SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS -- March 7, 2017) -- His father was a Southern Baptist minister with Elvis sideburns. As the oldest of four, he dutifully attended church with his family in Tennessee.
"Around the age of seven I felt a leading to give my life to Jesus," George Carneal recounts in his book, From Queer to Christ: My Journey Into the Light. After professing his faith in front of the congregation, his father baptized him.
I'll never forget in my first church when a very Christlike deacon pulled me aside and offer me some advice in leading a church. I had been a leader in the business world a long time, but this was new for me. He helped me in ways which are being realized even today in how I lead in the church.
DONCASTER, UK (ANS – March 6, 2017) -- An Israeli backpacker had to travel to the other side of the world before finding the Jewish Messiah no-one had told him about at home.
OmriJaakobovich HITFoundersmallerBorn and raised in a secular kibbutz (and knowing almost nothing about Jesus), Omri Jaakobovich was taken aback when the Dutch-born host of his hostel in Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, kept referring to him as one of God’s “chosen people.”
DONCASTER, UK (ANS - March 7, 2017) -- There is a tired old joke among journalists about never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. But it is meant to be a joke, not reality.
However, it would seem that media, educational and political circles are now taking it seriously, effectively adopting this line as their modus operandi.
As a result, many of our great institutions have become a sick joke -- I am thinking particularly of the United Nations -- and the British Parliament, for example, is totally confused over what it is supposed to believe about Israel.
MOUNT HERMON, CA (ANS - March 4, 2017) - What's your take on New Testament stories about Jesus' life and death and their aftermath? Did the events described really happen, or are they merely inspirational fables about a great man? For many years, I was skeptical.
CNN's second season of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgeryappears to be designed with questioners like me in mind. Episode One (March 5) notes archaeological confirmation of a famous biblical character. A stone discovered in 1961 references Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea. In the New Testament (NT) narrative, of course, Pilate ordered Jesus' crucifixion.
A common misconception about the Christian season of Lent is that it's only for the other Christians: the Catholic Christians, the super-spiritual Christians, the Orthodox Christians, or the millennial Christians who've decided they love liturgy and incense.
But Lent isn't just for a select few Christians. Indeed, all Christians are invited to participate in this spiritually formative season - not to earn their salvation, but to internalize what it means to be saved. We need a spiritual spring to clear the brush and make room in our souls for the Gospel to take root.
This isn't an article about modern vs. traditional church music. It isn't about steeples or Sunday School. It isn't about vain repetition or the need to bring back hats in church. It isn't about any of the silly stuff that should have left a long time ago. It's an article about why Christianity needs to be set apart if we are going to survive.
I'm a direct product of 40 years of bringing the traditional church into contemporary society. I remember the first time a guy with shoulder length hair brought a guitar into a Sunday night service singing, "I Wish We'd All Been Ready."
We've all read the scary statistics of teenagers who evacuate their Christian faith after they graduate from high school. I've read statistics as high as 85% and some as low as 50%. But regardless of the actual number all of us can agree that any is too many! We want as many of our teenagers' faith as possible to, not just survive, but to thrive long after they leave high school!
This week, thousands of high school and college students, pastors, and even Hollywood actors, country music stars, congress members, and NFL and NBA athletes posted selfies with red "X"s on the back of their hands on social media.
I pictured a handsome man sweeping in to pick me up and make me whole. I guess I have Disney to blame for that - LOL! Obviously, that fairy tale was exactly that - a fairy tale. Marriage can be difficult, and there are times when I have struggled to even like my spouse.
VISTA, CA (ANS - March 4, 2017) -- The worldwide refugee crisis is a complex issue with no easy answers. It is hard to imagine what it feels like for a child to arrive on a foreign shore hungry, wet, exhausted... Or what it is like for the parents taking such a risk in hopes of giving their children a brighter future.
Robert and Robin Jones' book, The Refugee Crisis: Thru the Eyes of the Children, gives us a glimpse of what this looks like -- particularly through the eyes of innocent children.
SAUDI ARABIA (ANS - March 4, 2017) - Just ten years ago, to the day, I was standing on the coastal strip of the Red Sea at Sharm El Sheikh. I was gazing across the water at Saudi Arabia and picturing a little girl growing up as a slave in Egypt. I was thinking about how a mother tells her daughter that they are about to walk through the sea on dry ground to escape Pharaoh's terrifying pursuit.
The following is a brief excerpt from my book, Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life (Zondervan). Its focus is Paul's instruction in Ephesians 5:18-21, where he writes:
"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph. 5:18-21).