Saturday, 29 July 2017

Please pray for these kidnapped Missionaries

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Gloria Argoti, a Columbian Nun who is in her 60s, was kidnapped on February 7th when assailants broke into her convent in Karangasso, southern Mali. 

Ken Elliott, was kidnapped in January 2016, along with his wife Jocelyn, from the town of Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali. Jocelyn was released a month later but her husband is still in captivity.

Beatrice Stockl, a Swiss, was  kidnapped on January 15th by al-Qaeda's Ansar al-Dine terrorist group from her home in Timbuktu, Mali. This is the second time in four years that Beatrice has been kidnapped by militants. After the group seized control of Timbuktu, she was accused of proselytizing Christianity, held for ten days, and warned that she would be executed if she tried to return to Timbuktu. Despite the threat, Beatrice returned to Timbuktu in 2013 after French troops liberated the city. In January 2016.

Jeff Woodke, an American Missionary working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). He was abducted by unknown assailants late in the evening of October 14th from the town of Abalak in northern Niger. So far, little is known about Jeff's condition or whereabouts, other than news that his captors were tracked to neighbouring Mali by Nigerien authorities. On July 11th, a video was released by Els Woodke, expressing her despair, as well as her desire to be in touch with her husband's kidnappers.

Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit on these brethren no matter what they go through. May God help them to remain faithful. Pray that God may touch the hearts of their captors so that they will release them unconditionally to their families. May the ministry of the Holy Spirit also console the families and friends of the missionaries, reminding them of God's promise to be a "very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). In addition, please pray for the protection of the country's other foreign mission workers so that needed humanitarian aid can continue assisting the suffering people of Mali.
More information on these and the persecuted Christians around the world can be obtained here. Make sure you say some words of prayer no matter how busy you may be. Encourage your church to pray for the persecuted.

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

All roads do not lead to the same eternal destiny

Sphere: Related Content When I was a freshman in high school, I tried out for the varsity basketball team. On the first day of tryouts, the coach ran a scrimmage, periodically sending players into the game to see how they played. When my turn came, I intercepted a pass on the very first play. Then I took the ball the length of the court, skyed over every other player and made the prettiest layup you ever saw.

The coach instantly blew the whistle, stopped the game and called me over to the bench. I was walking 10 feet off the ground. I just knew my shot was so good that he had to stop the game just to tell me. I envisioned that ESPN had called and wanted the footage, and that Sports Illustrated had every intention of running a photo of me on the next cover. The shoe deal with Nike was only a matter of time. So I walked – actually, strutted – to the sideline.

My coach said, "White, that was a great shot. Your form was great; your intensity was great. Only thing is, you went to the wrong basket – but it was a great shot!"

Is there a right and a wrong basket in the spiritual game? Is Christianity the only way to score with God or simply one of many ways? For today's unchurched person, this is hardly academic. The religious landscape of modern American society can be nothing less than bewildering. Religious groups, sects, cults, movements, philosophies and worldviews abound in incredible numbers and diversity.

Add to this mix one of the most pervasive, fundamental convictions of contemporary American society: All roads lead to God, and to say that one way is right and all the other ways are wrong is narrow-minded, bigoted and prejudicial. What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me. Searching for God is like climbing a mountain. Since everyone knows there is not just one way to climb a mountain – mountains are too big for that – each person can choose from a number of paths. All the ideas about God contained in the various religions of the world are just different ways up the mountain. In fact, though different religions have different names for God, the names all refer to the same God.

Is it true that a lot of roads lead to heaven, which means we really don't have to worry about which road we're on? Is it true that no person, no religion, no group, no book has a handle on the truth? Is it true that all religions are basically the same and all religious leaders are essentially of one mind so that ultimately all spiritual pursuits lead to the same place? If so, people need not look for spiritual truth. They just need to decide on spiritual preference.

If you embrace the idea that multiple paths lead to God and you turn out to be wrong, the consequences are enormous. So let's explore the reasons why people hold to this belief:

1. There Are So Many Religions

The sheer number of faiths from which to choose convinces some people that there is more than one path to God. Religious pluralism has existed for centuries, but people have never been exposed to as many faith options as we are today. As the number of religious options increases in one's mind, the idea that one option represents ultimate spiritual truth lessens. Yet the mere presence of options has little to do with whether a particular faith might be true, nor whether ultimate spiritual truth actually exists. The simple fact is that a test may be multiple-choice, but that does not mean it has multiple answers.

2. The Belief That All Religions Are Basically the Same

The idea that all paths are legitimate is also fueled by the sentiment that all religions are basically the same. Many introductory courses in world religions on the high school and college level stress the common denominators of religion throughout time and culture. While these courses may reveal certain similarities, it is also true that they contradict each other in crucial areas. For example, Christians believe in God, while some Buddhists don't even teach that there is a God. Christians also embrace Jesus' claim that He was God in human form who came to restore our relationship with God. Muslims, on the other hand, don't believe that Jesus was God at all. Christians believe in truth and error, right and wrong, morality and immorality, while adherents to the various forms of New Age thinking contend that there are no absolutes and everything is relative.

You can say that somebody is right and somebody is wrong, or say that everyone is wrong, but you can't say that everybody believes basically the same thing. That would be intellectually dishonest in light of the facts. If God exists—unless He is some senile, confused, muddled, schizophrenic, unbalanced being who isn't sure what He stands for—there is religious truth and religious falsehood among the competing views. And the areas of disagreement among those views are not trivial in nature. The nature of God, the identity of Jesus, and how we enter into a relationship with God are of paramount importance. To return to our mountain climbing analogy in which all paths lead to the same peak, the truth is that there isn't a single peak, much less a single idea of what the peak even looks like. Instead, the mountain has many different peaks, which raises a significant question: How do you get to the highest one?

3. The Idea That Sincerity Is What Matters

"It isn't what a person believes that matters, but how he or she believes it; all that really matters is one's sincerity." Something deep inside of us knows, and I think correctly, that the nature of true spirituality is somehow connected with authenticity. But it is one thing to value sincerity and another to make sincerity the lone characteristic of spiritual truth. How you believe matters, but so does what you believe. If you say it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere, you miss a very important point: You can be sincerely wrong. If I have a headache in the middle of the night and I blindly reach into my medicine cabinet, I can sincerely believe I am taking an aspirin. But if I am really taking cyanide, my sincerity will not save me from the perils of the poison I've ingested. Sincerity matters, but it cannot be all that matters because sincerity alone cannot alter reality. Therefore, it is not simply the sincerity of our faith that matters but the object of our faith as well. Faith is very much like a rope – it matters what you tie it to.

Read the whole write up here.
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The Church of England’s governing body officially accepts transgender lifestyle

Sphere: Related Content The Church of England has officially accepted and affirmed the transgender lifestyle in their Synod on the 9th of July 2017. People who have embraced the lifestyle do not have any hitch anymore since their lifestyle has been considered as not being a sin against God.
The Right Reverend Paul Bayes,  the Bishop of Liverpool, during the synod debate said “As the world listens to us today, the world needs to hear us say that LGBTI orientation and identity is not a crime, not a sickness and not a sin,”.
This Synod decision is part of the downward sliding of some members of the communion in their efforts to redefine sexuality. Sexuality is no more God-given. You are what you think in yo min and feel you are.
Thank God for the efforts of GAFCON to provide spiritual oversight for Anglican members who still believe and submit themselves to the authority of the Scriptures.

Let us continue to pray for the Church. All these will culminate to a terrible persecution that will come upon professing Christians in Europe in the years to come. May He keep His faithful ones. Amen.

Read the full text here.
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