On our calendar May 14 is the date of Israel's independence. The Israelis celebrate their Independence Day on the 5th day of their month Iyar, which was April 29 this year because they go by the Jewish calendar.
Thirty years ago today I was in Israel when the country celebrated its 31st anniversary. Jamie Buckingham, 12 other Americans and I went to climb Mount Sinai. It was my first trip to Israel-indeed my first trip outside the United States. What an experience! We met in Israel with some Christian friends of Jamie's who took us around to interesting sites. My reaction-like so many others-was that it made the Bible come alive.
The situation in Sri Lanka for the Tamil people, many of whom are Christians, is very dire. The United Nations reports that 6,500 people have been killed and 14,000 injured in last three months alone. You can read more about this in a news article through the link provided at at the bottom of this report. This Friday a protest against this bloodshed is planned at the United Nations. If you're able to attend or if you can forward this e-mail to people who can attend I encourage you to do it. This is something we must decry.
Several years ago our readers responded to the emergency of the tsunami by helping the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka through Godfrey Yogarajah, its general secretary. We raised more than a quarter of $1 million.
I know many of you have heard about the stance that Miss California took at the recent Miss USA contest. She said: "I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised." Although she has been maligned by some, many in the Christian community have supported her. You can read an interesting article about it here.
Watch the video of her reception at the recent Dove awards and a video of her at The Rock Church in San Diego with pastor Miles McPherson.
You may have heard the news that late Wednesday afternoon the so-called Hate Crimes Bill, HR-1913, passed the U.S. House with a vote of 249 - 175. Around 5 p.m. a motion to reconsider was agreed to without objection.
I believe that this is a real blow to our liberties as outlined below. We must get the word out to as many people as we can so that this is defeated in the Senate, since President Obama has said that he will sign the bill rather than veto a similar bill as President Bush did.
I also want to call our intercessors to pray because this is much more than just a political battle. I believe this is also spiritual warfare.
On Tuesday Robert A. J. Gagnon sent out an interesting letter detailing why Christians need to be proactive in fighting this hate crimes bill. You can read it below.
Support for a "hate" bill that enshrines "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" into federal law (note that it is not yet so enshrined) does not mean merely that you oppose hateful, violent acts against persons who self-identify as homosexuals, transsexuals, and cross-dressers. Laws are already in place protecting persons who identify as homosexual or transgendered. They are the same laws that protect all of us from violent physical or verbal attacks.
If you've ever been to Israel, you know that it is a life-changing experience. My first trip was almost 30 years ago. I'll write more about that at another time.
I was recently asked to help find pastors who'd like to visit the Holy Land. The Israel Ministry of Tourism is willing to fly pastors who meet a certain criteria to Israel free of charge. The trip has been dubbed a "familiarization tour." For more information send an e-mail to email@example.com. I'm reaching out to you for help. I'm hoping that we will find some good candidates and generate more interest in our new e-newsletter, Standing With Israel.
It's known that the best way to grow anything on the Internet is through viral marketing. I'm asking you to read and forward our new Standing With Israel e-newsletter and my Strang Report. I am motivated to double the circulation of the Strang Report in the next three months, but I need your help.
If you'd like to sign up for Standing With Israel or the Strang Report, click here.
In a recent blog posted on MSNBC, Patrick Buchanan, former White House adviser and outspoken Christian, details evidence of how America is "de-Christianizing." He says that "secularism has become the established religion of the American state and judges are the high priests of the new order." You can read his full commentary here. Come back and let me know what you think after you've read it.
Numerous blogs and columns have been surfacing about Christianity's "decline." Most recently, during the week of Easter, Newsweek's cover story cavalierly announced Christianity's impending doom and eventual destruction. This week, I ran across a telling article at realclearpolitics.com called The Decline and Fall of Newsweek. The author, Brent Bozell, questions how Newsweek, a magazine whose circulation has decreased by 52 percent since 1990, could say that Christianity is heading for doom because 10 percent fewer people identify as Christians than did in 1990. The article is a quick read and one I believe you will enjoy. After you've read it, come back and tell us your thoughts on the issue. Click here to read it.
Around the world people will be celebrating Earth Day on Wed., April 22. Though care for God's creation is not usually an issue that motivates conservative Christians, I felt it would be good to focus on what some Christians--especially the younger generation--are doing to raise ecological awareness within the Christian community.
Below is an interesting article by Meredith Grady, daughter of J. Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma magazine. She is a student at Emmanuel College. It is obvious that in the Grady family the apple did not fall far from the tree.
Anna Jane Joyner, the daughter of Christian leader Rick Joyner, pastor of South Carolina based-Morningstar Ministries, leads a student group called Renewal: Students Caring for Creation. Last summer 12 passionate Christian college students and recent graduates gathered to develop a network of Christian students committed to caring for God's creation. Two months later, Renewal's first event--the Renewal Summit, which was a leaders training and community building effort, and was attended by more than 50 student leaders from across North America. The organization is continuing to grow; it recently sponsored the first National Day of Prayer for God's Creation, which included hundreds of Christians from 27 states and 5 continents. You can read more about this on their Web site by clicking here.
I made a collage for a boyfriend once. Silly, I know. I spent hours pinning little bows, buttons, kissy-pictures and other embarrassing items on a large piece of misshapen cardboard. It was Valentine's Day or some anniversary (or a Tuesday), and I thought a creative, thoughtful expression to be thoroughly appropriate.
After adding paint, song lyrics, and probably more kissy-pictures, I presented my work of art to him with enthusiasm. He seemed appreciative enough at first, spouting phrases like, "Oh, I love that picture" and "Excellent color scheme!" I assumed this meant he was going to take care of my masterpiece forever and ever.
I just returned from an important "Israel Summit" in San Antonio, Texas, with about 140 leaders from around the United States. We came away deeply concerned about the situation in Israel because of the threat from Iran and with an awareness that what we are doing through Christians United For Israel (CUFI) is more important than ever.
I am motivated to encourage as many people as possible to participate in several upcoming CUFI events. The first is Sunday, May 17, which is called CUFI Sunday. So far nearly 1,000 churches are signed up for this event. You can click here for more information on how to sign up.
With gay marriage legislation being passed in Iowa and Vermont, some Christians are saying that there is an all out war on traditional values. I thought Samuel Rodriguez (pictured), president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, spoke eloquently on this subject. You can read his comments here and then come back to our Web site and tell me what you think by leaving a comment.
A couple of months ago there was a huge demonstration in downtown Orlando, called a "tea party." It received very little press, even though thousands of people attended. I wouldn't have known about it except that a couple of my family members inadvertently found themselves downtown, and were able to interact with a number of the attendees. They gave me a big report of the event. These "tea parties" were going on around the country and now there is an organized effort to hold numerous parties in America on Tax Day-- Wednesday, April 15.
One of the things I do on the Strang Report is pass along information that comes to me on a daily basis. Recently both Rick Warren (pictured) and Joel Osteen were on Larry King Live. Larry King is well known for inviting Christian leaders to be on his show and then baiting them.
In what must have been an effort to be conciliatory, both Warren and Osteen made statements that liberals are taking as a sign that the Christian movement is moving leftward. It's bringing howls of protests from some Christian leaders on the right becuase they feel betrayed by two of the most respected and highest profiled christian leaders.
Someone sent me this column called "Bickering Threatens to Break Apart Christian Coalition" by Kathleen Parker, a columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group. In it she analyzes what's going on with the religious right. After you read it, come back to our Web site and put your comments on our blog. Read the article here.
As today is Good Friday and we are thinking about Christ's death on the cross, I decided to devote the Strang Report to sharing my thoughts about Matt Crouch's new documentary: The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story.
I found this documentary to be very moving when I saw it at a pre-screening on March 24. If the movie is still playing in your area, I urge you to go see it. When it comes out on DVD, I urge you to buy it. You can click here to watch the four-minute trailer.
If you want to read more about this movie you can click here to read the news story we wrote on March 24 in our Charisma News Online newsletter or you can click here to read the review we did in our newest e-newsletter, The Buzz, on March 25.
My good friend Michael Farris has been a real advocate for parental rights. He is founding president and current chancellor of Patrick Henry College, which is training young lawyers from a Christian worldview.
Angered by recent court decisions that have chipped away at parental rights, Farris helped craft H.J. Res. 42, also known as the Parental Rights Amendment, which was filed last week by 71 members of the House.
In recent years, Christians have been subjected to a firestorm of hate crimes, much of which has been overlooked by the mainstream media. Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission and the Christian Film & Television Commission are conducting a joint effort to bring hate crimes against Christians to light and hold attackers accountable. Read the article from Ted Baehr below to see how you can support this effort.
Defending the Christian Faith and Faithful
The tragic church shooting and death of Rev. Fred Winters, pastor of First Baptist Church, Maryville Ill., has once again raised one of the most under-reported issues within the media today: violence directed at Christians and churches.