Eddie Long’s Successor at Georgia Megachurch, Bishop Stephen A Davis, Resigns

June 8, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Samuel Smith , CP Reporter | 

 

Bishop Stephen A. Davis, who took over as senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, following the death of controversial longtime pastor Eddie Long in January 2017, has resigned.

According to the megachurch, Davis stepped down to concentrate on the New Birth ministry he founded in Birmingham, Alabama, which was formerly the Refiners House Church before becoming part of the New Birth expansion in 2010.

The resignation was accepted by the church’s board of directors.

“I love my New Birth family both in Birmingham and Stonecrest. However, at this time my wife, my children and the New Birth Birmingham family need my full attention,” Davis said in a statement Wednesday. “We will remain a[t] New Birth Church in Birmingham and maintain our relationships with New Birth Stonecrest Congregation.”

According to a press release sent by the church, Davis’ 16 months as senior pastor “allowed the New Birth ministry to continue moving forward following Bishop Long’s transition.”

The church expressed its gratitude for Davis for guiding the congregation with “heartfelt dedication and commitment.”

Long died last year of cancer at 63. He had faced multiple allegations that stemmed from lawsuits brought by men who accused Long of having sexual relationships with them as teenage members of his congregation. Although Long never publicly discussed the accusations, he settled with four of his accusers in 2011.

Davis’ resignation comes after rumors swirled in February that he had resigned and that there was a financial dispute between Davis and Long’s oldest son, Edward.

Michelle Porter, Davis’ executive administrator, shot down those rumors as false.

New Birth Board Chairman Thomas W. Dortch Jr. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that all the travel required for Davis to keep up with his responsibilities was taking a toll. Dortch said that there was a “strain on Bishop Davis from having to come back and forth from Birmingham to Atlanta weekly while maintaining his other churches — one in Birmingham and one in Tuscaloosa.

Dortch said that the travel “became a major challenge for him.”

No information was provided on who will assume Davis’ position at New Birth Lithonia.

In Long’s book, The Untold Story: The Story of Adversity, Pain & Resilience, he claimed that New Birth had more than 25,000 members at one point in his career. But that number dwindled as he faced the allegations of sexual abuse. As previously reported, the church membership dropped to between 8,000 to 10,000 in 2016.

 

The Power of Peace – by Joyce Meyer

June 8, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

  • Having an attitude of peace and calm is priceless. It’s an attitude that says, “I’m trusting God,” and it speaks powerfully to people. But it takes time, focus and the grace of God to be consistently peaceful.
One way to develop consistent peace is to learn to live “in the now.” We can spend a lot of time thinking about the past or wondering what the future holds…but we can’t accomplish anything unless our mind is focused on today.

The Bible tells us that God gives us grace for each day that we live. I believe that grace is the power, enablement or energy to do what we need to do—and He gives it generously, as we need it.

We need to make a decision every morning to say, “God has given me today. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

The Real Source of Stress

Too often our stress level is tied up in our circumstances. You could be stressed because you’re always busy or you’re struggling financially or because you’re not getting along with someone you love.

It could be a number of things, but what’s interesting is that these situations are not the cause of your stress. Stress is really caused by your reaction to each situation.

We don’t have to work at trying to get rid of every stressful situation. We need to learn how to embrace peace.

See, we’re always trying to get rid of everything that bothers us. But the Bible says that in the world there will be tribulation. That’s why Jesus said, “Cheer up, I have overcome the world.”

We don’t have to work at trying to get rid of every stressful situation. We need to learn how to embrace peace.

7 Ways to Practice Peace

I believe that one of the keys to maintaining peace in your life is to take small steps toward peace every day. Here are a few tips for having a more peaceful lifestyle.

1. Be selective with how you spend your time. You may be trying to do too many things and end up doing none of them well. Hurrying is trying to do more than the Holy Spirit is leading you to do. Be led by the Spirit.

2. Be prepared to say no nicely. Sometimes we take on things we know we shouldn’t, just because we’re uncomfortable saying no. If you feel this pressure, ask God to put your spirit at rest and give you loving words to speak that will take away the unnecessary awkwardness of saying no.

3. Resist the spirit of procrastination. It’s the attitude that says I’m going to sit here and wait until I feel like doing what I need to do. But God’s Word tells us to exercise self-discipline. Do what you need to do now so you can fully enjoy your times of rest.

4. Eliminate key distractions. If you know you are easily distracted, set some guidelines for yourself. Don’t let them keep you up late at night so you oversleep the next morning and end up setting yourself up for a hurried, stressful day.

5. Set appropriate boundaries for interruptions. Life is full of interruptions, but we can learn to set boundaries that help us manage them in healthy ways. Schedule times when you are “off-limits.” Let your calls go to voicemail, turn off your email, and decide to get back to people after your “off-limits” time is over. Trust the Holy Spirit to tell you when there is a true emergency.

6. Modify your life.
 Ask God to show you “out-of-the-box” ways to save time and trouble. For instance, when I don’t have time to do the dishes, I use paper plates. And if I’m having a birthday party for one of my kids and don’t have time to make a meal, we just have cake and ice cream.

7. Listen for the Holy Spirit. 
If you can see that your plan is not producing peace, go back to God; pray for peace and for wisdom to make changes that will benefit your life.

If you can learn to trust God “in the now,” receive His grace as you need it, and you can become a truly peaceful person. Now that’s powerful!

Most Bible-Centered Americans Say They Need Daily Scripture Reading More Than Drinking Coffee: Survey

May 16, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Anugrah Kumar ,  


(PHOTO:ROD LONG)

A majority of Bible-centered Americans say they need the Bible more than coffee to jumpstart their mornings, according to a new nationwide study by American Bible Society.

For 61 percent of “Bible-engaged” Americans, the need for reading the Bible is stronger than their urge for caffeine, reveals the research, commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Group.

The study gave four choices — coffee, something sweet, social media and the Bible — and asked respondents which of these did they consider a daily necessity. Bible-centered adults are the only segment in which a majority insist on the Bible as a daily necessity at 61 percent. Bible-engaged adults prefer the Bible over the other three choices offered, but to a lesser extent at 43 percent. One in five who are Bible-friendly prefer the Bible over coffee, sweets and social media (21 percent).

“Elders and Boomers are more likely to say that coffee is something they must have during the day (46 percent and 47 percent), compared to 32 percent of millennials and 30 percent of Gen X. Segments more likely to choose the Bible are married adults, college graduates, households with children under 18 and residents of the South.”

The 2018 State of the Bible Report also shows that 42 percent of Americans say they were more fearful today than they were five years ago, but they’re also more hopeful about the future. And 41 percent feel peaceful when reading the Bible and 81 percent of Americans have a great sense of hope for the future.

“We are now able to give better context into how Americans are or are not interacting with the Bible and how that impacts their lives,” Roy Peterson, president and CEO of American Bible Society, says in the report. “We are finding the more engaged with the Bible someone is, the more hopeful and peaceful they are, along with a greater awareness of their need for the Bible.”

The survey, for which 2,040 interviews were conducted online and on phone, also reveals that 42 percent of Americans are more generous after reading the Bible, 54 percent are more loving towards one another and 56 percent are more willing to engage with their faith.

When asked a series of questions about the Bible’s intent, most “Bible users” see it as a letter from God expressing his love and salvation for them, a way to know what God expects from them, and a rulebook or guide on how to live their best life.

Bible users are defined in the study as individuals who read, listen to or pray with the Bible on their own at least 3-4 times a year, outside of a church service or church event.

Last year, a poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about half of all Americans say a prayer over their food at least a few times a week.

Rural and urban Americans, Northerners and Southerners, Catholics and Protestants, Democrats and Republicans, all say grace, though to varying degrees, the poll showed.

 

We ARE the Church!

May 16, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Rod Anderson 

 

 

It is becoming increasingly popular today to assume that since the essence of worship is the language of the gospel, then it follows that worship is all of life, and there is nothing distinct or significant about corporate gatherings of worship.

 Several problems with this perspective exist, however, deserving careful consideration. First, the nature of the church must be defined biblically. While it is true that “church” in the New Testament sometimes refers to the universal number of believers in Christ, (See, for example, Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22–23, 3:10, 3:21, 4:4, 5:23–27, 1 Corinthians 10:32, 11:22, 12:28, Colossians 1:18, 24, and Hebrews 12:23.) it most often refers specifically to a local gathering of such believers. For example, Paul addressed letters “to the church of God that is in Corinth (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1), “to the churches of Galatia” (Gal 1:2), and “to the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thess 1:1).

 

5 Super Simple Ways to Greatly Improve Your Prayer Life

April 23, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Greg Stier | 

1. Find a prayer “hot spot” and use it.

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

We all know about wireless hot spots…you go into a coffee shop and want to know the wireless code for the hotspot so you can get online. Well, I believe that Jesus had prayer hot spots. Sure, he could pray anywhere but I believe there were places he especially liked to connect with God through prayer. The Judean wilderness was one of these prayer hot spots…for forty days and nights anyway. It was here where Jesus got his marching orders from his Father to kickoff his 3 1/2 years of power-packed ministry.

A second place that became a prayer hotspot were the mountains around Galilee. Here, there were plenty of places for Jesus to get away to pray in this beautiful region of Israel.

Where’s my prayer “hot spot“? It’s a place called Van Bibber Park. Once or twice a week I try to go there and spend time walking it’s sidewalks and dirt trails. I have a few other places I’ll go to from time to time but this park, with a stunning view of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, gives me a great place to pray right on the way to or from the Dare 2 Share offices.

2. Get really good at short prayers.

“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!’” 1 Kings 18:36-39

When Elijah prayed on Mt. Carmel he prayed a prayer that was short on words (only 60 words in length) but tall on faith. He prayed like God was really listening. Unlike the prophets of Baal he didn’t need to dance around the altar or work himself up into a frenzy. He didn’t need to shout and yell. He just prayed. He talked to God and believed that God was listening.

And God was.

Meanwhile, the prophets of Baal had prayed for thousands of man hours on Mt. Carmel that day. Their prayers lasted for around six hours. If you multiply six hours by 450 prophets of Baal that’s 2,700 man hours of prayer. But what they couldn’t do in 2,700 man hours of praying, Elijah did with 60 words in less than 60 seconds. This shows us that the volume, intensity and length of our prayers are nothing compared to the focus, authenticity and depth of our faith.

God wants us to talk to him. We don’t have to get all worked up like the prophets of Baal. We don’t have to approach him with fancy, churchified words. We don’t have to pray some lengthy prayer. We can just talk to him and believe with childlike faith that he is really listening. Some of the best prayers are short and sweet and strong. These power punch prayers can be prayed while walking down a hallway or waiting at a stoplight.

As Charles Spurgeon once said, “Prayer is not to be measured by the yard, nor weighed by the pound. It is the might and force of it—the truth and reality of it—the energy and the intensity of it.”

3. Write out your prayers from time to time.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

I have a running log of my prayers on my computer that dates back to the year 2000. It may be months between entries in some instances but it’s in this digital prayer journal where I pound out my prayers on my keyboard when I’m so moved. Here I catalogue extraordinary times of need through words to my Heavenly Father. Or sometimes it’s just a fountain of praise that I pour out to God, my own not-so-eloquent version of a Psalm if you will.

At Lead THE Cause, our full week training-meets-mission-week, we often challenge teenagers to write out their prayers in a letter to God. I’ll never forget hearing a 14 year old student reading his letter aloud in Moody Memorial Church before 600+ other teenagers. His heartfelt call for revival moved many of us to chills and to tears. He, like DL Moody more than a century ago, shook this old church and the heavenlies with his fresh pleas for spiritual awakening in his generation.

Whether you keep a prayer journal or make a digital one on your computer, writing out your prayers to God from time-to-time can be a powerful and rewarding experience.

4. Use a prayer app.

We have an advantage of our Old Testament friends like Elijah and even our New Testament friends like Paul. We have smart phones! We can use technology to help us to pray more specifically and remind us to pray more consistently.

Personally, I like PrayerMate. It’s an easy to use app that allows me to pray for the list of people and things I am interceding to God for on a regular basis. This is what I use to pray for my family members, co-workers, partners in ministry and the people I am seeking to reach for Jesus. If you know of other great prayer apps please feel free to list them in the comments below.

5. Start your prayer time by reading a Psalm.

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise youand extol your name for ever and ever.” Psalsm 145:1,2

A preacher once said, “The Psalms are in the middle of the Bible because they are the heartbeat of God.” While I don’t know if I can prove the whole why-Psalms-are-in-the-middle-of-the-Bible theory I do think it’s true that the Psalms are close to the heart of God. They represent the raw, unfiltered praise and requests of great men of God like David, Moses and the Sons of Korah.

Often, when I’m on my prayer walks, I start by reading a Psalm or two or three from my phone. Why? Praise helps me recalibrate my heart toward heaven. It helps me center my heart around the Lord and his will. And it keeps me from approaching the Heavenly Father like a divine ATM or a cosmic Santa Claus with my long list of toys. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not that I don’t ask him for things. I do…lots of things! But I don’t usually start with the wishlist. I end with it. Because after I see him for who he is I can see my requests for what they are. After I’ve prayed for his “kingdom to come and will to be done” then I’m ready to ask for my daily bread…and then some.

These are my five simple ideas to help improve your prayer life. If you have an idea or two you can add to the list then please do!

Pray on!

How the Bible Defines Worship

April 23, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Scott Aniol | 

      Many of the “worship wars” today are fueled by, I believe, differing views of the nature of worship itself. Clearly differences over what worship is and the function of various worship elements would lead to significant differences over what kind of music we might use in a worship service, for example, and so I believe that a fundamental step toward resolving these debates is to seek to understand how the Bible itself defines worship.
At its most basic level, worship is drawing near to God in fellowship with him and obedience to him such that he is magnified and glorified.

This idea of drawing near to God in worship permeates the storyline of Scripture. It is what Adam and Eve enjoyed as they walked with God in the cool the day (Gen. 2:8). It is described in Exodus 19:17 when Moses “brought the people out of the camp to meet God” at the foot of Mt. Sinai. He had told Pharaoh to let the people go so that they might worship their God in the wilderness, and this is exactly what they intended to do at Sinai. It is what Psalm 100 commands of the Hebrews in Temple worship when it says, “Come into his presence with singing and into his courts with praise.” It is what Isaiah experienced as he entered the heavenly throne room of God and saw him high and lifted up. To draw near to God is to enter his very presence in fellowship and obedience.

Ultimately, this is why God created people. God created the world to put on display the excellencies of his own glory, and he created people therein that they might witness that glory and praise him for it. In Isaiah 43:6–7 God proclaims,

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Likewise, Paul commands in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”

Worship—magnifying God’s worth and glory—is the reason God made us.

Adam and Eve’s fall into sin—their disobedience of God’s commandments—was essentially failure to magnify the worthiness of God to be their master and bring him glory, and thus it was a failure to worship him acceptably. This broke the communion they enjoyed with God and propelled them out from the sanctuary of his presence. After they sinned, and they heard God walking in the garden, “the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God” (Gen 3:8)—they recognized their unworthiness to walk with him. Their sin created a separation between them and their Creator, and they were forced to leave the sanctuary (Gen 3:23–24), never again able to draw near to the presence of God.

However, worship is possible through a sacrifice, the vicarious, substitutionary atonement of the Son of God. Sacrifices in the Mosaic system pictured this kind of atonement, but they were unable to “make perfect those who draw near” (Heb 10:1).

But this sacrifice can perfect those who draw near. Jesus is fully man, and thus he can stand as our substitute, and he is fully God, and thus he can pay an eternal punishment to an eternal, holy God that no normal man could. And because of the perfection and eternality of this sacrifice, it need not be offered day after day after day to atone for sin; it is offered one time and the complete wrath of God is fully appeased.

This is what God pictured when he slew the animal in the garden and covered Adam and Eve’s guilt. This is what was pictured when Moses offered a sacrifice at the foot of Mt. Sinai so that the elders of the people could approach God. This is what was pictured each year in Israel on the Day of Atonement when an animal was sacrificed and the high priest entered the holy place to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. This is what was pictured when the seraph took a burning coal from the altar and placed it on Isaiah’s lips, saying, “your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And this is pictured no more beautifully than with what happened at the moment of Christ’s death. The gospel accounts of the crucifixion tell us that Jesus cried out with a loud voice and gave up his spirit, and at that exact moment, the veil of the temple was torn in two, as if that veil was the body of the Son of God himself prohibiting entrance into the presence of a holy God, and that access that had been lost by the fall of man is now restored! There is now a new and living way (Heb 10:20) to draw near to God, and that way is his Son.

Thus those who repent of their sin—their failure to worship—and put their faith and trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf are saved from separation from God and enabled once again to draw near to him in worship.

What should be apparent is that the essence of worship is itself the language of the gospel—a drawing near to God in relationship with him, made impossible because of sin that demands eternal judgment, yet restored through the substitutionary atonement of the God-man for those who place their faith in him. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes worship possible.

Why We Must Reclaim the Meaning of ‘the Unreached’

April 10, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Marv Newell ,  

 

 

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Your neighbor across the street does not believe in Jesus.

Your brother-in-law is still unsaved, though he has repeatedly been presented with the gospel.

Your church has an outreach to Haiti, with a full-time couple serving there.

Though none of the people referenced here have come to faith in Christ, contrary to popular thinking among many Christians they are not “unreached.”

How is this so and why does this matter? The short and simple answer relates to gospel access and opportunity, and the church’s mission.

Just because someone does not believe the gospel does not mean they are unreached. “Unreached peoples” are actually those who have no opportunity to hear the gospel at all. They don’t have a chance because they don’t have a Jesus follower nearby to explain the good news of Christ to them. In most instances there is no church, no Bible, and no way of hearing about the love of God and His redeeming work through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

 To better understand who are considered reached and who are not, we can divide the 7.6 billion inhabitants of the world into four segments:

Reached and Saved (11%). These are Christians who believe in the Bible as God’s Word and have received by faith alone the gracious atoning work of Jesus on their behalf. Approximately 1 billion people across the planet fall within this category.

Reached but not Saved (23%). They have some knowledge of the gospel but with no or nominal acceptance. They are “Christians” by tradition rather than by conviction. They have access to the gospel – it is all around them – without believing it. About 1.7 billion people are in this category.

Under-reached and Unsaved (33%). They have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel, although it is nearby. They have some access to the gospel through various means, such as a nearby believer, through media, or the internet, but it is woefully sparse. About 2.5 billion people around the world fall within this category.

Unreached and Unsaved (33%). They sadly have no witnessing community within their people group or in their geographic area – no access to the gospel. They have no opportunity to hear, no chance to believe. Tragically, 2.5 billion people fall within this category and it’s increasing every year.

It is calculated that there are 6,926 unreached people groups scattered across the world. Some of them consist of large ethnic blocks of millions of people. Others are small groups of under 10,000, together totaling less than 8 million individuals. But all have no access to the gospel.

These gospel-deprived individuals must be seen with compassion on the personal level. Not only do they not believe in Jesus but they do not know there is a Jesus to believe in. That opportunity has been denied them.

What are the implications to us who are compelled to follow Jesus’ command to bring lost souls to faith in Jesus? It means that gospel messengers are needed to either go and personally witness or use means that will. This can be done by way of personal encounters, broadcasts, podcasts, printed material, recordings, films, blogs, electronic communications, and many other innovative means that are channels of penetrating witness.

The previously mentioned non-believing neighbor, the brother-in-law, and even the Haitians – 20 percent of whom are Protestant – all have access to the gospel and have opportunity to believe in Jesus. Just because they are indifferent, unresponsive, or resistant does not mean they are unreached. They each have a chance to understand their spiritual plight and need of a Savior. The good news is within their reach.

But the 2.5 billion gospel-deprived “Unreached and Unsaved” do not have any of these advantages. They are unaware, clueless, and hopeless, without a chance of hearing the gospel message even if they so desired. The good news is not within their reach.

 Only by reclaiming the real meaning of “unreached” will the church grasp the size of the challenge that still lies before us in responding to Jesus’ Great Commission, and be inspired to commit to its fulfillment.

This is why the International Day for the Unreached on May 20, 2018 is so important: prompting the church to be true to Christ’s command to reach the lost … striving to make the gospel accessible to all peoples … providing those who have not heard, the opportunity to respond … focusing on making the unreached, the reached.

 

There’s Always a Time for Prayer

April 10, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

We’re living through a moment in American life unlike any many of us have seen before. Nearly every week some new controversy erupts, some evil act of violence wrecks our daily routine or some international event fills our minds with images of impending war and catastrophic destruction. In fact, quiet weeks — when life doesn’t seem to be spinning out of control — have become an oddity.

Seasons of unrest like the one we’re in pit us against the wall and demand we respond to what’s going on around us. Some Christians take the activist route. Quoting James 2:26, “Faith without works is dead,” they call fellow believers to take up arms, get involved in the public debate and change things for themselves. Others, seeing all the evil and pain around them, quietly determine to make a change in their own lives, families and communities.

If you’re wondering if there’s a wrong or right approach, let me offer you Solomon’s wisdom: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven … A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7)

But you know what Scripture never sets a time constraint for? Prayer.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

There’s always a time for prayer.

But our culture doesn’t seem to think so.

Nowadays, our culture dismisses prayer as useless, and accuses Christians who turn to prayer, especially after a tragedy, of using it to escape reality or ignore responsibility. But we turn to prayer because that’s where we must always start if we want to find a way forward from our pain. We turn to God because we need Him to help us make sense of the mess we’re living in and to guide us toward healing.

Yes, we must confront head-on the issues we’re facing, seek solutions to our many problems and vote for men and women who will work toward unity, but we must acknowledge that, apart from God, all our efforts fall short. No human plan will accomplish more than God’s intervention. No human words will comfort the hearts of those who are hurting the way God, through His gentle whispers, can comfort them.

Imagine what could happen if every Christian and every church in America committed to pray every day for our country, our communities, our families, our schools and our leaders. I believe America would be a different place.

But please understand, praying for ourselves is also important because it begins with our response to God. You see, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is call to God’s people individually and corporately. It says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Prayer begins with you and your personal response to God. Prayer moves to the church and her response to God. Then, when these things occur, prayer can change a nation.

On Thursday, May 3, millions of Americans will gather in our nation’s capital and throughout all 50 states for the National Day of Prayer. Millions of voices will rise in unified prayer for our nation, asking God to heal and unite us as a people.

I hope you and your family will join us, and together pray for a new fresh movement of God in America.

 

 

What Was the ‘Crime’ of Jesus That Got Him Crucified?

March 28, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Jerry Newcombe 

The week began in a humble, triumphant sort of way. That may seem like an oxymoron. Jesus was hailed as a king, but rode in on a donkey—a humble way to begin His public entry into Jerusalem. Of course, He was fulfilling what Zechariah the prophet had foretold about 700 years before.

 Jesus’ entry into the Holy City on the eve of the Passover on that very first Palm Sunday: the donkey “was the common beast of burden of the time, in contrast to the superior horse of gilded chariot used in Roman triumphs.”

The city was bustling and filled with people. There were over three million pilgrims that visited the city on this occasion. 256,000 lambs were slain for the Passover.”

Of course, the climax of Jesus’ entry was His death (on Passover) and resurrection.

Why was Jesus crucified? What crime did He allegedly commit?

Crucifixion was a horrible way to die. It was so bad that no Roman citizen could be crucified. It was an execution reserved for slaves and bandits. How amazing then that the Son of God become man would allow Himself to be so degraded by people whom He Himself had created.

Crucifixion was invented in the Near East and perfected by the Romans. It was not uncommon for a crucified victim to suffer for days. Pontius Pilate was surprised Jesus had died in only a few hours—however, He had been scourged so horribly that He could have bled to death, had He been released after the whipping.

The crucified victim had the crime he committed posted above his head. Crucifixion was like a living billboard—do what this fellow did and you too could end up like this.

In the case of Jesus, we’ve all seen the crucifixes with INRI above His head. This stands for Iesus Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm, Latin for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, as recorded in John’s Gospel.

His “crime” was claiming to be a king, a treasonous act in ancient Rome.

It’s a tragic fact that in 2000 years of Christian history, there have been anti-Semitic professing Christians who blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus.

But the fact is that Jesus laid down His life as fully God and fully man, who alone fulfilled the Ten Commandments, on behalf of sinners—so that those who believe in Him might be saved. As Jesus Himself said, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:17-18). If there were any “crime” committed for which Jesus was dying, it was the crime committed by sinful people against our holy Creator.

Christians believe that Jesus is the King, whose kingdom was foretold by Daniel the prophet about 500 years before He came, who said that in the “days of those kings”—which kings? The Roman kings—the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will smite the Roman Empire.

It begins as a small stone but that stone goes on to become a mountain that fills the whole earth. Christianity began very small, but has grown to where about one-third of humanity claims to be Christian.

And so during this Holy Week, Christians celebrate the coming 2000 years ago of the King, who came the first time in humility, who will one day ride a white horse as the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords.

Holy Week: 7 Last Sayings of Jesus

March 28, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Eric Metaxas And Roberto Rivera 

Welcome to Holy Week. Today we offer reflections—and music—on the seven last sayings of Jesus.

In 2012, the English poet Ruth Padel accepted a commission from Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra to write poems that would be read between the movements of Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross.”

Writing about her experience two years later in The Guardian, Padel called her acceptance of the commission “rash.” Her father was a psychoanalyst, her mother was a great-grand-daughter of Darwin—what could she have to say on this subject?

Well, that’s a good question.

By her own admission, Padel had “no idea if what [she] did works theologically, but musicians find it OK to work with.” Thankfully, we don’t have to settle for “OK to work with.”

In 1783, the Cathedral of Cadiz, Spain commissioned the great composer Joseph Haydn to write a musical setting for what are known as the “Seven Last Words (or Sayings)” of Jesus on the cross.

 For those of you who are unfamiliar with the “Seven Last Words,” they are “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do;” “Today you will be with me in Paradise;” “Behold your son/Behold your mother;” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” “I thirst;” “It is finished;” and finally, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Haydn’s opus consists of nine parts: an introduction, followed by a musical meditation on each of the seven sayings, and then completed by a section entitled “Il Terremoto,” which is “earthquake” in both Italian and Spanish. Il Terremoto, of course, refers to the earth quaking in Matthew 27 when Christ “yielded his spirit” and died.

At the original performance at Cadiz Cathedral, the Bishop spoke one of the sayings of Jesus, “delivered a discourse thereon,” and this was followed by Haydn’s musical meditation on the words.

Since Haydn never specified what, if anything, should be said between movements, subsequent performers have felt free to add, or not add, whatever was “OK to work with.” But, as the Vermeer Quartet learned, paying heed to what works theologically is the way to go. In 1988, they won a Grammy nomination for their performance, which featured excerpts of sermons by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Billy Graham between movements.

 Haydn, who typically began his manuscripts with the phrase “in nomine Domini,” “in the name of the Lord,” and ended them with “Laus Deo,” “praise be to God,” would, no doubt, approve.

 

 

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