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OpEd: Thoughts on What We Could Never Pay, What We Will Always Owe

Let’s talk about debt.

Of course the recent struggles in Washington sorely tempt me to opine on the egregious spectacle we have just endured. However, our status as a non-profit ministry (and hopefully some common sense) limits any political comment. But one obvious fact can be safely asserted: debt has consequences.

Let’s look at our spiritual debt, our financial debt and our love debt.

What we owe (and what we don’t owe) spiritually. We could never have satisfied the debt and depth of our bankruptcy before God. The just “wages” for our sin was death and severance from God and His glory (see Rom. 3:23; 6:23). But “when we were helpless ... Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). This is the liberating good news of the gospel. Our debt of sin has been paid with Christ’s atoning blood. Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30). His literal statement in the original language was, “Paid in full!” The debt of all our sins is fully, forever canceled!

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Dave Ramsey Responds to Dow Jones Dips

So much for stabilizing the markets with a Federal Reserve promise to keep interest rates low. Europe’s debt problems are sending a ripple effect through U.S. stock markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial average declined 519 points, or 4.6 percent, on Wednesday. The dip marks the third time in the last five trading days that the Dow has lost more than 500 points. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq dropped 101 points, or 4.1 percent, and the S&P 500 is down 51 points, or 4.4 percent.

But now is no time to panic. So says Dave Ramsey, a nationally syndicated radio show host discussing personal finance topics. Ramsey has launched what he calls “The Great Recovery,” a grassroots movement spread by people who are tired of looking to Washington for answers.

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Muslims Murder Christian in Upper Egypt

AP Images

A Coptic Christian was killed and several others were injured in Upper Egypt after Muslims on Sunday attacked a predominantly Christian village following an argument between a Muslim and Christian.

The attack at Nazlet Faragallah village in Minya, 218 kilometers south of Cairo, lasted until Monday morning, Christians said. The attackers raided an unknown number of homes owned by Christian villagers and set eight on fire, area residents said.

The assailants killed Maher Nassif, 46, a civil servant and livestock farmer, when he tried to defend his home. The men burst into Nassif’s house, shot him in the head and slit his throat while his teenage son watched from under a bed where he was hiding, Christian villagers said. The men looted the home and stole Nassif’s livestock as his son escaped into the night, according to villagers who spoke with the boy.

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Crystal Cathedral Creditor Forces Sale

AP Images: Orange County Register, Ana Venegas

The Crystal Cathedral’s creditors aren’t backing down. The creditors have made it clear that the megachurch property will be sold whether or not the Schuller family agrees, according to United Press International.

The California church was believing God for a $50 million fundraising miracle, but creditors filed a plan in federal bankruptcy court in Santa Ana, Calif., on Tuesday calling for the sale.

Creditors want at least $50 million, The Orange County Register reported. The plan would reportedly allow the Schullers to lease the 3,000-seat building from the buyer.

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Four Texas Abortionists Busted for Violations

AP Images

Four Texas abortionists associated with the Whole Women's Health abortion chain are facing disciplinary action based on complaints filed by Operation Rescue.

The Texas Medical Board notified Operation Rescue President Troy Newman that William Watkins West Jr., Robert E. Hanson Jr., Pedro J. Kowalyszyn and Sherwood C. Lynn will appear before an Informal Settlement Conference/Show Compliance hearing on Oct. 28 to determine what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken against them.

They join five other Texas abortionists who are also facing disciplinary action based on Operation Rescue complaints.

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MAF Battling Deadly Epidemics in DRC

As cholera and measles sicken thousands in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mission Aviation Fellowship is providing desperately needed flight services to assist medical agencies in their efforts to combat these deadly diseases.

A measles epidemic has threatened the DRC for the past nine months. MAF, a faith-based relief organization that brings aid to needy people in remote areas of the world, has been flying medical workers and supplies into the areas most affected.

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Does Education Influence Religious Beliefs?

It's pretty much a given that the more educated someone becomes, the more likely they are to question their religious beliefs, stop going to church and even abandon their faith entirely.

Or is it?

A new University of Nebraska-Lincoln study challenges that age-old notion with findings that show education actually has a positive effect on Americans' churchgoing habits, their devotional practices, their emphasis on religion in daily life and their support for religious leaders to weigh in on the issues of the day.

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Advocates Help Send Kids to School

Years ago one ministry was working hard to help pick up the pieces of the Soviet Union by delivering aid to the many who were receiving only 10 percent of the income they had received in the past. As the ministry struggled to meet the numerous needs of those around them, their leader had a thought: Why can't we mobilize people to come and bring humanitarian aid with them?

Eventually this ministry became the Global Aid Network (GAiN). And out of that one thought came GAiN's Advocates program.

"[GAiN advocates] come on as official representatives of GAiN wherever they happen to live," says Tom Miller, who works in Volunteer Opportunities at GAiN. "That saves the ministry massive amounts of money and provides the opportunity for many people to be involved in international ministry right where they are."

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OpEd: China Will Not Crackdown on Forced Abortions

China has vowed to crackdown on "sex-selective abortions" to close the gender gap, according to an AP report on Tuesday. Don't hold your breath.

A BBC News article, "China acts to protect baby girls," reported the same vow in 2004. Zhao Baige, then deputy director (and now vice minister) of China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, vowed seven years ago: "Illegal sex determination and sex-selective abortion must be strictly banned ... China has set the goal of lowering the sex ratio to a normal level by 2010."

The result? In 2004 there were 117 boys born for every 100 girls born. In 2011—a year after China had vowed to bring sex ratios to a normal level—there are now 119 boys born for every 100 girls born. The gender gap has not closed, but widened.

VIDEO: This Is the Church of God

On an average of every six hours a Church of God is planted somewhere in the world. Join us in celebrating the Church of God, its presence and its 125 years of dedication to winning souls to Christ, by watching today's daily interest video.

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Pakistan’s Christian Flood Victims Face Religious Discrimination


In this photo taken July 26, Pakistani children fetch water in a camp where hundreds of people displaced by last years's flooding live. (AP Images/B.K. Bangash)

Many Christians living in the southern belt of Pakistan’s Punjab Province who lost their houses in last year’s floods remain homeless despite a plan by the Punjab government to allocate land to residents in the area, area Christians said.

Hameed Masih, a resident of Kot Addu in Muzaffargarh district, said the provincial government has not set a quota for granting of land to members of minority communities left homeless by the devastating floods that began in late July 2010.

 The government has begun four plans in Kot Addu under which around 435 plots of five marlas (151 square yards) each were to be distributed among people who lost their property. Several people were allotted land last month, but so far no minority member has been given land, he said.

Church of God Celebrates 125 Years


R.G. and Barbara Spurling. Courtesy of Harvest Temple

The Church of God is celebrating its 125th anniversary in August. The following article describes how the denomination was born.

One and a quarter centuries ago Richard Green Spurling, best known as R. G. Spurling, issued a call to form what is now the Church of God. From the eight who responded to his invitation, our movement now numbers almost 7 million members in 181 nations and territories. Following his challenging message on Aug. 19, 1886, Spurling concluded: “As many Christians as are here present that are desirous to be free from all men-made creeds and traditions, and are willing to take the New Testament, or law of Christ, for your only rule of faith and practice; giving each other equal rights and privilege to read and interpret for yourselves as your conscience may dictate, and are willing to sit together as the Church of God to transact business [as] the same, come forward.”

With that invitation, the small band of believers meeting in Monroe County, Tenn., formed a congregation that they called the Christian Union. In this unexpected region of the country, people hungry for the restoration of New Testament Christianity sought God and came together to be God’s church. Out of their vision of Christian union, with the later addition of the experiences of sanctification and Spirit baptism, came the “Church of God” as we know our movement today.

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Charismatic Leaders Speak Out on U.S. Debt Woes

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday saw its worst day since Dec. 2008, with the day's final numbers dropping 600 points.

As the U.S. national debt continues its climb past $14.5 trillion, Charismatic and evangelical Christian leaders are responding from various perspectives. Some take a prophetic look. Others take a pragmatic look. But all agree that something has to change.

International evangelist Perry Stone, known for his end-time prophetic ministry, addressed the economic collapse in his Aug. 8 “Prophecy Update.” In his update, he notes that the federal government couldn’t even begin to cover its debt—even if the richest of Americans were taxed 100 percent of their earnings.

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Religious Restrictions On Rise in 23 Nations


AP Iamges/Bryant MacDougall

A new study suggests that government-controlled religion restrictions or social hostilities involving religion are getting worse in nearly one third of the world.

Of the world's total population of 6.9 billion, more than 2.2 billion people—32 percent—live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009, according to a new study on global restrictions on religion released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. Government restrictions or social hostilities declined in only about 1 percent of the world's population.

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The King’s University Discusses Crystal Cathedral Bid

A large arts and crafts retailer known for its philanthropic support of Christian causes has offered to purchase the Crystal Cathedral Garden Grove, Calif., property for $47.5 million.

If the bid is successful, the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby would lease the property to The King’s University for a year and then donate it to the university. The King’s University is a Pentecostal/Charismatic Bible college and seminary of which Jack Hayford is founder.

“Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. offered the Crystal Cathedral Board of Directors $47.5 million to purchase the Crystal Cathedral property,” says Mart Green, the vice chairman of the board for the retailer and son of founder David Green. “Although Hobby Lobby believes its offer is adequate to pay in full all secured, priority and trade creditors, such an allocation of sale proceeds is not a closing condition. Our offer is in cash, which allows for creditors to be paid back as soon as a sale is completed.”

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Study Proves Religious People Have More Joy

There may be a few atheists in foxholes, but a new study suggests that in societies under stress, those who are religious outnumber—and are happier than—their nonreligious counterparts.

Where peace and plenty are the norm, however, religious participation is lower and people are happier whether or not they are religious, the researchers found.

The study analyzed data from the 2005-2009 Gallup World Poll, a survey of people in more than 150 countries that included questions about religious affiliation, life satisfaction, respect, social support and positive and negative feelings. The researchers also looked at 2009 Gallup polling data from the U.S.

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US Stocks Rise After Frightening Plunge


Press Association via AP Images

U.S. stocks swung upward in early trading Tuesday after their worst drop since 2008.

Despite the Dow's 193-point rise, economists are still concerned the world may soon fall into a recession.

Earlier Tuesday, Asian markets plummeted a second time after briefly stabilizing.

"It's a complete meltdown. It's like the financial crisis or the financial tsunami. There is a complete loss of confidence," said Francis Lun, managing director at Lyncean Holdings Ltd., an investment holding company in Hong Kong.

"China's leaders want their voice to be heard more by policymakers in the U.S.," said James Roy, Senior Analyst of China Market Research.

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Operation Mobilization Celebrates 50 Years in Muslim Ministry

Islam has been in the spotlight via the news a great deal this year and in recent years. Especially during Ramadan, Muslims are on the hearts of believers. Many have joined in prayer efforts for the Muslim world this month, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 30.

But is it enough? Is the Muslim world a bigger mission field than we thought?

As Operation Mobilization celebrates 50 years of ministry in the Muslim world, Julyan Lidstone, the leader of OM's ministry in Western and Central Asia, believes reaching this growing population is more vital now than ever.

VIDEO: Cardboard Testimonies

Who were you before you allowed Jesus into your heart? We all have our own stories of salvation. Watch this video to see brothers and sisters in Christ share their before-and-after testimonies in a silent yet powerful way.

Outreach Event Hopes to Spark Unity in Milwaukee

Local pastors and leaders are forging new partnerships ahead of Rock the Lakes, Aug. 20-21, praying the event will bring unity and the hope of Christ to a city described as "spiritually bleak" and "segregated" beyond its sparkling lakefront.

When someone mentions Milwaukee, you may think of bratwurst, breweries or baseball.

If you are of a certain generation, you might recall that Milwaukee was the setting for iconic ‘70s sitcoms, “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley.”

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