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Stopping Government Overreach: SCOTUS Rules Against California and for the Free Speech of Pro-Life Alternatives

One of the central rights of the constitution is freedom of expression, particularly as it relates to religion.

Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) in a case likely to have significant impact in debates on abortion and free speech. The Court agreed with NIFLA that a California law requiring license pro-life pregnancy centers post information on where women can obtain low-cost abortion services violated the First Amendment rights of those operating the centers. Such a case seems so obvious it is almost surprising that this case had to go to the Supreme Court. Indeed, foreshadowing of today’s ruling, the majority of the Justices expressed their skepticism of the law during oral arguments in March.

So what makes this case so important? Why should Christians care about what pro-life pregnancy centers in California are or are not required to say? A little background might be helpful.

The Freedom to Dissent

Since 1993, NIFLA has supported pro-life centers and medical clinics across the United States. This ranges from education and training to what they are most widely known for – offering legal counsel and defending pro-life centers from becoming abortion referral agencies. These centers provide pregnant women with free or low-cost services while encouraging them to not have abortions.

The current conflict began in October 2015, when the state of California passed the Reproductive FACT Act. This law requires every crisis pregnancy center to provide notifications that their clients could receive “prenatal care and abortion for eligible women” at state and other facilities. In essence, pro-life pregnancy centers need to notify anyone they counsel where they can receive an abortion.

In order to enforce the law, the Reproductive FACT Act empowers state prosecutors ...

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Source: Stopping Government Overreach: SCOTUS Rules Against California and for the Free Speech of Pro-Life Alternatives

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Died: James Earl Massey, the Church of God’s ‘Prince of Preachers’

The influential leader kept teaching—and learning—homiletics over his 70-year career. 

Preacher James Earl Massey, whose pastoral cadence went out over radio waves and across dozens of seminary chapels during his seven decades in ministry, died Sunday at age 88.

Massey is remembered as one of the most influential voices in the Church of God movement—a holiness denomination with about a quarter-million adherents in North America—and a gifted communicator who earned the nickname the “prince of preachers.”

“The Church of God (and many others) mourn the passing of one of our greatest voices, James Earl Massey,” tweeted Jim Lyon, general director of the Anderson, Indiana-based Church of God Ministries. “He walked through this world with exceptional grace, strength, and wisdom. Jesus was his preoccupation, the church was his friend, the world was his stage.”

Massey taught and modeled Christ-centered, Scripture-centered preaching throughout his career, saying that “you can never master the art of preaching. It is always something toward which you are working, so that sermonizing is always a work in progress.”

After having served as senior pastor of the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, a speaker on the Christian Brotherhood Hour radio show, and pastor, professor, and dean at Anderson University, the late preacher became a distinguished elder-at-large for his denomination and dean emeritus at Anderson.

John S. Pistole, president of Anderson University, called Massey a “legend in the Church of God movement” who “impacted countless lives for Christ and the Kingdom.”

The Detroit native wrote 18 books on preaching and spiritual disciplines, and he lectured at over 100 colleges and seminaries, including Beeson Divinity School.

“Massey ...

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Source: Died: James Earl Massey, the Church of God’s ‘Prince of Preachers’

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[Cfamily]One-on-One with Nick Hall on Faith in the Next Generation, Part 2
« Reply #938 on: July 03, 2018, 01:00:13 AM »
One-on-One with Nick Hall on Faith in the Next Generation, Part 2

The more we can mobilize our young people, the better.

Ed:Tell us more about Together 2018. What is it, and how can people get involved?

Nick: We believe there's a generation, with 18-20-year-olds at its center, that is experiencing a new movement of Jesus. So, we started to call Together the “Together Generation.”

Together ’16 was around the national mall. Together 2018 will be down in Dallas/Ft. Worth, and in 2020 it’s likely we’ll be back on the national mall. In and around these big events, there are these waves that happen. We believe the events are propelling this ongoing movement, bringing in voices and resources and tools, pushing it forwards until Together 2018. We expect Together 2018 to be a historic partnership with Cru, InterVarsity, YWAM, and other organizations.

The big emphasis of the event is evangelism and discipleship, and trying to equip a generation to move closer to Jesus. We’re trying to reinforce the idea that when I move closer to Jesus, it's always a step closer to people who need Jesus. They're not two different steps. God is always inviting us to take the next step towards him, and every step towards him is a step closer to our neighbor, because that's where Jesus is.

We're trying to get a generation to see that their lives are influenced by the gospel, and to encourage them be influencers for the gospel. So Together 2018 will be very focused on putting influencers and different versions and expressions of the Christian walk on the platform – business leaders, creative evangelists, missionaries, church planters, pastors – so that people can see themselves on the platforms.

We will also have digital resources. We're building out a discipleship platform for the purpose of trying to equip ...

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Source: One-on-One with Nick Hall on Faith in the Next Generation, Part 2

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[Cfamily]Fear, Power, Nostalgia, and the 81 Percent
« Reply #939 on: July 04, 2018, 01:00:13 AM »
Fear, Power, Nostalgia, and the 81 Percent

An evangelical historian searches for the roots of Trump-friendly evangelicalism.

John Fea has two intended audiences for his new book, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. On the one hand, he dedicates this book “to the 19 percent”—to the segment of white evangelicals who (at least according to exit poll data) voted against Trump in the presidential race. But in another sense, Fea is also writing to the remaining 81 percent, to those who decided that Trump could best advance the cause of Christianity in America.

Fea writes as both a historian (he teaches at Messiah College) and a self-identified evangelical. In this second vein, he offers a sympathetic portrayal of the predicament in which evangelicals found themselves during the 2016 election season. He frames his discussion of the Obama administration as a period of intensifying fear for American evangelicals. Once the Obama administration sided with progressives on the same-sex marriage issue, he writes, it “became relentless in its advocacy of social policies that not only made traditional evangelicals cringe but also infused them with a sense of righteous anger.” According to Fea, the speed with which evangelicals found themselves “marginalized and even threatened” is “difficult to overestimate.” With important institutions seemingly “crumbling around them,” they were increasingly worried about the health of American society. At that point, many Republican candidates were more than willing to exploit these fears for political gain.

In other ways, too, evangelicals will see Fea as one of their own. In discussing abortion, he states his own position plainly: “The taking of a human life in the womb via the practice of abortion is a horrific practice.” Nor is he ...

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Source: Fear, Power, Nostalgia, and the 81 Percent

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Make Worship Patriotic Again? The Top 10 Songs for Fourth of July Services

A look at America’s favorite God-and-country tunes, from Revolutionary War anthems to a Trump-inspired musical number.

At Sunday services this weekend, churches across the country will direct congregants to flip to the section of classic patriotic songs in their hymnals or display lyrics to more recent nation-centric tunes like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” Chris Tomlin’s “America,” or even “Make America Great Again,” a song composed at First Baptist Church of Dallas using President Trump’s famous slogan.

Despite ongoing concerns over conflating worship of God with worship of country, the majority of churches in the United States mark the Fourth of July in song—a tradition that in some places goes back to the years surrounding America’s first Independence Day.

LifeWay Research found that two-thirds of US churches include America-themed music in worship services around the holiday. The top patriotic songs sung in churches, ranked by Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), span contemporary contributions and American classics:

1. “America the Beautiful” – Katharine Lee Bates and Samuel A. Ward

The lyrics first appeared as a poem in the Fourth of July edition of the weekly church publication The Congregationalist in 1895.

2. “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory (Battle Hymn of the Republic)” – Julia Ward Howe

The abolitionist’s famous tune almost became America’s national anthem. Despite the theological references throughout, it’s now seen as more of a mishmash of Christian doctrine.

3. “My Country ’Tis of Thee (America)” – Samuel Francis Smith

The fourth verse in the Boston Baptist’s famous song goes, “Our fathers' God to Thee, author of liberty, to Thee we sing / Long may our ...

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Source: Make Worship Patriotic Again? The Top 10 Songs for Fourth of July Services

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[Cfamily]Juveniles Stuck in the Justice System: How Can the Church Respond?
« Reply #941 on: July 06, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
Juveniles Stuck in the Justice System: How Can the Church Respond?

YFC JJM stands ready to equip, enable, and empower the local church to make a long-term impact for high-risk teens in local communities.

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” This is the classic question to young, aspiring, and hope-filled teenagers.

However, for a high-risk young person this question feels foreign, perhaps even outrageous.

For these teens, their focus is on the next 24 hours. Surviving until tomorrow is often the extent of the Dream for high-risk young persons when all they can think to do is hustle to meet their most basic needs. They sell drugs to help a struggling mom pay rent, shoplift to provide dinner for hungry younger siblings. They simply have no capacity or inclination to think about longer term plans or dreams.

In this America, there are no positive adults, no horizon-expanding opportunities to see the world through a different vantage point. This isn’t Hollywood; there is no Morgan Freeman or Hillary Swank to swoop in and transform their difficult circumstances.

This is life in Survival Mode, until the system catches up with them.

This evening nearly 80,000 of these young people spent the night in a locked facility in the United States: 54,000 are in youth prisons or other out-of-home confinement; 20,000 in juvenile detention centers, 4,200 youth are in adult jails or county lock-ups; and 1,200 youth are in adult prisons serving a long-term sentence.

Most of these young people aren’t public threats nor have they committed violent crimes; however, in a punitive juvenile justice system, many times kids serve the time regardless of the crime. Without intentional intervention from caring, committed adults, the vast majority of teens will be re-incarcerated within two years of their initial release.

A Desperate Need of Positive Christian Relationships

Enter the Body of Christ.

Young people in the system believe ...

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Source: Juveniles Stuck in the Justice System: How Can the Church Respond?

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[Cfamily]Renewing Your Church: Removing Barriers for New Life
« Reply #942 on: July 07, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
Renewing Your Church: Removing Barriers for New Life

We need to remove the personal and corporate barriers that keep God from moving freely in and through us.

We live in an ever-changing world in which the church seems to be struggling to keep up. Our churches are aging and losing their relevance in our post-Christian, postmodern, and pluralistic world. Our children grow up and leave our churches. Churches are moving away from the cities because they aren’t able to connect with the new neighbors and some churches are closing their doors.

Let’s be honest. Ministry is hard. I have experienced the ups and downs of ministry.

I have been a part of a struggling church plant that eventually shut its doors. I have had to cut budgets and lay people off. I have had to shut down ministries and even campuses. I have seen marriages of people in my ministry fall apart. I have seen people walk away from their faith.

I have also been a part of starting effective new churches and effective new campuses. I have been a part of growth that included increasing budgets, hiring more staff, and seeing friends, neighbors, and family members coming to faith, getting baptized, and connecting with our local church.

Here’s the thing: after 25 years of ministry, I can now tell the difference of what leads to those seasons of ups and downs.

Looking back at these last 7 years serving in Austin at Gateway Church, I can see three distinct things we did to move from stagnant and declining to growing and thriving that might help you in your work of revitalization.

1. We need to remove the barriers we have put up between ourselves and God.

As pastors and church leaders we must acknowledge that God builds His Church. We are His servants. Unless He builds, we are laboring in vain.

At the same time, the Scriptures also reveal that we can obstruct what God wants to do in our local churches. When we ...

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Source: Renewing Your Church: Removing Barriers for New Life

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Brazil’s Soccer Stars Love Jesus. But They Can’t Thank Him for World Cup Wins.

What a team ban on religious celebrations reveals about evangelicals in South America’s biggest country.

In Brazil, the country of international football, the relationship between religion and the soccer ball is an old one. Brazilian athletes have long played with crucifixes, medals of saints, or wrist tapes honoring the deities of the local Candomblé cult.

But in recent years, explicit evangelical expressions of faith in Christ have dominated the South American nation’s sporting scene.

Perhaps not surprising in a country where nearly 25 percent of the population is Protestant, Brazil’s national team prays before and after games and celebrates goals by displaying T-shirts with Christian messages. At least six athletes on the current national team playing in this summer’s World Cup have declared themselves to be evangelical, including Fernandinho, Thiago Silva, Alisson, Douglas Costa, Willian, and the team’s star, Neymar.

But unlike previous international tournaments, the team has been banned from celebrating any of its on-field successes through religious expression.

Just before the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) banned the team from religiously themed celebrations, claiming that the practice could divert focus on competition and constrain athletes who practice other beliefs or are agnostic. The measure, announced in June, is in line with guidelines from FIFA itself, which controls the world of football and which, since the 2006 World Cup, has been restricting religious demonstrations on the field.

Religious celebrations have long been part of Brazilian soccer. After winning the 1994 World Cup, Cláudio Taffarel and Jorginho attributed part of their victory to divine action. An image of Taffarel in ecstasy, kneeling on the field in front of Roberto Baggio, an Italian ...

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Source: Brazil’s Soccer Stars Love Jesus. But They Can’t Thank Him for World Cup Wins.

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