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1 Corinthians 15:14:

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

Did you think it was outrageous when a literally Satanic college professor accused God of sexual misconduct?:

That was nothing compared to the blasphemy you can hear right in church. The Reverend Rick Mawson, an 83-year-old retired United Church of Christ minister who currently leads a First Congregational Church class on progressive theology, barks that it is primitive, shameful, and offensive to believe that Jesus died for our sins. He outmoonbats even the nutty Satanist professor with the proclamation that God is a “bloodthirsty child abuser.” Seriously:

from The Tribune:

It is with a sense of joy for me to witness people tenderly holding hands, especially the young or the elderly. Holding hands can be very comforting. It is a way of being connected to another person. We all know that the experience of being embraced in another’s caring is life giving and life enhancing. Being intimately in touch with other human beings is a universal human hunger.

From the time we were conceived in our mother’s womb, we have begun to learn how important it is to be connected to another person. At our birth we experience a world separate from our mother. After being born we also start to experience something called separation anxiety even though our world is expanding to include other family members. The threat to intimacy that occurs after birth is a universal human experience. At some level, deeply embedded in us, we yearn to re-establish that connectedness with the “Source of Our Being.”

As humans we need each other to survive and thrive. Behavior that damages human relationships and their ability to thrive is a form of “sin.”

Our Hebrew ancestors told stories to explain the estrangement that humans experience in regard to the Ultimate Source of Life and Being, which we usually referred to as “God.” The earliest biblical creation story is told in Genesis chapters 2 and 3. It speaks of the disobedience of the original human couple, Adam and Eve. Their failure to obey God introduced “original sin” into what was presumed by our ancestors to be a perfect and complete world. In the story, God, acting like a stern tribal leader, condemns Adam and Eve for their disobedience by punishing them with hard labor and the pain of childbirth. The story says our ancestral parents were then banished forever from the garden of perfection.

Given the knowledge available to those ancient Hebrew storytellers, the story seemed to make sense. When humans make greedy or sinful choices there may be unwelcome consequences. The storytellers did not have, as we do today, any awareness of how life and culture continue to evolve over millions of years. The ancient creation story should never be taken literally, as if it actually happened that way. We now know our world has never been perfect and complete, it has always been in a process of becoming more complex and interrelated. Our world is a work in progress.

The sense of estrangement experienced by many humans generates a desire to be embraced by the Source of Life. That quest is for “atonement” (at-one-ment). It is a yearning to become whole again by being united with the Holy.

“Substitutionary atonement” is the commonly held, yet theologically primitive, shameful idea that God required the humiliating sacrificial death of his only son Jesus to pay the restitution price for the sins of all humanity, by suffering punishment on our behalf, so that we may ultimately be reunited with the Source of our Being. Think about the implications of that assertion. It presents the Creator, who loved us into being, as judgmentally incapable of forgiveness and a bloodthirsty child abuser. That limited view of the Divine does not make sense to me and is offensive. The theology of substitutionary atonement is based on the primitive concept of an “original sin” the stain of which is genetically passed on generation to generation from our first ancestors. This is the belief that we are all, from the time of our birth, depraved sinners in need of saving from eternal damnation, the kind of saving that can only come from the same God who requires, and can only receive, satisfaction by brutally sacrificing God’s own child.

I have come to believe that the theology that affirms, “Jesus died for my sins” is bad theology. It is our human attempt to make God take care of our problems. This primitive theology is designed to try to relieve us of responsibility for how we live our lives and treat one another.

Starkly missing in the substitutionary atonement analysis of our situation is any acknowledgment of the unlimited and unconditional grace that is offered by the Holy Source we call Love. In the life and teachings of Jesus we find one who embodied love by loving people into wholeness and by showing us how to do the same. In the freedom that comes with love, we have the choice to flourish within that abundant grace or resist it.

How can we experience intimacy with the Holy in our lives? How can we achieve a healthy sense of being at one with the Divine, the Holy, the Source of our Being? The story of the life examples and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth has been transformative to many in this regard. Guidance on how to restore intimacy with the Holy can be found in Matthew’s biblical writing (25:31-46) where Jesus is said to be speaking about how, in caring for others, we experience our most intimate contact with the One who created us. Simply said, we achieve atonement with the Love that brought us into being by compassionately loving others in response to their needs. We are ultimately accountable for what we do to provide all people with what they need to thrive.

Regardless of our particular faith tradition, we are encouraged to embrace peace, to be compassionate toward our neighbor, to love our enemies, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to heal the sick, to visit with those in prison, to welcome the stranger, and in the process of loving others into wholeness we will be experiencing an intimate relationship with the Source of our Being.

Tenderly holding hands is a small yet significant sign of our human connectedness to each other and to our Source of Life. We are all in this together.

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from Lighthouse Trails Research:

In May of 2013, Lighthouse Trails released a report titled, “They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years.” In view of the upcoming elections and some of the things going on around the country in the “background,” it seems diligent to repost the report at this time. While some of the documentation in the report is a few years old, there are similar efforts going on today as are described in the report. For instance, the “Vote Common Good” (a website created on June 2018, just in time for the elections) bus tours taking place right now around the country are intending on “flipping congress.” The line up of those speaking on the tour are largely extreme liberal  emergent figures such as Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Frank Schaeffer, John Pavlovitz (recently featured in a LT article), Mark Scandrette, Doug Pagitt, Samir Selmanović, Diana Butler Bass, and Nadia Bolz-Weber. Folks, these people mean business, and they won’t let up until they’ve accomplished their Marxist/Socialist-leaning, anti-biblical goals. This next election will come and go, but they will still be here, telling the world that they represent “true” relevant organic Christianity, and your children and grandchildren will believe them. We know that politics is never going to solve the problems of any country. And there is no perfect political party. But what is being presented by the people in groups like the one named above is an anti-Christ agenda. That sounds strong, but think about what Diana Butler Bass (who was part of the 2015 Parliament of World Religions) said in her book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening:

Conventional, comforting Christianity has failed. It does not work. For the churches that insist on preaching it, the jig is up. We cannot go back, and we should not want to. . . . In earlier American awakenings, preachers extolled “old-time religion” as the answer to questions about God, morality, and existence. This awakening is different . . . it is not about sawdust trails, mortification of sin [putting to death the old man], and being washed in the blood of the Lamb [the preaching of the Cross]. The awakening going on around us is not an evangelical revival; it is not returning to the faith of our fathers or re-creating our grandparents church. Instead, it is a Great Returning to ancient understandings of the human quest for the divine. (pp. 36, 99; emphasis added)

Several of the names we have listed above have said similar type things about biblical Christianity over the years as you can read about on our site and in our published materials. Some of you may remember our 2009 article “Brian McLaren Wants End Time Believing Christians Robustly Confronted.” As far as these highly influential emergents are concerned the “old-time religion” of being washed in the blood of the Lamb is over. And you can be sure their target is your children and grandchildren, especially ones who’ve grown up in Christian homes. When you consider how Rick Warren, Bob Buford (Leadership Network), and Bill Hybels all had a part in launching the emergent church back in the 1990s1 and then never retracted a single promotion of it, it’s difficult to witness the “fruit” of their labors these 25 years later and listen to the silence of Christian leaders who seem to care more about building their own empires than defending that old time religion.

And now the 2013 Lighthouse Trails report:

“They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years”

In 2008, which was an election year, books, videos, broadcasts, and news articles were pouring into mainstream America with a guilt-ridden message that basically manipulated conservative Christians into thinking that either they shouldn’t vote because “Jesus wouldn’t vote,” or they shouldn’t vote on morality issues such as abortion or homosexuality. Suddenly, all over the place, there was talk about “destroying Christianity,” or “liking Jesus but not the church,” or “Jesus for president” (suggesting that maybe we could get Him on the ballot but certainly we shouldn’t vote for anyone already on the ballot). It all sounded very noble to many. After all, everybody knows there is so much political corruption in high government and certainly as much hypocrisy within the walls of many proclaiming Christian leaders and celebrities.

This special report by Lighthouse Trails is not going to attempt to answer the question, “Should a Christian vote?” But we hope to at least show that things are not always as they seem, and what may appear noble and good may not be so at all.

In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).

The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:

Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.1

What the article is talking about when it says “preconceived notions” is Christianity according to the Bible. Emerging figures accept some of it but find to accept all of it is too restricting. Many of them call themselves “red letter Christians,” supposing to mean they adhere to all the red letters that Jesus said; but they have actually chosen which red letters they adhere to—they don’t accept them all. For instance, they dismiss red letters that refer to there being a hell for those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior. When the word missional is used, this doesn’t mean traditional missionary efforts to evangelize the world. It means to realize that all of humanity is saved and being saved along with all of creation and that the means of salvation didn’t take place in a one-time event (the Cross) but is an ongoing procedure that occurs as people begin to realize they are all connected to one another and can bring about a Utopian society through this interconnectedness. Such emerging buzz words like missional fool a lot of people though.

Incidentally, if you’ve never read the article we posted in the summer of 2010 regarding Jim Wallis and Sojourners, “Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis’ Revolutionary Anti-Christian “Gospel” (and Will Christian Leaders Stand with Wallis?)” we highly recommend it.2 But be warned—you may find it quite disturbing when you read what the agenda behind the scenes really is.

The rally call to throw out Christianity but keep “Jesus” isn’t a new one—we’ve heard it many times before from various emerging contemplatives. Futurist Erwin McManus once said in an interview:

My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3

And, of course, there is Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church. In a book review of Kimball’s book, Lighthouse Trails stated that the book should really be calledThey Like (Another) Jesus But Not the Church, the Bible, Morality, or the Truth.4 Kimball interviews several young people (one is a lesbian) who tell him they “like and respect Jesus” but they don’t want anything to do with going to church or with those Christians who take the Bible literally. Kimball says these are “exciting times” we live in “when Jesus is becoming more and more respected in our culture by non-churchgoing people.”5 He says we should “be out listening to what non-Christians, especially those in their late teens to thirties, are saying and thinking about the church and Christianity.”6

According to Kimball, it is vitally important that we as Christians be accepted by non-Christians and not thought of as abnormal or strange. But in order to do that, he says we must change the way we live and behave. Kimball insists that “those who are rejecting faith in Jesus” do so because of their views of Christians and the church.7 But he makes it clear throughout the book that these distorted views are not the fault of the unbeliever but are the fault of Christians, but not all Christians, just those fundamentalist ones who take the Bible literally, believe that homosexuality is a sin, and think certain things are wrong and harmful to society . . . and actually speak up about these things.

Perhaps what is most damaging about Dan Kimball’s book is his black and white, either or reasoning (the very thing he accuses Christians of). He makes it very clear that you cannot be a Christian who takes the Bible literally and also be a humble, loving, thoughtful person. They are two different things, according to Kimball. There is no such thing as a loving, humble Christian who takes the Bible literally. His book further alienates believers in a world that is already hostile to those who say Jesus is the only way to salvation, the Bible should be taken literally, homosexuality is a sin, and we are called out of this world to live righteously by the grace of God.

Brian McLaren, the emerging church’s early pioneer, resonates with these ill feelings toward the Christian faith when he states:

I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.8

Roger Oakland deals with this “we love Jesus but hate Christianity” mentality in his book Faith Undone. Listen to a few quotes Oakland includes in that book:

For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained.9—Don MillerBlue Like Jazz

They [Barbarians] see Christianity as a world religion, in many ways no different from any other religious system. Whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity, they’re not about religion; they’re about advancing the revolution Jesus started two thousand years ago.10—Erwin McManusThe Barbarian Way

New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other faiths. . . .  One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.”11–Leonard Sweet

I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.12–Rick Warren

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.13–Thomas Merton

Allah is not another God … we worship the same God. . . . The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God . . . the Muslims–worship.14–Peter Kreeft

Roger Oakland relates a story from the Book of Acts:

“[T]he apostle Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He was brought before King Agrippa and given the opportunity to share his testimony of how he became a Christian. He told Agrippa that the Lord had commissioned him to preach the Gospel and:

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)

“Agrippa continued listening and then said to Paul, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (vs. 28).’ Paul answered him:

I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (vs. 29)

“If Paul had been following the emerging mentality, he would have told Agrippa, “No need to become a Christian. You can remain just as you are; keep all your rituals and practices, just say you like Jesus.” In actuality, if Paul had been practicing emerging spirituality, he wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. He would not have stood out, would not have preached boldly and without reservation, and he would not have called himself a Christian, which eventually became a death sentence for Paul and countless others.”15

It’s hard to believe there was not at least some political agenda in this storm of “we love Jesus but not the church or Christianity” especially witnessed in election years. And we believe this agenda was aimed particularly toward young people from evangelical conservative upbringings who had joined the emerging church movement. In a CBS Broadcast, anchorman Antonio Mora suggests there may have been over twenty million participants in the emerging church movement in the United States alone by 2006.16 Even half that number would be enough to change the results of a presidential election.

Some may contend that Jefferson Bethke’s song doesn’t have any political message at all—it’s just about hypocrisy of religious people. But interestingly, in the very first few lines of the song, Bethke raps:

“What if I told you getting you to vote Republican, really wasn’t his [Jesus’] mission? Because Republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian.”

Could there be some message here that Bethke is trying to relay? Is it just to tell people that just because they are Republican doesn’t mean they are Christian? Surely not. A fourth grader could reason that out. It’s difficult not to believe there is some other message here that just happens to be taking place on an election year.

Just consider some of the things that were said by evangelical and emerging figures during the 2008 presidential election year. And think about what you are hearing today. A lot of people love the messages being sent out by people like Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, and let’s not forget Frank Viola and George Barna’s book, Pagan Christianity, where they condemn church practices like pastors, sermons, Sunday School, and pews, but say nothing about spiritual deception that has come into the church through the contemplative prayer movement. These latter two figures (Viola and Barna) give readers a feeling that they should hate Christianity but just love Jesus. But what Jesus are these voices writing, singing, and rapping about? It may be “another Jesus” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4).

As the world is gradually (but not too slowly anymore) heading toward a global government and global religion, it is becoming more and more apparent that this global society will be one where “tolerance” is the byword for everything other than biblical Christianity. And what better way to breed hatred toward biblical Christians than to say “we love Jesus but hate the church” (i.e., Christians and Christianity)? Perhaps they have forgotten what Jesus said:

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15: 18-19)

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14)

This report we have written may produce more questions than answers regarding things like politics, voting, the role of Christians in the world, the view the world has of Christians, and so forth. But while we have not answered such questions, we hope we have shown that indeed things are not always as they seem and that often what seems right may actually be from a deceiving angel of light and those who appear good may actually be only false ministers of righteousness.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11: 14-15)

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You are seeing an ever increasing number of humanistic thought and ideologies overwhelm virtually all of Christianity today. It is at the point where a majority of pastors and leaders have basically given up believing what the Bible says verbatim! This includes other topics such as suicide, an increasing number of confessing Christians have no problem with believing that a Christian who commits suicide goes straight to Heaven!!

from Pulpit and Pen:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

John Piper, a longtime figure in the New Calvinism movement, has proven himself in recent years to handle even the most basic doctrinal aspects of the Ordo Salutis clumsily. After butchering the doctrine of Justification almost beyond the point of recognition, being accused of holding to a modified form of Federal Vision or denying Sola Fide altogether (the accusations are not without merit), Piper’s Desiring God has now denied the heart and substance of the doctrine of Sanctification. While claiming that there is a “final justification” that is based on increased holiness, Piper’s website now argues that homosexuals cannot expect to be made holy, leaving them damned in their sins as a tragic and ironic result. Written by guest contributor, Jackie Hill Perry, and posted by Desiring God, an article on September 4 argues that we should stop telling gay people that God can make them straight.

To make the point of the insane levels of Downgrade in this argument, let me illustrate it in the following ways:

“Stop telling murderers that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from killing people.”

“Stop telling thieves that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from thieving.”

“Stop telling blasphemers that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from profaning his name.”

“Stop telling idolaters that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from idolatry.”

The argument from Perry is sinister, sick, and perverse. That Desiring God would post the refuse is beyond incomprehensible. It is irresponsible, detestable, and destructive. In order to craft her narrative, Perry operates under the presumption that so-called  “Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)” – the Bible would call this the desire for sodomy from a depraved and fallen heart – is not a sin. Although a shocking proposition to many evangelicals who haven’t been paying attention, the line of thought that SSA is not a sin has become a common one, advocated for mostly by the same New Calvinists who are a part of the new “woke” Social Justice movement and they speak in terms of “gay Christians” and “sexual minorities.” Even more shockingly, Perry says that telling gay people that God can reorient their sinful hearts is a “different Gospel.”

She writes:

I know, I know, some of us Christians believe that we are only pointing our gay and lesbian friends to the miraculous. To the power of God to make all things and them new. Well-meaning believers, in an effort to encourage or cast vision to their same-sex attracted (SSA) friends or family, preach this gospel often. This gospel is not the good news of Jesus however, but another gospel. A gospel that I call “the heterosexual gospel.”

Calling something “another Gospel” is a damning accusation from Perry toward anyone who believes in the doctrine of Sanctification, the belief that the Holy Spirit will continue a work in us after salvation, giving us a new heart with new desires. Paul says that anyone who is preaching another Gospel is “accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Essentially, Perry places all right-thinking and orthodox Christian believers (who have always identified homosexual desire as a sin) under the Galatian curse.

The woman continues:

The heterosexual gospel is one that encourages SSA men and women to come to Jesus so that they can be straight, or it says that coming to Jesus ensures that they will be sexually attracted to the opposite sex.

Clearly, mortifying sin and becoming like Jesus is one of the reasons one should want to come to Christ. New Calvinists should have no problem looking to Owen’s Mortification of Sinto examine this point further.  In fact, a hatred of sin is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion. Anyone with homosexual desires who God wants to save will want to come to Jesus to be straight (and to put to death the rest of their sin as well). Furthermore, we should rightly reject Perry’s claim that coming to Jesus won’t ensure they’ll be sexually attracted to those of the opposite sex, and we should clarify in the strongest terms that what the Scripture teaches (from the verse at the top of this article) is that if they don’t stop lusting after those of the same sex, they will have no part of Heaven.

Perry goes on to call heterosexuality “idolatry” and creates a false dilemma between “being straight” and “being made right with God.”

When the gospel is presented as “Come to Jesus to be straight,” instead of “Come to Jesus to be made right with God,” we shouldn’t be surprised when people won’t come to Jesus at all. If he is not the aim of their repentance, then he will not be believed as the ultimate aim of their faith. They will only exchange one idol for another and believe themselves to be Christian because of it.

While there are plenty of heterosexuals who are right with God, we can say with all the authority of Holy Scripture that there is no homosexual on Earth – anywhere – who is right with God. Romans 1 presents that sin in particular as a demonstration of lostness. Paul says that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In other words, while heterosexuality doesn’t make us right with God in and of itself, everyone right with God will be a heterosexual and their sexual desires will be properly oriented toward that which is natural and not grossly deviant.

Again, Perry’s argument doesn’t make any sense when applied to any other list of sins not championed by the religious left. At no point would you (or should you) hear Christians claim that the Holy Spirit’s work in our heart should not be expected in the life of a believer. Only in the most recent of days has homosexuality received a privileged, special status among evangelicals and the deviant desire seen as an exception to the power of the Spirit’s transforming work.

What the gay community needs to hear is not that God will make them straight, but that Christ can make them his.

First, there is no such thing as a “gay community.” Communities are built around shared values, not shared deviancies. We would not classify pedophiles, necrophiles, or murderers as a “community.” The nomenclature itself is compromised. Secondly, when Christ “makes them his,” he makes them straight. God has no homosexual children. That is the Scripture; deal with it.

God has not come mainly to make same-sex attracted men and women completely straight, or to get them hitched. Christ has come to make us right with God. And in making us right with God, he is satisfying us in God. That news is good for a reason. For it proclaims to the world that Jesus has come so that all sinners, gay and straight, can be forgiven of their sins to love God and enjoy him forever.

If the Spirit’s transformative work can’t make the sinner whole in Christ, then the news is not that good. What is missing from Perry’s article and John Piper’s Desiring God is any indication whatsoever that the doctrine of Sanctification even exists. It appears not even to be an afterthought or speedbump on her way to apostasy.

Perry claims that God has saved her out of the gay lifestyle, but uses her unique position as one of evangelicalism’s growing chorus of “gay Christian” voices to minimize the abomination of Same-Sex Attraction and preach against the work of the Holy Spirit to fully redeem sinners.

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The reason is obvious but people continue to ignore it: The Roman Catholic “Church” is a false church, a man made organization modeled on fallen humanistic power politics. From it’s founding it was in direct opposition to how a church should function. The Bishop of Rome wanted to gather power around himself, and used his position as the Bishop of the ancient seat of power in the Roman Empire to force other churches to submit to his rule! From there on out it was downhill!

from MSN:

With revelation after revelation, a new wave of sexual abuse scandals is rocking the Roman Catholic Church and presenting Pope Francis with the greatest crisis of his papacy.

In Chile, prosecutors have raided church offices, seized documents and accused leaders of a coverup. In Australia, top church figures are facing detention and trials. And in the United States, after the resignation of a cardinal, questions are swirling about a hierarchy that looked the other way and protected him for years.

The church has had more than three decades — since notable abuse cases first became public — to safeguard victims, and itself, against such system failures. And, in the past five years, many Catholics have looked to Francis as a figure who could modernize the church and help it regain its credibility.

But Francis’s track record in handling abuse is mixed, something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse institution.

Analysts who have studied the church’s response to sexual abuse, and several people who have advised the pope, say the Vatican has been unable to take the dramatic steps that can help an organization get out from under scandals — and avoid their repetition.

“Each new report of clerical abuse at any level creates doubt in the minds of many that we are effectively addressing this catastrophe in the Church,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, warned last month. Failure to take action, O’Malley said, “will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church.”

Francis is credited with some meaningful moves. Last month, he accepted the highest-level resignation to date when Theodore McCarrick stepped down from the College of Cardinals. The former archbishop of Washington and longtime church power broker is accused of sexually abusing adults and minors. He faces a church trial in which he could be defrocked entirely.

But the pope has also had notable missteps. During a January trip to South America, he drew widespread criticism by saying he was convinced of the innocence of Bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up the acts of a notorious abuser.

Francis sought to recover from that episode by sending two investigators to Chile, apologizing for his “serious errors” in handling the crisis and making a reference — unprecedented for a pope — to a “culture of abuse and coverup.” He invited Chilean abuse victims to the Vatican. He also called Chile’s 34 bishops to Rome, where, according to a letter that was leaked to the Chilean media, he accused them of failing to investigate possible crimes and destroying evidence. The bishops offered to step down en masse. So far, Francis has accepted five of those resignations.

Yet the church has struggled with a more comprehensive effort to close the chapter on sexual abuse.

Whereas transparency is typically advised, the church remains quiet about its investigations and disciplinary procedures. It does not release any data on the inquiries it has carried out. A proposed tribunal for judging bishops accused of negligence or coverup was quashed by the Vatican department that was supposed to help implement it. And, rather than being fired and publicly admonished, offending church leaders are typically allowed to resign without explanation.

“The church doesn’t like removing bishops,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and a senior analyst at the Religion News Service. “Bishops are vicars of Christ in their diocese. They’re not just McDonald’s franchise owners or local managers that can be fired by the CEO. And the church has always been reluctant to give in to political pressure to remove them.”

Francis has called on churches to maintain a “zero tolerance” policy and warned about the “sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power.” But the Vatican declined to distribute to bishops conferences suggested guidelines, drawn up by the commission advising Francis on sexual abuse, on how to respond to abuse complaints and cooperate with civil authorities.

Even when the Vatican does take action, resolution comes “at a very glacial pace,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, who was among the Chilean abuse victims who met for several days with Francis this past spring.

Cruz said he tried to tell the pope bluntly that a deeper shake-up was still needed. He specifically mentioned Francisco Javier ­Errázuriz, a member of the pope’s powerful nine-member advisory Council of Cardinals, who victims have long said ignored their abuse accusations and tried to discredit them. Errázuriz has denied wrongdoing.

“[The pope] asked us to give him time to act,” Cruz recalled. “He said, ‘I have to pray about this and let the Holy Spirit guide me on what I have to do.’ ”

Meanwhile, in the wider world, the cultural ground is shifting, and other forces are taking the lead on accountability.

A separate movement fighting abuse and harassment in the workplace has helped spread awareness about victims while diminishing skepticism about their stories.

At the same time, law enforcement agencies have been pursuing abuse cases in countries that once treated the church with deference. In Australia, some state and territory governments are even going after one of the church’s most sacred tenets and are on the verge of enforcing new laws requiring priests to report child abuse that they learn of during confessions. In the United States, the Catholic Church is bracing for the release of a 900-page grand jury report into sex crimes across six dioceses in Pennsylvania.

There have been competing calls within the American church on strengthening oversight of the hierarchy. Church leaders in Albany and Atlanta took the notable step of suggesting the involvement of expert laypeople, either to investigate or chart reforms.

“I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer,” said Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. “We bishops want to rise to this challenge, which may well be our last opportunity considering all that has happened.”

A similar conversation, about how to strengthen the response to abuse, has played out for several years in the Vatican — particularly within the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Francis created a year after he became pope. But little has come of the commission’s ideas.

In 2015, Francis approved its proposal of a tribunal, placed within the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office, that would assess cases of bishops accused of concealing or neglecting abuse. The tribunal, though, was never created. Four former members of the commission, as well as outside analysts, say the idea was thwarted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some outside analysts say the objection could have been on legal or logistical grounds.

In an interview published last year with the Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, then the head of the doctrine office, said the Vatican already had the “tools and legal means” to handle cases. Vatican watcher Marco Politi said congregation members and others in the Vatican hierarchy were also concerned about opening a “Pandora’s box.”

“This would mean hundreds of cases that would then bounce back to Rome with a huge media impact,” said Politi, author “Pope Francis Among the Wolves,” a papal biography. “It would signify the beginning of hunting season on culprits.”

In turn, Francis used another method to bolster accountability of the church hierarchy, issuing an apostolic letter that made it clear that bishops could be removed from office for negligently handling sexual abuse. But under the current system, any of five different Vatican congregations can be involved in investigating bishops, depending on the accused person’s role and affiliation within the church, and also on whether he has been accused of coverup or abuse. Coverup cases are handled by the same congregations that help to appoint bishops.

“It’s a potential conflict of interest,” said Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. “That’s absolutely an issue.”

The stalled effort to launch the tribunal prompted the resignation from the commission of Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor. Current and former members of the commission said that they are not given data and information on abuse-related cases being handled by the Vatican. Krysten Winter-Green, a former commission member who was a longtime counselor for abuse victims, said they were up against a “domain of secrecy.”

“The crime in the Catholic Church remains causing scandal, not covering up,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the site BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sexual abuse cases. “Bishops all over the world are not being forthcoming.”

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from Herescope:

Creating A “Low-Intensity Faith”

The Wall Street Journal wrote last week that “Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, a friend and frequent interviewer of the pope, reported that the pontiff had denied the existence of hell.”

Sinners who die without achieving eternal salvation “are not punished,” the pope said, according to an article by Mr. Scalfari in the Itlaian newspaper La Repubblica. “There is no hell; there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”[1]

Predictably the Vatican would later release a statement that partially denied the report, but also “stopped short of a specific denial.”[2] This clever dialectic maneuver is a perfect example of two steps forward, one step back. Now the issue of hell is on the table and up for debate, once again illustrating how the Pope Francis has “shaken up perceptions of Catholic doctrine.”[3]

The Pope is merely following in the steps of other theologians and leaders who have professed orthodoxy out of one side of their mouth while teaching new doctrine.[4] Their strategies appear to be the same. The Wall Street Journal’s Vatican correspondent, Francis X. Rocca, describes it:

For more conservative critics, the pope’s approach amounts to promotion of a “low-intensity Catholicism that can be easily welcomed by those far from the faith and even hostile to it,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who writes for Italy’s L’Espresso magazine.

The nun turned her back on the class. (We were still not safe from scrutiny… we all knew she also had eyes in the back of her head.) Jimmy Cummings could make these strange voices and sounds and get us giggling… and then when the good sister turned around to find the culprit, Jimmy could instantly take on the countenance of a cherub and someone else would be blamed. His unique ability served him well. He is now Voice Actor Jim Cummings… the voice of Winnie the Pooh!

I digress… Back to what the nun had written on the green blackboard. She took the pointer, a weapons grade staff with a rubber tip that looked like a ballistic missile, and pronounced the phrase she had written:

Ex Cathedra 

She then went on to explain that whenever the Pope was seated in the chair (also called the throne of St. Peter) whatever he said was infallible. He was not to be questioned for he was speaking in the place of God. The Latin phrase ex cathedra means “from or out of the chair”

There was another Latin term we would learn:

Imprimatur 

Imprimatur was the term used to describe the authority of the Church when it came to anyone publishing anything that had to do with the teachings of the Church. It was an official endorsement or sanction… a seal of approval. Yet another Latin phrase would be the official Imprimatur:

Nihil Obstat

It means “Nothing is in the way or is unacceptable or offensive.”

Two days ago, I was listening to a national talk show. I actually got on the air and was able to engage the host on a topic that is important to me… how the media is intentionally trying to undermine our values and beliefs. After the conversation and just before the commercial break, the host teased the topic for the next segment:

“Stick around folks, did you hear the Pope said there is no Hell?”

The current Pope has made numerous remarks that seem to confute not only Catholic Dogma, but the Bible itself. He took a lot of heat when he opined about the whole issue of homosexuality. “Who am I to judge?” I mean no disrespect, but I said out loud when I heard it, “I know who you are… You are Vicar of Christ on earth, the unquestionable representative of God to over a billion people. You sit on a throne, and utter remarks that are deemed to be infallible. You and those who rule with you can excommunicate people, hence cut them off from the means of grace… ergo consigning them to the Hell you said is not what the Bible describes, and Jesus believed to be real. In the New Testament, Jesus mentioned the word Hell more than He did Heaven.”

The implications of all this are far reaching. What else in the Bible will be deemed to be inaccurate or false? Does the word infallible mean… sometimes or ‘sort of’? And what of all the tormented souls who died believing that they were damned to Hell? The Pope is reported to have said that the unrepentant ones don’t go to Hell. They just disappear. The Bible describes torment that never ends… a Dante’s inferno.

There is an angst that is palpable in our world… Constitutions mean nothing. Vows mean even less than nothing and we, lemming-like, rush to fall into the abyss as the institutions of power in our country disassemble all that was based on God’s word.

Listen to this noble school mission statement:  

“Christo et Ecclesia”

For Christ and the Church! This is the founding mission statement of Harvard! Princeton had this lofty goal for its students, To know God in Jesus Christ… to live a godly sober life.”[6]

God said, “For I am the Lord. I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) The writer to the Hebrews said under the unction of The Holy Spirit, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God!” (Hewbrews 10:31) We have for a long time meekly submitted to the abandonment of the very notion there is such a thing as Truth. One writer quipped “God created man in his own image and likeness… and now man has returned the favor.”

I remember preaching a message years ago in which I talked about the Bible’s use of the word authority. Now for Catholics, authority rests in a man who speaksex cathedra… from the chair. For those who rule us politically their authority can be described as ex officio… out of the office they hold. But for the believer in Jesus, the authority that He grants us is based on our relationship with Him. The word translated authority in the Greek is exousia. It is a derivative of the verb “to be” It can be rendered ‘Out of who I AM’.

Is there a Hell? Is it how the Bible describes it? I read in the Bible that there is a hell and that Jesus affirmed it and warned that some will go there. I have staked my life on its veracity.

I hold that the answer does not rest with a man, or an organization, or a tradition. The Bible says, “All Scripture is God breathed.” (1 Timothy 3:16) “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” said Jesus, “but My Words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33) That is proof enough for me.

The Truth:

For the truth about hell, see Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s excellent article, “An Imaginary Cosmic Reality,”[7] where he refutes the denial of hell. Here is a brief excerpt:

Many, even Christians, reject the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles regarding the eternal punishment of the wicked. They point out that no biblical word expresses the concept of “eternity,” but only “a long period”or “remotest time” (Hebrew ‘olam) or “age” (Greek aion). They argue that because of these words’ multifaceted meanings there is no word in Scripture expressing a forever category of time. Therefore it is presumptuous for anyone to think hell will never end. But the Apostle John describes the state of being consigned to the Lake of Fire as one of being “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). The time frame expressed is in multiples of forever-s, one of ages of ages. These multiples of ages is the longest concept of time the Greek language, or perhaps any language, can express (Greek plurals, eis tous aionas ton aionon, Revelation 20:10). Combined with “day and night” (Greek, hemeras kai nyktos), “for ever and ever” nuances a timeless existence in which 24/7, for ages of ages, the unholy trinity—the beast, the false prophet, the devil—and others will be confined. Together, the clauses express the “the unbroken continuity of their torment” in perpetuity.

“And I say unto you my friends,
Be not afraid of them that kill the body,
and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear:
Fear Him, which after He hath killed
hath power to cast into hell;
yea,
 I say unto you, Fear Him.” 
(Jesus, Luke 12:4-5)
“Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto
 the Father, but by Me.”
(John 14:6)

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We have seen this in the past and there are two major errors that lead to this kind of conduct: 1. Raising a pastor up to be a CEO Superstar type of figure who becomes immune to oversight. 2. Errant non-Biblical teaching. If a church is following Biblical teaching and guided by the Holy Spirit in all that it does this would not happen!

from The New York Times:

SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. — After the pain of watching her marriage fall apart, Pat Baranowski felt that God was suddenly showering her with blessings.

She had a new job at her Chicago-area megachurch, led by a dynamic young pastor named the Rev. Bill Hybels, who in the 1980s was becoming one of the most influential evangelical leaders in the country.

The pay at Willow Creek Community Church was much lower than at her old job, but Ms. Baranowski, then 32, admired Mr. Hybels and the church’s mission so much that it seemed worth it. She felt even more blessed when in 1985 Mr. Hybels and his wife invited her to move into their home, where she shared family dinners and vacations.

Once, while Mr. Hybels’s wife, Lynne, and their children were away, the pastor took Ms. Baranowski out for dinner. When they got home, Mr. Hybels offered her a back rub in front of the fireplace and told her to lie face down.

Stunned, she remembered feeling unable to say no to her boss and pastor as he straddled her, unhooked her bra and touched her near her breasts. She remembered feeling his hands shake.

That first back rub in 1986 led to multiple occasions over nearly two years in which he fondled her breasts and rubbed against her. The incidents later escalated to one occasion of oral sex. Ms. Baranowski said she was mortified and determined to stay silent.

“I really did not want to hurt the church,” said Ms. Baranowski, who is now 65, speaking publicly for the first time. “I felt like if this was exposed, this fantastic place would blow up, and I loved the church. I loved the people there. I loved the family. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. And I was ashamed.”

Mr. Hybels denied her allegations about her time working and living with him. “I never had an inappropriate physical or emotional relationship with her before that time, during that time or after that time,” he said in an email.

Since the #MeToo movement emerged last year, evangelical churches have been grappling with allegations of sexual abuse by their pastors. A wave of accusations has begun to hit evangelical institutions, bringing down figures like the Rev. Andy Savage, at Highpoint Church in Memphis, and the Rev. Harry L. Thomas, the founder of the Creation Festival, a Christian music event.

Ms. Baranowski is not the first to accuse Mr. Hybels of wrongdoing, though her charges are more serious than what has been reported before.

In March, The Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today reported that Mr. Hybels had been accused by several other women, including co-workers and a congregant, of inappropriate behavior that dated back decades. The allegations included lingering hugs, invitations to hotel rooms, comments about looks and an unwanted kiss.

The accusations did not immediately result in consequences for Mr. Hybels. At a churchwide meeting where Mr. Hybels denied the allegations, he received a standing ovation from the congregation.

The church’s elders conducted their own investigation of the allegations when they first surfaced four years ago and commissioned a second inquiry by an outside lawyer, completed in 2017. Both investigations cleared Mr. Hybels, though the church’s two lead pastors have since issued public apologies, saying that they believe the women.

In April, Mr. Hybels announced to the congregation he would accelerate his planned retirement by six months and step aside immediately for the good of the church. He continued to deny the allegations, but acknowledged, “I too often placed myself in situations that would have been far wiser to avoid.” The congregation let out a disappointed groan. Some shouted “No!”

On Sunday, one of the church’s two top pastors severed his ties with Willow Creek. After services, the Rev. Steve Carterannounced that he was resigning immediately in response to Ms. Baranowski’s “horrifying” allegations about Mr. Hybels.

Mr. Carter said he had a “fundamental difference” with the church’s elders over how they had handled the allegations against Mr. Hybels, and had been planning to resign for some time.

Mr. Carter did not appear as scheduled at Sunday services at the church’s main campus, and the congregation at the second service was told that he was so sick that he was vomiting backstage.

No mention was made of Mr. Hybels or the allegations against him at either service at the main campus.

In many evangelical churches, a magnetic pastor like Mr. Hybels is the superstar on whom everything else rests, making accusations of harassment particularly difficult to confront. Such a pastor is seen as a conduit to Christ, giving sermons so mesmerizing that congregants rush to buy tapes of them after services.

In the evangelical world, Mr. Hybels is considered a giant, revered as a leadership guru who discovered the formula for bringing to church people who were skeptical of Christianity. His books and speeches have crossed over into the business world.

Mr. Hybels built a church independent of any denomination. In such churches, there is no larger hierarchy to set policies and keep the pastor accountable. Boards of elders are usually volunteers recommended, and often approved, by the pastor.

But the most significant reason sexual harassment can go unchecked is that victims do not want to hurt the mission of their churches.

“So many victims within the evangelical world stay silent because they feel, if they step forward, they’ll damage this man’s ministry, and God won’t be able to accomplish the things he’s doing through this man,” said Boz Tchividjian, a former sex crimes prosecutor who leads GRACE, an organization that works with victims of abuse in Christian institutions.

“Those leaders feel almost invincible,” said Mr. Tchividjian, a grandson of Billy Graham who has consulted with some former staff members accusing Mr. Hybels of wrongdoing. “They don’t feel like the rules apply to them, because they’re doing great things for Jesus, even though their behavior doesn’t reflect Jesus at all.”

A Sign

In 1984, Ms. Baranowski was walking to her car in the vast parking lot of Willow Creek one night after services. She had just been praying about whether to apply for a job at the church she saw posted.

Suddenly a car screeched to a stop beside her, and the driver rolled down his window. It was the church’s pastor.

“Could I drive you to your car or something?” offered Mr. Hybels, who was then 33. Her car was nearby, but she accepted the ride.

It seemed like a sign from God.

Mr. Hybels later also described the meeting as a miracle: He had been driving out of the parking lot when God urged him to go back and find the woman he drove by.

“That night I had no idea how offering help to a person who probably didn’t need it would affect my life and ministry,” he wrote in one of his first books.

Soon after, she left her position as a computer systems manager. She found great purpose in working for a church that was adding more than 1,000 new members a year. She served as Mr. Hybels’s gatekeeper, fielding calls from pastors across the country eager to tap him for advice.

“It was a wonderful time,” she said. “I thought maybe God was just being good to me, and I think he was. But I couldn’t understand: Why did he select me? Because I didn’t think that highly of myself.”

Ms. Baranowski kept handwritten notes she received from Mr. Hybels. In one, Mr. Hybels praised her work and said, “I am praying that your new small group” at church “will be a source of much happiness and strength in your life.” Then he added, “P.S. Plus, you are a knockout!”

Mr. Hybels was regarded as a maverick in the evangelical world for giving women leadership positions.

Nancy Beach, who joined the staff soon after Ms. Baranowski, said the work was exhilarating.

“We were at the center of this grand adventure,” said Ms. Beach, the first woman appointed by Mr. Hybels to be a “teaching pastor,” meaning she could preach at services.

Ms. Beach recalled that Mr. Hybels was an exacting boss who got angry if the sound system was fuzzy or if a Christmas drama wasn’t performed smoothly. And he didn’t tolerate personal misconduct. After one staff member had an affair and another was discovered with pornography, she said, “They had to speak publicly to everyone affected. They lost their jobs.”

Ms. Beach is among the women who have recently come forward in articles accusing Mr. Hybels of harassment. She said that on a work trip to Spain in 1999, he invited her to his hotel room and gave her a long hug that made her feel uncomfortable.

She didn’t speak up until recently, when she heard there were other women with similar experiences.

“That’s what makes some of this so confusing, because he has been a champion for women,” said Ms. Beach, who has since left Willow but still preaches widely.

‘Humiliated, Guilty and Ashamed’

In the late 1980s, crusading against pornography was a top priority for evangelicals. Mr. Hybels told Ms. Baranowski that he had been told to educate himself on the issue by James Dobson, founder of the ministry Focus on the Family, who had been appointed by President Ronald Reagan to an anti-pornography commission.

Calling it research, Mr. Hybels once instructed Ms. Baranowski to go out and rent several pornographic videos, she said, to her great embarrassment. He insisted on watching them with her, she said, while he was dressed in a bathrobe.

One night, she said, Mr. Hybels felt too sick to go to a church event, so he sent his wife in his stead to introduce the guest speaker, a famous evangelist from India. He asked Ms. Baranowski to bring him something to eat, and fondled her again, she said.

Ms. Baranowski said that during the years of harassment, Mr. Hybels never kissed her, and they never had intercourse. She was particularly ashamed about the oral sex. She grew increasingly wracked by guilt and tried to talk with him. One day in his office, she told him that it was unfair to his wife, that it was sin, and that she felt humiliated.

That night she recorded in her journal what he had said in response: “It’s not a big deal. Why can’t you just get over it? You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”

His attitude toward her slowly began to change, she said. She moved out of the house after two years. In the office, he began to suggest she was incompetent and unstable. He berated her work in front of others. She grew depressed and poured out her feelings to God, filling 20 spiral-bound journals.

On May 11, 1989, she wrote, “I feel like an abused wife.”

She feared that she would be forced to stand in front of the congregation and confess, like the other employees who were fired. She was relocated to work in a converted coat closet.

Mr. Hybels finally sketched out an exit plan for her on a piece of note paper, which she kept. She resigned from Willow after more than eight years.

Mr. Hybels said in an email last week that Ms. Baranowski had “wanted a bigger challenge than being my assistant” and changed jobs “on good terms.”

She saw a counselor, who said in an interview that she remembered only that Ms. Baranowski was “humiliated, guilty and ashamed” because of her relationship with Mr. Hybels. The counselor, who spoke with Ms. Baranowski’s permission, requested anonymity because she did not want to be part of the controversy.

She recalled of Ms. Baranowski, “She felt she had lost her connection to God.”

Since leaving the church, Ms. Baranowski said she has struggled to keep a job, lost her condominium, moved from state to state, and had migraines and panic attacks.

“I carried Bill’s responsibility, for things he should have been responsible for,” she said.

Ms. Baranowski told only one friend, the Rev. Don Cousins, about one month after she left the Willow staff. She begged him to stay silent, and he did, until now.

The entanglement with Mr. Hybels “altered the trajectory of her life,” said Mr. Cousins, a well-known evangelical leader who worked at Willow for 17 years.

“She had been a very high-performing person, committed, high-caliber, responsible,” said Mr. Cousins, now a pastor in Orlando, Fla. “And the church was her life.”

Mr. Hybels went on to expand Willow to eight sites with 25,000 worshipers. He published more than 50 books, many on ethics, like “Who Are You When No One’s Looking.”

He was a spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton and stuck with him through his impeachment. He drew speakers like Colin Powell, Bono and Sheryl Sandberg to his annual Global Leadership Summit, which has continued and will be held later this week.

When news of the other allegations against Mr. Hybels broke, Mr. Cousins encouraged Ms. Baranowski to get in touch with Ms. Beach. The two women had a tearful reunion. Both wish they had confronted Mr. Hybels at the time so they could have spared other women from harassment.

Ms. Beach remembers traveling to 27 countries representing Willow Creek and hearing pastors say hundreds of times that they owed their churches’ success to Mr. Hybels.

“How could he have done all this good,” she asked, “when there were such dark things happening behind the scenes?”

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“Graham “spread the gospel in 185 countries during his 99 years on Earth, touching the lives of many and forever changing the course of the world’s spiritual health,” according to a statement by House Speaker Paul Ryan.” ?!?!?!?

Apparently House Speaker Paul Ryan does not read the same Bible that I do!

Lest we forget:

Judges 8:22-27:

Gideon’s Ephod

“Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.”

But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” Then Gideon said to them, “I would like to make a request of you, that each of you would give me the earrings from his plunder.” For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.

So they answered, “We will gladly give them.” And they spread out a garment, and each man threw into it the earrings from his plunder. Now the weight of the gold earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants, and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were around their camels’ necks. Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.”

from Fox 8:

Thousands have signed an online petition calling for a national holiday in honor of the Rev. Billy Graham, WSOC reports.

The Change.org petition, which was started six days ago by user Kyle Siler, had more than 60,736 signatures as of Monday morning and is addressed to President Donald Trump, as well as senators Thom Tillis, Richard Burr and Jerry Tillman.

The petition highlighted Graham’s impact on people all over the world:

“Lets get a National Holiday for Billy Graham!! Mr. Graham preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts. Mr. Graham’s counsel was sought by presidents, and his appeal in both the secular and religious arenas is evidenced by the wide range of groups that have honored him, including numerous honorary doctorates from many institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Help us with our cause of setting a national holiday to remember this great man.”

Thousands were in Charlotte on Friday to say goodbye to Graham. The private funeral service was held in a tent outside the Billy Graham Library.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attended the funeral and were escorted by Graham’s grandson, a Major in the United States Army.

Graham, known to many as America’s pastor, passed away just before 8 a.m. on Feb. 21 from natural causes at his family home in Montreat just outside of Asheville.

Graham “spread the gospel in 185 countries during his 99 years on Earth, touching the lives of many and forever changing the course of the world’s spiritual health,” according to a statement by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The minister was buried next to his wife, Ruth, on the property. His coffin, a plain, pine casket, was built by inmates at the Louisiana state prison.

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