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Lycoming County Judge retires

WGRC News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:25pm

Lycoming County District Judge James Carne has announced that he’s retiring after his current term. Carne, says he will not run for another six year term, as he would be forced to retire at the age of 70 just two years into it. He says he would like to continue as a senior district judge, which does not bring with it as demanding of a schedule.

Categories: Local News

PA Budget priorities

WGRC News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:24pm

Governor Tom Wolf and the legislature will try to fill a $2 billion dollar deficit, state house majority leader Dave Reed yesterday outlined some things he would like to see. They include property tax reform public pension reform and liquor privatization. He says he would also like for the state house to pass a medical marijuana bill which could be sent to the senate. Former Governor Tom Corbett was against the legalization of medical marijuana.

Categories: Local News

DeVon Franklin Explains Why He Does Not Depend on Religion to Access God

Christian Post - Church & Ministry - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:59am
DeVon Franklin may be a Seventh-day Adventist minister who is vocal about his faith, the Franklin Entertainment production company head says he does not depend on religion.
Categories: Christian Post

The Christian's Life Purpose

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 9:31am
Years ago during a visit with Billy and Ruth Graham, I noticed while we were outside that their dog was continuously going around in circles.
Categories: Christian Post

XXXChurch.com's Craig Gross on Why Christians Should Have the Best Sex, but Don't (Interview - Pt. 1)

Christian Post - Living - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 7:38am
In his interview with CP, Gross explains why some Christians feel uncomfortable talking about sex and how couples can make sure their sex life progresses at the same pace as the rest of their marriage.
Categories: Christian Post

Future of Greece uncertain

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Greece (MNN) -- Greece's new anti-austerity prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after snap elections over the weekend. As the head of the left-wing Syriza party, he's promised to end austerity measures and renegotiate the terms of Greece's European Union bailout. Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International explains,  "Basically, Greece has been bankrupted because the debt of the country has been so large; they needed intervention from the EU and the IMF and the European Central Bank to manage their debts." The trouble is: Greece's near bankruptcy triggered the euro zone’s financial crisis in 2009. "Greece's debt is somewhere around 176% of the GDP. So, it's very high, and they are dependent on outside help to manage that debt." The austerity measures were viewed by many as a “national humiliation” (as noted by a BBC report covering Tsipras' victory speech). Greeks are struggling with tax hikes, wage and pension cuts, and angry with the ruling parties. Ioannidis says, "They have gone through a lot of austerity and a lot of reforms in the last five years, since 2009. People are very tired. Unemployment has shot up to 25%. Salaries have gone down. The minimum wage has gone down." However, withdrawing from the EU could have devastating impact, not only on Greece but also on all the countries financially linked to Greece. Quitting now is like quitting an antibiotic course just because you feel better. "The irony is that things had started to get a little bit better," says Ioannidis. He goes on to say, "In 2014, Greece showed growth for the first time since 2009. This year would have been better, but because of the changes and the new election, that was a major setback."

(Photo courtesy AMG International/Greece)

Tsipras' anti-austerity message fuels concerns that a Syriza victory could lead to a standoff with European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders. The concerns are timely, as the country’s bailout agreement with the EU is due to expire in February, and Euro Zone officials have suggested Greece will probably have to ask for an extension. The new anti-austerity government brings other uncertainties. Ioannidis says it also affects all ministries in Greece, including AMG. "We don't know, in terms of taxation, what the regulations will be. Also, the new Prime Minister of Greece from this party is the first atheist to come to power." A shift in power with an atheist at the helm is disconcerting. "There is uncertainty as to what that means for the relationship between the government and the church, [and] how it will affect all churches and ministries in Greece." A shift in government scope will also affect the health sector. "In our medical facility in northern Greece, St. Luke's Hospital, there is a lot of uncertainty because we don't know what the government is going to do with the health sector. So there is a tremendous potential to affect ministry in a negative way, and for sure, there will be a lot of ministry needs." In light of the fiscal struggles ahead, the Church has her work cut out. "We still have to provide a lot of help. We still have to mobilize and offer food and clothing for a lot of people in Greece, so we continue to work on that. We expect that to be the case for a long time." Ioannidis acknowledges that recovery, regardless of whether or not Greece remains in the European Union, will be slow and painful. "Pray particularly for all the co-workers on the ground. They have been worn out. They've been going since 2009 dealing with this crisis and this uncertainty every day. We need to lift them up in our prayers for God to give them strength, to give them wisdom, for God to protect the ministry." And yet, Ioannidis says the silver lining to the cloud of uncertainty is this: "At the same time we're dealing with the crisis, it's also a great opportunity to share the love of the Gospel in word and in deed, and in fact, we've seen a lot of people respond in the last five years." Will you stand with them in prayer?
Categories: Mission Network News

Believers in a closed country need your help

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am

Unloading Bibles in Central America.
(Image courtesy VBB)

Central America (MNN) -- In a country we can’t name for safety reasons, Christians are running out of time. Vision Beyond Borders contacts are in danger of losing one of their central distribution centers. The home they are currently renting for ministry use is being sold. Over 100 pastors in this closed country are supported by VBB, and they receive supplies from the ministry contacts mentioned above. "We have worked with these contacts for many years, and they are faithful servants," VBB communicates in a recent newsletter. "They continually sacrifice for their country; they continue to evangelize and meet the needs of pastors. They sacrifice their own safety to see God's kingdom expanded." Would you please pray that VBB and these ministry partners can raise $40,000 dollars for a new location? If you'd like to help by donating, click here. In addition, VBB reports that their contacts are running low on ministry supplies. A short-term mission team could bring needed items into the country in February. However, VBB would need to receive everything at their main office by February 12. Here's a list of needed items:
  • Hand tools for construction
  • Pocket folders
  • External hard drives
  • Fishing supplies (nets, nylon line, hooks, lures, etc.)
  • Projector for movies
  • Watches that are in good repair
  • Office supplies
  • Clown supplies (shoes, costume, make-up, etc.)
  • Children's ministry supplies
  • Medical supplies
  • Wooden clothes pins
  • Sheets and pillow cases for double beds
  • Sewing supplies (fabric, thread, needles, patterns, etc.)

(Photo courtesy of VBB)

Call VBB at (406) 587-2321 to find out which supplies are needed most and how you can best help the ministry get what they need. There are also two projects that need additional funding in order to reach completion. One is a construction project that would complete a bathroom for a new church. According to VBB, $600 is needed to cover all materials and labor costs. The second project involves putting the finishing touches on a church; ministry partners need approximately $1,300. If you'd like to help by donating, click here.
Categories: Mission Network News

Mariupol, Ukraine home of renewed conflict

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has shattered the lives of many and has resulted in thousands of refugees.
(Photo and caption courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association).

Ukraine (MNN) -- Over the weekend, tensions flared into violence once more in Ukraine. The events taking place were the most violent violation of the ceasefire established last September. Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association relates the conflict to one in our recent past: "It's almost seeming like it's going back to the days of the Cold War when you had this kind of back and forth going on." However, some believe that the conflict has re-launched the war. Fighting begins again "This all got sparked over the weekend where, allegedly, Russian-backed rebels were pushing forward into the city of Mariupol," says Griffith. He continues, "Reports have come in that there had been rocket fire hitting the city, and one of the allegations coming from the Ukrainian side was that some residential areas had been hit." These reports say nearly 30 people were killed by the rockets. Griffith explains the tension between Russia and Ukraine that is witnessed through the Russian-backed rebel forces: "You have [news agencies reporting] that these militants have pushed forward with the new offenses, and apparently they're calling it all-out war back in Eastern Ukraine. "Western governments including the United States are starting to threaten tighter Western sanctions on Moscow." Meanwhile, Griffith says, Moscow refuses to admit that they have any military involvement in the attacks. Caught in the Middle Griffith says the violence over the weekend was a renewed sign that this conflict isn't going to change anytime soon, nor will the needs disappear. Regardless of the politics and the "who's right, who's wrong," SGA knows one thing: there are hurting and needy people caught in the middle who need help. "It's just a very dangerous situation, and certainly, of course, our concern is the evangelical churches in these regions who are trying their best to minister Christ's love to their people and to assist refugees," Griffith explains. These people have lost family, homes, and any sort of security that life will be normal again. BBC recently updated statistics regarding this conflict. They say over a million people are displaced into both Russia and Western Ukraine. Over five million people live in conflict-affected areas. The death toll has now exceeded 5,000. Griffith says they hope to bring a balm to the suffering of those who are displaced or living in danger. "We just want to try to help the churches be ministers of peace and to help them provide assistance to families and needy folks." Many families who have fled have decided to remain where they are until the winter is over before they go and assess what their old home is like--or if it can offer them a place to live again. While they remain, SGA is working to help provide for the basic needs of those who are displaced--food, clothing, Bibles, and Christian literature--through the SGA Crisis Evangelism Fund. If you are willing, able, and called to support this fund, you can do so here. Above all, SGA desires to provide the thing that these victims of violence are looking for most: "When you have your life turned upside-down like that, people are looking for reasons and answers; and that's why the Church is there, hoping to try to give them...hope and peace in Christ," Griffith explains. Whether you are able to contribute to the fund or not, you can always pray. Pray for the pastors who are working to distribute assistance and assess needs. Pray for safety for the teams who distribute aid. Pray for the families stuck in these regions who can't travel to safer places of refuge. Pray that the churches would be peacemakers and have open arms to share Christ with individuals who are spiritually thirsty.  
Categories: Mission Network News

Money and missionaries

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Photo credit EFCA)

North America (EFCA/MNN) -- [EDITOR'S NOTE: We're sharing the following report from EFCA's blog as it relates to important trends in world missions. T.J. Addington, the author of this blog post, is a Senior Vice President with the EFCA and the leader of ReachGlobal, the international mission of the EFCA. ] There is a quiet but very important debate taking place regarding the place of western missionaries in today’s expensive world. There are some who argue that the day of long-term missionaries from the West is over and that we should simply support indigenous missionaries across the globe at a much lesser cost. The implications of how we answer that question are significant. Let me say up front that I lead ReachGlobal, an international missions organization of the EFCA. Let me also say that I believe that the vision for reaching the world does not lie with organizations but with the local church. The best missions organizations, in my view, are those who exist to serve the missions vision of the local church and provide structure, long-term strategic help and best practices. Price tag perspective It costs around $100,000 per mission family to be on the field in our and similar organizations. That sounds like a lot, but it is not that much different than the cost of pastoral staff for a local church, if you add in the hidden costs above salary such as health insurance, retirement, staff administrative help, and perhaps the most expensive cost of all: the expensive church facilities that staff work in. The difference between missionaries and local church staff is very small when you consider the hidden costs that churches must cover in order to staff their ministry. Do your job It is true that missionaries who are not productive do not belong on the field. It is equally true that this applies to church staff in the United States as well. The fact that some ministries don’t deal with unproductive staff in both arenas does not negate the need for staff. It makes the case for the right staff who are engaged in the right work. Get clarity on roles The question of value for that money is an important one. If missionaries are simply doing what local believers could do, one may have an argument for funding locals rather than Western missionaries. However, that misses a massive shift that is taking place within the missions world today where missionaries are increasingly not the hands-on doers but the mentors, equippers, and releasers of local, indigenous workers. In fact, in ReachGlobal, the central job of our staff is to develop, empower, and release. This is something that local believers are not as capable of doing: they need and ask for help in raising up equipped workers for the harvest and increasingly that is the role of personnel from the West. Money can damage ministries In addition, simply sending money rather than personnel raises another very important question: dependencies on Western money that fosters dependence rather than independence and control (through our dollars) rather than the development of equal ministry partners. A book every church in the West should read is, When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself. Indiscriminate financial help is often a terrible gift with unintended consequences that the West does not understand. One of my colleagues at the Lausanne Conference in South Africa is a leader from Liberia. His observation is that money has done more to ruin ministry in countries like his than almost anything else. Two errors of the same coin In years past, the west often had a paternalistic attitude toward missions. We had the money, we had the education, and we were the experts. Too often we carried that attitude with us rather than developing, empowering, and releasing indigenous personnel. Now, some would compound that error with an equal error. Western missionaries are not needed, so we will just fund local ministries globally. Neither of these answers is biblical, and it is not an either/or dichotomy but a both/and. The missions mandate Christ left the church will only be met when all believers, those from the majority world and those from the minority world join hands to share the gospel with over five billion people who don’t know Christ. The Church is a sending church From the inception of the church, it has been a mission sending church. Paul and Barnabas were simply the first in the hundreds of thousands of missionaries who have gone from one culture to another with the good news of Jesus. My parental family was in that line of faithful missionaries. The day we stop sending people and simply send our dollars is the day that we have abandoned the call of the church to “go and make disciples of all nations;” and the inevitable result will be a quick decline even in giving for missions. What we tell our partners internationally applies to us: No church group is mature until they are intentionally reaching across ethnic, economic, political and culture lines to share the gospel. The question of whether Western missionaries are needed is really the wrong question because the New Testament does not give us the option of sending missionaries. The real question is: what should long-term missionaries in today’s world be doing? One thing we know they should be doing is raising up workers for the harvest in all parts of the world, doing formal and informal theological training, training church planters and pastors, and doing everything we can to see multiplication take place where the gospel is not well known. In many places, this means the hard work of evangelism and the making of disciples because there are none present. There are still vast tracts of our globe where the church is small, struggling or non-existent. The mission will be accomplished Ironically, just as some in the west believe that long-term workers are no longer needed, believers in other parts of the world are increasingly sending their own missionaries. Missions has become all people reaching all people, and many of our own teams are made up of personnel from different parts of the world. The question will be whether the Western church loses out on the blessing of being a player in the world wide missions efforts in the years to come. Missions does not win when missionaries do not partner with indigenous believers. Missions does not win when western missionaries are left on the sidelines. Missions wins when there is a synergistic relationship between missionaries from wherever they come and local believers wherever they are.
Categories: Mission Network News

We Will Not Be Shaken by Bethel Music

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am
On a mountaintop north of Redding, CA, the Bethel Music community gathered for an unforgettable evening of worship. The resulting live album and film portrays breathtaking visuals and resounds with hope. We Will Not Be Shaken presents 11 new songs led by Bethel Music's artist collective, including several debut artists. The accompanying film chronicles the full evening of worship interwoven with honest stories as told by Bethel Music leaders about pursuing authentic community amidst an ever-growing and changing culture. Birthed in a spontaneous moment of worship, the albums title track "We Will not Be Shaken" hails a message of promise[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

I Am They by I Am They

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am
Produced by Jason Ingram and Jonathan Smith, the album showcases the talents of the six-member band comprised of Adam Palmer (lead vocals/guitar), Matthew Hein (lead vocals/guitar), Stephanie Kulla (lead vocals/violin) Justin Shinn (keyboard), Bobby Stiehler (bass), and Sara Palmer (drums). The 10-track project features their unique blend of folk-tinged pop, skillful musicianship and passionate vocals. In their short career, I AM THEY has already made their mark in the Christian music arena having opened for Matthew West, Chris August, Todd Agnew, Bebo Norman, Brandon Heath, Big Daddy Weave, to name a few.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Waterfalls - Live From St Albans by Vineyard Music

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am
Waterfalls Live From St Albans is the extraordinary new album from Vineyard. It features 12 brand new songs from Vineyard churches all over the UK and sung by worship leaders who lead week in, week out in their local churches.[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Empire by Derek Minor (PRo)

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am
[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Invader Vol II by Rapture Ruckus

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am
[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Response by Woodside Worship

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am
[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

A New Chapter by Jim Brady Trio

New Release Tuesday - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am
[...]
Categories: Christian Music News

Saudi Arabia, the US, and Middle East stability

Mission Network News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:00am

(Middle East map courtesy of PumaByDesign001.com via Pinterest)

Saudi Arabia (MNN) -- It's a big day in Saudi Arabia. U.S. President Barack Obama is meeting today with Saudi Arabia's new ruler, King Salman, to discuss Yemen and the Islamic State. Surrounded by volatile neighbors like Iraq, Egypt, and most recently, Yemen, Saudi Arabia plays an important role by ensuring the entire region doesn't go up in flames. "Saudi Arabia is one of the key players in the Middle East. It's one of the key U.S. allies, and so this new relationship is a very important one," notes Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton. "That's, I think, why you see President Obama cutting short his time in India to go directly to Saudi Arabia to meet with the new king, because he wants to get off on the right foot with this new leader." Here's a quick look at what's shaking up the Middle East. Saudi Christians No matter what's discussed at the political level today, Nettleton notes, nothing's expected to change for Christians. "Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries in the world when it comes to Christians," says Nettleton. "The Saudi constitution, honestly, doesn't recognize even the possibility that a Saudi citizen could be anything other than a Sunni Muslim."

Christians have to keep a very low profile in Saudi Arabia.
(Photo credit VOM USA via Facebook)
DISCLAIMER: This is a representative photo.

For the first time in five years, Saudi Arabia is ranked just outside the top 10 in the Open Doors World Watch List. That's not because religious freedom is improving in Saudi Arabia: it's simply because persecution is getting worse in other countries. As the birthplace and homeland of Islam, Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most dangerous places in which to follow Christ. Leaving Islam is punishable by death, and there are no places of worship in the country except mosques; even foreigners are forbidden to worship anything besides Allah. "So, when you say, 'Saudi Christian,' in their mind that is almost impossible," explains Nettleton. "However, we do know that there are Christians in Saudi Arabia. We know there are foreign Christians --Christians from the Philippines, Christians from other nations--that are there working, as well as Christians from Saudi Arabia. "They have to keep a very low profile. They have to hold services very, very secretly, but we know they're there." The ultra-secrecy is not without reason. "Oftentimes in Saudi Arabia, if it's discovered that you have become a Christian, you will be killed: not by the government, necessarily, but by your own family," says Nettleton. "It's such a mark of shame in their minds that they will literally kill a sister or a brother, or a son or a daughter that has chosen to follow Jesus Christ." What can you do?

(Photo courtesy of VOM USA)

Voice of the Martyrs USA helps persecuted Christians worldwide by equipping, empowering and encouraging them to continue sharing the Truth about Jesus, no matter what. VOM USA also provides physical and spiritual help to families of Christian martyrs. Help persecuted Christians through VOM here. According to Nettleton, the best way you can help Christians in Saudi Arabia is by praying. "We need to pray that God will strengthen and encourage them as they serve Him in a very difficult circumstance," he says. "Because of the nature of Saudi Arabia, because of how closed off it is to Christians and to Christian influence, our prayer is the most important thing that we can do to help our brothers and sisters there."
Categories: Mission Network News

LA Governor Bobby Jindal’s Testimony

WGRC News - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 1:47pm

Louisiana governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal shared with thousands of people at his national prayer rally in Louisiana yesterday how he converted from Hinduism to Catholicism, and urged prayers for America’s spiritual revival as well as President Obama and his family. He told the crowd of more than 3,000 people how he, though raised a Hindu, became a Christian while a teenager living in Baton Rouge. He said Billy Graham helped inspire him to become a Christian at a mass prayer rally in 1970. Several people had earlier tried to convert him but it didn’t hit him until he heard Graham and watched a black and white film on Jesus’s death on the cross, he said. “God chose that moment to hit me harder than I’ve ever been hit before,” he was quoted as saying.

Categories: Local News

Psalm 150

Christian Post - Living - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 7:51am
Think about your most recent prayer to the Lord. Did you spend as much time praising Him as you did making requests?
Categories: Christian Post

Middle East uncertainty equals Christian opportunities

Mission Network News - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 5:00am

Uncertainty in the Middle East means fear and opportunities for outreach.

Middle East (MNN) -- Last week, the collapse of the Yemeni government, coupled with the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, have created a major problem. It's created a problem for the fight against Islamist militants. But, it's also created even larger problem for Christians: Middle East uncertainty. First, the government of Yemen was overthrown by Shiite-friendly Iran. That extends Iran's influence in the region to the capitals of four countries: Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Then, the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. The King was an advocate for the west. It's uncertain what side the new leadership will fall. These two events, coupled with the rise of the Islamic State, which is Sunni, have created a mess for western foreign policy in the region. Middle East expert with e3 Partners, Tom Doyle, says, "With the instability in the government, it just always seems to go from worse, to worse yet. Even though Americans had relationship, and the president is talking about Yemen being stable, well, that has really changed quickly. Of course, for Christians, it has not been a safe place whatsoever." Whether Sunni Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq, or Shiite radicals, they're both bad news. "They're both bent on being supreme in Islam--wiping out Christianity, eradicating it in the region--then going after Israel. Both of them are in a mad rush to try to pull that off." Complicating that further, Sunnis and Shiites hate each other. Muslims are afraid. Doyle tells us about one Muslim woman who was praying, "'God, where are You?' over and over. Then one night she changed her prayer and said, 'God, who are You? Maybe I'm praying to the wrong God because whoever I'm praying to is either too busy or doesn't care about me.' That night she had a glorious dream about Jesus. She has come to faith in Christ." What do these uncertainties do to Christians in the region? Doyle says, "It motivates them even more to bring the Light and the Truth to their people, no matter the risk, no matter the cost. They know their lives are on the line, but as many of our workers in the Middle East say, 'We gave up our lives years ago. We know it's going to end in death. We know we're going to be martyrs. It's just a matter of when.'" Prayer and financial support are needed more now than ever. Join e3's 8thirty8 Facebook prayer team here.  
Categories: Mission Network News