Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

117k people express need for Jesus after hearing Gospel through ministry’s virtual Easter events

By Leonardo Blair, Christian Post Reporter

Despite a global lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 117,000 people from around the world expressed an interest in committing their faith in Jesus after hearing the Gospel through virtual events hosted by evangelist Nick Hall and his young-adult ministry Pulse during the week of Easter.

Pulse led two major events during the week, namely, Leader Check-In and a Good Friday service that featured several high-profile Christian speakers, including Francis Chan, founder of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, who now lives in Hong Kong.

“I’m guessing this is the strangest Good Friday you’ve ever had,” Chan told viewers during his quarantined Good Friday presentation broadcast in nearly 100 countries, including Japan, China, Nepal, Thailand, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Russia, and was translated into 40 different languages.

“You’re used to being in a church building with a crowd of people celebrating the cross of Jesus, but I actually think that there’s something fitting about you being alone because most of you are watching this by yourself or maybe with your family in just a small group,” he said, noting that being alone can be a golden opportunity to connect with God.

“That’s why there’s something good about you being alone right now. It’s one thing to yearn for Him and scream for Him when everyone else is there because the crowd may move you to that. But this Good Friday [it’s good] for you to have some quiet and some isolation so that the core of your being, not just your lips, the core of your being will connect with Him,” Chan said.

Other speakers featured during the Good Friday service were: renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias, bestselling author Max Lucado, NFL Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. Worship was courtesy of Christian singers Lauren Daigle, Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes.

“We were literally getting smartphone photos from all over the world — from Nigeria to India and China — of families gathering in their living rooms, around 18-inch cathode-ray TVs, laptops and HD screens watching our services,” Hall said in a release shared with The Christian Post about the collective reaction to the event. “The doors to our church buildings may have been closed, but the church has not closed. We are living through a Great Quarantine Revival, and I think God is just getting started.”

At the Leader Check-In event hosted on April 8, ministry leaders and pastors were encouraged ahead of the Easter weekend. Bible teachers and bestselling authors such as Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, Chan, David Platt, Rodriguez, Priscilla Shirer and Lecrae offered practical advice anchored in the Word of God.

“This Easter may have been the most significant in a century,” Hall said. “The fields have never been more ripe for harvest as people search for hope and meaning during this global pandemic. It may very well be the greatest opportunity we’ve had to share the Gospel — but we will miss it if we don’t care for our pastors and ministers now.”

https://www.christianpost.com/news/117k-people-express-need-for-jesus-after-hearing-gospel-through-ministrys-virtual-easter-events.html

Komodo Dragon Genome Bites Evolution

BY JEFFREY P. TOMKINS, PH.D. * | SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and a top predator on the remote Indonesian islands they inhabit. Their sensory system allows them to detect large prey, such as deer, over seven miles away. Although Komodo dragons are cold-blooded reptiles, they can rapidly increase their metabolism to near-mammalian levels for amazing bursts of speed and even long strenuous runs. Because of their highly venomous bites, all they need is one good chomp on their victim’s leg or foot and the poisoned prey will soon be the lizard’s lunch.

The Komodo dragon’s unusual traits have made scientists eager to sequence its DNA to see what sorts of genes it contains and how it compares to other creatures. This sequencing was discussed in a recent scientific publication.1

When the researchers compared the newly sequenced Komodo dragon genes that were common among reptiles, they found many startling traits specific to the Komodo dragon and many of these genetic novelties were associated with its remarkable mammal-like ability to exhibit high levels of sustained physical activity. Because the gene variations are unique to the Komodo dragon and very different from other reptiles, the genes were deemed to be the result of “positive selection”—a magic evolutionary phrase.2

A creature’s environment has no God-like ability to create new useful genetic information for complex multi-genic traits like those associated with complex metabolic functions. Evolutionists basically substitute the magic words “positive selection” or “natural selection” for something only an omnipotent God can do.

The researchers also used other magic words to explain their non-evolutionary findings as noted in this comment from a press interview in which they stated, “Our analysis showed that in Komodo dragons, many of the genes involved in how cells make and use energy had changed rapidly in ways that increase the lizard’s aerobic capacity.”2 In this case, the term “changed rapidly” means the genes were so different and unique that the idea of random mutational processes combined with the mystical paradigm of nature supposedly “selecting” for them could not account for the great differences observed.

It’s also highly noteworthy that the researchers reported actually throwing out data in their selection analysis where the variation was deemed “unreasonably high.”The data was actually manipulated to show less variability and, therefore, more in line with the evolutionary model. The stark reality is that these genes—specific to the Komodo dragon—were engineered to produce their unique God-given traits. No sign of evolution existed in the data even though the researchers cherry-picked it to favor evolution.

The bigger evolutionary (phylogenetic) analysis the researchers did comparing the Komodo dragon DNA to other reptiles, birds, and mammals also made no evolutionary sense—the patterns and groupings were totally different than predicted by standard evolutionary models. By all accounts, the data showed that Komodo dragons were created uniquely with their own specific God-given engineering.

References
1. Lind, A. L. et al. 2019. Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 3: 1241-1252. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0945-8.
2. Guliuzza, R. 2010. Unmasking Evolution’s Magic Words. Acts & Facts. 39 (3): 10-11.
3. Gladstone Institutes. 2019. Komodo dragon genome reveals clues about its evolution. Phys.org Posted July 29, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.

https://www.icr.org/article/komodo-dragon-genome-bites-evolution/

10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

By Gerald R McDermott -April 2, 2020

10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

1. It didn’t start with the divorce of Henry VIII.

Actually, it started in the very first centuries of Christianity when Romans settled Britain and Christians came as soldiers, administrators and traders. The first mention we have of English Christianity comes from Tertullian who wrote in 200 AD that “parts of England were conquered by Christ.”

Very soon, Christians in Britain developed their own way of worshiping the triune God, involving attention to the beauty of the created world and missions. The Celtic church in England differed with Rome over many points of worship, and in the fourteenth century Oxford priest, John Wycliffe, called the pope “a poisonous weed” and denied transubstantiation. All of these differences with the Roman church were centuries before Henry VIII.

2. By the fourteenth Century, England had developed a distinctive spirituality.

It was rooted in the synthesis of doctrine and prayer taught by two Christian greats: Augustine of Hippo—the great theologian whose Confessions are an extended prayer—and Benedict of Nursia, whose monasteries modeled the Christian life as work amidst liturgical prayer. By the fourteenth century, English Christianity had long been influenced by both Augustine’s “pessimistic” emphasis on sin and Benedict’s “optimistic” stress on joy in common life.

3. Anglicanism is not just for the English or for Americans.

Today the majority of Anglicans are in Africa and other regions of the Global South. Each province uses its own culture to worship God with the Book of Common Prayer and the orthodoxy of the Thirty-Nine Articles.

4. There are more Anglicans in church on Sunday morning in Nigeria than in all the British Isles and North America combined.

5. With a membership of about 85 million, Anglicanism is the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

6. Anglicans consider their way to be a via media.

This means the “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. They think they have the best of both—the worship of the catholic tradition of the undivided Church of the first millennium, plus the emphasis on preaching and justification by faith from the Reformation.

7. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer is widely regarded as the most beautiful worship in the English language.

The “sombrely magnificent prose” (Eamon Duffy) of the Book of Common Prayer has attracted legions of admirers all around the world. It reflects the liturgical genius of Thomas Cranmer, but it also provides moderns access to the worship of the early church. Cranmer, and the many other hands that produced the Book of Common Prayer, were adapting a basic catholic pattern of worship derived from the first few centuries of the Church that then developed over the course of the Middle Ages.

8. Anglicans worship not only with liturgy (ordered prayer that changes every Sunday of the seasons of the church year), but also with sacraments.

These are the two Dominical (commanded by the Dominus, or Lord, of the Church, Jesus) sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, and the five “sacraments of the church”—confirmation, Holy Orders, marriage, absolution, and healing of the sick.

9. Anglicans believe that in the Eucharist, they receive the real body and blood of the risen Christ.

This differs with the Catholic view of transubstantiation, which holds that the substance of the bread and wine are changed so that they are no longer bread and wine. Anglicans believe the bread and wine remain as bread and wine, but that in a mysterious way, the body and blood of Christ are also conveyed through the sacrament.

10. While Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) was the English Reformation’s greatest liturgist, Richard Hooker (1554-1600) is widely regarded as its greatest theologian.

His Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity are a comprehensive treatment of life and worship on the via media.

Content adapted from The Future of Orthodox Anglicanism by Gerald R. McDermott. This article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.

Original here

What Will You Do When the Circuit Breaker Ends?

Leslie Koh

Everyone’s talking about a “new normal” when the coronavirus saga is over. But that makes me wonder, so what was the “old normal”? What did we believe in and rely on that we shouldn’t any more?

What will you do when the Covid-19 restrictions get lifted?

Of course, this is going to be a gradual process. But as the restrictions get lifted one by one, we will have more and more freedom to do what we have not been able to do in the past two weeks.

What will you do when that happens? Will you rush down to the first bubble tea shop you can find? Will you head for the nearest fast-food outlet or hawker centre where you can finally eat there and then? Will you make an appointment for that much-needed hairdo? Or will you make a beeline for your favourite mall, knowing that you can finally indulge in some shopping that doesn’t involve home delivery?

I must confess that some of these things came to mind first as I read about the restrictions being lifted. I’ve been looking forward to having an unhurried cup of kopi at my neighbourhood coffeeshop, with some half-boiled eggs and kaya toast, of course. But I realise there’s something I’ve been missing even more—being able to greet someone, give him a smile, and have a little chat . . . not through a mask nor Zoom.

A friend of mine, journalist and author Nicholas Yong, penned a short but wonderfully whimsical piece about what he would do “When All This Is Over”. He writes:

When all this is over, the first thing I will do is take a long, long walk. I will greet everyone I meet along the way and shake their hands, and grab their forearms, and look into their eyes. No more fear in my heart, lurking just beneath the surface. No more social distancing or alternative greetings: I want to talk to people the way human beings are meant to . . .

When all this is over, I will hug the ones I love, and even the ones I don’t. And though it is a miraculous and wondrous thing, I don’t ever want to talk to the people who matter most through a video screen again. Whether they are next door or a million miles away, I will meet them and tell them, face to face, just how much they mean to me. I’ve missed you, I will say. I thought of you every day.

Nicholas has been tracking the whole saga as a journalist. Yet it’s the personal touches that have left the biggest mark on him:

But when all this is over, I know what I will remember most. A bag of groceries left at the door when I was in quarantine and couldn’t leave my flat. A homemade meal delivered to me, just because a friend did not want me to feel all alone. And most of all, the simple text messages saying ‘Just checking in. How are you?’

When all this is over, I will treasure the little things with all my heart. Because it is the little things that make up the big things, and I never want to take them for granted again.

Over the past weeks, we’ve been hearing phrases like, “Life will never be the same again after Covid-19”, or, “There will be a new normal”.

Granted, many of us will be struggling with what this means for us in our daily lives. Perhaps many of us will be working or studying at home more. Perhaps we will have to remember to wash our hands more often. Perhaps we will have to be careful when meeting in large groups—such as in church. We will have to change the way we work, move, and interact with people.

But when the Circuit Breaker finally ends, and when all this is over, what will we do?

In the book of Haggai, God reminds the Israelites that they had neglected God and His house while seeking their own comfort (Haggai 1:2–4). That was why, He said, they never seem to be satisfied with what they did (v. 6). God told them: “Give careful thought to your ways” (v. 5).

When all this is over, will we continue to focus on our own needs, concerns, and desires? Or will we, as Christians, seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness? (Matthew 6:33) Will we be grateful for what we’ve taken for granted and learn to give what we have been receiving? Will we give a passer-by a big smile, visit a lonely relative, buy something for a neighbour in need, and tell them that we miss them and care just as God cares for us?

Lord, thank You for being with me throughout this time. As the restrictions get eased, may I go back to “normal life” with a new perspective of Your heart and a new commitment to put You first in my life—to love You and to love others, just as You have loved me.

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.

What Will You Do When the Circuit Breaker Ends?

The Equal Rights Amendment Is a Fraud Using Women as the Prop

Patrina Mosley| Feb 10, 2020

The Equal Rights Amendment Is a Fraud Using Women as the Prop

Editor’s note: This column was co-authored by Tabitha Walter.

The House Judiciary Committee recently marked up H.J.Res.79, and will soon get a floor vote. This joint resolution seeks to remove the congressional deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. When Congress originally passed the ERA, they put a deadline in place for states to ratify it. The ERA failed to win ratification in enough states before the deadline passed and is thus legally dead, but this stale effort is back to enshrine abortion-on-demand at the expense of hard-won protections for women.

The ERA would not only create a right to on-demand abortions in all 50 states, but it would allow for unrestricted taxpayer-funded abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. Abortion activist group NARAL Pro-Choice America states, “With its ratification, the ERA would reinforce the constitutional right to abortion by clarifying that the sexes have equal rights, which would require judges to strike down anti-abortion laws because they violate both the constitutional right to privacy and sexual equality.”

We already see this at the state level. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has encouraged lawyers to use state ERAs to strike down restrictions on abortion such as parental consent laws. They have also filed briefs in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut arguing that since an abortion procedure is only performed on women, a state’s denial of taxpayer-funded abortion should be considered “sex discrimination” under their state ERA. Pro-abortion groups have won cases in New Mexico (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson) and Connecticut (Doe v. Maher) in which the state ERAs upheld this notion.

Pro-life groups have offered compromise language that is abortion neutral. But ERA advocates have rejected that language in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even Congress, adding weight to the assertion that proponents are set on using the ERA to claim a right to snuff out the lives of babies in the womb.

As Americans become increasingly disturbed by late-term abortions, even those who identify as “pro-choice,” and as the courts trend more conservative, the abortion lobby is growing increasingly desperate to enshrine abortion in the Constitution. The abortion industry is about eugenics, and has exploited “women” as the prop for its advocacy. The same is true with the Equal Rights Amendment. They claim the ERA is necessary to protect “women’s” rights, but what they really mean is that it protects abortion.

In fact, if the ERA were ratified today, it would undermine women’s rights. The 52-word amendment never mentions protection for the rights of “women,” instead prohibiting denial or abridging rights “on account of sex.” In 1972, those meant the same thing. Many of the hard-fought victories for women’s rights in that era used the term “sex,” such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the Federal Minimum Wage Act of 1974, and the Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act of 1964.

But today, the Left is unwilling to define “sex” in biological terms, arguing that the word incorporates “gender identity” as well. This redefinition has led to absurd results, allowing biological males to claim access to private, women’s-only areas in shelters, prisons, bathrooms, and showers. It has also allowed them to infiltrate (and dominate) women’s-only activities like sports. Those arguing for the ERA are certainly aware of these developments, and intend to apply this definition. Thus, while trying to protect abortion under the guise of equality for women, the ERA would erase women.

Of course, despite the wishes of its advocates, the ERA is dead. Thirty-six years after it died, proponents are trying to revive its corpse by ignoring the deadline and recognizing Nevada (2017), Illinois (2018), and Virginia (2020) as states that have ratified the ERA. Countless lawyers, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice (OLC), and even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have agreed that the ERA could not be ratified unless Congress started over. Even still, the House Judiciary Committee is seeking to remove the ratification deadline in H.J.Res.79.

Thus, we have all of this congressional, political, and soon judicial havoc over enshrining abortion. Members of Congress should care about being boldly pro-life, and not so much about being perceived as anti-women for opposing H.J.Res.79. They should not be fooled. If the ERA really was about protecting women, it would define “women” by biological sex. The ERA is not about women; it is about abortion, and countless innocent lives are on the line.

Patrina Mosley is Director of Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at the Family Research Council. Tabitha Walter is Political Director for Eagle Forum.

https://townhall.com/columnists/patrinamosley/2020/02/10/the-equal-rights-amendment-is-a-fraud-using-women-as-the-prop-n2561064

New page in war against Christians: Give up faith or get lynched

135 cases of persecution documented in just 1st half of 2020

India

An international Christian ministry is spotlighting a wave of persecution by Hindus in India who are warning Christians to give up their faith or “suffer grave consequences such as lynching, stoning, and torture.”

“This is a poignant reminder that not all Christian persecution is carried out by Islamic extremists,” said Anna Sekulow, the founder and executive director of the One Life Movement, which aids children in the slums of India.

Her report, posted on the site of the American Center for Law and Justice, said police in a district in India advised six Christian families who were beaten by a Hindu mob to renounce their faith or flee.

“It doesn’t stop there. In fact, persecution of Christians in India is on the rise as an overwhelming number of Christians are being ordered to renounce their Christian faith or suffer grave consequences such as lynching, stoning, and torture,” the report said.

One Life cited the work of the Delhi-based Evangelical Fellowship of India, which documented 135 cases of persecution against Christians in the first half of 2020.

And that figure may be only a fraction, the report said, since Christians “are afraid to report their persecution for fear of reprisal, and the police refuse to register the cases.”

In one case reported by the Evangelical Fellowship of India, a 14-year-old Christian boy was crushed with a stone by members of a village, “who then chopped the body into pieces and buried [it] in several places.”

In numerous instances, Christians families have been denied permission to bury their dead.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the ACLJ, and its international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice, are monitoring the drastic increase of Christian persecution in India by violent Hindus.

“We are now researching what action we can take at international organizations like the U.N. and regional intergovernmental organizations to help curtail the increasing persecution, as well as looking into the potential for legal action on behalf of the brave Indian Christians willing to take their cases to the appropriate Indian court,” the report said.

The ACLJ has submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council documenting persecution cases.

One report was about Pastor Bryan Nerren, “whom we helped free from wrongful detainment for his faith,” the ACLJ said.

“We called on the U.N. to ‘take swift action and work with the government of India to ensure that the targeting of Christians in India cease, and that they be allowed to peacefully live out their religious beliefs without fear of civil or government action against them.'”

New page in war against Christians: Give up faith or get lynched

 

Practical Life’s Lessons From The Nativity

by Pastor Ray Patrick

1. Spend Quiet Time with Yahweh

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

The baby was soon to come and Mary had so much to do. In spite of all her preparations in the physical, she had to spend spiritual one on one time with God. Spending time alone with God is an important part of spiritual development. This week, amidst hectic holiday preparations, make time for quiet meditation. Stop the talking, working and rushing long enough to be still. God is waiting for you. Begin now!

2. Yahweh Source of All Hope

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Isaiah 40:31

For 9 months Mary and Joseph lived with great hope and expectations. Hope is a powerful thing, but the real strength comes from the source of hope. When you place your desires and dreams into the hands of God, nothing is impossible. Hope for all mankind came through Christ, born as a lowly child in a stable.

Are you feeling run down, dealing with worry or frustration?

Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ today, say a prayer and stand in hope…

3.  Make Faith In Yahweh a Habit

So exercise yourself spiritually and practice being a better Christian.

1 Timothy 4:8

Mary had to make faith a daily habit. She had to trust God moment by moment, day by day. Through loneliness, ridicule and the pain of pregnancy she had to exercise faith and make it a habit. Someone once said that practice does not make perfect; practice makes habit. This advent season, dedicate time to your spiritual exercises–prayer, Bible reading, meditation and make deepening your relationship with God a daily exercise. So like Mary, you can stay on track on your spiritual journey.

4. Focus on Yahweh’s Gift

Be very careful, then, how you live…making the most of every opportunity.

Ephesians 5:15-16

This time of year was a busy time in the Jewish calendar. Mary and Joseph would have had lots to do. But they had to stay focused on the gift God had blessed them with. December is a busy month for most of us. Filled with opportunities—parties to attend, special worship experiences to have and chances to reconnect with family and old friends. Make sure to focus your heart on the true reason for every Season. Focus on God the man, Christ Jesus and the tremendous difference He makes in your life. Pray for the wisdom to keep the holidays blessed rather than stressed.

Pray With Me
Yahweh, our Creator, we offer this humble prayer today. Father, we worship you with a song of thanks in our hearts—a song of redemption, a song of hope and renewal. We pray for joy, hope, love, forgiveness and peace upon the Earth. God, we ask for the salvation of all our family members and friends, and we pray your blessings on all people. May there be bread for the hungry, love for the unlovable, healing for the sick, protection for our children, and wisdom for our youth. We pray for the forgiveness of sinners and abundant life in Christ. Holy Spirit, be with us in love and power. In Christ’ name. Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2019/12/25/practical-lifes-lessons-from-the-nativity/

That style of teaching was the reason for their success

Shout out instagram.com/seantahan for Fisherman’s Boat Image

Does success depend on a learner’s ability to grasp or is it resting on a teacher’s ability to teach?

With experience, I observed that it is the teaching methodology that brings out the best in a learner which often leads to his or her success.

When  Jesus taught, wisdom flowed.

He made His teaching lucid, uncomplicated, and accessible to everyone with a willingness to listen and learn.

Reading through the Gospels you seldom find Jesus in organised, religious settings, instead you find Jesus climbing hills, walking by the beach, at a wedding, in Simon the leper’s home, in Mary and Martha’s house, sitting at Jacob’s well etc.

You also find Him sailing across the lake, in a borrowed boat!

Isn’t it hard to think of the Son of God so down-to-earth, literally?

His teaching technique, style, and the manner with which Jesus performs the miracles gets refreshingly unpredictable.

Take  a look at this progression.

  1. Jesus  comes down from Heaven.
  2. Jesus is proposing abundant life.
  3. Jesus is blessing folks.
  4. Jesus is borrowing a fisherman’s boat to preach.

He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.- Luke 5:3

What is more intriguing is this; the man, the speaker, the preacher,  has no typical platform , no fixed address, no contact details, and is still pulling crowds yearning to listen to Him.

The participants at His meetings do not come across as  exemplary people. In fact, you might classify them as mismatched, a bunch of people feeling unworthy and unqualified to even enter holy places or socialize with religious people. At the same time, these appear to be people willing to learn and quick to believe the Master.

It was between such people that Jesus manifested His greatest miracles.

In pragmatic terms, in his own, simple style, He was teaching them a better way of doing life, and even his plainness was genius.

Even today, Jesus the Master continues to teach a better way of living, to those who are willing to listen and quick to believe in the Master’s instruction.

https://sophialorenabenjamin.wordpress.com/2020/08/04/that-style-of-teaching-was-the-reason-for-their-success/

It’s COVID time, a good time to run the race well

 Greg Laurie asks, ‘Are you gaining ground, or are you losing ground?’

Successful Olympic athletes work out an average of four hours a day, 310 days a year, for six years. They have to be disciplined, because they’re contending for the gold.

Of course, the trend today, especially among younger people, is to say that we don’t really have winners or losers. You get a participation trophy just for showing up.

However, that isn’t real life. We need to understand that in the race of life, there are winners and losers. And God wants you to win in the race you’re running right now.

The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us, “Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).

I’ve met runners who actually enjoy running and say things like, “That was a great run.”

I’ve never had a great run. I’m always looking forward to when it ends, and I don’t think I’ve ever met an endorphin. But there is such a thing as a runner’s high.

In the same way, if you’re running this race of life for the Lord, there is joy in it. Yet in this race we’ll also encounter obstacles to our happiness, things that can stop us from making progress.

For example, when we complain and bicker, it slows us down in the race of life. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14–15 NKJV).

In other words, don’t be a complainer. Or, as the King James Version puts it, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.”

Murmuring isn’t complaining out loud; it’s more like muttering. Remember the cartoon character Popeye? He was always muttering, but you could never understand what he was saying.

This Bible is saying don’t do that, because no one likes to be around a complainer. No one likes to be around a whiner.

I came across a headline a few months ago that read, “The Coronavirus Has Made Me a Rage Monster. Help!” I get that. We’re stressed because the rules for dealing with the coronavirus are always changing. So we get frustrated.

But instead of letting these things stress us out, let’s stop and look at the opportunities that are before us. More than any other time I can remember, we’re at a moment in American history when people are more open to the gospel because they’re scared. They don’t know what the future holds.

I also think that even people who don’t necessarily believe that we’re living in the end times may think these are the end times. Are we living in the last days? Is Jesus coming? Are the things happening around us fulfilling Bible prophecies?

I think the short answer is yes.

People are alarmed and concerned right now. So this is a moment for us to engage them with the gospel.

Paul went on to say, “Become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (verse 15 NKJV).

To be blameless means that you’re not a hypocrite. It means that you practice what you preach. Blamelessness speaks of moral integrity that shows itself outwardly.

I think it kind of drives nonbelievers a little crazy when Christians back up what they say with the way they live. A lot of people want Christians to mess up so they can say, “You see? They’re hypocrites. They don’t really believe that. They don’t practice what they preach.”

Daniel was an example of personal integrity. The Bible tells us that his enemies wanted to bring him down, but he didn’t have any skeletons in his closet: “Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy” (Daniel 6:4 NLT).

The apostle Paul also said, “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return” (2 Timothy 4:6–8 NLT).

So how are you doing in the race of life? Are you winning or losing? Are you gaining ground, or are you losing ground?

This is a golden moment for us as Christians to model our faith during this COVID-19 crisis, because we’re the only Bible that some people will ever read. People who don’t know the Lord are watching us. So let’s be blameless as we follow Jesus Christ.

It’s COVID time, a good time to run the race well