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Linda Garren

A thread for anyone interested in topics of Christian faith--all invited.

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Linda - You asked that we comment on the last post you made in "drifting" on this thread........feeling a little inappropriate though with what I am about to say.......

This comment/need for clarification is not to "argue" a point, but more to try to "understand" it.

People that are born into an Eastern belief system or a Jewish belief system are "wrong?"

Christianity is the only "correct" belief system?

How could anyone possibly know this for sure, until we die, that is.

Please clarify this for me.

Thank you.




Hi, ellaangel.  I would just say that though the various beliefs have some things in common with each other, there is more of an issue that the various beliefs are in conflict with each other in some important ways.  I've done a lot of searching on line yesterday and today to find some things that might help sort out how Christianity is unique in those important ways, as well as providing some thoughts of my own and some information on the support for the validity of the Bible from which those beliefs are found.  I know that this may be much more information than you had bargained for when asking me that question!  :-)  LOL!  I'm sorry--  You might want to read one thing at a time.  I think you may find it interesting, though, so it hopefully won't be a bore to go through.


This is also for om and for Benyamin and anyone else who may be interested.  :-)  You are more than welcome to join us.  I only ask that we discuss this important topic in a respectful way with each other, and not in a confrontational, argumentative or hurtful way.  We're brothers and sisters in PD, and it's evident throughout the Forum that we care about each other.  The tone of the Forum has become so much more healthy than it had at times been, and we surely want to do everything we can to maintain that.  It's such a valuable lifeline of support for us as PWPs. 


And thanks, ellaangel, om, Benyamin, NN and others for explaining your beliefs so I could seek to understand better where you are coming from.



Some of My Thoughts


We are in what many Christians and others believe is a critical time in the history of our world, one where there is such unrest worldwide and great persecution of Christians both in and outside of our country.  It seems so many are feeling that we are on the brink of something dangerous happening worldwide.  I've read several times lately that Christians are now the most persecuted group as we are seeing in the genocide of Christians in the Mideast as well as the incredibly insidious attack on Christianity in our own country and many others.  The very foundation on which our country was founded is being so quickly destroyed, and it's resulting in such chaos and unrest.  It's painful to see the division that this has caused, and the rancor we see publicly that has resulted, as well as the falling away from Christ that is occurring because of the feeling that His being called the one way to God is intolerant and uncharitable. Christian apologist Brian Maiden in his writings about this issue says that Christians do not claim to be better or wiser than anyone else.  If Christians claimed they had found the Lord by their own goodness and wisdom and that only they were right, they could properly be accused of pride and intolerance.  Many people mistakenly equate love and tolerance as being inseparable.  But they are not the same thing. 


Just as an aside, something I’ve found very interesting is that during this time of intense persecution are the reports of so many in Iran who are turning to Christ—and at great peril, as they put their lives on the line, for sure.  Many of them say their turning to Christ is a direct result of the Lord seeming to come to them in their dreams.  It’s one of the ways that the Lord has always “spoken” to people who have not had the opportunity to hear of His love for them.  I’ve heard of other ways people who have not ever had the opportunity to learn of Christ learn that there is a different God than what they were taught.  Missionaries have reported that when they go to unreached people in foreign parts of the world and teach them about Christ, there are those among them who said that they always believed in that God but didn’t know who He was.  That same thing occurred in the Bible.  The apostles would experience it as they traveled to share the news of Christ to those who had never heard of Him but believed such a God existed. 


Following are some evidences for the validity of the Bible that give credence to its being a reliable source regarding whom it says Christ is.  I hope you find this information interesting and informative.


Then in a separate post I’d like to share something else that more directly addresses the issue of why we as Christians believe Christ is the only way.  It's an article from a magazine called, Christianity Today.


Hang in there!!!!  LOL!  (You can yell at me if you want.)  :-P






Manuscript Evidence.  There are way more copies of the biblical manuscripts, with remarkable consistency between them, than there are for any of the classics like Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.  "There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament." F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?


Archaeological Evidence.  Again and again archaeological discoveries have verified the accuracy of the historical and cultural references in the Bible.  The more they dig, the more it confirms the Bible.  “It is important to note that Near Eastern archaeology has demonstrated the historical and geographical reliability of the Bible in many important areas.” E.M. Blailock, The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology.


Eyewitness Accounts.  The Bible was written by people who witnessed the events it describes; many were persecuted or martyred but never changed their story.  Would you die for something you knew was untrue? “It is no moderate approbation of Scripture that it has been sealed by the blood of so many witnesses, especially when we reflect that they died to render testimony to the faith …with a firm and constant, yet sober, zeal toward God.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion.


Corroborating Accounts. There are plenty of references in non-biblical sources to the events described in the Bible. The Jewish historian Josephus, born in 37 AD, “provide(s) indispensable background material for the student of…New Testament history. In them, we meet many figures well known to us from the New Testament. Some of his writings provide direct commentary on New Testament references.”  J.D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary.


Literary Consistency.The Bible contains 66 books written over 1,500 years by 40 different writers but it tells one "big story" of God's plan of salvation that culminated in Jesus Christ.  You can't even pass a secret around a circle of 12 people and get the same message at the end. “There is indeed a wide variety of human authors and themes (in the Bible). 

Yet behind these…there lies a single divine author with a single unifying theme.” John R.W. Stott, Understanding the Bible.


Prophetic Consistency.  There are over 300 specific prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  “The very dimension of the sheer fulfillment of prophecy of the Old Testament Scriptures should be enough to convince anyone that we are dealing with a supernatural piece of literature….God has himself planted within the scriptures an internal consistency that bears witness that this is his Word.” R.C. Sproul, Now, That’s a Good Question.


Expert Scrutiny. The early church had extremely high standards for what books were written by an Apostle or someone in their immediate circle, had to conform to basic Christian faith and had to be in widespread use among many churches. This was a careful process of “the people of God in many different places, coming to recognize what other believers elsewhere found to be true;” these writings were truly God’s word. G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson and R.T. France, The New Bible Commentary.


Leader Acceptance.  A majority of the greatest leaders and thinkers in history have affirmed the truth and impact of the Bible. "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong.” Abraham Lincoln.


Global Influence.  The Bible has had a greater influence on the laws, art, ethics, music and literature of world civilization than any other book in history.  Can you think of one that even comes close?  “Christianity”, as set forth in the Bible “is responsible for a disproportionately large number of the humanitarian advances in the history of civilization—in education, medicine, law, the fine arts, working for human rights and even in the natural sciences….” Craig L. Blomberg, in Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith


Whitney T. Kuniholm, President, Scripture Union





Edited by Linda Garren

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Are There Many Paths to God?
Is it right for Christians to claim there's only one way?

Lee Strobel


A few years ago, some friends' baby girl developed jaundice, which is a disorder of the liver that caused her skin and the whites of her eyes to turn yellow. Of course her parents were very concerned, so they took the child to the pediatrician. The pediatrician told them jaundice is a potentially devastating disease, but it is also easily cured: all they had to do was to put the baby under a special light that stimulates healthy liver function.


The parents could have listened to this from the doctor and said, "That sounds too easy. Just put her under a light? What if instead we scrub her with soap and water and dip her in bleach? Certainly if we worked hard enough we could get her normal coloring back."


The doctor would have looked at them and said, "You don't understand. There is only one way to cure your daughter." They could have replied, "What if we just ignore all this and pretend everything's okay. The jaundice is your truth, doc; it's not our truth. If we sincerely believe that, things will turn out for the best in the long haul."


The doctor would have said, "You're going to jeopardize the life of your child if you do that. There is only one way to cure her. You're hesitant to pursue treatment because it sounds too easy. But look at the credentials on my wall. I've studied at medical school. I've used what I've learned to treat and to cure countless babies. Trust me."


Would anybody accuse those parents of being narrow-minded if they trusted a doctor with credentials and pursued the only course of treatment that was going to cure their little girl? Of course not! That is not being narrow-minded. That is acting rationally and in accordance with the evidence.


Every person in this room has a terminal illness called "sin." The reason those of us who follow Jesus cling to him so tightly is that he is the Great Physician who has the only cure. We could try to scrub away our sins with good deeds, but it will not work. We can sincerely think that there are other ways of dealing with it. But we would be sincerely wrong. The truth is that only the Great Physician offers a treatment that will erase the stain of sin (note from Linda:  past, present, and future sin). He has credentials and credibility to back him up. So when we turn to him, we're not being narrow-minded. We are acting rationally and in accordance with the evidence.


In addition to not being narrow-minded, it is anything but snobbish for Christians to believe Jesus is the only way to heaven? For a Christian to act holier than thou is snobbish, but to believe that Jesus is the only way is not. Let's pretend there are two country clubs. The first country club only admits people who have earned their membership. In order to get into this club, you have to obtain superior wisdom. You've got to fulfill a long list of demands. You've got to somehow attain certain spiritual advancement. You've got to go through cycles of reincarnation or whatever. Despite their best efforts, many people will not make the grade, and in the end, the door will be slammed in their face. They're not going to be good enough. They're not going to make the qualifications to get in.


This is what many other religions are saying when they teach that people have to try and try to work their way to God.  But Christianity is different. Christianity is like the country club that invites anyone who is interested, because Jesus has already paid for his or her membership. Rich or poor, black or white, regardless of your ethnic heritage, regardless of where you live, we would love to include you. The doors are wide open. Entry is not based on your qualifications. Entry is based only on your accepting Christ's invitation.


Christianity is unique. It cannot be reconciled with any other religion. It backs up its truth claims with the credentials and credibility of Jesus Christ, which cannot be duplicated by any other spiritual leader. That's why when Jesus said he was the way and the truth and the life, history does not laugh; history has been revolutionized by Jesus.



Adapted from a sermon at PreachingToday.com, © Christianity Today International. For more sermons like this, visit www.PreachingToday.com. And go to www.LeeStrobel.com to order his latest books.



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ellenangel, I wanted to mention that I thought back to your good point about none of us being able to prove our faith beyond a doubt.  We know that for many things "for" something, an argument can be made "against," or at least can cause doubt.  That is why I thought it might be helpful to show the evidences for why Christians believe in Christ's claims.  Still, there is definitely an element of faith where we find ourselves having to decide whether the evidence warrants our stepping up and trusting in what we've found. Jesus encouraged us to seek Him with all our heart--which to me means to not just take what He has taught for granted, nor to buy into what someone else says about Him, but to get into serious research to find out evidences for his claims, which are abundant.  Asking for His help as we seek wouldn't hurt.  :-P   He's been known to answer a prayer or two in His time. 


 And...He said if we diligently seek Him, we will find Him.  :-)


I admire your laying out your beliefs so clearly and being so up front.   And I appreciate your questions. 

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Denison Forum on Truth and Culture


Man Meets 9/11 Victim He Helped Save

Col. Rob Maness was at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 when terrorists flew an airplane into the building. He was helping survivors when a chaplain called him over to an injured man. "He was in really bad shape—it didn't look like he was going to make it," Maness said later. "I was told to stand there and hold his IV because it was leaking." He kept talking to the injured man until paramedics took him to a hospital.
For fifteen years he prayed for the man and wondered what happened to him. Fast-forward to the recent Republican National Convention. Maness is running for the US Senate from Louisiana. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry introduced him to another man who was in the Pentagon that day, Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell. It turned out that Birdwell was the man Maness helped save. Both are strong Christians; each is now giving thanks to the Lord for what the other means to him.
On a very different subject: After School Satan Clubs could be coming to an elementary school near you. The Satanic Temple is petitioning school officials around the country to include them in their after-school programming. This is in response to Good News Clubs, a Christian outreach program made legal by a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that after-school programs cannot be excluded on the basis of their sponsors' religious views. If Christians can do it, Satanists can as well, or so they claim. 
There's a principle at work here: we seldom see the future consequences of present decisions. That's a fact Satan uses against us, but one the Lord uses for us.
Satan hates us so much that he cannot tempt us to do anything for which the gain outweighs the pain. However, as the "father of lies" (John 8:44) he wants to convince us that the opposite is true. Because we want what Satan offers, we find a way to justify choosing it. We see the consequences of temptation only after we fall to it: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Conversely, our Father loves us so much that he cannot lead us to do anything for which the pain outweighs the gain. He loves us as much as he loves his own Son (John 17:23). He always and only wants what is best for us. However, in the moment of obedience we often cannot see its benefits. We see the consequences of faithfulness only after we choose to be faithful. Then we can say with Paul, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).
As a result, the time to prepare for spiritual challenges is before we face them. In the moment, we cannot trust what seems best to us. We must decide now that we will be faithful when the temptation or opportunity comes. Good students study for a test before they take it.
When you face challenges to your faith today, remember two images: Satan as a roaring lion seeking to devour you (1 Peter 5) and Jesus dying on the cross for you. Then choose wisely.
Publication date: August 2, 2016
Edited by Linda Garren

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Why Is Archaeology Important?

Verse:  Deuteronomy 29:22-24  

If we can trust the Bible when it tells us about straightforward earthly things that can be verified, then we are more likely to trust it in areas where thousands--not hundreds--of archaeological finds in the Middle East that support the picture presented in the Biblical record. There was a discovery not long ago confirming King David. The patriarchs--the narratives about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--were once considered legendary, but as more becomes known, these stories are increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson says there is “permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in the long distant past.”

-- Adapted from interview with Dr. Norman Geisler, NIV Study Bible

Edited by Linda Garren

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Senior Living Ministries Daily Devotional

August 5


In 1812, little 3-year-old Louis was sitting in his father’s workshop outside of Paris, France. His dad was a harness maker, and Louis loved watching his father work. He even aspired to one day be a harness maker just like his father.


So his dad began teaching him the skill of cutting the pieces and punching the holes in the leather. But once when Louis hit the hole-puncher, it flew out of his hand and pierced his eye, leaving him fully blind. This led to an infection that spread to his other eye and eventually cost him his eyesight in that one as well.


Years later, Louis was sitting in the garden when someone handed him a pine cone. As he ran his fingers over the ridges, an idea came to mind: What if the blind could learn to read with their hands?! So Louis Braille created an entire alphabet with raised dots, enabling millions of blind men and women to read to this very day.


Louis Braille’s tragic loss of eyesight had a purpose. But it took years of living with his blindness before he began to realize the reason for his pain. Just like him, our pain has a purpose as well. Though we may not see it, God is at work in our suffering. Trust Him to reveal the purpose of your pain in His perfect timing.


Prayer Challenge

Ask God to give you patience in times of trial and trust that He’ll reveal the purpose of your pain in His timing.

Edited by Linda Garren
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Jesus Can Enter Only if Someone On The Other Side Opens the Door

A Word from Dr. Charles Stanley, 8/16


The Bible contains many beautiful portrayals of the Lord, but one of my favorites is Revelation 3:20.  In Warner Sallman's well-known painting of this scene, Jesus stands outside a closed door and His hand is raised to knock.  Since there is no handle on the exterior, the only way Jesus can enter is if someone on the other side opens the door.


Although the biblical context is an illustration of how the rich, self-satisfied Laodicean church excluded Christ, the same principle can also be applied to the way He relates to us as individuals.  We all begin life with a door separating us from Him.  Because of the sin in our hearts, none of us are naturally drawn to Him (Eph. 4:17-19).  But Jesus takes the initiative by coming to the door and knocking.


There are only two ways to respond to a knock--ignore it or open the door.  I recall a young man telling me he wanted to pursue his own happiness before inviting Jesus in.  That's a dangerous choice because with each refusal to open the door, our heart becomes harder until we're unable to hear and respond to Christ.


To open the door, you must simply believe Jesus is the Son of God, repent of any known sins, and surrender your life to Him from that day on.  When you do this, Christ will come into your life, forgive your sins and become your Savior and intimate friend.


Everything you've been looking for is wrapped up in Jesus.  It's time to open the door and enter into a loving relationship with Him.



Edited by Linda Garren

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We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve 


Jo Saxton

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

I met these words scrawled on the bathroom wall at a diner in the Twin Cities about a year ago. I found the statement so confronting, so profound, that I felt its truth before I had the chance to process it. All I could do was take a picture of the words, then return to my late night eats with my friend. We talked and people watched into the early hours.

I learned later that the statement came from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Days, weeks, months afterward, the words wouldn’t leave me alone. These words invited me to dig deeper.What kind of love have I accepted? What do I think I deserve?

I reflected on earlier chapters of my life and different kinds of love I’d accepted in relationships and friendships. I sometimes accepted a love that required that I gave much more and accepted a lot less in return. When that love was withdrawn, I was distraught. I’d work hard to change, to improve. I felt I needed to prove I was worthy to receive that love again. I was insecure—and it was exhausting.

That was then, this is now . . . isn’t it?

I reflected on my relationship with God. His love found me before I knew I was lost. He paid a debt I couldn’t pay, gave me peace instead of punishment. Mercy. A love I know I don’t deserve. Grace.

When I accept the love God actually has for me, I’m overwhelmed by its disorienting, relentless abundance. Love fills in the cracks in my heart. It satisfies and secures. Then it overflows, defining my relationships and my worldview in entirely new ways.

Yet there are still moments when I interpret God’s love through human filters: cultural pressures and echoes of past brokenness. Fear and shame, scarcity and insecurity, dictate the kind of love I think I deserve: a love that says God will love me more if I pray harder, read the Bible more, give more money and time and effort. A love that says that yes, I’m forgiven, but it’s not forgotten, so just to prove how sorry I am I’ll not quite forgive myself and try to overcompensate for my past failings. A love that’s proud of me when I do well in Christian things and live the “right” way.

It’s exhausting.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Those words weren’t just scrawled on a bathroom wall; they’re written all over the walls of my heart.

They were a timely reminder of the truth that I’ve been completely loved before I could even try to deserve it.

They remind me of the way that grace overcame my guilt and my striving, my need to prove to earn, to improve.

They return me to a love that heals and cleanses and satisfies—that overflows into how I live and love and grow.

They tell me that I don’t need to look back.

That was then. Grace is now.

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Michael Phelps says Rick Warren's Book, The Purpose-Driven Life, Helped Him Get His Life Back on Track



Some quotes from Rick Warren's, The Purpose Driven Life

Fear is a self imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be. You must move against it with the weapons of faith and love.

God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes.

God’s purpose is greater than our problems, our pain and even our sin.  God specializes in giving people a fresh start.

Edited by Linda Garren
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U.S. Olympic Runner Allyson Felix: ‘Faith Leads My Life’


Veronica Neffinger | Editor, ChristianHeadlines.com | Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Olympic Track and Field athlete Allyson Felix says that her faith in Christ is what governs all aspects of her life.

The Christian Examiner reports that the 30-year-old Felix will compete in a number of races in the second week of the Rio Olympic Games.


Although Felix is a celebrated runner and has won six world championships, she suffered a number of setbacks this past year, including the loss of her grandfather and a hamstring injury that prevented her from making the women’s 200 meters team.


Felix said that she is able to keep going despite these setbacks because of her faith.


"Faith leads my life," she told the LA Times. "I definitely feel like I've been blessed with this gift, and so that's something that helps me to see the bigger picture. It's so easy to get caught up in winning everything and just the kind of the grind of what professional sports is, but it definitely helps me to kind of pull back and see that there's a greater purpose."


Felix said she grew up in a Christian home and gave her life to Christ at a young age.


"Our family was very involved in our church. I am so blessed to have my family and the upbringing that I did. It means so much to me to have two very godly parents who both have so much wisdom. They are amazing role models that I have had the privilege to watch as I grew up," Felix shared.


She also shared that when she feels anxious about competing, she relies on Philippians 4:6-7 which reads:

"Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Edited by Linda Garren

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In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley

August 11

Overcoming Obstacles

Joshua 6:1-5

The Lord has a beautiful plan for each believer’s life. But to thwart God’s purposes, Satan sprinkles obstacles in our path.

There are many types of hindrances, such as a difficult boss, contrary family members, and financial trouble. Anything that blocks a desired goal can cause anxiety and great frustration. But remember that no obstacle can touch you without God’s consent.

Consider Joshua’s army, which was no match for Jericho’s military. And the great wall protecting that city was an impossible barrier to cross. Yet God had promised the Israelites the land, and Joshua believed. He wasn’t fazed by what seemed unconquerable.  Instead, he acknowledged the Lord’s power and sought His guidance.

Before Joshua even realized that God was at work, the Lord was preparing the city for destruction by instilling fear into kings throughout the region. Heaven’s directions included an unlikely battle plan, but because Joshua obeyed, God’s people triumphed.

Waiting can be difficult. And after a while, we might even begin to wonder if God will do anything at all--then it is easy to quit. But, as was true with Joshua, God has gone before us and is preparing the way. No matter how He chooses to handle the problem, His solution is always in our best interest.

Whenever you face an obstacle, you may experience great heartache. But even in the midst of pain, you can have full confidence in God. The most important part of each day is the time you spend alone with the Lord. He will encourage you with His love and give direction.

Edited by Linda Garren

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Meekness Does Not Equal Weakness

by Rick Warren 

Aug. 12, 2016




“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NIV).


If you want to make healthy choices to be well and whole again, you have to learn to be meek. Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (NIV).


The Bible lists many benefits of meekness: The meek will be satisfied (Psalm 22:26); God will guide them (Psalm 25:9); they will become wise (Proverbs 11:2); they will be filled with fresh joy (Isaiah 29:19).


There are many, many others. The problem is, we misunderstand this term. None of us really knows what meekness is. In fact we often confuse it with another term that sounds like it — “meek” sounds like “weak.” Nobody wants to be weak, so nobody wants to be meek.


But the truth is meekness and weakness are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Meekness is in no way weakness. In fact, the Greek word for meekness literally means “strength under control.” To be meek is not to be weak. It’s used to describe a wild stallion that has been tamed. That stallion still has all the strength it had when it was wild, but now its strength is under control. It is strength bottled up for the master’s use. God doesn’t want you to be weak, but he does want you to be meek. The Bible teaches that it’s one of the keys to stress reduction in your life.


Here’s a simple definition of the word meek: Let go, and let God. That is the essence of meekness. It is surrendering, submitting, and agreeing to what God wants to do in your life. It’s letting God be God in your life. Let go, and let God.

I don’t know a phrase that will do more for your health physically or emotionally than this phrase. If you’ll begin to practice it in your life, it will relieve stress and eliminate worry. If you'll let go and let God, it will defuse anger and end your hurt and resentment.

Edited by Linda Garren

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(Note for the visitors to this thread:  Those of us who have studied the Bible and are seeing prophecy from centuries ago being fulfilled in our time feel deeply compelled to make clear to others what is happening in our world from a Christian standpoint. I think many of us are seeing that "political correctness" is something to be very wary of, as it is twisting so much of truth and dictating what it says must be believed instead of supporting Godly truth.  Please, please, my friends--would you kindly read this with an open heart to see what is happening so quickly in our country and the world?  You may find that this sort of information will not be around much longer as the truth of Christianity is more and more prohibited. When pastors in churches are dictated to by the government in what they don't want taught and what they instead do want taught, we must stand strong in the our faith that is based on what GOD has taught us.  I'm praying that the Lord will help you not to be taken in by the insidious lies and blasphemy that our government is imposing upon us.)
December 5, July 14, July 24, July 26, August 4, and August 5, 2016.  Those are some of the most prominent dates, but just a few of the total dates, that Islamic terrorism struck Europe.
Not the U.S. Not the Middle East. Not Africa. Not South America. Not Asia. Just Europe. 

And just this year, which is barely half over. 
No, you're not imagining it.  Terrorism is increasing around the world.  And increasing rapdily.
According to the nonprofit investigative group, Project on Terrorism, deaths from terror attacks have
increased 800% since 2010. It reports that the number of deaths increased from 3,300 per year in 2010 to more than 30,000 per year today. That is massive. 

When terrorists entered a Catholic church in a town in Normandy, France, during mass on July 26 and slit the throat of the priest as some of the nuns were forced to watch, perhaps Europe started to wake up. 
Both the Archbishop of the diocese and the Cardinal in Paris finally articulated the obvious. This was the act of Satan. And those who choose to follow that path are in Satan's grip. The Cardinal suggested that Islam worships a "Moloch." That's a reference to an ancient demon god whose worship included parents burning their own babies as sacrifices to him. Of course, the offering of children by Muslim parents to die in Allah's cause is an obvious parallel. 

The Cardinal shocked the media with his absolute political-incorrectness! But he spoke the truth! 

Maybe we're finally beginning to summon the courage to do the same here in America. 

Andrew Bieszad is a graduate of the venerable Hartford Seminary with a master's degree in Islamic Studies. Hartford is a Congregationalist seminary. The famous American preacher, Jonathan Edwards was a Congregationalist. 

Writing for the National Association of Scholars, Bieszad warns that American religious academia "...has refused to question Islamic teachings, and has thus become a participant in promoting Islamic orthodoxy at the expense of academic integrity." 

And he's talking about America's religious universities and seminaries! 

Even Pope Francis adamantly refuses to admit that the ideology and theology of Islam has 
anything to do with the terror and chaos it is wreaking on Europe and the world. Instead, he attempts to equate Islamic fundamentalists  (terrorists) with Christian fundamentalists (conservative Christians).  
(Note from Linda:  Unbelievable!  I can hardly believe what I'm reading!  I don't know whether to laugh or to cry at the Pope having said such a thing.  I hope the Catholic church will intercede and correct the Pope in his error as they have had to do a number of times previously.)

Pardon my French, but that is pure stupidity.  (Or maybe devious deception.)  Christian fundamentalists don't lop off the heads of people who disagree with them.  But for those who want to reject Christ, it makes a great excuse. 
On the other hand, that's pretty much what the Koran demands. 

Of course, the world's press absolutely loves the Pope for saying it because they believe Christians are as dangerous as Muslims.
Folks, the Bible teaches that a coming world religion will draw people from all faith traditions into a new spiritual unity. They will adapt old creeds to a new orthodoxy. It will be one that eventually centers on the worship of Antichrist. 

The true believers of Jesus Christ need to wake up and take a look at what's happening in our world.
Speaking of noticing what's going on. I have some amazing news for Christian believers who are washed clean in the blood of Christ. God ain't mad at you! 

For those of you who have accepted the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary, yet walk around daily waiting for the other shoe to drop, stop it!

The "propitiation" of Christ's death has set you free. It turns away the wrath that God feels toward the curse of sin. It conciliates and reconciles you with a pure and holy God. 

It means that God is not mad and you can rest peacefully in your relationship with Him. His justice is satisfied because the perfectly righteous man, Jesus Christ, took the wrath of God's offended righteousness and justice in the place of all men. You are free to rest in the security of His salvation and to live in the joy of His forgiveness. 

God wants you to be powerful in Him (we're going to need that power to face what's coming) and that requires that you trust in His saving grace. 


Edited by Linda Garren

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Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral will both be back-lit red in November to raise awareness for Christian persecution around the world.




According to ChristianToday.com, the effort is being spearheaded by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).


Lord Alton, an advocate of the effort, wrote: "In November, ACN is arranging for Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey to be floodlit in red to commemorate the persecuted. If every parish in the country did the same it might at last wake up our political classes to the scale of the suffering."


Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral will both be back-lit red in November to raise awareness for Christian persecution around the world.


According to ChristianToday.com, the effort is being spearheaded by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Lord Alton, an advocate of the effort, wrote: "In November, ACN is arranging for Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey to be floodlit in red to commemorate the persecuted. If every parish in the country did the same it might at last wake up our political classes to the scale of the suffering."


Lord Alton went on, telling of a gripping story of Christians who remained committed to their faith, despite torture.


"In more than 100 countries Christians are persecuted...In Parliament I hosted a meeting of the charity, Aid to the Church In Need (ACN). We heard of how a Christian pastor in a village of Aleppo was told to convert or die. He was forced to watch as his 12-year-old son was tortured: the boy's fingers cut from his hand. Neither the father or son renounced their faith, and both were executed.”


“Despite Resolutions being passed in the House of Commons, the American Congress, the European Parliament and the Australian House of Representatives,” Alton continued, “the British Government still fails to name these events for the genocide that they are – or to lay a Resolution before the Security Council."


Alton hopes that churches around the country will join in the effort to raise awareness of the plight of Christians around the world, but especially in countries like Iraq and Syria where persecution is severest.


Veronica Neffinger | Editor, ChristianHeadlines.com | Thursday, August 11, 2016

Publication date: August 11, 2016

Edited by Linda Garren

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Russell Wilson Suggests Looking to the Bible to Heal Divisions in America

Veronica Neffinger | Editor, ChristianHeadlines.com | Thursday, August 11, 2016





Christian football player Russell Wilson said that the Bible has answers for how to heal the divisiveness in America today.


In an interview with journalist Maria Shriver, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback stated, "It's a lack of love, there's so much hate in the world, there's so much back and forth. … For me, it always comes back to the Biblical aspect: 1 Corinthians 13 talks about, faith, hope and love," Wilson told Shriver. "And the greatest of all is love. If we don't have love, we have nothing."


Wilson went on to stress that we are meant to serve others and not only focus on ourselves:


“God put us on this earth to serve, give back and to love one another. If we could just focus on that aspect and just, how can I love you better," he said. "How can I be there for you in your time of need? And stop focusing on ourselves so much."


Shriver asked Wilson the questions about how to heal all the divisions in America as part of her blog post on finding answers to

these issues.


"Everywhere I looked there were, and are, questions. About guns, about black lives, about police officers, about our candidates for President," Shriver wrote. "And ultimately they lead to questions to ourselves about ourselves."


Those are questions Wilson believes can be addressed when we simply focus on changing on life at a time.


"So many times we think about the big picture, but we miss the one individual," he said. "If we can change one kid at a time, one heart at a time, one soul, one adult at a time, as a result of that, it ends up being a snowball effect."


Publication date: August 11, 2016

Edited by Linda Garren

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Medal-Winning Swimmer Maya DiRado: My Faith Frees Me to Dream Big

She sets high goals inside and outside the pool, saying there’s more to life than swimming.
Interview by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun/ AUGUST 11, 2016

First-time Olympian Madeline (Maya) DiRado has already earned a trio of medals—gold, silver, and bronze—as part of the US swimming team. She says it’s the “quiet confidence” of her Christian faith that allows her to be a grateful, joyful, and goal-oriented athlete, even at the highest levels of competition.

A native of Santa Rosa, California, the 23-year-old has been swimming on the world stage for five years. After she narrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, DiRado took this year’s trials by storm when she won three individual events.

After she narrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, DiRado took this year’s trials by storm when she won three individual events.

Her early performances in Rio earned her a spot on a relay as well; that 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay team went on to win gold. DiRado also placed second in the 400-meter individual medley and third in the 200-meter individual medley. She competes in her final event, the 200-meter backstroke, later today.

Equally accomplished outside the pool, DiRado skipped second grade, started high school at the age of 13, and entered Stanford University at 17. After graduating with a degree in management science and engineering, she secured a consulting job that she will start soon after the Games end.

DiRado, her fellow-swimmer husband, and her parents attend The River Church Community, an Evangelical Covenant Church–affiliated congregation in the San Francisco Bay Area. A few days before leaving for Rio, she spoke with CT about her lifelong faith, its impact on her athletic career, and her unusual decision to retire from swimming after the Olympics, no matter what happens.

How did you come to know Christ?

I was raised by two strong Christians in my parents, Marit and Ruben. I always attended church growing up but started questioning my beliefs as a teenager. They were supportive of this and, through some investigating and lots of reading and talking with mentors, I came to know and follow Christ and make my faith my own. It’s been a long journey since that time, but Jesus has been a constant as I grow and see him shaping me in new ways.

How has your faith shaped you and your swimming career?

Knowing that I’m a child of God and that his love for me is determined by nothing I can achieve or do on my own has given me a quiet confidence. I think that my faith has helped me chart my own course and pursue my goals when people around me may be going in different directions. Jesus’ love for me and all humanity is something that always helps me better love people around me when things get difficult.

As for my swimming career, my faith has helped me remember that there are so many more important things in life worth doing. Swimming is a pretty selfish activity, and so I’ve always known that it can’t be my whole world.

What role has your family—your parents, your sister, and your husband—played in your athletic career?

They’ve just been very supportive and helped me find motivation when I may have been lacking. Their biggest role was reminding me that success is whether I prepared and executed as well as I possibly could. It’s never been about winning or beating other people.


What motivates you as you train and compete?


I’m motivated by seeing how good I can be. That applies not just at race time but during every practice: Am I preparing as well as I possibly can, even when we’re nine months out from the big meet? I set high goals for myself and then enjoy the process of working toward them.

What helps keep you grounded as you manage all the attention and the pressure to perform in Rio?

Well, the worst part is over! There’s a huge weight lifted once you’ve made the Olympic team. Now I’m just enjoying all the little parts of being on the team—laughing with my teammates and coaches, joking around at meals, seeing thousands of people show up to watch us practice. It’s all amazing and surprising, and I’m so grateful every day that I get to do what I enjoy. It’s also helpful to know that I have a great family who loves me and a new life waiting after swimming.

Your decision to retire from swimming right after the Olympics has been well publicized. Why did you make this decision, and how are you able to remain so certain of it?

Oh, this has been a long time coming. I think there’s a certain freedom in knowing that this is my last time going through all of this. I’ve been so much more aware of all the special moments on this trip and even all the little moments this past year. It may be hard for some people to understand, but I’d rather go out on a high with this amazing experience than to continue until I hate it or I’m no longer competing at a high level. I’ll end with a great taste in my mouth and absolutely no regrets about what could have been.

You told Yahoo! Sports that you don’t think God really cares about your swimming that much. What, then, do you think God cares about as you go to the Olympics?

I think God cares about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world. Can I be a loving, supportive teammate and can I bless others around me in the same way God has been so generous with me?

What are your greatest hopes for your time in Rio?

For my time in Rio, I hope to meet some new athletes, continue to appreciate all the little joyful moments of this trip, and do my best on the biggest stage in my sport. Of course I hope to learn new things from this experience but I don’t think it will change me drastically as a person. This has been a dream of mine and of so many others, so I just want to make sure I get all the delight out of the journey as possible.

From Christianity Today August Web Only 
Edited by Linda Garren

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By Rick Warren — Aug 15, 2016       


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).


If you want to have lasting change in your life, you need to refocus your mind.


Specifically, you need to change your thought patterns from focusing on what you don’t want to focus on to what you do want to focus on. Because whatever you focus on is what you move toward.


Today’s verse gives us the blueprint to change our thought patterns:

  • “Do not conform …” How often do we let other people shape our lives? God doesn’t want you to be like someone else; he wants you to be the person he made you to be. So don’t copy, don’t conform, don’t try to be like anybody else.
  • “… the pattern of this world.” Pattern means the model of everything you’ve learned in life. If you want to change, you have to change your pattern or model of living that you learned in your life. You need to replace the old, unhealthy pattern with a new one modeled after the life of Christ.
  • “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” “Transformed” is the same as the word we use for metamorphosis, the process a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly. In the same way, God wants to transform you into a completely new person by renewing your mind.

How does this happen? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24: “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires ... be made new in the attitude of your minds; and ... put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (NIV).


This means you are going to have to do some putting off and you are going to have to do some putting on — and the putting off has to happen before the putting on. It’s just like trying on clothes in a department store. Before you can try on the new stuff, you have to take off the old stuff.


You’re going to have to let go of the old attitudes, the old thought patterns, the old images that you’ve been living with so you can put on the new garments God has for you.

Edited by Linda Garren

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The New Birth and Baptism


Jesus commissioned His followers to go and make disciples, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). As the early church spread the gospel message, baptism would follow a new believer's response of faith. It publicly signified that the individual was now a follower of Jesus


Metaphors often communicate on a level that words cannot. Baptism is a powerful picture of our salvation experience. Through this act, we proclaim the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again--and testify that we've welcomed His transforming power into our life.


The Greek word for "baptize" in Scripture is the same term used to describe a cloth dipped in dye--it refers to total change. So by being plunged into the water, we declare that we're choosing to die to our old way of life and are uniting with Christ. Our sin is buried with Him, and its power is conquered through His atoning death on the cross (Rom. 6:14). When we're raised up out of the water, we affirm His resurrection. Baptism is a symbolic way of expressing that just as the Lord conquered death and rose again, we are spiritually resurrected from death into new life. We are "born again" and irrevocably transformed through the power of His Holy Spirit.

In the Bible, the word "believe" isn't a conceptual word describing intellectual agreement alone. It is a word of action. Our belief should never be hidden like a light placed under a bowl (Luke 11:33)--when unbelieving family and friends look at our lives, they need to see the gospel in action.

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<< Denison Forum on Truth and Culture


Ryan Lochte, 3 Other Swimmers Robbed in Rio

Ryan Lochte and three other US Olympic swimmers were robbed at gunpoint yesterday morning. The criminals posed as police officers, pulled them over in their taxi, pointed their guns at them, and stole their wallets, cell phones, and Olympic credentials.   (As we now know, these four swimmers were not the victims.  They were in fact, the guilty ones in a crime they committed while in Rio.)


Meanwhile, a man in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is charged with stabbing his father during Sunday worship services. We don't yet know the father's status or why he was attacked.


But we know this: misused freedom is a daily reality on this fallen planet. FromAdam and Eve to today's headlines, humans abuse the freedom God intends us to use to love him and each other (Matthew 22:37–39). And innocent people usually pay the price.


The good news is that when innocent Christians suffer faithfully, God uses our witness in ways we cannot imagine this side of glory. For instance, as Stephen was being stoned to death, "the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul" (Acts 7:58). This "young man" was Saul of Tarsus, better known as Paul the Apostle.


Why did Luke, the writer of Acts, insert Paul into the narrative? Luke was Paul's personal physician. It seems likely that he knew Paul had participated in Stephen's martyrdom because Paul told him. And it seems likely that Luke included this fact in the story because of the impression it made on Paul.


For the young Pharisee to watch Stephen die so courageously and graciously, praying that God would forgive the very people who were murdering him (v. 60), must have been dramatically powerful. Stephen's witness was so impactful that it's been said, "No Stephen, no Paul."


Here's the point: the first Christian martyr went to his death never knowing that his faithfulness would help produce the greatest evangelist, missionary, and theologian in Christian history. You cannot know the future significance of present obedience.


Is Stephen's story yours today? Have you been hurt, slandered, gossiped about, or injured in some other way? If Stephen, a man of "good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3), could face persecution, so can we all. In the last letter Paul wrote, looking back over decades of service to Jesus, he noted that "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12).


If you're Stephen, perhaps you should make Augustine's prayer yours: "God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Your honor and glory."


When you are Stephen, there is a "young man named Saul" watching you. Always.


Note: My latest booklet, Half-full or Hopeful? Five reasons for optimism in a pessimistic day, is available on our website. I hope you'll read it and be encouraged by the good news of God at work in our world today.

Edited by Linda Garren

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