Anti-religious Group Opposes Oklahoma’s Governor Speaking at Church Event

 

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (shown), a Republican, is scheduled to speak at Guts Church in Tulsa on September 22, to a men’s group on the topic of serving God, leadership, and raising children.

The planned event has drawn the ire of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which contends that a speech by the governor of Oklahoma at a religious event constitutes a violation of the constitutional prohibition against the government from establishing a religion.

“When you speak as governor, you are speaking as the government,” Ryan Jayne, an attorney for FFRF, said in a letter to Stitt. Jayne added, “Using the office of the governor to promote a specific religious mission is unconstitutional and sends a direct message to the 30 percent of non-Christian adults who you serve that they have the wrong religion, and that only your personal god can solve Oklahoma’s problems.”

Jayne said that it was the second time in the past nine months (Stitt took office in January of this year) that the organization of “freethinkers” (which they define as atheists and agnostics) has warned Stitt not to use his position as governor to promote religion. The protests of FFRF are reminiscent of when Apollo 8 astronauts read the Creation story from the Book of Genesis while being the first humans to orbit the moon on Christmas Day, 1968. Prominent atheist and communist Madalyn Murray O’Hair promptly sued NASA, arguing that they were employees of the federal government, and therefore it was a violation of “separation of church and state.”

“We are telling Gov. Stitt, as we tell all pious politicians: ‘Get off your knees and get to work,’” added FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It’s not OK in Oklahoma or any other state for public officials to misuse their office to promote religion.”

In a press release, FFRF argued that Stitt was “leveraging his taxpayer-funded office to advance his personal religious goals.”

FFRF previously put Stitt on notice, Jayne recalled, when Stitt hosted an inaugural prayer service at which a pastor from Guts Church both prayed and preached a sermon. “If he continues to use his position to promote religion, we would certainly consider other legal options,” including a lawsuit, Jayne warned.

In contrast, Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, said that Stitt’s speaking to a church group raised no constitutional questions. “Just because you’re elected to public office doesn’t mean that you forfeit your religious beliefs under the First Amendment,” Hunter said. “I think that’s nonsense.”

There are several problems with the position taken by FFRF concerning Governor Stitt’s talk to a church. Taken to its logical conclusion, no person employed by any level of government or holding any elected office at any level of government could ever speak to a religious gathering, unless the person’s position in the government was hidden. To put it simply, it has never been that way in the past. For example, Guts Church previously heard from former Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops. (Although Stoops retired as the Sooners’ coach in the summer of 2017, he was still on the university payroll at the time). The legendary OU football coach Bud Wilkinson taught Sunday School in Norman in the 1950s. Was that a violation of “separation of church and state?” The reality is that it is rather impossible for a person to cease to be a governor, a football coach at a tax-supported institution, or a janitor in a court house when he lives his daily life. To be blunt, it is not any of the FFRF’s business what Stitt, or any other public official has to say about religious topics. It is not like he is using the power of his office to force anyone attend the talk.

As Hunter said, a person retains his constitutional rights, including religious liberty, upon taking office, and his free to practice his religion while in office, like any other citizen.

Beyond that, the phrase, “separation of church and state” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, including in the First Amendment. The phrase is from a letter that President Thomas Jefferson wrote the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut early in his presidency. It appears that the Baptists were concerned about a rumor they had heard that the Congress was going to make the Congregational Church the Established Church of the United States. Jefferson assured them that that was impossible as the First Amendment had “erected a wall of separation” between the federal government and the church, prohibiting federal officials from interfering in the affairs of the church.

At the time, it was understood that the First Amendment only prohibited Congress from creating a national religion. It did not keep the states from establishing their own religions, as was the case at the time in Connecticut when Jefferson penned the letter. That was the point of the Baptists’ concern — they believed they had been abused by the Congregationalists in Connecticut and did not want them to achieve the status as America’s national church.

The reality is that shortly after Jefferson wrote the Baptists, he attended church services, held in the Capitol of the United States! In contrast, Governor Stitt is simply exercising his religious liberty and his freedom of speech to talk to a church that has invited him to speak. In other words, the FFRF’s whole argument is rather lame.

Image of Kevin Stitt: Screenshot from governor.ok.gov

Steve Byas is a university instructor and author of History’s Greatest Libels. He may be contacted at byassteve@yahoo.com

https://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/item/33388-atheist-group-opposes-oklahoma-s-governor-from-speaking-at-church-event

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VIDEO The Immensity and Intensity of the Christian Faith – A deeper meaning to the crucifixion

SEPTEMBER 4, 2019 BY FRANCES ROGERS

Or, we might use the title, The Immensity and Intensity of the Gospel.
They are the same.

There is no Christian faith without the Gospel.

The Gospel is the means to a life of faith. It is more than just words spoken by men. The good news of Christ is more than men can ask and more than men can imagine. It is the revelation of the kingdom of God by the Spirit of God within the spirit of men.

It is meant to be experienced within the mind, the heart, and the life of men ~ beyond our own doing.

The Christian faith is different than any other faith. It is the only religion that addresses, deals with, and resolves the issues of sin and death.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises more than any other ~ promises we can trust ~ greater than any man could plan for himself.

Its immensity is little known because man cannot desire what he has never tasted. We do not taste unless we are drawn to and search God’s Word. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the Christian faith to which the Gospel brings His people.

“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32

Who can describe such a kingdom?

The intensity of the Gospel and the Christian faith that excels through the Gospel is the working of the Gospel itself by the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of men. Yes, I am repeating myself. The Gospel bears repeating even as preachers continue to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10).

It is not puny words of men that fall to the ground, but it is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16). It is power to quicken those who are dead in their trespasses and sin, awakening their senses to their sin and need of a Savior.

The power of the Gospel is the good news of Christ raising the dead to life in Him.

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Even when we were dead in sins,
hath quickened us together with Christ,

(by grace ye are saved;) 
Ephesians 1:19-20; 2:5

No minister, worth his salt, will throw out a dry bone to his congregation. Dead men need the meat of God’s Word to live. Those who have been revived ~ made new through the new birth of the Gospel ~ need the continual Gospel to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as we wait for the promise of eternal life in Him.

The man of God digs deep into the treasury of God’s Word and presents those treasures to his hearers.

The Gospel works its immensity within the hearts of the ministers of the Gospel.

They must be overwhelmed with the greatness of God’s redeeming love.

They must know the reality of a heavenly Father who, in the covenant of redemption, planned to sacrifice His own Son to secure our place with Him for eternity and the reality of His Son, in agreement with this covenant to sacrifice Himself.

What love! What sacrifice! ~ immensity of grace greater than can be comprehended by mortal men.

This should bring forth an intensity of the Gospel which the man of God cannot keep to himself.

He should be zealous, always ready to present the Gospel wherever He is called, to whoever hears.

Are there such ministers in the world today? Yes! I would not be writing on this subject if it were not so.

Our own pastor, Chris Strevel, is such a minister of the Gospel and the Christian faith. Preaching for thirty years, he holds Christ in the center of every sermon, continuing to unfold the treasures of His kingdom. My heart is weekly quickened, opened and enabled to receive the Good News of Christ ~ His grace and His glory. You can listen or view all his sermons on Sermon Audio. He is presently preaching through the Gospel of Luke and Exodus.

Another pastor, Ryan McKee, in Northern Ireland, is younger, but also preaches the immensity of the Gospel with the intensity of Christ. I began watching these services in 2016 when we were unable to attend church for ten months. Five hours ahead, their morning worship is at seven. Their evening worship is at two. Ryan is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel.

We have one among us here on WordPress from California. Check Jim’s blog here.

I mention these who are devoted to Christ and His Gospel as they serve God’s people. The Gospel and the Christian Faith are too valuable to take for granted ~ too precious to keep hidden. If you know other local pastors, please let me know.

We should pray for a revival among the ministers of God’s Word in our local churches. Some preach to the masses in conferences, etc. but we need daily, weekly oversight of pastors who shepherd God’s people in the name and power of Christ.

Gracious heavenly Father. Lay it upon the hearts of your ministers to draw near to you ~ to seek the face of Christ as never before. By your Spirit, draw them to your Word, fill their hearts with the zeal for the power of the Gospel. Enable them to proclaim your Word to your people. Open the hearts of your people to hear and to live the Christian faith Jesus died to give. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Five Lessons for Preachers  Charles Spurgeon

The Immensity and Intensity of the Christian Faith


A deeper meaning to the crucifixion | IN HIS DEATHS | The Book of Mysteries

Now ‘God’ gets yanked from children’s classics

‘Bible’ suffering same fate

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

“Robinson Crusoe,” “The Little Match Girl” and other classic children’s stories are being edited in China to exclude references to God and the Bible.

According to Barnabas Fund, a global Christian ministry that focuses on the persecuted church, it’s part of a move to eliminate references to the Christian faith nationwide.

“The popular stories are among four works by foreign writers to feature in a new Chinese school textbook for fifth grade pupils, aged around 11, that offers students an ‘understanding of other cultures,’ according to the Ministry of Education,” Barnabas Fund said.

Daniel Defoe’s 1718 classic “Robinson Crusoe” notes that the castaway searched “among the wreckage of his ship to rescue three Bibles.”

The Chinese version says Crusoe saved “a few books.”

Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson said in his 1845 short story “The Little Match Girl” that “when a star falls, a soul goes to be with God.”

Now that person “leaves this world.”

Anton Chekhov’s story “Vanka” receives similar treatment, with a section about a prayer in church eliminated and every mention of the word Christ erased.

Last year, the communist regime controlling China cracked down on the sales of Bibles in stores and online.

And single-word online searches for “Bible” have dropped to zero.

The moves followed the government’s “White Paper” on religion, which introduced new policies “to reinterpret Christianity according to secular socialist views.”

“The ‘five-year plan’ outlines measures to enforce the selective interpretation of Scripture in such a way as to affirm and promote ‘the core values of socialism’ within all Christian faith communities and forms of worship,” Barnabas said.

The nation’s laws allow religious organizations to produce publications such as the Bible but not for “public distribution.”

“The communist government recognizes only state-registered Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, officially admitting to the existence of around 22 million Christians, although there may be as many as 100 million Christians when figures for ‘underground’ churches are included,” Barnabas said.

The report said that by 2030, there could be more than 160 million Christians in China.

Original here

 

‘Dear God, are you there?’ A response

Craige McMillan pens note addressing philosopher’s question

Dear George Yancy,

In response to your question, “Dear God, are you there?” Yes, I’m still here. I have always been here. I am everywhere present. I will always be here. How about you?

Since your entreaty addressed me publicly, I will respond in kind. Here I will address the points I have been able to decipher. I wonder, though, are you by chance a direct descendant of one of those people at the Tower of Babel, where I confused humanity’s language?

From my perspective, George, there are only three people groups on the earth: Jews, Gentiles and Christians. Any other qualifier is an artificial construct designed to turn people against one another. Therefore, I agree with your statement, “We are failing ourselves. We are not asking the right questions; we are failing to use truthful and courageous discourse to describe the suffering from human violence. …”

I wonder, could it be that you are failing yourselves because you do not properly understand that I created men and women as triune beings, with a body, soul and spirit? You must address all three aspects of human beings in your discourse and in their existence. All attempts to treat man as a machine or a computer will fail, and ultimately they will fail catastrophically, which seems to be what you are describing.

You also write, “I’m tempted to say that for Trump and his vast evangelical following enough is never enough. And if this is so, something has gone theologically awry. We have not become more loving as a nation.” Hmm … I guess it escaped me that the killers you are referring to are evangelicals, Catholics, or any of the other Christian brands with which I am familiar. None of the killers were people I knew, or who knew me. Perhaps that was the problem.

The way for America and all nations to become more loving is for the people who dwell in those nations to know me personally. I am patient, kind and loving. I stand ready to remove anger, hatred and despair from the mind and heart of anyone who acknowledges his or her desperate situation and calls upon me for help. I alone can remove those poisonous qualities from his or her life. Human philosophy can never rise above the human condition. I alone transcend the human condition.

Interesting that you should arrive at the same question Ralph Waldo Emerson asked some time back. “Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticisms. The foregoing generations beheld God face to face; we through their eyes. Why should not we also have an original relation to the universe?”

Why not, indeed? You and every other person on earth can have an original relation to Me. The door into that relationship is the life, death and resurrection of my Son, Jesus Christ, which occurred at the Cross. Please don’t ever imagine that We did not suffer to open that door from your hopeless condition to my glorious heaven and earth. We both paid the price for you in our suffering. All you need do to renew your mind and heart is to come. My arms are always open to welcome my children back home, however battered and bruised they may be from this evil world system, which is still run by Satan, your defeated enemy. I should think the world’s values, which give rise to its conditions, would be sufficient evidence of this claim.

Religions are a subtle trap that enslaves the human spirit. Christianity is not immune from this. A personal relationship with the God of the universe is unthinkable to many. And yet, that is exactly what is on offer, George. If it all seems impossible to you, read through the Gospel of John, found in the New Testament. Don’t neglect the supernatural elements of our relationship that John describes. They are the key to a changed life here, a heart to help others and eternity with me. Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Don’t forget, George. You have a date with destiny. There is something in this world that only you can do for Me. Maybe yours is the voice that’s missing, the one that calms the storms of life for so many. You’ll never know unless you ask.

I am the “something more” that you seek, George.

– with love, God


For more of God direct, read samples at: ReconnaissanceBehind Enemy Lines and Absolution: The Singularity.

Original here


Christian Identity Crises

by Benham Brothers | March 17th, 2019

As Christians it’s important to get in the game and be a voice for truth and bridge to God for all those we come in contact with throughout our day. So it’s vital we understand our full identity in Christ.

Today, identity theft is at an all-time high. At the time of this writing, nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft with $16.8 billion in losses. Even for us, we got a notice that one of our wives had her social security number stolen! What a helpless feeling.

But the worst possible identity theft is not when someone steals your social security number or your financial information – it’s when Satan robs you of your identity in Christ. He knows very well if he can convince you to believe you’re not part of God’s plan to do His work in the earth, he can render you powerless and keep you on the sidelines.

Because what you think determines how you act.

We’ve all felt it – that sense of fading energy and loss of power when we lose sight of our identity in Christ. Maybe you’ve experienced it as confusion or lack of direction. One thing’s for sure: the most empowering truth is that we are children of God, called for a purpose. This truth gives energy and conviction to even the mildest and most humble believer.

So we must hold fast to our identity in Christ. Don’t let it be stolen. Our identity as ministers of God on mission in His work must be firmly rooted in our minds.

In February 2014, we found ourselves on the set of Fox & Friends in NYC being interviewed for our first book, “Whatever the Cost.” We were talking about the importance of standing strong for your faith when one of the hosts asked, “Do you guys have any interest in being pastors or preachers going forward?”

I (Jason) responded, because I knew David didn’t have a clue what to say. When the host asked the question I instantly felt the Holy Spirit nudge me in the direction of identity.

“There’s a false dichotomy today that says guys like us in business are not ministers,” I responded as the host panel listened intently. “We don’t believe that. The minute you give your heart to Christ He puts you on mission to bring Him glory. Whether you’re running a talk show or preaching behind a pulpit you are a minister, so just go out there and bring God glory.”

When I was talking I felt an energy come over me, like the Holy Spirit talking directly through me to the people watching – because identity is near and dear to the heart of God, as the Bible talks about again and again.

I continued, “The devil knows how you see yourself determines how you behave. So, if he can get you thinking you’re not a minister, you won’t act like it. So that’s our encouragement for Christians today – you are ministers, even if you’re just wiping rear-ends at home as a stay-at-home-mom.”

I said that last part in an effort to help believers understand that what determines the minister is not where you’re placed or how you’re paid (like a pastor at a church) – but the presence of God in your life. If you love the Lord, you are His minister on mission to bring Him glory wherever He’s placed you. And God will use you. I thought of my wife who was at home with our four kids while I was in NYC on the show – she’s the best minister I know in one of the most under-valued ministries of all.

David topped it off with, “So the answer is yes, we will go into ministry. We’re in it right now.”

They got it. The light bulb turned on in their minds. As a matter of fact, one of the hosts, Elizabeth Hasselback, finished the segment with, “I’ve got some rear-ends to attend to at home myself!”

Our identity as Christ followers is not attached to what we do or how we’re paid. No, it’s firmly rooted in who we are – as ministers of God on mission for Him wherever we go. So let’s get in the game and make a difference for God right where we are.

Original here

Eye Opening Prayer

Man praying in the grassy field

Thought you might enjoy this prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people…

 When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek your direction and Guidance.

We know Your Word says,’ Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it The lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it Welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it Choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it Justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem..

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Amen!

 

The response was immediate. A number of Legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively.. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa and Korea .

With the Lord’s help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called “One Nation Under God”

https://stopandpraytv.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/eye-opening-prayer/

VIDEO Micah

By Chuck Swindoll

 

Who wrote the book?

The prophet Micah identified himself by his hometown, called Moresheth Gath, which sat near the border of Philistia and Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. Dwelling in a largely agricultural part of the country, Micah lived outside the governmental centers of power in his nation, leading to his strong concern for the lowly and less fortunate of society—the lame, the outcasts, and the afflicted (Micah 4:6). Therefore, Micah directed much of his prophecy toward the powerful leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah, respectively (1:1).

Where are we?

As a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, Micah prophesied during the momentous years surrounding the tragic fall of Israel to the Assyrian Empire (722 BC), an event he also predicted (Micah 1:6). Micah stated in his introduction to the book that he prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah, failing to mention the simultaneous string of dishonorable kings that closed out the northern kingdom of Israel.

During this period, while Israel was imploding from the effects of evil and unfaithful leadership, Judah seemed on a roller-coaster ride—ascending to the heights of its destiny in one generation, only to fall into the doldrums in another. In Judah at this time, good kings and evil kings alternated with each other, a pattern seen in the reigns of Jotham (good, 2 Kings 15:32–34); Ahaz (evil, 2 Kings 16:1–4); and Hezekiah (good, 2 Kings 18:1–7).

Why is Micah so important?

The book of Micah provides one of the most significant prophecies of Jesus Christ’s birth in all the Old Testament, pointing some seven hundred years before Christ’s birth to His birthplace of Bethlehem and to His eternal nature (Micah 5:2).

Surrounding Micah’s prophecy of Jesus’s birth is one of the most lucid pictures of the world’s future under the reign of the Prince of Peace (5:5). This future kingdom, which scholars call the millennial kingdom, will be characterized by the presence of many nations living with one another in peace and security (4:3–4) and coming to Jerusalem to worship the reigning king, that is, Jesus Himself (4:2). Because these events have not yet occurred, we look forward to the millennial kingdom at some undetermined time in the future.

What’s the big idea?

Much of Micah’s book revolves around two significant predictions: one of judgment on Israel and Judah (Micah 1:1–3:12), the other of the restoration of God’s people in the millennial kingdom (4:1–5:15). Judgment and restoration inspire fear and hope, two ideas wrapped up in the final sequence of Micah’s prophecy, a courtroom scene in which God’s people stand trial before their Creator for turning away from Him and from others (6:1–7:20). In this sequence, God reminds the people of His good works on their behalf, how He cared for them while they cared only for themselves. But rather than leave God’s people with the fear and sting of judgment, the book of Micah concludes with the prophet’s call on the Lord as his only source of salvation and mercy (7:7), pointing the people toward an everlasting hope in their everlasting God.

How do I apply this?

Much of Micah’s indictment against Israel and Judah involves these nations’ injustice toward the lowly—unjust business dealings, robbery, mistreatment of women and children, and a government that lived in luxury off the hard work of its nation’s people.

Where does the injustice dwell in your own life? Who are the lowly in your life? Do you need a call toward repentance, like the people of Israel and Judah did?

Micah’s impassioned plea for God’s chosen people to repent will cut many of us to the quick. Most of us don’t decide daily to cut people down or find ways to carry out injustice. Instead, we do it out of habit. Let’s allow the words of Micah to break us out of our apathy about extending justice and kindness to others and press on toward a world that better resembles the harmonious millennial kingdom to come. Let’s determine to live as God desires—“to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/micah


Overview: Micah


Unlocking the Old Testament Part 52 – Micah