Category Archives: Opinion/Commentary

Kathlee Lee Gifford Reveals the Moment She Accepted Jesus: ‘I Couldn’t Get Up Fast Enough’

TV host Kathie Lee Gifford recently revealed how she came to the Christian faith, sitting down for a fascinating interview with I Am Second during which she revealed her triumphs, struggles and advice for getting through life’s many challenges.

READ: Actress Candace Cameron Bure Responds to Critics Who Say ‘Prayer Isn’t Enough’ in the Wake of Tragedy

Gifford recalled how she went to see “The Restless Ones,” a 1965 movie that was produced by legendary evangelist Billy Graham. The film so moved the then-12 year old that she responded to an altar call at the end — and decided to accept Jesus.

“I couldn’t get up fast enough,” she said. “It was the greatest decision I ever made in my entire life.”

Gifford also discussed her journey into the entertainment realm as well as the ups and downs she has faced throughout her life and career. Speaking of the rejection that she saw in Hollywood — an integral part of the industry experience — she said that she would often laugh off critique.

“Spotlights are tough because some people die under them,” she said. “I came to life under them.”

From there, she dove into other issues she faced, including her late husband Frank Gifford’s affair. While she was devastated by it, she said that God healed their marriage and that she was grateful that her experience helped inspire other couples who faced similar challenges.

Gifford also recalled finding her husband deceased inside her home in 2015, explaining that, though she still misses him, she’s “grateful that Frank is exactly where he’s supposed to be.” Still, despite being grateful that he’s in heaven, the TV host admitted to struggling with loneliness.

“There are times when I am overwhelmed by loneliness,” she said, adding that she tries to focus on what she has rather than what has been lost. “I don’t want to live my life in hopelessness.”

Watch Gifford’s incredible I Am Second video below:

Source:

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ABC flooded with 25,000 complaints after Joy Behar mocks Mike Pence’s Christianity

(The Washington Times) Joy Behar’s mocking of Christianity as a mental illness isn’t going away as an issue.

According to the Media Research Center watchdog group, more than 25,000 people had called ABC by early Monday morning to complain about a segment on “The View” in which the comedian specifically said Vice President Mike Pence suffers from the delusions of prayer.

“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you… that’s called mental illness … hearing voices,” she said. View article →

Source: ABC flooded with 25,000 complaints after Joy Behar mocks Mike Pence’s Christianity

25,000 People Swamp ABC with Complaints After Joy Behar Bashes Christianity, Franklin Graham Weighs In

18 Questions about Faith and Mental Illness

How should we understand the effects of the Fall on the mind and brain? We know our bodies age and die. We know all of our organs are susceptible to disease and deterioration. We have “norms” for the frequency, duration, onset, and prognosis of these effects of the Fall; what are the equivalent expectations for the mind and brain?

When engaging a difficult and highly personal subject, it is better to start with good questions than a list of answers. The better our questions are, the more responsibly we will utilize the answers of which we are confidant, the more humbly we will approach areas of uncertainty, and the more we will honor one another in the process of learning.

As I’ve read, counseled, and thought about the subject of mental illness, here are some of the questions that have emerged.

The purpose of these questions is to expand our thinking about mental illness. We all bring a “theory of mental illness” to this discussion. This theory, whether we can articulate it or not, shapes the questions we ask. Exposing ourselves to important questions from other perspectives is the first step in becoming more holistic in our approach.

Don’t allow these questions to overwhelm you. All of these questions existed before you read them. Speaking them didn’t create them. Actually, an appropriate response to this list would be the generation of more questions. Take a moment to write down the additional questions you have.

  1. Is mental illness a flaw in character or chemistry? Is this the best way to frame the question? What do we lose when we fall into the trap of either-or thinking?
  2. Why do we think of genetic influences as if they negate the role of the will or personal choice? Substance abuse can have a clear genetic predisposition, but every addiction program – even those most committed to a disease model – appeal to the will as a key component to sobriety.
  3. In the modern psychological proverb, “The genes load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger,” where is the person? How do we best understand the interplay of predisposition (genetics), influences (environment), and the individual making choices (person)?
  4. What percent of those who struggle with “normal sorrow” are labeled as clinically depressed? What percentage of those who think their sorrow is normal are actually clinically depressed? How do we communicate effectively when the same word – depression – has both a clinical and popular usage?
  5. Would we want to eradicate all anxiety and depression if we were medically capable of doing so? What would we lose, that was good about life and relationships, if these unpleasant emotions were eradicated from human experience? Would that be heaven-on-earth or have unintended consequences that are greater than our current dilemma?
  6. Can we have a “weak” brain—one given to problematic emotions or difficulty discerning reality—and a “strong” soul—one with a deep and genuine love for God? If we say “yes” to this question in areas like intelligence (e.g., low IQ and strong faith), would there be any reason to say “no” about those things described as mental illness? C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity says, “Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst of this raw material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us; all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises (p. 91-92).”

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Is Christianity Shrinking in America? “Yes” and “No”

It’s a common question asked by church leaders and laity: “Is American Christianity waning as our nation becomes more secular”? The statistics seem to support a “yes” answer to this question. I’ve been collecting data on this issue for over ten years. The surveys (more than fifty I’ve chronicled so far) reveal a disturbing, albeit unified, trend: Fewer people claim a Christian affiliation than ever before, and those who claim no religious affiliation are the fastest growing group in America.

Despite these statistics, a recent article argues that religion “continues to enjoy ‘persistent and exceptional intensity’ in America.” Glenn Stanton, writing at The Federalist, describes research done by scholars at Harvard University and Indiana University, Bloomington. These researchers have concluded that America “remains an exceptional outlier and potential counter example to the secularization thesis.” So, which is it? Is religion in America waning or enjoying “persistent and exceptional intensity”? Is the Christian Church shrinking or intensifying? The answer is: “both”.

To illustrate the situation, let me offer an object lesson. Rummage through your closet and find an empty shoe box. Bring it into your kitchen and find a pot that will fit in the shoebox (one that is about three-quarters the size of the box). Put the pot in the shoebox, and then search for the smallest teacup you own, or better yet, an espresso cup. Place this small cup in the pot. Now you’re ready to understand what’s happening to the American Church.

The Box
The shoebox represents everyone in America; believers and unbelievers, alike. If you’re a Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist or agnostic, you’re in the shoebox. This box represents 100% of our national population.

The Pot
The pot represents everyone who identifies as a Christian. All the different denominations of Christianity are represented by the pot. Right now, that pot is less than three-quarters the size of the box. The most recent surveys reveal the number of self-proclaimed Christians to be shrinking dramatically at about 1% a year. At present, about 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.

The Espresso Cup
As it turns out, many of the people in the pot who identify themselves in this way don’t actually know much about Christianity. A recent Barna Group study revealed that only 17% of Christians “who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview.” The study cited by Stanton in The Federalist also found that only 40% of Americans say they have “strong religious affiliations,” even though many more claim a Christian identity. In addition, only 33% of our population describes the Bible as the “Literal Word of God”. So, who’s in the espresso cup? Those who claim to be Christians and actually know what Christianity teaches. “Espresso cup” Christians are strongly affiliated with the faith, attend church, believe the Bible, and have allowed it to shape the way they view the world. How large is the cup? It’s hard to say, precisely, but one thing is for sure: it’s only a fraction of the pot, and it appears to be a small fraction.

Now that we’ve assembled our object lesson, let’s use it to draw some conclusions about what’s happening (and may continue to happen) in America today. All the studies I’ve assembled agree: the pot is shrinking. Less people claim a Christian affiliation than ever before. They are jumping out of the pot and into the box.

At the same time, the scholars at Harvard and Indiana have highlighted something important: The espresso cup isn’t shrinking. There is a remnant within the church that continues to pursue their religious affiliation with vigor and purpose. Despite cultural pressures and the inclination toward secularization, this “core” remains a committed, albeit small, group. The pot is shrinking toward the size of the cup, as casual, less affiliated believers jump from the pot to the box.

There’s a lesson in this for those of us who care about the future of the Church in America. The more engaged and knowledgeable we are as Christians, the more likely we are to be in the cup, rather than the pot.  In fact, recent studies show that churches committed to teaching classic Christian principles (like the physical resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of prayer and the reliability of the Bible) are far more likely to grow than churches avoiding such theological truths. Theology and rationality matter.

What’s more, the people jumping out of the pot, seldom identify themselves as atheists or agnostics. Instead, they simply claim no religious affiliation. This means they are still largely open to hearing a reasoned, accurate and articulate description of the Christian worldview. They were once interested in Christianity, and many remain interested in God. We still have a chance to reach them before they abandon their religious interests altogether.

Finally, the people who jumped out of the pot still know people in the cup. They used to attend church with us, after all. They are still our neighbors, our relatives, our co-workers, our children. We know them, and they know us. Who’s is better positioned to share the truth? If you’re reading this article and consider yourself an “espresso cup” Christian, it’s time to identify the Christians you know who are still in the pot, or have recently jumped into the box. Engage them, show them, teach them. Help them see why Christianity matters; why it’s true and how it has changed your life. There are more than enough people in the cup to change the size of the pot. Christianity may be shrinking, but it’s also flourishing. You and I can still make a difference.

(This article first appeared in the Christian Post)

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime SceneGod’s Crime Scene for Kidsand Forensic Faith.

Source: Is Christianity Shrinking in America? “Yes” and “No”

5 Things They Get Wrong About Christianity

Christianity is a great faith that has been integral to America’s success and so perhaps those of us that are Christians should spend a bit more time tackling the misperceptions about our faith that are out there.

1) Christianity Requires Us To Hate People We Disagree With: Christians have been instructed to love the sinner and hate the sin, which is good because we’re all sinners. Christians also frequently have rules we are supposed to follow that we wouldn’t have necessarily come up with ourselves. For example, if I were writing the rules, I’d very selfishly make it morally acceptable to have sex outside of marriage. Nevertheless, sex outside of marriage is a sin regardless of how I may feel about it. Those are just the rules, but there are no rules that require Christians to hate people who disagree with them. Quite the opposite, in fact. Are there Christians who spew venom and hatred at people they disagree with morally anyway?  Of course, because being Christian doesn’t transcend being human and we humans often tend to be petty, hateful creatures.  At least Christianity as it should be practiced tries to get us to transcend our hateful tendencies.

2) Christians Are Anti-Science: I’ve never actually met a Christian in America or, for that matter, anyone I think is fair to call “anti-science.” However, I have met a great number of people who feel very comfortable disregarding scientific evidence when it conflicts with their ideological agenda, policy goals or self-interest. Percentage wise, people of that sort seem to be all over the map with regard to their religion, lack of religion or ideology. Sometimes, people like to claim Christians are anti-science if they disbelieve in evolution. This is quite silly seeing as how if evolution exists, that was merely the manner which God chose to create and change life. As a Christian, I see no scientific conclusions from Big Bang on down that potentially conflict with my faith. The vast majority of us see it the same way.

3) Christians Want A Theocracy: In my 47 years on this earth, I have yet to ever actually meet a Christian who wants a theocracy although I have met quite a few who’ve correctly complained that the 1st Amendment is being incorrectly interpreted to be much more hostile to religion than the Founders ever intended. The idea that devout Christians would like to overthrow our republic to replace it with…oh, I don’t know, the Pope, Franklin Graham and Joel Osteen is quite ridiculous. On the other hand, it is true that Christians do quite often advocate for policies they agree with and the rights they believe they have under the Constitution. Every other group in America does exactly the same thing; so I see no reason why Christians should be any different.

4) Christians Are Intolerant: American culture has grown extremely intolerant and ironically many of the least tolerant people are the ones screaming the loudest about other people’s supposed intolerance.  If Christians are supposed to be intolerant, I guess I’d have to ask, “Compared to whom?” There are violent riots on college campuses to stop alternate viewpoints from being heard. People on the Left and Right habitually disregard all comments from people who disagree with them. Simply holding a conservative view is enough to cost you your job in Hollywood or a newsroom. The mildest disagreements can produce oceans of abuse on social media. Maybe at one point in American history when Christians were dominant, you could claim that we were intolerant, but if anything, far too many Christians are willing to shrug off or ignore insults, offensive policies and even blasphemy.   Christians may be TOO TOLERANT in comparison to the rest of American culture.

5) Christians Are Hypocrites: It’s always a great scandal when someone who professes to be a Christian cheats on his wife, gets caught with a prostitute or otherwise sins. That’s fine as far as it goes. In fact, we’d likely be better off if Americans were more scandalized by the immoral behavior of prominent people, Christian or otherwise. However, there seems to be some sort of expectation that Christians will never do that sort of thing. Christians do not have such expectations. We know better. We know we’re weak; we’re fallible and broken creatures embracing Christianity in an effort to get well. We will NEVER reach our goal. We will never be perfect like Christ. However, a man who shoots at the stars and falls short may still reach the moon. We can’t be perfect, but we can be better.  If this is hypocrisy, be glad of it. The alternative, where people refuse to condemn horrible behavior on the grounds that they may harbor a desire to do such a thing in the darkest corners of their heart would lead to an abominable society that none of us want to live in.

Source: 5 Things They Get Wrong About Christianity

Viral Bill Nye ‘Science Guy’ Video Claims Fertilized Eggs Are Not Humans; Pro-Lifers Push Back

(Christian News Network) “As an ultrasound tech, I can tell you from scanning a 5.5 week old ‘fertilized egg’ that I see its heartbeat. At 9 weeks, it’s forming limbs. And [at] 15, I can see the sex in some and the legs, arms, organs—and yes, its a baby, fully,” wrote Melissa Crise.”

A video on social media of Bill Nye, known as “The Science Guy,” asserting that fertilized eggs are not humans, has gone viral and has caused pro-lifers to push back against his claims.

In the video, recently shared by Big Think and having 33 million views as of press time, Nye remarked that eggs accept sperm all the time, but that in order for a fertilized egg to develop, it must attach to the uterine wall. View article →

Source: Viral Bill Nye ‘Science Guy’ Video Claims Fertilized Eggs Are Not Humans; Pro-Lifers Push Back

Five words of hope in the face of horrific evil and pain

(Denny Burk – Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College) When horrific evil unfolds before our very eyes, there is a temptation to lose sight of the verities that ought to sustain and comfort us. For those watching the aftermath of the unmitigated evil of yesterday’s shooting in Florida, here are some words of hope to cling to. Hold them close.

1. God is good all the time.

“O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8). “For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5). “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Ps. 106:1). “The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).

2. God is near to the broken-hearted.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “He heals the brokenhearted, And binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works” (Psalm 73:28). “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

3. The delay of God’s justice isn’t the absence of God’s justice.

“He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7). “But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:7-9). View article →

Source: Five words of hope in the face of horrific evil and pain

Winter Olympics Promotes Homosexuality As Principle 6 Is Pushed

(Steve McConkey – 4 Winds USA) Olympic skater Adam Rippon and skier Gus Kenworthy are promoting homosexuality as normal behavior. They are the first openly gay Winter Olympians from the United States.

They have been verbally attacking Vice President Mike Pence. Kenworthy recently appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show criticizing Pence. Hillary Clinton praised the gay athletes and said she will be focusing on them as she watches the Games.

“Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy will be used by the Olympic Committee and the press to further the sin of homosexuality,” states 4 Winds Christian Athletics President Steve McConkey. “The Olympic Committee has promoted transgenders, intersex athletes without proper testing, and same sex marriage. View article →

Source: Winter Olympics Promotes Homosexuality As Principle 6 Is Pushed

Interview on the NAR with Alisa Childers

Take a listen to Alisa Childers’ latest podcast, with me, “The New Apostolic Reformation: What It Is and Why We Should Care.”

Alisa’s personal story is inspiring. She’s a lifelong Christian and former CCM recording artist–a member of ZOEgirl–who went through a time of profound doubt about her faith in her mid-30s. She investigated her faith intellectually, developed a well-reasoned and robust faith, and now has an apologetics ministry dedicated to helping others find answers to their tough questions.

I really enjoyed being interviewed by Alisa. She asks great questions. We covered many topics including my response to radio host Michael Brown’s defense of NAR leaders and his claims that the New Apostolic Reformation isn’t the big, concerning movement that critics, like myself, say it is. Here’s the podcast description from Alisa’s website.

There is a movement within Christendom called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Some Christians believe it’s a true work of God, others are skeptical…others claim it doesn’t exist at all!  My guest, Holly Pivec has written two books on the NAR, and talks with me  about her concerns regarding the teachings and practices of this growing movement.

Listen to the podcast here.

——

Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

Source: Listen to my new interview on the NAR with Alisa Childers

Barna Update | How Liturgical Are Today’s Christians?

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. This season, along with other rituals and readings for congregational worship, are part of what is known as Christian liturgy. Though practiced for centuries, these traditions are mostly absent from many contemporary worship expressions today. Just how familiar are practicing Christians with the Church calendar and liturgy?

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