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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady

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(photo: catholic herald)
(photo: catholic herald)

The Pope has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady as the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

The cardinal, who passed the retirement age of 75 on August 16, will be succeeded by Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Archbishop Martin was appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh by Benedict XVI on January 18 2013.

In a statement, Cardinal Brady said: “I am pleased that Pope Francis has today accepted the resignation which I offered to him on the occasion of my 75th birthday. I warmly congratulate Archbishop Eamon Martin who today becomes Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Coarb Phadraic. Let us rejoice and be glad.

“I pray that God may give to Archbishop Eamon in abundance all the graces he needs and I assure him of my help and total support at all times. Indeed I am quite confident that the people of the archdiocese – priests, religious and lay faithful – will give to their new archbishop the same whole-hearted support and faith-filled loyalty which they have always given to me and for which I will be eternally grateful.

Cardinal Brady recalled that he had been appointed a bishop by St John Paul II, worked closely with Benedict XVI and took part in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.

“That conclave has been the highlight of my life,” he said. “Pope Francis’s motto, Miserando atque eligendo, challenges and inspires me with its message of God having mercy and at the same time choosing us, despite our sinfulness. It reminds me that I too need to say sorry and to ask forgiveness. And I do so again, now. At the same time, Pope Francis’s motto inspires me to trust in the mercy of God and to pray for the strength to do always as Jesus would have me do.

“The people of the Archdiocese of Armagh and the people of Ireland will remain in my prayers for the rest of my life. I ask the favour of your prayers to help me continue to serve God as best I can all the days God gives me. God bless you always.”

In his statement, Archbishop Eamon Martin, 52, said: “During my years as executive secretary to the Irish Bishops’ Conference I saw at first hand the mammoth amount of work undertaken by Cardinal Brady as President of the Episcopal Conference and his tireless commitment to representing the Catholic Church in Ireland at countless national and international engagements. At the same time he always presents as a gentle and humble man who is never fully comfortable in the limelight. I want to thank Cardinal Seán personally for the kindness he has shown me since I came to Armagh last year, and for allowing me every opportunity to get to know the diocese. I know that I can count on his prayers and support in the years to come.

“I genuinely feel honoured to assume the role of ‘Shepherd’ in the Archdiocese of Armagh. I look forward to serving the people of 61 parishes in the counties of Armagh, Derry, Louth and Tyrone. I feel humbled to be following in the footsteps of St Patrick, and like him, I pray for ‘God’s strength to pilot me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s shield to protect me’. Over the past 16 months I have been encouraged and inspired by the enthusiasm of our young people and the dedication of our teachers, the commitment and pastoral care given by our priests and religious, and the willingness of so many people to become actively involved in the life of their parishes and diocese.

“I was ordained a bishop just a month after the election of Pope Francis. I chose my episcopal motto to be: ‘Sing a New Song to the Lord’, because I think we are all being challenged nowadays to find fresh ways of bringing the Gospel into the world. Pope Francis inspires us to write that new song in a ‘missionary key’, and reach out to everyone in society with the love and friendship of Jesus. People have been asking me to put ‘fresh heart’ into the renewal of the Church in this country.

“But I am only one person with all my inadequacies and sinfulness. The task of bringing the encouragement of faith to the world belongs to all of us – people, priests, religious Sisters and brothers, bishops – working together in communion with Christ and with one another. I am certain that a humble renewal in the Church in Ireland will only come about as our lay people exercise their specific vocation and mission to hand on the faith and to insert the Gospel into the reality of their daily lives and work.

“I pray that my heart can be more like the Heart of Jesus, burning with love for everyone. Not far from all of us today are people who feel isolated or lonely; people whose hearts are heavy with worry, illness or anxiety; perhaps someone whose heart is broken by grief or loss; a man or woman whose heart has grown colder because of some cruelty or emptiness in their lives – past or present. Every day, then, as long as this today lasts, let us keep encouraging one another with the love and compassion of Christ.”

Archbishop Martin said he would celebrate Mass on October 7 at his cathedral “to ask God’s blessing and the protection of Mary at this important milestone for me and for the archdiocese”.

Original Post by Catholic herald

Jackie Kennedy’s messages to Priests handed over to Kennedy family

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(photo: catholic herald)
(photo: catholic herald)

Letters between former US first lady Jackie Kennedy and a Dublin-based priest have been handed over to the Kennedy family.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Vincentian order said they wished “to confirm that private letters, written by the late Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy to our deceased confrere, Fr Joseph Leonard, have been transferred to the Kennedy family”.

“This has taken place with regard to the respect due to what is correspondence of a private nature,” the statement said before adding that the Vincentians will be making no further comment on the matter.

The letters exchanged by Kennedy and Fr Leonard were set to be auctioned in Dublin earlier this year to raise funds for struggling All Hallows College. However, the letters were later withdrawn for sale on the insistence of the Vincentian order amid public controversy about the private nature of the correspondence. The college later announced that it would have to close down due to a lack of funds and had hoped the sale of the letters would plug the gap.

The letters had been expected to sell for as much as $1.3 million (£800,000).

One letter, dated January 1964 – just weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated – revealed how the tragedy left Kennedy struggling with her Catholic faith.

“I am so bitter against God,” she wrote, but added “only he and you and I know that.”

Kennedy wrote the letters between 1950 and 1964 to Father Leonard, whom she first met when she visited Dublin as a student in 1950. They began a correspondence that continued until his death in 1964. The letters also revealed that Kennedy credited the priest with her return to Catholicism after a period when she had lapsed in the practice of her faith.

Original Post by catholic herald

Church render services to Women ‘The rest of which the World has left behind’

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(Photo: Catholic news agency)
(Photo: Catholic news agency)

Washington D.C., Sep 7, 2014 / 04:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Recent claims that the Catholic Church disregards women fail to acknowledge the Church’s critical work to support women and families around the world, say leaders in medicine, academia and global relief work.

“Anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church doesn’t support women doesn’t know much about the Church, its mission and its presence around the world,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Vice President of US Operations for Catholic Relief Services.

“Every day, the Catholic community supports women with opportunities to strengthen their families, become better educated, and build their economic and food security. Our presence across the globe, including in some of the most remote places on earth, allows us to help many women the rest of the world has left behind,” she told CNA Aug. 27.

A recent “Poverty Matters” blog post in the British daily The Guardian criticized the Church as being anti-woman. Entitled “Pope Francis has done little to improve women’s lives,” the blog post argued particularly against the Church’s stance on human sexuality.

Rosenhauer pointed to several initiatives Catholic Relief Services has started to help alleviate poverty, particularly for women and their families. For example, the Savings and Internal Lending Communities program has provided loans to more than 1 million people – over 80 percent of them women – to help start small family businesses or help women to become financially independent.

Additionally, Rosenhauer said, “thousands of girls and women are being helped around the world every day through Church-run programs focusing on maternal and child nutrition, girls’ education, and livelihoods for women, to name just a few.” CRS runs programs that both distribute food in times of need and teach farming techniques that aid with food production and nutrition.

The Catholic Church, she continued, also provides programming, such as The Faithful House in sub-Saharan Africa, that helps strengthen families and relationships between spouses in order to help families find their basis in loving, respectful relationships.

Participants in the Faithful House, she said “report decreased alcohol use, better management of household finances, improved budgeting and savings, and the ability to pay for essential items such as school fees, household repairs, and transportation.” One participant comment that “by the time our children have their own families, society will be better than it is now because children learn from watching their parents in a loving and respectful relationship.”

The Church’s sexual teachings also help support women and families, Rosenhauer said. Catholic Relief Service’s work to teach Natural Family Planning methods help “women adopt life-affirming ways to space births in order to reduce the risk of the mothers dying during labor and improve the chances that babies will be born healthy and thrive.”

Other organizations corroborate the Church’s emphasis on providing life-affirming development policies. In 2009, Dr. Donna J. Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, briefed the U.N. Commissioner on Human Rights on the risks of promoting abortion as part of attempts to aid international development or address maternal mortality.

The provision of abortion in developing countries, Harrison wrote, “increases, not decreases maternal mortality and morbidity in resource poor nations,” increasing the “risk of hemorrhage, infection and incomplete abortion” in such areas.

The promotion of abortion as a development policy, she continued, also diverts funds and attention from interventions that have been proven to help reduce maternal mortality and increase overall health such as “prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, antibiotics and oxytocics.”

Helen Alvare, law professor at George Mason University and consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, called critics of the Church’s reproductive and sexual teachings to consider the importance of these teachings in helping save the lives of the poor.

Abortion destroys lives, she told CNA, notably “millions of children, and their mothers suffering the physical, psychological and spiritual aftermath of a surgery unlike any other on earth.”

The Church’s teachings also help protect the most vulnerable members of society – particularly women, children and the poor – from “the sex and mating markets that grow up when sex is divorced even from the idea of kids.”

The promotion of birth control and abortion in such schemas, Alvare noted, leads to an increase in the “rates of single moms and rates of abortions,” as well as a decline in marriage rates.

Original Post by Catholic news agency

No Amount of Skills can Compare to God’s Favour

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God's Favour
(Photo: godsfavourmusicministry)

No Amount of Skills can Compare  to God’s Favour 

Azendoo Allows you to Collaborate On Tasks And Documents Between Multiple Services

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(Photo: Techcrunch)
(Photo: Techcrunch)

Azendoo is not yet another task manager — it’s the glue that brings together all the services that you already use. The French startup took another approach to task and document management by focusing on third-party integrations.

Let’s say you use Evernote for your to-do lists. Your coworker can assign a task to you in Azendoo, and the service will seamlessly add it to your Evernote account. Whenever you mark the task as done in Evernote, Azendoo will reflect the change on its platform.

In other words, Azendoo is able to turbocharge Evernote with task collaboration. The startup recently won an Evernote Platform Award.

Similarly, Google Drive, Box and Dropbox users can collaborate on the same document — Azendoo will sync the file between these services.

“Azendoo is much more than a shared to-do list,” co-founder and CEO Grégory Lefort told me in a phone interview. “We provide a cross-platform service that syncs all your data.”

Currently, most people use multiple to-do list platforms, such as personal apps like Evernote and Wunderlist, professional services like Asana and Producteev, and even emails and post-it notes. At the very beginning, Azendoo competed directly with existing to-do apps. But it wasn’t very effective because users already had a Box account, an Evernote account, etc.

The team quickly realized that it was more interesting to become the central puzzle piece that holds everything together and removes pain points rather than to convince potential users that they should switch to another service to store their to-do data and documents.

Azendoo currently integrates with Evernote, Box, Dropbox, Google and Skype. The startup now has 240,000 users, including people working for Nike and Coca-Cola, people studying at Stanford and more. Some integrations aren’t as effective as the Evernote one, but the company will improve existing integrations to make it work better.

If an integration is not seamless and thorough, it’s not good enough. “We don’t want to create a service for other tech startups. We want people working in marketing, support, sales, education and non-profit to use Azendoo,” Lefort said. Right now, it’s a pretty nifty product with a lot of potential.

Original Post by Techcrunch

Twitter Announces Its First Commerce Product — A “Buy” Button On Mobile

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(Photo: Techcrunch)
(Photo: Techcrunch)

After months of reports and rumors, Twitter is announcing its first commerce product.

The company first signaled its interest in this area last year, when it hired former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard to lead its commerce team. Then it started recruiting other commerce specialists, and Recode got its hands on mock-ups of a Buy Now button. Over the summer, people started spotting those buttons in the wild.

So Twitter is officially announcing that Buy button today — in a blog post, the company says it will be visible to “a small percentage of U.S. users (that will grow over time).” As a result, users will actually be able to make purchases directly within tweets. If you see something you want, you hit “buy”, bring up a little information, enter your payment and shipping information while still Twitter (it’s encrypted and stored for future purchases), and complete the transaction “in just a few taps.”

And even though the test is starting out on mobile, a company spokesperson said it will be moving onto desktop soon as well.

Twitter says it’s partnering with a number of companies to make the Buy Now button happen, starting social shopping company Fancy, digital content seller Gumroad, fan commerce company Musictoday, and payments company Stripe. The initial sellers include musicians (Demi Lovato, Eminem, Pharrell), nonprofits (Donors Choose, Glide, RED), and retailers (Burberry, The Home Depot).

Gumroad founder and CEO Sahil Lavingia told me his team has been talking to Twitter about possible commerce features for more than a year: “It was more like a when, not if, question for them.” Where Gumroad is involved in these initial purchases, Lavingia said it’s usually working with musicians (though he wants to go broader), with Stripe handling the actual payment processing. When you make the purchase, the interface is supposedly “native on the Twitter client”, so you might not realize that anyone was involved except Twitter — until you get your receipt.

Lavingia added that creating a purchase experience that’s “really simple and really fast has always been super important for us” and that he hopes that similar experiences will “over time become the norm because of things like Twitter.”

For its part, Twitter describes this as “an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” so you can probably expect its commerce initiatives to expand. (We’ve also heard that the company was working on something closer to a marketplace separate from the main river of content.)

This seems like a pretty natural avenue for expansion — not only is it a potential source of revenue on its own, but if Twitter successfully drives sales, that could encourage businesses to become more active on the service and to advertise more.

Facebook, meanwhile, is building out a commerce platform of its own.

Original Post by Techcrunch

App Analytics Startup Adjust Raises $7.6 Million Series C

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(Photo: Techcrunch)
(Photo: Techcrunch)

Well, what do we have here? A European series C round. Berlin-headquartered app analytics startup Adjust (if we can still call the company a startup) has raised a $7.6 million further round of funding from ACTIVE Venture Partners, and existing investors Target Partners, Iris Capital and Capnamic Ventures. Formerly known as Adeven, Adjust raised a $4.3 million round in June last year, adding to an earlier European-style “seven-figure” series A round of funding.

Adjust, which, along with Berlin, has offices in San Francisco and Istanbul, provides an analytics platform to help mobile marketers understand where their “most valuable” users come from, and other info, in a bid to offer ways to “re-engage” those users inside or outside their app — i.e. through various advertising and marketing initiatives and channels — and measure that additional return of investment (ROI).

The company is an official Facebook and Twitter Mobile Measurement Partner and integrates with 300 or so ad networks and partners globally. It boasts the likes of Universal Music, Viacom, Yelp, Scopely, Kingsoft, DeNA, BuzzFeed Inc. and Deutsche Telekom, as clients.

So, what’s an app analytics startup to do with $7.6 million in fresh series C funding? Adjust says it’ll use the new cash to boost expansion in the U.S., China and Japan, and for further product development. Noteworthy, it says 40 per cent of total revenue is now coming from Asia and the U.S., and that the company will use some of the additional funding to open new regional offices. To that end, it has hired Shawn Bonham, who previously for mobile analytics company Upsight, to lead Asian expansion as Adust’s new Managing Director Japan and South East Asia.

Original Post by Techcrunch

Little Zion Church of Christ in Norwalk, United Kingdom was struck by lightning

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(Photo: Connecticut News 12)
(Photo: Connecticut News 12)

A Norwalk church was damaged after officials say it was struck by lightning during Saturday’s storm.

It happened at the Little Zion Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith on Martin Luther King Drive.

The lightning set fire to the steeple.

Firefighters say the damage is mainly to the roof and shingles of the church….

Original Post by Connecticut News 12

Nigeria: RCCG Empowers FCT Youths With Cooking Skills

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(Photo: All Africa)
(Photo: All Africa)

The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) FCT 1 has concluded plans to empower some youths in the FCT with cooking skills that would enable them become self-employed in the lucrative hospitality industry.

Pastor Godwin Idoje of the Offspring of David Parish of the church disclosed this today while speaking with our reporter on the church’s readiness for the third edition of the church’s annual youths cooking competition billed for September 20 in Abuja.

“This competition was born out of concern based on the trends of events noticed among our youths. We believe that the ability to cook well will contribute to the well-being of the family while making them self-reliant also,” he said.

Idoje noted that it was worrisome that many youths in this modern age especially young women don’t know how to cook.

He said the competition was also borne out of a need to ensure that upon marriage, families are assured of properly cooked and balanced meals, adding that this year’s competition will be held in collaboration with Chef Academy and Kyom NOM electronics.

“More so, good meals at home would prevent people from eating bad or contaminated meals outside and children will be well nourished and that’s why we started this programme,” Idoje said.

Also speaking at the event, Daniel Okiodike of Dechef’s Kitchen said that irrespective of gender, youths seeking employment but have very good culinary skills could be self-employed.

“Food is very important to human existence and it is something we cannot do without; so you must know how to cook. Once you know how to cook very good delicacies, you’ll see that you can even turn it into a very good business and be self employed,” he said.

A three-time winner of a cooking award himself, Okiodike said culinary skills were a form of youth empowerment.

He advised Nigerian youths to see cooking as a lucrative business and shouldn’t be constrained to doing it just for pleasure.

Original Post by All Africa

Ukrainian President: Russian Troops Deployed in Eastern Ukraine

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( photo: febc )
( photo: febc )

Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, declared that Russian troops have been deployed in Eastern Ukraine. The statement comes as new photos released by NATO show artillery, vehicles, and troops moving in and around eastern Ukraine. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, declared that Russian troops have been deployed in Eastern Ukraine. The statement comes as new photos released by NATO show artillery, vehicles, and troops moving in and around eastern Ukraine.

NATO officials stated convoys of artillery and troops can be seen moving into position in a formation that is professional and organized, pointing to evidence that the force is Russian military and not just pro-Russian separatists.

In addition, ten Russian soldiers were captured by Ukrainian forces last Monday, after entering eastern Ukraine. The detained men add to the growing body of evidence of direct Russian involvement, yet Russia has continued to deny that its military has any presence in Ukraine.

As to the evidence of NATO satellite photos, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, claimed that the photos were “from computer games,” as reported by NBC news.

In addition, an unnamed U.S. official cited by multiple news outlets has claimed that 1,000 Russian troops recently entered southern Ukraine to fight alongside pro-Russian separatists. Other reports continue to surface of tanks belonging to Russia captured on video in Eastern Ukraine, and confessions from Russian soldiers as to why they were in Ukraine.

Poroshenko and the Ukrainian government stated that key towns in southern Ukraine were captured by Russian forces, sending the Ukrainian forces into full retreat, reports the Washington Post. President Obama, addressing the recent Russian involvement said, “Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine…Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Original Post by febc

Farage: ‘Stand up for Judeo-Christian values’

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(photo: christian)
(photo: christian)

Nigel Farage has described Britain as a Judeo-Christian country and stressed that we need to “start standing up for our values”.

The UKIP leader was interviewed by Fox News presenter Sean Hannity in the wake of the anti-terror proposals announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has also spoken out, saying that we are a “Christian nation” and arguing that we need to “champion” our Christian values.
Division

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Pickles responded to the persecution of Christians in the middle-east this summer as well as the rise of anti-Semitic attacks and protests.

He said: “Aggressive secularists would advocate the suppression of religion in the public sphere. Yet this would only perpetuate the message of intolerance towards others.”

Mr Pickles went on to say: “At heart, we are a Christian nation”. He highlighted that historically, Britain is a country which upholds justice and tolerance towards others.
Salt and light

He said: “Our defence of freedom, the rule of law and the evolution of our democracy have all grown from the seedbed of faith.”

The Communities Secretary added: “For centuries, these ideals have been the salt and light of the nation.”

Pickles also argued that a “cursory glance at European history shows the worst atrocities can begin with turning a blind eye to seemingly small acts of discrimination”.
Freedoms

He said that freedom of speech and freedom of religion go “hand in hand”.

Earlier this year, Pickles made waves after saying that militant atheists should “get over” Britain being a “Christian nation”.

After Fox News showed a video of Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary, Farage said that the rise of radical individuals in the UK was due to a decline in traditional values.

Referring to the rise of extremism in the UK, the UKIP leader added: “A lot of this is our own fault,” and said: “We have been too weak” in defending our Christian values.

Original Post by christian

Premier Christian Radio Presents ‘Unsigned Live in Balham’

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(Photo: Premier)
(Photo: Premier)

Premier Christian Radio is proud to present Unsigned Live with Loretta Andrews! Come and join us at The Bedford pub in Balham every other month for an evening of live music from up-and-coming Christian artists.

Date: Sunday 28th September

Artists: Christine Asamoah is headlining, supported by Dan Bilbrough

Venue: The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, SW12 9HD (5 mins from Balham station)

Time: Doors open 7pm – 9pm finish

Underground: Balham is on the Northern Line with frequent trains to central London via the Bank and Charing Cross branches. Typical travel time to Waterloo is 15/20 minutes.

Overground: Southern and South West Trains are available to Balham station with frequent service to Victoria, Clapham Junction, Gatwick and Croydon.

If you’re a Christian looking for a good evening out and a safe place to take a non-Christian friend, try an SNL near you.

Headliner: Christine Asamoah

Christine Asamoah’s gospel songbird-like vocals are reminiscent of a young Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston or Beyoncé!

Christine, pop/soul recording singer-songwriter from London, has been developing momentum on the live music circuit promoting and performing her debut album Who I Am. She has now just released a new E.P Yours.

Her vulnerable yet passionate sound projects pictures of innocent love, faith and life experience illustrated beautifully through powerful ballads and addictive lyric plays. With melodies weaved over 60s inspired soul and 70s infused disco to 80s pumped up 808 drums.

At 21 she received the RIAA Certified Gold Disc Plaque in France and Germany after selling an incredible 400,000 copies as the voice of French animated star Cool – T on the no. 1 record ‘The Magic Key’ for French electro/hip-hop group One – T. She’s gone on to appear on albums of platinum-selling artists and work with a number of underground and established UK, European and US acts.

Support: Dan Bilbrough

Dan Bilbrough is a multi-talented artist. Formerly a hip hop DJ with duo Judah and Secret and GreenJade he now performs live drum shows incorporating world, spiritual, fusion, electronic & hip hop music.

Original Post by Premier

The Christian New Media Conference 2014

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(Photo: My Premier)
(Photo: My Premier)

The life of a Christian is one of transformation: inwardly we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, and outwardly we are to transform the world around us by our witness and action.

The Christian New Media Conference 2014 will explore the ways in which the digital revolution can help us transform our spiritual lives, churches and communities.

Six parallel seminar streams will provide space to delve into the practical tools and skills you need to make an impact, alongside unpacking the deeper theological issues at stake. The main sessions will inspire us with how technology is transforming our world, whilst challenging us as to how we will transform the world through it.

With over 35 contributors, the Christian New Media Conference 2014 offers something for everyone, whether your interest is practical or theological, beginner or advanced. Book your tickets today.

Seminars Streams

We have six seminar streams this year, four of them new for 2014.

Transforming Theology
People argue that the digital age is transforming everything – from our use of social media, to our creativity and artistry. But what difference is the digital age making to our theological understanding?

Transforming Spirituality
Find out how digital can play a part in the transformation of our spiritual lives.

Transforming Church
Explore how digital can transform your church life and witness.

Transforming Society
If you want to change the world through new media, this stream is for you.

Transforming Evangelism
Discover how the online space can be used for natural and effective evangelism.

Interact
Join this steam for engaging discussions, networking and one-to-one help.

Who should attend

If you represent a local congregation or denomination, are a blogger or a Tweeter, work for acharity or are active online in any Christian context, this event is designed for you.

Useful conference facts

78% of delegates to the 2013 conference rated it as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very good’.
At £39 (£35 for early-birds) the conference is a fraction of the price of equivalent secular events but delivers the
same quality.
Free wifi is provided throughout the day.Free tea and coffee is provided in the breaks.
Lunch is available to purchase from the venue or local eateries.

Original Post by My Premier

Brian McLaren: ‘We’ve entered a new era of Bible reading’

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(Photo: Christian today)
(Photo: Christian today)

We’ve moved into a new era of approaching the Bible, controversial Christian author and speaker Brian McLaren says. It’s an era that could see Christians abandoning the idea that there is one ‘right’ way of interpreting Scripture – an era he calls Bible 3.0.

Bible 3.0, as McLaren characterises it, is an approach that sees the Bible less as inerrant and more as being “in conversation with everything and everyone”. It is an approach to Scripture that has been made necessary, if not inevitable, by the unprecedented access readers of the Bible have to a broad range of readings and interpretations of the Bible through the internet. Whereas in the past, Christians might have had to go to another denomination’s church or part of the world to hear a different take on Scripture, today the internet allows us to immediately access a myriad of different interpretations of the same text.

“Now everybody can hear how everybody else is interpreting the Bible,” he says. And the result is that we can no longer assume that all smart, good people interpret it the way our pastor, fellowship or denomination does. “Mastering one way of dealing with the Bible is not going to carry the weight it used to. We’re going to have to deal with the fact that this book is contested.”

Throughout history, he says, the Bible has been contested – by biology, history, psychology, genetics and other intellectual movements. What is different about this era, that is key to Bible 3.0, is the fact that everyone can now be involved in challenging not just what the Bible says, but the way we have traditionally understood what it says. “It’s not just that it’s being challenged and contested, it’s that everybody knows it is being challenged and contested.”

Bible 1.0

In his opening talk at the festival, Greenbelt regular McLaren described Bible 1.0 in terms of the medieval Catholic approach to Scripture, when most Christians were illiterate and had never held a Bible, much less read one. “Bible 1.0 was read and controlled by the religious elite,” he says, and used at times to entrench or exert authority. Bible 1.0 relied on inerrant leaders, the Church elite, to interpret Scripture and explain to ordinary Christians how they should understand the portions of it they had heard.

Bible 2.0

In Bible 2.0, the emphasis shifted from religious leaders to the Bible itself. Situating this era of biblical understanding in the Protestant reformation and the Christian world since then, McLaren says that, “Reading the Bible became a way to challenge the power of those religious leaders,” and that the Bible itself was viewed as inerrant.

In most evangelical and fundamentalist churches today, Bible 2.0 is very much still in force and, as a result, he says we have “started sorting ourselves based on how a certain set of scholars interpreted the Bible.” This is most obvious in the fact that, depending on which Bible school or theological seminary a pastor goes to, there will be certain scholars that one simply could not quote. “There still is a control over the Bible’s interpretation,” he says, even if we have unprecedented access to Scripture itself.

Bible 3.0

The very fact that so many people are now aware of how many different interpretations there are of single passages or entire books of the Bible is helping to move us into the era of Bible 3.0. Under Bible 3.0, he says, it doesn’t matter that the Bible is inerrant, because so many us derive completely different meanings from the same inspired, inerrant texts.

McLaren doesn’t see the world of Bible 3.0 as a threat to Christianity or to respect and reverence for the Bible, though. While he acknowledges that some people will simply go to the Bible for encouraging quotes, without looking for context, broader or deeper meaning, he is confident that Bible 3.0, with its “emerging, collective intelligence” about the Bible, will not mean giving up the idea of inspiration, just “an openness to inspiration coming to you in fresh and different ways.”

He is not blind to the concerns of conservative evangelicals, however. “Bible 1.0 didn’t give up to Bible 2.0 without a fight,” he says. “And it’s very difficult for Bible 2.0 to imagine a world of Bible 3.0.” He remains, however, optimistic. “If we are ready, we are going to discover the Bible as better, deeper and richer than before.”

Original Post by Christian today

Hashtags and Humblebrags: 7 Social Media Sins That Drive Us All Mad

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(Photo: Christian today)
(Photo: Christian today)

Social Media – in the form we know and love it now – is nearly ten years old, and in that time our use of platforms like Facebook and Twitter has matured somewhat. We no longer make so many of those rookie mistakes – like egg profile pictures, posts about how we don’t quite understand how this works, and most deadly of all, asking people to follow us.

While most of us don’t commit those errors these days though, a new set of social media crimes has emerged. They’re more nuanced, but they’re still ways in which we can drive each other mad online.

With tongue firmly in cheek then, and enough self-awareness to realise I’ve transgressed in almost every way listed below, may I present my list of seven deadly social media sins.

Sin #1: Content thievery

It’s a bizarre but increasingly common practice: taking viral content you’ve seen elsewhere and reposting it without crediting the original source. You think: everyone will visit my website and share my name, and they might even think I created this content myself! Everyone else thinks: what a wally.

How to avoid it: Be sweet – retweet. Or at least take a moment to credit your source.

Sin #2: Hashtag abuse

This is perhaps the most common and least deadly of all social media sins, but it’s guaranteed to irritate the Google glasses off of most Internet geeks. The hashtag is intended – originally on Twitter but now on Facebook too – to denote a contribution to a wider conversation. Hashtag abusers throw this concept, and caution, to the wind by merrily adding the symbol to any and every word they like. They’re also prone to creating ridiculously long tags containing no spaces. To be fair, sometimes this is used to brilliant comedic effect. Almost every other time, it isn’t.

Sample tweet: “Just fallen over in the street. #ToreMyJeans #Ow #ImSoEmbarrassed #WhyAmISuchAMoron?”

How to avoid it: The hashtag has made its way into spoken conversation. It’s too late to stop this one. Save yourselves.

Sin #3: CCing EVERYONE

The obvious limitation of Twitter is also its greatest strength: the 140 character limit. This encourages brevity and actually, some pretty great writing too. It is in no way enough space however, for conversations which try to copy in everyone who might have contributed to it or be vaguely interested. Doing this in an attempt to keep a conversation going ends up leaving no room for the actual conversation, eg:

“@martinsaunders @ChristianToday @CareyLodge @LBorkettJones @ruthmawhinney @RuthieGledhill @krishk @BBCNews @guardian @bbc5live I totally agr”

The worst version of this is cc-ing someone into the conversation who you think might be interested, and then allowing them to be sucked into the vortex of a million tweets they didn’t ask for. It’s the Twitter equivalent of junk mail.

How to avoid it: This is what hashtags are for!
(AP)

Sin #4: The dreaded humblebrag

It comes to us so easily. Something wildly exciting happens; we’ve got a global broadcasting platform right there in front of us; all we have to do is find a way of telling everyone about it without looking like we’re showing off. In these situations, we resort to a special vocabulary reserved for humble-bragging. We might say we’re ‘humbled’, or ‘deeply honoured’. Or worse, I might say how proud I am of ‘my friend’ Tim Vine after his Edinburgh festival win. Ha! You think I’m being nice – but I’ve subtly just told you I’m friends with a celebrity. Suckers.

How to avoid it: Just brag instead! Nobody minds you saying ‘I’m really excited, something incredibly exciting has happend to me.’ It’s the false humility that drives everyone crazy.

Sin #5: Broadcasting

Social media is at its very best when it’s a dialogue; where millions of people interact with one another – sometimes just once, and in other cases on a daily basis. Twitter especially is at its worst when we see it as a broadcast platform, offering our regular pronouncements on life and culture, and expecting others to share and respond to them.

This problem is particularly common among the more famous and followed tweeters. And to be fair, why would they be interested in your boring little life when everyone is so excited about theirs? Which is a light-hearted way of saying: this problem is fed and exacerbated by our embracing of the celebrity culture, which rewards this kind of behaviour with further adoration.

How to avoid it: Follow other people. Take some time to read their tweets, not just your mentions – and engage with their agendas, not just the one you bring.

Sin #6: Reposting praise – or criticism

At its best, Twitter’s ‘retweet’ button is a glorious democratisation of content. Great jokes, inspiring ideas and important pieces of information rise to the top and are shared around the world – sometimes at lightning speed. Like everything though, it has a dark side. It’s nice to receive praise and encouragement on Twitter – congratulations on a great sermon preached, or even on a positive element of one’s character. The moment we hit that RT button however, that act of kindness is transformed into an opportunity for self-promotion.

Even worse though is the strategy employed by high profile tweeters when someone challenges or criticises them. In these cases, a casual click of the RT unleashes a swarming mob of angry followers on the critic; effectively elevating the original ‘victim’ above critique. Even when this tactic is used against a ‘troll’, the disproportionate response ends up proving that two wrongs don’t cancel out.

How to avoid it: Resist. View not hitting that RT button as an opportunity to practice self-discipline. See, you’re becoming a better person already.

Sin #7: Follower harvesting (includes buying followers)

A few years ago, I and a couple of colleagues came very close to publishing a whistle-blowing list of high-profile Christian tweeters who’d bought large numbers of followers. In the end we approached a few individually and persuaded them to dump the fakes; unfortunately the practice is still prevalent among certain leaders. That article might yet see the light of day.

Even more common – to the point of being advocated by some – is the idea of follower harvesting. This is where you follow lots of people, then unfollow those who don’t follow back, in order to inflate your numbers. Please don’t do this. It’s just really silly.

How to avoid it: Chill. High follower numbers (and that coveted blue tick of verification) don’t bring happiness – but friendship and engagement with like-minded people can.

So there you have it. A guide to the worst social media faux pas; an article which some are already calling ‘tremendous work’ and ‘controversial stuff.’ Of course, this is all #onlymyopinion; as I was telling my friend Bono the other day, that’s the beauty of social media. One man’s tweet is another man’s poison.

Please do RT that little gem.

Original Post by Christian today

Why do we prefer Independence over Interdependence? It’s making us all sad.

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(Photo: Christian today)
(Photo: Christian today)

A recent study of more than 5,000 people lifted the lid on the state of the UK’s relationships and found that one in ten people have no close friends and one in five rarely or never felt loved in the two weeks before they were surveyed. The Way We Are Now report published by Relate is one of the largest studies of its kind.

We don’t have to settle for a life of loneliness, and we don’t have to let those in our lives settle for one either. That is because God designed us for connection with Him and with each other. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

We can choose to build our bridge towards people and we can notice when they build theirs towards us. That will mean relinquishing any desire to be totally independent.

That can be a challenge for many of us who are used to being self-sufficient. In our Western society independence is something that is prized and encouraged and it is what many of us seek to achieve. We get a job to pay our way, we live on our own, we do our own cleaning, accounts, washing, shopping, DIY and cooking (even if that is only warming something in the microwave). We take that same independent behaviour into our relationships and we’re keen not to be a burden to anyone. In the survey I did for my book Inside Out, 43 per cent of people said they would rather sort out their problems on their own than ask for help.

But I am not sure that is how God made us to function. Of course, there will be people who prefer their own company (23 per cent from the survey) but even the introverts among us could do with others in our lives whom we can care for and know and who can know and care for us. There are proven psychological benefits from having at least one or two close relationships in our lives.

Instead of independence it is much healthier to live interdependently. When we are interdependent we are prepared to ask people for help and to help people when they need us. We open ourselves up to others and allow others to open themselves up to us. We walk through life together rather than on our own. We build bridges to each other’s islands. We learn from each other, we encourage each other, we support each other, we care for each other, we have fun together, we build memories together and we help each other to grow. We realise we are stronger and better as two or more than we are on our own.

I love how in the book of Romans in the New Testament Paul reminds us to love, honour, be devoted to, accept, greet and live in harmony with one another. We are met to interact with each other and be interdependent.

Interdependence isn’t the same as dependence. Dependence is when we have to have someone in our lives whatever the cost. It is when we need other people to function and to feel ourselves. Just like independence, it isn’t a healthy way of living. Other people will never be able to meet all our needs or desires and expecting them to do so will only leave us disappointed. The more we cling to others and demand that they love us the more likely we are to lose their respect and our connection with them.

Connection is an amazing and precious thing. It is given freely and taken freely. It cannot be forced, demanded or manufactured. And we cannot expect our connections to just happen and to endure. We have to be prepared to make deposits in our relationships. That means giving of our time, putting in the effort, giving of ourselves and also being generous with our money and possessions. It means sharing our most precious commodities with others.

We can use our time, effort and money to build bridges or we can use them to build a bigger and stronger fortress on our island. Which will it be?

Original Post by Christian today

The Communion that converts and feeds: Sara Miles and the city

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( PHOTO: Christian today )
( PHOTO: Christian today )

Cities are “sexier and more beautiful than Eden”, according to Sara Miles, who founded a hugely successful feeding scheme for the poor in her city, San Francisco. Miles, whose own conversion followed wandering into a San Francisco city church and taking communion, founded The Food Pantry in 2000 as an extension of that experience.

“The food pantry was explicitly modelled on what I had experienced in the Eucharist,” she says, “so it’s not a social service programme. We don’t ask people for ID or to prove anything, because Jesus welcomes everyone.” The Food Pantry feeds 400 families with food provided by local food banks and run mostly by volunteers, mostly from the city’s Mission District, an area known for its cultural, racial and economic diversity.

Miles talks about the group of volunteers that has formed around The Food Pantry based at St Gregory of Nyssa, the church where she dramatically met God when she was 46 years old, as being a ‘Eucharistic Community’. “They are almost all people who came to get food and still get food, but now help out,” she says. “They see St Gregory’s as their place, and they run it.”

Having had a profound supernatural experience of God during her first, almost accidental Communion (detailed in her book, Take This Bread), Miles sees providing food to the poor as more than just “doing something ‘social servicey’,” and her sense of those involved with The Food Pantry being a “covenanted community” is expressed in the centrality of the altar at St Gregory’s. “That altar is the centre of everything,” she says. “We have communion on it, we have coffee hour on it. On Fridays we transform it into this gigantic free farmers market.”

The situation of St Gregory’s and The Food Pantry in the heart of a city have been far from incidental to Miles’ own faith. “One of the things is in san Francisco which was also a huge gift to me, is that nobody goes to church who doesn’t want to,” she says. “Nobody goes to church because their parents do and it’s just what you do. It’s so not done that if you go to church you actually probably mean it on some level.” Miles says that in a secular culture like San Francisco’s there is not much room for ‘going through the motions’ and that going to church is actually “countercultural”.

And while Miles’ background as an atheistic journalist means that many of her friends initially found her conversion odd, others, she says, knew that she was, at some level, looking for God. “People think it’s sort of odd, you know, a little kinky,” she says. “But I also think people are frequently hungry. And we’re living in a time where it’s not as if the secular project is wildly successful. Some people have made me their ‘chaplain’.”

Against this mixed backdrop of seekers and ‘covenanted’ volunteer-beneficiaries surrounding The Food Pantry and St Gregory’s, it is easier to understand Miles when she says, “Paradise is a garden but Heaven is a city,” as she did at Greenbelt festival in August. Talking about her experience of “the Spirit just whipping through the city” one Ash Wednesday (the central story of her latest book, City of God), Miles said that the city “is so apparently impure it proclaims a love vaster than we are used to.”

“Living in a city and being part of the flow of that life is to see that God is bigger and that we are not making him in our own image,” Miles told a packed venue at Greenbelt. “The blessing, as all cities keep showing us, has been let loose. God has left the building.”

Years after her conversion, after founding her Eucharistic community among the misfits and hungry of her city, Miles discovered that Gregory of Nyssa, whose name adorned her church, had written, in a way, of the connection between food and faith. “Gregory says that the way that we are most like God is in our desire: that God desires us and we desire God,” she says. “And that desire, that hunger, is what connects us to God. It’s beautiful.”

Beautiful, perhaps, as the opportunities God presents us in a city.

Original Post by Christian today

How You Can Walk Step by Step into a Brand-New Life

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How You Can Walk Step by Step into a Brand-New Life
(Photo: Courtesy of Joyce Meyer Ministries)

I have read that as much as 40 percent of everything we do is performed purely out of habit. A habit is something we do without even thinking. It’s a behavior that is developed through frequent repetition. First we form habits…and then they form us. We are what we repeatedly do!

That’s why it is so important to focus on establishing healthy habits. Bad habits are detrimental and keep us from enjoying all that God has for us. However, good habits add joy, peace and purpose to our lives.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy. If we’re going to make a good habit and break a bad habit, there’s going to be some effort involved. We will go through a time of trial. But we don’t have to go through it alone

It’s very important to understand from the beginning that we need God’s help to succeed. The number one mistake people make is that we try to change ourselves…we forget that we can’t do it without God!

Jesus said that when He went away, He would send the Holy Spirit to help us. The Amplified Bible refers to Him as “the Standby” (John 16:7). I love that. God is always standing by in case we get ourselves into trouble and need a little help. He is our Partner – our Strength and Support – as we begin to establish good habits in our lives and break the bad ones.

Where We Start and Where We Finish

I used to have a habit of getting upset every time I didn’t get my way. It was an automatic response – and I lived that way for many years until I finally decided to stop and allow God to help me in that area.

Today, I want to encourage you to make some decisions of your own. Think about the person you are right now and the person you want to become, and then jot down a few new habits that can help you get there.

Remember, one good choice is another step closer to your goal.

One Scripture I’ve found to be most helpful in this area is Romans 12:21. It says, Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good (AMP).

In other words, don’t dwell on your bad habits. Instead, put all of your focus and concentration on making good ones. Because when we think about all the bad habits we’ve got to try and undo, it zaps all of our strength. If we’re going to make progress, we need to learn to focus on the positive!

Similarly, the Bible tells us that by walking in the Spirit, we overcome the flesh (see Galatians 5:16). The “flesh” is simply our human nature apart from God.

Do everything you can to consistently follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Read the Word and meditate on it. Set aside time for prayer. Get around people who will encourage you to do what God’s asking you to do. Don’t give yourself the time or energy to do what your flesh is pleading with you to do.

If you make a quality decision to act, it will change your life. But you can’t wait to feel like it. With God’s grace, just set your mind to do it!

How Long Does It Take to Form a Habit?

Some people say it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. Others say it takes thirty days. So let’s just say that anything you do (or don’t do) repeatedly for a period of time becomes a habit.

I used to smoke many years ago. And when God started convicting me to quit, I didn’t want to do it – and it was very hard for me to stop. In fact, it took several attempts to quit before I broke this habit.

When I reached the point of sheer determination to quit, the first day was bad. And the second day wasn’t much better! I managed to make it to the weekend, but then Dave and I had an argument at a picnic and I ended up leaving by myself to go buy a pack of cigarettes. My plan was to smoke the entire pack.

You see, when we’re trying to form a new habit, we usually reach what I call a “crisis point.”

That day at the picnic, I reached my crisis point. After I got those cigarettes I sat there and thought, If I smoke these right now, I’ll likely be doing it the rest of my life and I’m not going to do that. So I took every single cigarette out of the package and threw them in the toilet.

Every now and then, I’d still think: I want a cigarette. But after about thirty days, I could tell my desire to smoke had changed. I just didn’t want to do it. And I’ve never smoked another cigarette again.

 

Taking That First Step

Some habits in our lives can seem overwhelming and impossible to change – especially if we have lived with them for a long time. But God will meet us where we are. When we are willing to take that first step, He honors our faith and gives us the grace to make the changes that we desire.

Things may not turn around overnight, but if you are diligent and determined to never give up, you will succeed…because together, one day at a time, you and God can do anything.

 

 

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored more than 90 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Do Yourself a Favor…Forgive (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit www.joycemeyer.org.

© 2014 Printed with permission of Joyce Meyer Ministries

Six Major Implications of the Growth of Multisite Churches

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Six Major Implications of the Growth of Multisite Churches
(Photo: ChristianPost)

It is one of those topics that almost always engenders lively discussion. Some church leaders are incredibly and positively excited about the multisite church movement. Others view the movement with many questions if not some level of suspicion.

But recent studies tell us that we should not ignore this movement. It appears to be here to stay for years to come.

The Current Research

LifeWay Research has looked at multisite churches in recent years. Scott McConnell, the director of LifeWay Research, wrote Multi-site Churches in 2009, an excellent analysis of the movement.

Now a study by Leadership Network and Generis, led by Warren Bird, provides new, head-turning information. Simply stated, the multisite church movement is growing at such a pace that we would be negligent to ignore it. I encourage you to read the full report, while I offer six summary implications from the data.

The Study

Because the concept of multisite churches typically engenders strong opinions, it is not always easy to look at the data objectively. This study, called the Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard, however, looked at 535 multisite churches. Of those churches, 91 percent were located in the United States. The breadth of the research is such that we must study the information seriously.

As a point of full disclosure, I led a church in Birmingham, Alabama to become multisite in 1992. I had very few models to follow back then, and the challenges were many. The church I served as pastor was landlocked, and starting a new campus seemed logical to me.

I am also currently a member of a multisite church, Brentwood Baptist Church. I have seen up close an intentional strategy to reach many areas around Nashville and Middle Tennessee through the multisite approach.

 

The Implications

The implications of this study are many. For now, let me share six key issues that jumped to the forefront when I read the report.

  1. Multisite as a growth and evangelistic strategy seems to be successful thus far. One of the most incredible data points in the study was the percentage of multisite churches that are growing: 85 percent. Such a high percentage is unprecedented in almost any previous approaches to evangelism and growth in the past century. These churches are also much more evangelistic than those in most other studies, certainly those represented by studies I have led.
  2. More struggling churches see merging with a multisite church as their best option for health or even survival. The leaders of the multisite churches noted an increased frequency in contact by leaders of struggling churches. One third of all the sites started in the study were the results of mergers. Stated simply, many struggling churches are seeking to be acquired by multisite churches. This new reality has both practical and ecclesiological implications for the future.
  3. The campus pastor is likely the fastest growing position in local churches, especially in the United States. We have focused for years on training pastors and, often, age-specific or ministry-specific ministry leaders. What type of training does a campus pastor need? Who or what will provide it?
  4. Multisite churches are more likely to hire staff ministers internally. While this trend is growing independent of multisite churches, it is certainly being accelerated by multisite churches. Again, the implications for ministry and theological training are many.
  5. An increased number of smaller churches are becoming multisite. The trend of multisite churches has been mostly the work of larger churches, primarily megachurches. Now the median worship attendance of a multisite church is around 1,000, and churches as small as 100 to 400 in attendance are going multisite as well.
  6. More churchgoers are attending multisite churches. Currently about one in ten Protestant attendees are in a multisite church each week. That number will continue to increase.

 

The Future

I am thankful for the work of Warren Bird, Leadership Network, and Generis. They have uncovered many new findings about multisite churches. For those of us who love local churches, we must stay informed about such developments. God is using new churches, established churches, and multisite churches all across the world. But, at least from this study, the multisite movement is making gains we had not seen in other segments.

 

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Original Post by

17 US States Ask US Supreme Court to Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

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(Photo: ChristianPost/Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

The attorneys general of 17 states, led by Colorado, have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the U.S. Constitution includes a right to same-sex marriage. The Mormon church and a few Christian groups have also filed a friend-of-the-court brief.

“There are scores of cases requiring thousands of hours to litigate the same legal question presented in this petition,” the filing by 17 states reads, asking the high court to take up the cases challenging gay marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah, noting that 89 ongoing cases across the country challenge traditional marriage laws.

“These cases are divisive and costly, not only in terms of money and manpower, but in terms of respect for the democratic process and deliberation undertaken by millions of voters where the nature of marriage has recently been debated,” adds the brief, filed Thursday. “Once resolved, the legal issues presented in the Utah and Oklahoma petitions are well positioned to provide the necessary guidance to the other states with traditional marriage laws.”

 

The 17 states include: Colorado, Oklahoma, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Associates Press reports that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and four Christian organizations have also asked the Supreme Court to settle once and for all whether states can outlaw same-sex marriage.

The friend-of-the-court brief — joined by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — urges the high court to hear Utah’s marriage case.

“The time has come to end the divisive national debate as to whether the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage,” the brief states.

“Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions,” the brief adds. “Is their right to refrain from participating in, recognizing or facilitating marriages between persons of the same sex, contrary to their religious convictions, adequately shielded by the First Amendment and other legal protections? Or is further legislation needed to guard religious liberties in these and other sensitive areas?”

… READ MORE

Original Post by Christian Post

Understanding your Purpose

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Sometimes you need to learn things that do not come naturally for you, because they will help you to be more effective in fulfilling your purpose. You may not be good at business for example, but if you want to run a successful dance studio, you need to learn some essential business principles. Know the difference between when you need to do a degree course to improve a supporting skill, and when you should register for a short course to learn the basics
By Young Adult Transitions  (Coaching)
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Victoria Osteen Chides Critics: I Didn’t Mean Parishioners Shouldn’t Worship God … That’s Ridiculous

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Victoria Osteen Chides Critics: I Didn't Mean Parishioners Shouldn't Worship God … That's Ridiculous
(Photo: Facebook/Victoria Osteen)

Victoria Osteen’s responded

 

After weathering a blistering week of scorn and ridicule for controversial comments she made during a worship service at the popular Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, including a declaration that worship is not for God, co-pastor Victoria Osteen now says that’s not what she meant and dismissed the notion as “ridiculous.”

“While I admit that I could have been more articulate in my remarks, I stand by my point that when we worship God and are obedient to Him we will be better for it,” she told The Blaze in a statement Friday. “I did not mean to imply that we don’t worship God; that’s ridiculous, and only the critics and cynics are interpreting my remarks that way.”

She further explained that her congregants at Lakewood Church knew exactly what she meant and there was no confusion among the flock she co-pastors with her New York Times bestselling author husband Joel Osteen.

“Every Lakewood member knows what I was talking about because they have experienced firsthand the joy and victory of a Lakewood Church worship service, and the honor, reverence and gratitude we show God,” she said.

In the last week, Osteen sparked a firestorm of withering criticism after a 36-second clip of her controversial comments on worship and adoration for God went viral.

… READ MORE

 

Written by Leonardo Blair of Christian Post: leonardo.blair@christianpost.com; follow me on Twitter @leoblair

Original Post by Christian Post

Supreme Court asked to defend Seal of Confession in La. case

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(Photo: Catholic news agency)
(Photo: Catholic news agency)

Baton Rouge, La., Sep 6, 2014 / 07:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling that a diocesan priest may be forced to break the Seal of Confession.

“This case concerns who – the Church or the state – gets to determine the meaning, content, and requirements of the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation – one of the Church’s most sacred and central practices,” the diocese’s appeal read.

Back in May, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that a priest of the Baton Rouge Diocese, Father Jeff Bayhi, could be forced to testify in court about a supposed confession made by a minor allegedly regarding her sexual abuse at the hands of a parishioner.

A state appeals court initially ruled that the alleged confession was “confidential” and thus Fr. Bayhi did not have to testify in court as to its alleged contents or whether it even took place.

However, the state Supreme Court reversed that decision, saying that the seal of confession did not shield Fr. Bayhi from mandatory reporting laws.

Louisiana law states that a “member of the clergy” must report allegations of sexual abuse, except in the case of “confidential” conversations made in private “and not intended for further disclosure except to other persons present in furtherance of the purpose of the communication.” In addition, a priest “is presumed to have the authority to claim the privilege” of confidentiality “on behalf of the person or deceased person.”

However, the high court ruled that Fr. Bayhi can only invoke confidentiality if the girl refuses to disclose their conversation, and since she waived her confidentiality privilege, he is subject to the mandatory sexual abuse reporting laws.

In the appeal, the diocese stated that even to admit the conversation took place – much less reveal its alleged contents – would involve Fr. Bayhi breaking the Seal of Confession, which no priest is allowed to do, even under threat of civil penalty or imprisonment.

The existence and/or contents of the alleged conversation is “knowledge that under church law he [Fr. Bayhi] is absolutely forbidden to share with others for any reason under penalty of automatic excommunication,” the appeal stated.

“The Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision cannot stand,” the appeal stated. “It conflicts with long-standing authority of this and other courts and threatens church autonomy.”

The diocese has previously emphasized that the priest is under the gravest of oaths not to reveal the contents of a confession or if the confession even took place.

“If necessary, the priest would have to suffer a finding of contempt in a civil court and suffer imprisonment rather than violate his sacred duty and violate the seal of confession and his duty to the penitent.”

“A foundational doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church for thousands of years mandates that the seal of confession is absolute and inviolable,” the diocese stressed, also saying that the “matter is of serious consequence to all religions, not just the Catholic faith.”

In a September 4 statement, the diocese said the court’s ruling “strikes a very hard blow against religious freedom, and one which the diocese and Father Bayhi feel compelled to vigorously protest.”

The diocese also spoke out against the court’s “unprecedented” ruling that the trial court decide “whether or not a sacrament actually took place.”

“Doing so allows the state to override the religion’s own determination of what its beliefs and practices require and destroys the sacred seal of confession in the process,” the appeal stated.

Original Post by Catholic news agency

Bodies Litter as Nigerian Town was Captured by Boko Haram; Militants Preventing Burial of Dead

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(Photo: Christian post)
(Photo: Christian post)

Bodies are littered across the northern Nigerian town of Bama, captured two days ago by terror group Boko Haram, because the militants are reportedly preventing people from burying the dead.

“So many bodies litter the streets, and people are not allowed to even go and bury the dead ones. So the situation is getting worse and worse,” Borno senator and lawmaker Ahmed Zanna told the BBC’s Newsday program after speaking to a resident who fled the town.
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Government officials had initially denied that the town had fallen, but said that close to 26,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Bama.

Boko Haram has taken control of a number of towns and villages in Nigeria, targeting Christians and anyone who stands in its way of establishing Islamic rule over the country.

The Nigeria Security Network reported earlier this week that the terror group has made “lightning territorial gains” in recent months, and has raised fears that Nigeria could follow the fate of Iraq and Syria, which have been devastated by ISIS, or the Islamic State, as it is also known.

Zanna revealed that the humanitarian situation in Bama is “terrible” and there had been a “lot of killings” in the town.

He also warned that the situation could get worse if Boko Haram attacks the 2 million strong city of Maiduguri, which is the capital of Borno.

“I’m begging the government to send more troops and armoury to Maiduguri,” Zanna said.

“Boko Haram do come overwhelmingly because they recruited en masse in the villages [in Borno state],” he added.

The Nigeria Security Network’s Andrew Noakes added in a report on Tuesday: “Boko Haram are beginning to operate like a conventional army, a major change from before July, when it focused on carrying out short-lived hit-and-run assaults.

“If Maiduguri falls, it will be a symbolic and strategic victory unparalleled so far in the conflict.”

The Islamic militant group declared an “Islamic Caliphate” in the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza in August, mirroring the actions of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but it is not clear if and to what extent the two terror groups are aligned.

“Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says in a 52-minute video, which also shows the execution of civilians.

Human Rights Watch announced in July that the extremist group had killed at least 2,053 civilians in over 95 attacks during the first half of 2014 alone, though that number has risen over the summer. HRW added that Boko Haram has committed “atrocities” which constitute “crimes against humanity.”

International Christian Concern Regional Manager for Africa Cameron Thomas said that “far too many” Christians have been “martyred, displaced, and terrorized at the hands of armed extremist.”

“For years, Boko Haram has waged a campaign of terror against Christians, moderate Muslims, educators and students, and law enforcement and military personnel for the establishment of a separate Islamic state; which, today, they felt capable of declaring,” Thomas said about the capture of Gwoza.

Original Post by Christian post

When Old-Economy Jobs Become New-Economy Gigs

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(Photo: Techcrunch)
(Photo: Techcrunch)

I love the sharing economy because it’s efficient. Got some spare time? Become a TaskRabbit! Spare space? AirBNB it! A car and nowhere to go? Drive for Uber or Lyft! The taxi industry is a regulatory-capture nightmare. Disrupt ‘em ’til they’re dead? Don’t mind if you do!

…And yet our 21st-century sharing-economy dream is beginning to look worryingly like a 19th-century robber-baron nightmare. When sharing-economy gigs supplement your income from your job, that’s great, everybody wins. But when sharing-economy gigs are your job? That’s different.

As the New York Times puts it, sharing-economy workers:

are less microentrepreneurs than microearners. They often work seven-day weeks, trying to assemble a living wage from a series of one-off gigs […] With piecemeal gigs easier to obtain than long-term employment, a new class of laborer, dependent on precarious work and wages, is emerging.

Re-emerging is probably a better word. In the early 20th century, the labor movement won workers eight-hour days, weekends, paid time off, etc. Before then, most labored like serfs, working long hours all week with no job security, no benefits, no vacations, no real prospect of advancement…

…in other words, exactly what you get today when you work at sharing-economy gigs, rather than at, you know, a job.

Not that technology is necessarily making those easier either. Another recent NYT piece reports on scheduling algorithms, which, in the language of Silicon Valley, are ‘redefining workforce optimization through big data.’ But on the ground, this:

pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers […] Flexibility — an alluring word for white-collar workers — can have a darker meaning for many low-income workers as a euphemism for unstable hours or paychecks

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an engineer. I love efficiency and optimization. But it’s hard to simultaneously optimize for both profits and people. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that algorithms which boost the former often tend to be pretty hard on the latter.

Similarly, I’m a big fan and frequent user of Uber, TaskRabbit, and Instacart. I think it’s great that people can supplement their income that way. But at the same time, as I’ve put it before: “sharing economy” is mostly spin. It mostly consists of people who have excess disposable income hiring those who do not. It’s hard to shake the feeling that, as in the 19th century, the world of work is dividing ever further between haves and have-nots–sharing-economy customers, and sharing-economy providers.

For haves like us, everything is awesome. And if things are rough for the have-nots, hey, that’s not technology’s fault, right? That’s a simple side effect of supply and demand, combined with, you know, healthy competition.

True, Uber and Lyft are in land-grab mode right now, and drivers are reaping the benefits. But land grabs don’t last forever, and there’s a glut of labor out there. “In July, 9.7 million Americans were unemployed, and an additional 7.5 million were working part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work.” Once the land grabs are over, most gig workers will be trivially replaceable, or even entirely disposable–and will suffer the consequences.

As Danny Crichton points out, the sharing economy and its algorithms can, in principle, have real benefits for its providers, too:

workers have the ability to develop their own personalities and brands … startup labor marketplaces are including computational trust and reputation systems from the beginning, ensuring that employers and employees have an incentive to work together and share credit.

This isn’t an entirely unmixed blessing–I’ve seen TaskRabbits sacrifice income in favor of reputation, and I suspect many customers use that tradeoff as leverage to pay them less–but on the whole it’s a good thing. Unfortunately those benefits pale and wither before the inexorable law of supply and demand. If there are too many providers and not enough consumers, too many have-nots and not enough haves, then most people who work in the burgeoning sharing economy are screwed. No scheduling algorithm or reputation system will solve that problem.

So the real question remains: is technology destroying jobs faster than it’s creating them? Are we moving from a Mediocristan world, wherein most people contribute a little, to Extremistan, wherein an ever-diminishing minority uses the lever of ever-improving technology to move the world to their liking, while more and more are excluded from jobs and must fight and scrap to get by with endless dead-end, barely-livable gigs?

That is one of this decade’s most important questions, and if the answer is “yes,” then the sharing economy is no solution. It’s barely even a band-aid.

Original Post by Techcrunch

Holy Ghost Movie Premiere – WATCH Live & Free – September 6, 2014 11am PDT | 18:00 GMT

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holy ghost premiere
(Photo: wpfilm.com)

Wanderlust has released the full trailer today for their new, highly anticipated film, Holy Ghost. The new trailer gives the biggest look yet at the next installment from filmmaker Darren Wilson.

LIVE STREAMING  – Go To  –   hgpremiere.bethel.tv 

“One of my goals in making this movie,” says Director, Darren Wilson, “was to separate it artistically as much as possible from my previous films (Finger of God, Furious Love, Father of Lights) while still holding onto the spirit of those movies. Those films featured my narrative as more of a curious everyman, wondering about everything he sees. This movie, well, let’s just say that I’ve finally made up my mind.” “I think this is the first time one of our trailers has truly captured the feel of the movie, so I’m excited for people to see it,” continues Wilson. “This whole movie is just electric from start to finish, and hopefully the trailer conveys that we’re dealing with a lot of big, deep stuff in this movie.”

Financed through the popular crowd funding platform Kickstarter, Holy Ghost became the #1 most funded Christian movie in Kickstarter history. As part of that campaign, Darren and his team have brought their nearly 2500 backers with them for the entire movie-making process, resulting in over 100 separate updates from film shoots around the world.

 

HOLY GHOST—the #1 most-funded, faith-based Kickstarter film in history—releases results of exclusive Advance Premiere designed to test new consumer-driven distribution model in which a film’s success hinges on its fans from start to finish; upcoming World Premiere Experience is September 6th

(Chicago, IL – August 21, 2014) Wanderlust Productions—the independent film studio behind the cult hit trilogy FINGER OF GOD, FURIOUS LOVE and FATHER OF LIGHTS—is poised to disrupt the entertainment industry’s long-established business model on September 6th with the 48-hour world premiere of its dynamic documentary film, HOLY GHOST. Fueled by more than 2,500 consumer-investors who surged to support Director Darren Wilson’s Kickstarter campaign, HOLY GHOST raised a record-breaking $360,000 in just 45 days to become the #1 most-funded, faith-based film in Kickstarter history.

By deploying a new consumer-driven strategy that will fundamentally change the way entertainment is distributed, Wanderlust Productions is banking on technology-savvy Millennials to drive the demand for—and the success of—HOLY GHOST.

“HOLY GHOST is a film without boundaries, we shot it without a script or a plan. It’s a film about the freedom and unexpected adventure that comes with a life led by the Spirit of God. This fresh vision—a stark contrast to the traditional understanding of the church—is strongly resonating with young people,” said Darren Wilson, director of HOLY GHOST. “As we travel the world with HOLY GHOST in places like the U.K. and Australia, thousands of Millennials have flooded to our screenings and told us the film has changed their lives. They are the enthusiastic audience behind our success, and an underserved segment in the booming faith-based entertainment market.”

Earlier in August, Wanderlust Productions offered select fans an exclusive, paid Advance Premiere of HOLY GHOST just weeks before the free global release. The data from the pre-screening—using the new online video platform VHX—indicates the following:

  • More than 21,000 people paid to see HOLY GHOST four weeks early.
  • Nearly 72% of Advance Premiere purchases came from social media.
  • Nearly half of viewers used mobile devices—such as an iPhone, iPad or Android device—to watch HOLY GHOST.
  • A significant percentage of Advance Premier participants watched HOLY GHOST more than once.
  • 45% of viewers—nearly half—were from outside the United States.

Rather than pursuing a traditional theatrical or direct-to-home entertainment release, Wanderlust Productions is staging a one-time, World Premiere Experience on September 6th during which fans from all over the world will have the opportunity to view HOLY GHOST directly on any digital device, free of charge. Wanderlust believes that the one-time, 48-hour event will attract viewers from all over the world, drive subsequent VOD and DVD purchases, and result in strong profitability for the project. This will enable instant reinvestment in the next project, due out in the fall of 2015.

 

To learn more about HOLY GHOST and view the trailer, visit http://holyghost.wpfilm.com

 

HOW DO I SEE THE MOVIE?

Your next big chance to see the film is on September 6th. We will be live-streaming the world premiere completely FREE

If you want to be reminded of the Worldwide Premiere, go to this page hgpremiere.bethel.tv and click “Keep Me Posted”.

 

About Wanderlust Productions  Wanderlust Productions was founded by Darren Wilson in 2006 when he began work on what would become his first feature length film, FINGER OF GOD. The company currently concentrates on creating feature films that are both creatively exciting and spiritually engaging.

Hands On With The Moto 360, The First Round Smart Watch

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(Photo: Ibtimes)
(Photo: Ibtimes)

As we approach Peak Smart Watch at the Apple event next week, manufacturers are racing to offer product to those who might not want to bow down to Cupertino in the coming months. The latest contender is the Moto 360, a steel and leather beauty that launched today alongside the new Motorola X.

Although I’ve been duly impressed by the Samsung Gear series, you will immediately that the design language of the 360 is far more chic. Made of a round piece of coated steel and featuring a nice leather band and Gorilla Glass crystal, the watch looks more like a Misfit Shine than a nerd accouterment.

How does it work? Well, if you’re not familiar with the vagaries of Android Wear, not very well at first. The interface consists of notifications that appear over the various watch faces available as well as a voice activated screen that allows you to ask for various pieces of information. You can ask Google for directions (delivered indirectly by your phone). You can ask it to take a note or send a text. You can look things up. You can also tell the time just by lifting your wrist.

Unfortunately, the interface tends to dump back to the default time screen if something isn’t understood, which is quite frustrating. Voice recognition has been consistently good, but sometimes it will activate too soon, resulting in something like “OK Google Text OK Google” appearing on the screen.

I’ll have a full review of the new gear next week but we recorded a quick hands-on with the watch today in anticipation of many long hours spent talking to my wrist.

Original Post by Techcrunch

Apple Dominating Shipping Capacity Out Of China With New iPhones

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(Photo: Matthew Panzarino)
(Photo: Matthew Panzarino)

According to several sources, Apple has already begun flexing its supply chain muscles by shipping so many units of upcoming devices from its manufacturing facilities to sales outlets that it is causing delays for other manufacturers.

Apple shipments via major concerns like FedEx and UPS are said to be ‘incredibly high’ for the holiday quarter, pointing to a massive number of iPhones and whatever other units Apple announces for the fall season incoming. The company is apparently flooding its channels with devices, causing shipments for other ‘top tier’ device makers to be delayed to make way for Apple products.

One other manufacturer was reportedly told by shippers that they couldn’t meet some deadlines because they were booked up servicing a ‘very important customer’.

If Apple is displacing shipments from other manufacturers with its volume then it wouldn’t be the first time. An account given by logistics exec John Martin to Businessweek a couple of years ago gives a few examples:

“Apple began innovating on the nitty-gritty details of supply-chain management almost immediately upon Steve Jobs’s return in 1997. At the time, most computer manufacturers transported products by sea, a far cheaper option than air freight. To ensure that the company’s new, translucent blue iMacs would be widely available at Christmas the following year, Jobs paid $50 million to buy up all the available holiday air freight space, says John Martin, a logistics executive who worked with Jobs to arrange the flights. The move handicapped rivals such as Compaq that later wanted to book air transport. Similarly, when iPod sales took off in 2001, Apple realized it could pack so many of the diminutive music players on planes that it became economical to ship them directly from Chinese factories to consumers’ doors. When an HP staffer bought one and received it a few days later, tracking its progress around the world through Apple’s website, “It was an ‘Oh s—’ moment,” recalls [former HP supply chain chief Mike] Fawkes.”

It also points to Apple’s hopes to sell an enormous number of devices in the holiday quarter. Reportedly, those include at least one new iPhone and updates to the iPad — a rumored wearable device is reported to be announced but shipped next year.

Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin estimates (subscription required) that — provided it can make enough of them — Apple could sell in the mid-60 million iPhones in the holiday quarter.

“The other thing that will be interesting to watch is what happens with Samsung’s sales. Last quarter, Samsung shipped 78m smartphones and they stuffed the channel prematurely to mask some of their challenges,” says Bajarin. “I think it is extremely possible, given the sense I get on both Apple and Samsung trend lines, that Apple and Samsung sales in the holiday quarter could be closer than people think.”

Samsung having pushed a lot of phones last quarter to cover up some of its sales slump issues could bite it in the butt if Apple eats up shipping capacity in a way that makes it tough for the company to get the new Galaxy models into the country.

Original Post by Techcrunch

Second US Doctor Sick with Ebola; Crisis ‘Out of Control’

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(Photo: CBN)
(Photo: CBN)

Another American doctor in Liberia has tested positive for the Ebola virus, according to the international Christian mission organization, SIM.

SIM leaders report the American doctor was treating obstetrics patients at the organization’s ELWA Hospital in Monrovia and not treating Ebola patients.

It’s not yet known how he contracted the virus. The doctor has been transferred to the ELWA Ebola isolation unit.

SIM officials say he’s doing well and in good spirits.

The news comes as U.S. officials warned the battle against the Ebola epidemic that’s stricken four West African countries is “spiraling out of control.”

“It’s bad now and it’s going to get worse in the very near future,” director for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom Frieden told CBS News. “There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now.”

“Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it,” Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu said at a United Nations forum. “Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered.”

The group is joining a chorus of health experts who say it’s time for a larger global response to the epidemic.

“Vaccines and treatments may come along, but right now what we have are tried and true methods that we have to scale up,” Frieden said. “They have worked in prior outbreaks but we are not getting to scale.”

“The epidemic is going faster than we are,” he warned. “We need to scale up our response. We can hope for new tools and maybe they’ll come, but we can’t count on them.”

So far, the West African outbreak has killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Original Post by CBN

DECLARING HIS GLORY: CHRISTIAN WORLD NEWS’ FUTURE

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(Photo: CBN)
(Photo: CBN)


Christian World News founder Stan Jeter joins the broadcast with host George Thomas, international news director Gary Lane, and CWN producer Steve Little to talk about the future of the show.

Watch Stan and the team share how the show has impacted so many and the the vision of how it will continue to reach around the globe broadcasting good news.

Original Photo by CBN

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