March Madness Foul: The Freedom From Religion Atheist Group Attacks Top NCAA Basketball Teams Over Chaplains

MADISON, Wis., March 27, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — March Madness is sweeping the United States for the NCAA Basketball Championships. At the same time, the Freedom From Religion (FFR) is harassing six teams for having chaplains.

Louisville, Wichita State, Maryland, Oklahoma, Kansas and Virginia are being pressured to provide FFR their financial records. However, the chaplains are not being paid by the universities to do Christian work. (Global Dispatch)

Last fall, FFR did the same to top NCAA football teams throughout the United States, but their charges were found to be false. They were attacking Christian leaders for working with athletes in their spare time on a voluntary basis.

“Freedom From Religion claims they support freedom of speech, but they continue to attack Christians,” states 4 Winds Christian Athletics President Steve McConkey. “They were founded in the 1970s because they did not like pro-life people and the founder was part of the Zero Population Growth movement to control the population. Not your average citizens.”

Steve McConkey is the President of 4 Winds Christian Athletics (4 WINDS). Steve and his wife started working in world-class track and field ministries in 1981. 4 WINDS was formed in 1988 and expanded to all sports in 2014. Steve regularly appears on worldwide radio and is frequently quoted in articles throughout the world.

“If enough Christians and institutions stand up, Freedom From Religion will not be able to bully people,” says McConkey. “When a society loses it Christian foundation, eventually no one benefits, even atheists. Christians need to pray and realize this is a spiritual problem as non-believers want to impose their made-up morality on others.”

Steve has a Master of Public Health from Western Kentucky University with honors and a BS-Public Health from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Steve became a Christian in 1976 after reading the New Testament.

He was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but moved to NW Wisconsin after the sixth grade. Ministry headquarters have been in Eugene, Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and now in Madison, Wisconsin where Freedom From Religion is located. Steve operates Big Planet Watch and Track and Field Report at BigPlanetWatch.com.

According to an article at the Global Dispatch, Freedom From Religion says, “One in three Americans under the age of 30 identifies as nonreligious, making it very likely these chaplains are imposing their religion on students who are not religious and just want to play basketball.”

Pope Francis Visit Website Gets America Ready for the Pope

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, March 26, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — When the news is overloaded with Pope Francis, where do you get the details on his upcoming U.S. visit?

Catholic to the Max, the Ohio-based family company famous for their t-shirts, coffee mugs, and framed art, has made the all-in-one solution. They call it www.PopeFrancisVisit.com.

PopeFrancisVisit.com is a comprehensive website providing information on Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the United States. Finding historical background and keeping up with the latest information on a papal visit to America usually means jumping from site-to-site on the web, but Catholic to the Max has created a one-stop-shop for that.

“We’ve been down this road before, back in 2008, when we realized there was no all-in-one website for Pope Benedict’s visit to the U.S.” says Mark Nelson, the owner of Catholic to the Max.

“There was a ‘Pope in New York’ website made by New York, there was a ‘Pope in D.C.’ website made by D.C., but there was no all-inclusive website with shopping, travel, and the whole shebang, so we made one ourselves.”

A devout Catholic and father of nine children, Nelson and his Catholic to the Max are no strangers to Papal visits, having run the official retail arm of the 2008 Pope Benedict Visit to Washington, D.C. as well as his own unofficial websites in the past.

“We’re just doing what we love: celebrating the Pope. We don’t need to be labeled ‘official’ in order to love the Holy Father in our own way. This is what we do.”

The “unofficial” nature of the PopeFrancisVisit.com website, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t get official products there. In addition to supplying Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families with retail merchandise, Nelson is also licensed to sell the official World Meeting Icon on his own website and to Catholic bookstores across the country.

“The World Meeting has an official icon of the Holy Family that we can beautifully reproduce on canvas, wood, even coffee mugs. Parishes have already been buying their own Holy Family icon reproductions and setting them up at the front of the church. Everything we sell goes to support the World Meeting, both monetarily and prayerfully.”

Prayerfully? Nelson believes that prayers for Catholic families in general, and the World Meeting of Families specifically, are necessary over the next several months, and the Holy Family icon can help encourage that.

“Having that official image at the front of the church during Mass or having small prints available on a table in the back is a huge reminder and wake-up call for the average Catholic: this World Meeting is a big deal, and we need to get the word out and to pray.”

Catholic to the Max is based in Steubenville, Ohio. World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis products are available at www.popefrancisvisit.com, or by phone at 800.895.6267.

What Compass Guides Your Thinking ?

By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield Editor, FaithInspires.Org

In today’s world we are surrounded by more information, more often than any other time in history. The set of thinking skills we use to determine what is true or useful is called discernment. This set of thinking skills is more important in regards to our faith than any other part of our lives. Consider what the Bible says at Leviticus 10:10” “ And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;” (KJV) So obviously if the Bible addresses it directly it is very important.

Even as adults we can fall subject to what is called peer pressure. Our actions are sometimes ruled by our need to be popular. They of course should be guided by God’s word instead. Look at what is said in Proverbs 21:2. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”(KJV) Everybody wants to feel independent, to be an original. But are these desires the best way to grow our faith ? Not in a vacuum they are not. Navigators at sea always take care to consider error and deviation. Magnetic deviation has to do with the earth’s magnetic field being different in different parts of the world. Error on the other hand has to do with every compass being different. In much the same way when we looking to guide our thinking and decisions, we need to make sure that the information we are using is accurate. We also need to make sure we are using the right information to get us where we want to go. Without God’s word, and his leading through the Holy Spirit we lack a vital perspective in our decision making. So how are we to make the right choices ? Psalm 119 verse 125 tells us, “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.” (KJV) So the obvious answer in this case is the right answer. If we want help correctly aligning our thinking with God’s thinking we should ask him directly ! It may seem odd that we keep coming back to prayer. However we cannot overstate the importance of prayer and the connection to God that it feeds.

Often when people want to learn a new language they use what is called “immersion” training. How this works is they bring their new language into every part of their life. They literally surround themselves with what they are trying to learn. We as Christians are not trying to just learn a new language, but a whole new way of thinking and behaving. If that is true, why do we think we can get so much more done, with so much less effort ? After we pray for discernment we should surround ourselves with God’s word. We should “immerse” ourselves in God’s way of thinking to the point that our thoughts become one. 1 John 2:15-17 sums it up quite nicely. “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” So when you are looking for discernment to guide your decisions in life, make sure you are using the right “compass.” Always remember to the Christian the only compass needed is God’s word prayerfully considered.

’60 Minutes’ Sunday will Report on Plight of Christians in Iraq

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — This Sunday, “60 Minutes” will air Lara Logan’s report on the plight of the Christian church in Iraq. Among those interviewed for the program was Bishop Bashar Warda whose flock has expanded by 60,000 as Erbil has abandoned thousands of those displaced by the Islamic State.

21Wilberforce also met with Bishop Warda and other faith leaders during a January visit to northern Iraq and issued a report entitled “Edge of Extinction” (21wilberforce.org). Just as Bishop Warda’s flock has grown exponentially, dozens of priests from Mosul and surrounding areas have seen their flocks decimated with a reported 12 Christian families leaving Iraq daily due to the violence and desperate circumstances of their prolonged displacement.

“I am pleased to see 60 Minutes shining a bright light on the existential crisis facing Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq—a crisis which increasingly looks like genocide. As we approach April, Genocide Prevention Month, we must not let the words ‘Never Again’ ring hollow,” said former Congressman Frank Wolf, co-founder of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.

Yesterday the United Nations human rights office released a report which found that the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) may have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in its attacks against ethnic and religious groups in the country. Specifically the UN mission gathered information regarding acts of violence perpetrated against civilians because of their affiliation with an ethnic or religious group and then surmised, “It is reasonable to conclude that some of these incidents, considering the overall information, may constitute genocide.

“The church in the West must stand in solidarity with our beleaguered brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria and throughout the Middle East who find themselves in the murderous crosshairs of the Islamic State,” remarked Wilberforce president and co-founder Dr. Randel Everett.

Good Friday Day of Prayer

DANBURY, Conn., March 16, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — May We Pray for You? The Guideposts OurPrayer Ministry, announces its 45th annual Good Friday Day of Prayer event, scheduled for 7-5pm, Friday, April 3 at Mizzentop Day School (formerly Peale Center) 66 East Main Street in Pawling, NY. As in years past, OurPrayer invites the public to attend or submit prayer requests online at www.ourprayergoodfriday.org where each prayer request will be prayed for by OurPrayer staff and volunteers.

This Good Friday Day of Prayer, we welcome you to join the hundreds of people near and far as we gather for a day of reflection and prayer. This occasion benefits so many who attend, as a day of personal contemplation and renewal, as well as a time for unity and fellowship, joining together to intercede for individuals, friends, family and the world. “We are not short on problems in our homes, schools, on our streets, or in our world. What better time than Good Friday, to make a sacrifice and intercede on behalf of others just as Christ did for us,” commented Ty’Ann Brown, Manager of OurPrayer. Join us as we make this day a time of prayer and community, lifting up thousands of prayer requests by name and need. This event is free and refreshments will be provided.

Those who are unable to attend the event can still participate by submitting prayer requests as well as praying for others at www.ourprayergoodfriday.org. Our Prayer Line will be open for personal prayer from 7am-10pm EDT at 203-778-8063. Caring people volunteer their time to support those in need, offering prayers of hope and inspiration in response to the millions of requests received annually. Please additionally visit OurPrayer on Facebook, and Twitter.

OurPrayer is a service of Guideposts–a non-profit organization that touches millions of lives every day through products and services that inspire, encourage, and uplift. Through magazines, books, prayer network and outreach programs, Guideposts helps people connect their faith-filled values to their daily lives. For more information on Guideposts, please visit www.guideposts.org and follow Guideposts on Facebook and Twitter.

Pope Francis condemns attacks against Christians in Pakistan

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has made an appeal for peace in Pakistan and for solidarity with the country’s persecuted Christian minority, in the wake of a pair of terror attacks that left at least 14 people dead and scores of others wounded in the city of Lahore, and accused the world of, “trying to hide” the persecution of Christians.“With pain, with much pain,” said Pope Francis to the crowd of pilgrims and tourists gathered for the Angelus prayer this Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, “I learned of the terrorist attacks today against two churches in the city Lahore in Pakistan, which have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries,” for which a Taliban splinter group, calling itself Jamatul Ahrar, has claimed responsibility.

The twin attacks took place on churches only a few hundred metres apart from one another in one of the largest Christian neighbourhoods of the city, Youhanabad. One of the churches was the Catholic church of St. John, the other was the Anglican Christ Church. The Holy Father went on to say, “These are Christian churches: Christians are being persecuted. Our brothers’ and sisters’ blood is shed only because they are Christians. As I assure you of my prayers for the victims and their families, I ask the Lord, I beseech the Lord, source of all good, for the gift of peace and harmony to this country.”

Concluding his appeal, Pope Francis prayed, “That this persecution against Christians, which the world tries to hide, might end, and that there be peace.”

“These attacks have led people into the thought that they are unsafe anywhere,” said Sadaf Saddique, who heads the Good Shepherd Ministry in Pakistan, an outreach to exploited and at-risk children. Speaking to Vatican Radio from Lahore, shortly after the attacks, Saddique, a lawyer, said, “We never thought that Youhanabad could be attacked, we never thought that people would dare to come into this place, and would attack such a big Christian town.”

Christians comprise roughly 2% of Pakistan’s more than 182 million people, and have been the target of increasingly intense and deadly violence in recent years.

(from Vatican Radio)

Honoring Ryan ‘Biggles’ Job: ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle’s Fellow Navy SEAL Team 3 Member

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — Warner Bros. Pictures “American Sniper” follows the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most deadly sniper in American history, and his Navy SEAL Team 3 brothers. The blockbuster was adapted from Chris Kyle’s New York Times #1 best-selling book of the same name, which was dedicated to Kyle’s Navy SEAL teammate and close friend Ryan “Biggles” Job, a central character in both works.

Chris Kyle and Ryan “Biggles” Job (pronounced Jobe) went through grueling SEAL training together where Ryan earned his nickname “Biggles” because of his size. Once deployed to Iraq, the two were stationed on a rooftop in Ramadi when Job was shot in the face and gravely wounded by an enemy sniper. Job miraculously survived, but was permanently blinded.

Shortly after returning stateside for facial reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, Job became involved in wounded veteran’s causes and befriended Robert Vera. Vera, a former US Senate aide on military affairs, trained with Job in the hills around Phoenix, Arizona for Job’s unprecedented blind hike to the summit of Washington’s Mt. Rainer, one of the tallest and deadliest peaks in America.

Tragically, after surviving the deadly attack in Iraq, Ryan Job died of an accidental medical overdose at Maricopa County Medical Center, just two days after a round of surgery. At the time, Ryan’s wife was pregnant with their first child.

Robert Vera pays tribute to his fallen friend in “A Warrior’s Faith,” a newly released book from HarperCollins Publishing. In the book, Vera introduces the uncanny similarity between Ryan Job and Job from the Bible. Besides the pronunciation of their names, Vera also describes the “amazing parallels” between their lives. Ryan is tested, as Job was, after he was blinded on the rooftop in Ramadi. When Job would ask Vera how he looked, Vera always answered: “You’re golden.” Vera explained the reference to Job 23:10: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

“A Warrior’s Faith: Navy SEAL Ryan Job, a Life-Changing Firefight, and the Belief That Transformed His Life” is now available online in hardcover and in both eReader and Audible format. Robert is available for book signings and speaking engagements to pay tribute to his fallen friend and American hero.

www.AWarriorsFaith.com.

Guide Dog Inspires Blind Woman to Start Faith Based Company Big Yellow Dog LLC

WINNETKA, Ill., March 10, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — Cheri was diagnosed with a retinal disease at an early age which resulted in total central blindness by age 17. However, she was determined to be normal and pushed through schooling which resulted in an amazing career. Unfortunately, like most retinal diseases hers was progressive and eventually affected the optic nerve resulting in partial peripheral blindness, diminishing her vision substantially. She once had considered herself a very strong independent woman who traveled the world but she found herself becoming more reclusive and intimidated by the unseen world around her. Friends and family noticed the drastic change and pushed for her to check into getting a guide dog. She was totally against the idea. Although she had used a white cane for years somehow she thought the guide dog screamed “handicapped.”
Fast forward two years later; after a lot of coaxing, research, and soul searching she reluctantly arrived in New York at Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Within 36 hours she was introduced to Clifton, a beautiful 2 year old yellow lab who had been born with a purpose; to be her eyes. Over the next month of training she cried, laughed, and fell in love with her new partner. She was amazed at how much of her self-confidence had eroded over the past few years but with Clifton at her side — she could throw back her shoulders hold her head high and feel the pure thrill of exploring the world again.
Over the next year as God opened her world back up and started revealing His plan she watched in amazement as this incredible animal displayed all the character traits of greatness; loving, loyal, enterprising, patience, selfless, not to mention being simply adorable. It was his greatness that inspired her and her husband to name their new, simply inspiring business after him — Big Yellow Dog LLC.
“Our mission is to inspire others and let them know God is always faithful although it may look totally different than we could ever imagine,” stated Cheri Tillman, President of Big Yellow Dog LLC.

Latest Sudan Attacks are Largest Offensive Since 2011

“The slaughter of Christians and other minority communities by ISIS has awakened many Christians to persecution of the global Church. Sudan’s Christians and other marginalized peoples are also under attack. For decades they have been starved, enslaved, and killed. Churches, schools, and hospitals bombed regularly by the Islamist government.” — Faith J. H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — Sudan’s Khartoum-based regime has ramped up its attacks on the people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State.

The journalists of Nuba Reports chronicle bombings that continually have been taking place since June 2011. According to the latest count, 3740 bombs have been dropped on civilians in the Nuba Mountains since April 2012. Nuba Reports journalist Yassin Hassan writes that this new ramping up by the Sudanese government is “the largest offensive since the new stage of Sudan’s civil war started in 2011.”

Sudan’s Air Force has been accused of a number of atrocities this year:

  • On January 7, Albanin Butrus, age 7, died from shrapnel that ripped through his body after a fighter jet attacked his village Abu Layla in South Kordofan.
  • On February 3, a bomb hit a foxhole in Um Dorian County where nine children were sleeping. A sixteen year-old girl was killed immediately. The explosion lit a nearby house on fire which fell on the group of children. Two were killed.
  • Morningstar News reports that on February 6, Sudan’s bombing of another civilian area killed Naheed Saeed Komi, 25, who was nine months pregnant. Another girl from the same church, Nour Kalowas, was also killed.
  • On January 20, the Sudan Air Force bombed the only functioning hospital in the Nuba Mountains, run by Doctors Without Borders in Frandala. Two bombs hit the compound. Thankfully, only one patient and one staff member were injured.

IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:

“At IRD just this week we received a tragic report from our friend and colleague, a priest in the Diocese of Kadugli and Nuba Mountains of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan. His cousin had just lost five of his children when a plane bombed their village of Sharf-Jamus, Acheron. The man and his remaining child were also seriously injured. Another family in the same neighborhood lost 2 children.

“Through the usual moral equivalence, many of the world’s leaders and others think that ‘both sides’ need to ‘stop fighting.’ If the SPLA-N stopped fighting, the forces of Khartoum would wipe out the men, women, and children of the Nuba Mountains.

“Sudan’s government acts with impunity. The weak response of the U.S. government and the world community to its genocidal actions have emboldened it into believing that no one cares enough to stop them.”

www.TheIRD.org

To God Belongs Our Anxieties !

Worry and anxiety by themselves are not bad things. They are very natural feelings in certain situations. They are a part of God’s plan. In fact, the fact that we worry about something is a direct result of how much we care about that thing. If there were no thing or situation we cared about, we would probably never worry. However anxiety can become a paralyzing, destructive thing if we do not manage it properly. It is at such times that we as Christians rightly turn to our faith for help, and direction.

What then does the Bible say about worry and anxiety ? Let’s start with the words of Mathew 6:27 “ Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Later in Mathew 6:34 it adds this, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The main thought here is that worry should not be allowed to remain with us. The great 19th Century Baptists Pastor Charles Spurgeon said much the same thing when he taught, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”

However our worry will not just simply disappear. Would that life were that easy. So what then are we to do with our feelings of worry, and anxiety ? Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” R.C. Sproul mentions this very verse when in March of 2008 he wrote, “The apostle Paul in writing to the Philippians gives them the admonition to be “anxious for nothing,” telling them that the cure for anxiety is found on one’s knees, that it is the peace of God that calms our spirit and dissipates anxiety (Phil. 4:6). “ Notice that Sproul tells us that it is the peace of God which dissipates our anxiety ! Here we have a practical formula which we can use in our times of anxiety. First of all we as in all things should pray. In doing so we should be grateful for that we have been given in the past. Thirdly we should present our current needs to God. Only the peace that comes from God has the supernatural power to overcome the worries of this world.

Why would God take on our worries, and anxieties ? 1 Peter 5:7 answers this quite plainly. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Because he cares for each one of us that’s why ! Think of it like this. Many of us have been parents, grandparents etc. If one of our children were beset with worry, would we not take those concerns onto ourselves if we could ? Would we not wish their anguish on us instead of them ? Why would our heavenly father behave differently than any other parent ?

So it is clear. God is there for us in our times of worry and anxiety. We are to seek the comfort of our heavenly parent, just as our own children would seek our lap, or our arms, when in need of comfort. His peace is our solution for such troubling times. It is not for us to slay our anxieties, they are his to bear and to conquer !

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