Sep 25, 2016

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Why I’m Over Being Faith-Shamed By Other Christians

by John Pavlovitz   

I am so over being shamed by other Christians for my views on what’s happening in the world and for pushing hard against the bigotry and hatred I see in America.

Really over it.

Friends, my faith is my faith, and it compels me to speak when I do; for equality, justice, compassion, and love. For two decades that always been my work and it’s the work I do now.

The words I share are my spiritual convictions and if those convictions happen to place me in opposition to your particular political views, that is not my responsibility. If what I speak as moral compulsion you take as partisan politics, I can’t do anything about that.

All I can tell you is that this is about far greater things to me than parties or candidates or voting blocks: This is about Life.

The Jesus I see in the Gospels was a loud, opinionated, relentless advocate of people who were marginalized and hurting and forgotten; someone whose words were often offensive to his hearers, especially those with power and comfort and ease.

When he teaches the devout Jews by making a despised, racially mixed Samaritan the merciful hero, was he being political? Yes.

When he announces his life’s work in defense of the poor and oppressed, smack dab in the heart of the Roman Empire’s opulence and power, was he making a political statement? Certainly.

When he calls out the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and their abuse of power was he being political? Absolutely.

Jesus message was surely branded “political”, but his heart was fiercely for Humanity and that is the heart I work hard to hold onto. As best I can it is the place from where I write, speak, work, minister, and live.

I believe fully in the separation of Church and State, but I also believe that a Christian shouldn’t be able to separate their personal faith from their political endeavors. Everything is spiritual and every person is the neighbor I am called to love as myself.

Often when we’re uncomfortable with someone’s views, when those view press up against our own, we brand them “political” because that allows us to feel justified in shutting down conversation and dismissing these people as divisive. In the faith community, we add a layer of existential guilt upon people, as if God is somehow embarrassed if our personal convictions deviate too greatly from the accepted party line. We make them feel badly for the deepest contents of their hearts and that is a tragic thing.

In the history of our planet, good, faithful people have been shamed into silence and have allowed some incredibly horrible things to be done in the name of God, and that’s not something I’m interested in being a part of. If affirming my personal faith causes me to lose friends, that’s going to have to be a wound worth sustaining.

I love all people, and my love for all people makes me despise discrimination against, and phobia of people groups. It’s really that simple.

I want my children to live in a world where America and Christianity are measured by hope and not fear.

I want to depart this place knowing that I said everything my faith burdened me to say.

I want to leave a legacy of boldness for the inherent value of all people.

I’m a follower of Jesus and there really is no other way for me to live. There is no other path to walk.

If you can compartmentalize your faith in a way that it doesn’t touch every area of the life you live, you’re doing better than I am.

I’m going to keep speaking into this world as I feel called because that’s what freedom in America and in Christ mean to me.

And I’m going to do it with joy.

If you’re a person of faith, regardless of where that faith places you politically: pray, reflect, listen, learn—and then speak your truth and don’t apologize for it. This is your greatest calling.

Loving one another well is as spiritual, as political, and as subversive as it gets, friends. Be okay being all of the above. –John Pavlovitz

School Boards Must Be Run By Evangelical Christians

Franklin Graham says he wants every school board in America to be controlled by Evangelical Christians within the next few years, because right now “evil, wicked” gay people are running them.

“I want the school boards of America in the hands of evangelical Christians within the next four to six years,” Graham told Fox News religion reporter Todd Starnes on Thursday, as Right Wing Watch reports. “And it can happen and that will have a huge impact because so many school districts now are controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians, and I keep bringing their name up, but they are at the forefront of this attack against Christianity in America.”

“I want the school boards of America in the hands of evangelical Christians within the next four to six years,” he said. “And it can happen and that will have a huge impact because so many school districts now are controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians, and I keep bringing their name up, but they are at the forefront of this attack against Christianity in America.” -The Intellectualist

Evangelical Leaders Choose Donald Trump Over Jesus In Head-To-Head Matchup

by Charles Tophe

The “messengers of God on earth” have officially lost their minds.

Everyone knows Pat Robertson is a few fries short of a happy meal. For decades, he’s sat on television warning anyone dumb enough to listen that the immoral actions of minorities, women and the gays would be bringing the wrath of God…any day now. He has visions of the almighty all the time. We’ve grown so numb to his nonsense that we barely pay attention, except when it’s particularly funny. This is one of those times.
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On a recent episode of “I’m a Lunatic, Please Send Cash,” also known as “The 700 Club,” Robertson discussed his latest encounter with God. Lo and behold — it was all about The Donald:

    God came to me in a dream last night and showed me the future. He took me to heaven and I saw Donald Trump seated at the right hand of our Lord.

There’s always the possibility that he misunderstood the vision. Trump could have simply been trying to sell The Lord an education that is worthless or a condo in Baja that would never be built. Alas…Pat Robertson, leader of hundreds of thousands of very confused people, just removed Jesus Christ from his rightful place at his father’s side and replaced him. With Donald Trump. The giant Cheeto on his third marriage who fantasizes about his own daughter and is ever-so-proud of his cover of Playboy is now, according to leading “Christians,” the right hand of God.

Robertson isn’t alone, either. Evangelical person who matters to a bunch of imbeciles and perpetual whackjob Michele Bachmann also believes Trump was “lifted up” by God Himself. Bachmann, not exactly known for being grounded in logic — or reality — said:

    We may not have a perfect candidate but he may be the one, like the Book of Daniel — the most high God may have lifted up Trump, because very possibly he’s the only one that could defeat Hillary Clinton this fall.

Bachmann’s assessment that Trump could slay the lion is about the dumbest thing ever until you are reminded what Robert Jeffress, Pastor of a Texas megachurch, said about the choice between Trump and Jesus Christ himself:

    You know, I was debating an evangelical professor on NPR, and this professor said, ‘Pastor, don’t you want a candidate who embodies the teaching of Jesus and would govern this country according to the principles found in the Sermon on the Mount?’ I said, ‘Heck no.’ I would run from that candidate as far as possible, because the Sermon on the Mount was not given as a governing principle for this nation.

    When I’m looking for somebody who’s going to deal with ISIS and exterminate ISIS, I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find — and I believe that’s biblical.

The Sermon on the Mount is supposed to be the governing principle of humanity. Sure, we need a strong leader who will bomb the crap out of ISIS. We already have one. Seriously, though? In a head to head competition, you’d pick a hatemongering, xenophobic failure of a businessman who has built his entire campaign on fear over the guy you erected that massive cross for?

Somebody stop the world and let these people off.

-Winning Democrats

God Allowed 9/11 Because We're 'Abandoning God As A Culture'

What Christians Must Do In The Wake Of Orlando

by Matthew Vines

Mourn with us, and don’t qualify your lament

On Saturday, I attended my first same-sex wedding, hosted at a Christian church in the Bible Belt. As we danced and celebrated into the evening, I was struck by how much things have changed since I came out almost seven years ago. The last thing on my mind was that another group of celebrants just like us would be gunned down in another kind of sanctuary later that night, simply for being who they are.

It might seem odd to some to describe a nightclub as a sanctuary, but gay clubs have long provided a unique place of refuge, comfort and solidarity for LGBT people. That’s part of what made the news so appalling to wake up to on Sunday morning. One of the very few places carved out for us to feel safe had been violated in the worst way. And as we’re learning today, most of those who died were queer people of color, who have even fewer places of safety than white LGBT people.

It didn’t help that we were faced with the news of the slaughter on a Sunday, a day that already serves as a reminder of how unwelcome we are in most traditional sanctuaries. For the nearly 50% of LGBT Americans who are Christians, as I am, it only compounded the pain to have our faith leaders either ignore the massacre, qualify their condolences in ways they never would for other victims, or simply omit the fact that LGBT people were targeted for death because of who they are.

So in the spirit of Christian charity, but also from a place of piercing pain, I’d like to offer some advice to Christians on how to love their LGBT neighbors as themselves at this horrible time.

First, please seek not to take offense at LGBT people’s anger, even if some of it is directed toward you. While most Christians would never kill someone because of their sexual orientation, most churches have still caused deep, lasting pain in LGBT people’s lives. It is legitimate to be angry not just at the shooter, but also at all those who have caused you to feel afraid and ashamed of who you are. Unless you’ve long been a vocal advocate for LGBT people, you’ve likely contributed to that suffering—intentionally or not.

Second, please mourn with us, and please do not erase the fact that the shooter targeted people for death because they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Lamenting only gun violence or terrorism but not the homophobic hatred that fueled them dishonors the courage that each of the victims displayed in living their lives openly in a society where that can still be a death sentence. When Christians are beheaded by ISIS in the Middle East, it would be offensive and wrong not to say why they were murdered. The same is true when LGBT people are massacred in America. When people are targeted for who they are, you must name who they were to truly honor them.

Lastly, please avoid qualifying your lament in any way. To insist on saying that you “disagree” with same-sex marriage as part of your statement about murdered LGBT people is dehumanizing. It communicates that, even in our deaths, we are still an issue to be debated rather than people of inviolable dignity and worth. This is not an acceptable time to mention your opposition to marriage equality.

What we need to hear is this: God loves lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people unconditionally. You love us and are committed to making the church the sanctuary it always should have been for us. Sadly, I have never heard a pastor who opposes same-sex marriage give a sermon declaring God’s love for LGBT people without including caveats about his or her opposition to same-sex relationships.

If there were ever a time to give that sermon—and to give it with genuine humility, compassion and an openness to learn and grow—now is the time. Churches will be marked in the LGBT community for years to come by how they respond to us in this moment. Please do all you can to let that mark be one of unconditional love. –Time

Amazing Accuracy

Author Unknown
Many believe that all life forms in the universe started from a bang and spontaneously evolved to the forms which they eventually became. If that be so, consider the amazing accuracy in Nature -- the universe. For example, the exactness in the hatching of eggs alone ...

-The canary's eggs hatch in exactly 14 days.

-The barnyard hen's in 21 days.

-The ducks and geese in 28 days.

-The mallard in 35 days.

-The parrot and the ostrich in 42 days. [Notice that, the hatching times are all divisible by 7, the exact number of days in a week!] Isn't that amazing? Is it mere coincidence?

Also, consider the following . . .

-The elephant is an animal like no other on Earth. It has four legs which all bend forward in the same direction which it uses as four fulcrums to rise from the ground simultaneously [on all four legs]. Compared that to

-the horse, also a big, four-legged animal, which rises from the ground on its two front legs first . . . While . . .

-the cow, another big, four-legged animal, rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. Isn't that amazing? Is it mere coincidence?

-Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind.

-Each orange has an even number of segments.

-Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.

-Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains. And the same is true of all other grains, they all have even numbers on the stalk.

-Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number. Isn't that amazing? Is it mere coincidence?

-The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather.

-The flowers bloom at certain specific times during the day. Carolus Linnaeus, the famous botanist, reportedly once said that, if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!

Each creature/life form is fashioned in a beautiful and very specific way. So, there must be a super-intelligent being [God] who designed each and every creature to look and live/operate in a very specific manner. Every organ/organ system in each group of animals and plants on Earth is so complex, intricate, and positioned very specifically in each creature so that they all work in complete harmony. And all the heavenly bodies and everything in the vast universe all work in perfect synchrony and absolute accuracy--nothing left to chance--because the slightest deviation spells disaster. Isn't that amazing? Is it mere coincidence?

As some sage so aptly said: Life without an intelligent Creator [God] is like an unsharpened pencil; it has no point. –Contributed by Ralph

Manuscript That Claims Jesus Married Mary Magdalene And Had Children

by Professor Barrie Wilson, Simcha Jacobovici

'We now know what the original Jesus movement looked like and the unexpected role sexuality played in it'

What you are about to read is a detective story.

We have uncovered an ancient writing that is encrypted with a hidden meaning. In the process of decoding it, we’ll take you on a journey into the world of this mysterious text. What the Vatican feared—and Dan Brown only suspected—has come true. There is now written evidence that Jesus was married to Mary the Magdalene, and that they had children together.

More than this, based on the new evidence, we now know what the original Jesus movement looked like and the unexpected role sexuality played in it. We have even unraveled the politics behind the crucifixion, as well as the events and the people that took part in it.

Gathering dust in the British Library is a document that takes us into the missing years of Jesus’ life. Scholars believe that Jesus was born around 5 BC, and that he was crucified around 30AD.

But there is a huge gap in his biography. We know absolutely nothing about Jesus from the time he was eight days old (his circumcision, according to Jewish law), until he was in his early thirties. There is one exception. According to the Gospel of Luke (2:41–2:51), when he was twelve years old, Jesus traveled with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

That’s it. That’s all we have. Otherwise, thirty years of absolute silence.

Isn’t this incredible? Here is arguably the most influential individual in human history and we know nothing about him until after he starts his “ministry” (i.e., his public activism) at most three years before his crucifixion.

But the fact is that we simply have no information about Jesus’ early years—his upbringing, friends, schooling, or his interaction with family members. We have no knowledge of Jesus as a young adult. How did he gain access to the writings of the Hebrew Bible? Did the synagogue in Nazareth, a very small hamlet at the time, have scrolls of the Law and the Prophets? Who were his religious teachers?

How well versed was he in Hebrew, in addition to the Aramaic that we know he spoke? Did he speak Greek, the lingua franca of the Roman world? Jesus appears on the stage of history suddenly in the late 20s c.e. At this point, the mature Jesus announces the “Kingdom of God”—that is, the advent of a qualitative transformation in human history, prophesied by the Hebrew Bible, in which justice will reign upon the earth and the worship of the one true God will be universal.

But what happened to Jesus before this sudden appearance? According to the document that we uncovered, sometime during this period he became engaged, got married, had sexual relations, and produced children. Before anyone gets his/her theological back up, keep in mind that we are not attacking anyone’s theology. We are reporting on a text. Theology must follow historical fact and not the other way around. Having said this, for the moment, we are not asserting that our text is historical fact. So far, we are merely stating that the Christian Bible tells us nothing about Jesus’ early years, and that we have discovered a text that claims that he was married and fathered children.

On a purely historical level, this really shouldn’t surprise us. Marriage and children were expected of a Jewish man, then and now. If he hadn’t been married, that would have caused consternation to his family, possible scandal in the community, and the New Testament certainly would have commented on it—if for no other reason than to explain and defend Jesus’ unusual behavior. But now we have a document that claims that he was indeed married and fathered children. Not only this, our document indicates that for some of his original followers, Jesus’ marriage was the most important aspect of their theology. –Independent

With All I AM—Hillsong

Shady Televangelists Fleecing Americans For Millions

by Marlow Stern

The Last Week Tonight host engaged in a seven-month-long investigation into televangelists in order to expose their money-thieving practices.

On his award-worthy HBO program Last Week Tonight, John Oliver revels in exposing hypocrisy, from the compromised snake oil salesman Dr. Oz to “thin-skinned” megalomaniac Donald Trump. Sunday night’s edition saw the intrepid British satirist target America’s shady fraternity of televangelists bleeding their brainwashed acolytes dry.

“This is about the churches that exploit people’s faith for monetary gain,” Oliver announced.

Yes, in 2015, televangelism is still thriving in America. Back in March, The Daily Beast reported on Creflo Dollar, a pastor who’d thoroughly convinced his loyal congregation that God wanted him to own a $65 million private jet, and wanted them to foot the bill.

Joining Dollar in his pursuit of the high life is Mike Murdock, a televangelist who shamelessly bragged in front of his congregation about purchasing not one, but two private jets with straight cash. And Kenneth Copeland, a televangelist who—along with his equally opportunistic wife, Gloria—calls his private jet a “preaching machine” that he uses only for church activities, yet was revealed to use it to fly to luxury ski resorts and gaming trips to India to hunt exotic animals.

All of these televangelists and more preach “The Prosperity Gospel” that, Oliver says, “argues that wealth is a sign of God’s favor, and donations will result in wealth coming back to you. That idea takes the form of ‘seed faith’—that donations are seeds that you will one day get to harvest.”

Last Week then played a series of damning clips of televangelists requesting “seed” money on their programs, including Murdock convincing those deep in credit card debt to donate $1,000 to his church in order to sow a “seed” to God that will eventually wipe out said debt.

Even more harrowing is the case of Bonnie Parker, who, instead of seeking treatment for cancer, was convinced to “sow” money into Copeland’s church due to the ministry’s teaching. After Parker died in 2004 from cancer, her daughter, Kristy Beach, claimed to have found her mother’s diaries that detailed the words she heard on TV from Kenneth and Gloria Copeland.
“If she went to a doctor, it was a sin,” Beach told the AP. “You didn’t believe enough if you did. She just wrote: ‘God heal me. God heal me. God heal me.’”

Oliver then played a video of Gloria Copeland, who hawks a series of “healing faith” products, suggesting to her congregation that it’s better to pray then to seek medical treatment for cancer.

“We know what’s wrong with you—you’ve got cancer,” preached Copeland. “The bad news is we don’t know what to do about it except give you some poison that will make you sicker. Now, which do you want to do: do you want to do that, or do you want to sit here on Saturday morning, hear the word of God, and let faith come into your heart and be healed? Hallelujah.”

What’s more, these “Prosperity Gospel” and “seed faith” practices are not only legal, but, since these money-suck factories are technically churches, the vast sums of money people donate to them is tax-free.

Even the IRS admits that its regulations concerning churches and religious entities are “purposely broad” and “a little vague.” In the IRS Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations, “the term church is found, but not specifically defined” and the “IRS makes no attempt to evaluate the content of whatever doctrine a particular organization claims is religious, provided the particular beliefs… are truly and sincerely held… and the practices… are not illegal.” The IRS also rarely audits churches to prove their validity, examining just two churches in 2013 and one in 2014.

And, since they run a “church,” the Copelands can live in a $6.3 million mega-mansion tax-free, since it’s designated a “parsonage.”

To further prove his point, Oliver and Last Week Tonight claimed to have corresponded with televangelist Robert Tilton’s Word of Faith Worldwide Church for seven months, first mailing him $20 in January along with a kindly-worded request to be added to his mailing list.

“Within two weeks, he sent me a letter back thanking me for my donation, and claiming, ‘I believe that God has supernaturally brought us together.’” A couple of weeks after that, Oliver received an envelope with a $1 bill in it and a message that read, “Send it back to me with your best Prove God tithes or offering.”

“That’s right,” Oliver said, “I had to send the $1 back with an additional recommended offering of $37, which I did. So at this point, we’re just two letters in and it’s like having a pen pal who’s in deep with some loan sharks.”

Oliver claims that in March, he was sent three packets of colored oil that he was instructed to pour on letters and send back to Tilton by specific dates, accompanied with more money. He did it. Then in April, Oliver was sent a manila envelope with a check enclosed—only the check was for $5 from Oliver made out to Pastor Tilton’s church. Seven letters later, he received pieces of fabric and was told to mail them back to Tilton with more money, which he did. Oliver later received a letter with a single $1 bill inside, requesting that he place the bill in his Bible overnight, then send it back the next day with $49. In return, he’d receive a $1 bill that had been blessed.

“That did not stop him,” Oliver said. “The letters kept coming. I received another oil packet, more prayer cloths, and even—and this is true—an outline of his foot which I was asked to trace my foot on and mail back to him with more money. So, as of tonight, I’ve sent him $319 and received 26 letters—that’s almost one a week. And again, this is all hilarious until you imagine these letters being sent to someone who cannot afford what he’s asking for.”

To add insult to injury, Oliver claimed to have filed paperwork last week establishing a new church called Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption—a process he describes as “disturbingly easy.” -The Daily Beast

Did The ROMANS Discover America?

by Ellie Zolfagharifard

Radical theory claims sword found on Oak Island suggests ancient mariners set foot on the New World before Columbus

  • Theory centres on discovery of what is believed to be a Roman sword
  • Other 'Roman finds' include carvings of soldiers, coins and native plants
  • Mainstream historians usually say such finds are simply artefacts that are dropped by collectors in modern times and are not significant
Christopher Columbus landed in what is now the Bahamas in 1492. But was he the first non-indigenous person to reach the Americas?

Over the years several radical theories have emerged that the Vikings, the Polynesians and the Chinese, arrived before Columbus.

Now, a new group of researchers has come up with another controversial theory; they say the Romans set foot in the New World more than a thousand years earlier.

Researchers, led by Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, claim they have evidence that Roman ships visited North America 'during the first century or earlier.'

Their theory centres on the discovery of what they believe to be a Roman sword on Oak Island, off Nova Scotia.

Mainstream historians usually dismiss these finds as inaccurate, claiming artefacts such as this can be dropped by collectors in modern times, according to theThe Boston Standard.

Scientists are currently unable to rule this out as a possibility, shedding doubt on these claims.

Oak Island has been at the centre of one of the biggest treasure hunts in history, which began in in 1795.

The History Channel's series 'Curse of Oak Island' reveals how researchers are attempting to discover the island's long-held secret.

Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, who has featured on the show, has now put together a paper detailing his discovery.

The paper has been exclusively seen by Johnston Press, and was written with the help of researchers from the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society.

Pulitzer claims the sword is '100 per cent confirmed' and described it as the 'smoking gun' to his theory.

'The ceremonial sword came out of that shipwreck,' he told The Boston Standard. 'It is one incredible Roman artefact.'

He bases this on studies of his the artefacts metallic properties which match those of other ancient Roman artefacts.

'It has the same arsenic and lead signature in it. We've been able to test this sword against another one like it and it matches,' he said.

Pulitzer's report also details a number of Mi'kmaq carved images by indigenous people drawn on cave walls in Nova Scotia.

Some of these images show what Pulitzer believes to be Roman legionnaires.

Carved stones on Oak Island also 'possess a language from the ancient Levant' according to Pulitzer.

Other findings include a Roman legionnaire's whistle found on Oak Island in 1901, a Roman shield 'boss' and a small Roman head sculpture found in Mexico City in 1933.

Gold Carthage coins have also been discovered on the mainland near Oak Island.

Another clue, in his report, is the presence of an invasive species of plant which was once used by Romans.

The team plans to publish its report early next year.

Some historians believe that it wasn't the Romans, but the Vikings that arrived before Columbus.

They point to historical documents indicating that Lief Erikson, a famous Viking explorer, discovered America first. –Daily Mail

Blotted Out

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:14-15)

The old ordinances have been “blotted out” by Christ, having “broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

The requirements of the Law were our “adversary” and must be eliminated before we could be “circumcised” by Christ (Colossians 2:11). The omnipotent Lord Jesus was the only One who could accomplish this. The arche (first ones) and the exousia (authorities) were “disarmed.” Jesus Christ has “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22). He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

There is not much direct information in the Scriptures about the events in the heavenlies at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion. Bracketed by the agonizing plea of abandonment “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) and the three hours of darkness (Luke 23:44), there are a few insights that help us grasp the wonder of His victory cry “It is finished!”

“When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive . . . he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth” (Ephesians 4:8-9). Whatever took place in those awful hours, all of heaven now knows that Jesus now sits “on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Hebrews 10:12-13.—HMM III