Turned Preacher: God Wants to Bring You Out of Your Desperate Situation

Christian Post - Living - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 5:29pm
Once a notorious gangster, drug dealer and pimp, John Turnipseed knows what it's like to feel trapped in sin. Now a licensed minister, Turnipseed wants those struggling to make a change and to know God hears their prayers.
Categories: Christian Post

Greg Laurie and End Times Expert Agree It's a Mistake to Deny That ISIS and Similar Terrorist Groups Have Roots in Islamic Religion

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 11:42am
Christian apologist Don Stewart and evangelist Greg Laurie both agreed during a recent discussion about the End Times that it is a mistake to deny that terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State in the Middle East and other parts of the world, are rooted in the Islamic religion, something they and others believe as fact.
Categories: Christian Post

Pastor of America's Fastest Growing Church Pioneers New Small Group Strategy

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 11:14am
A Colorado church tops the Outreach Magazine's 2014 100 fastest growing churches with an innovated approach to small group.
Categories: Christian Post

Christ Cathedral's $113 Million Redesign to Include Illuminated Sanctuary, Host Up to 8,000 at Mass

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:45am
The redesign of Christ Cathedral by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which is set to cost close to $113 million, will feature an illuminated sanctuary and host up to 8,000 people during outdoor mass, new plans revealed.
Categories: Christian Post