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The Story Behind Trumps Controversial Prayer Partner

What Paula Whites Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospels future.

Donald Trump discovered Paula White the same way legions of fans and followers did: on television.

Fifteen years of prayer, visits, and friendship later, the Florida preacher now serves as the top spiritual adviser for America’s president-elect and, essentially, his guide to the country’s religious conservatives.

Her behind-the-scenes counsel became news as Trump prepared for the presidency. It was White who arranged a meeting at the Trump Tower for fellow televangelists (including Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, David Jeremiah, and Jan Crouch) to anoint him in prayer back in 2015. She defended the sincerity of his faith to fellow Christians, and continues to network Trump with members of his evangelical advisory board to discuss appointments and policy going into office.

“I’m the bridge-builder,” said White, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando, in an interview with Christianity Today. “It really, truly is the board and the wisdom of so many great men and women of God.”

But White’s involvement carries major baggage, especially for evangelical leaders who have for years lamented the endlessly positive health and wealth theology associated with her ministry (even doing so in rap). Critical voices within the church worry that White’s political prominence will push the prosperity gospel mainstream—or prove that it’s already there.

“The massive congregations and television and Internet audiences that people like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, T. D. Jakes, and others enjoy show us that this theology is already mainstream,” said Leah Payne, who directs the Center for Pentecostal-Charismatic Theology Practice at George Fox University. ...

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Womens March Sets Out to Exclude 40 Percent of American Women

What pro-life feminists actually have in common with their pro-choice counterparts.

Ahead of the Women’s March on Washington scheduled the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Emma Green at The Atlantic asked, “Is there room in the movement for people who morally object to abortion?” Her article portrayed some of the hundreds of pro-life women planning to attend either in solidarity with fellow feminists or in protest.

Meanwhile, the event organizers came up with their own response: No.

Hours after Green’s article published on Monday, the Women’s March—promising to be “one of the most intersectional marches in US history” with more than 200,000 attendees expected—stated that New Wave Feminists, the pro-life group featured, would be removed from its 450-plus sponsor organizations. (A pro-life pregnancy crisis center in Idaho, Stanton Healthcare, remains listed as a partner. [Update: The group was also removed from the list on Wednesday.])

“We look forward to marching on behalf of women who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions,” the group said. Access to abortion and birth control were included among 1 of 16 values and principles guiding the grassroots rally.

Though the pro-life New Wave Feminists still plan to attend, many women of faith were disappointed in the decision to remove their official designation. Christians spanning from Life Action founder Lila Rose to LGBT advocate Julie Rodgers spoke out on Twitter on behalf of pro-life feminists.

“Progressives have a chance to build a broader coalition here, and they are blowing it,” tweeted author Rachel Held Evans.

“Painful irony of pro-choice stance of Women's March is that abortion was likely THE issue to tip scales ...

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Retraining Our Minds on the Things of Christ: Thoughts as We Draw Closer to Inauguration Day

Four Questions to Ask Ourselves as We Adjust to a New Political Reality

I have recently posted a number of articles on politics, in particular about where Evangelicals find themselves as the new President of the United States is inaugurated and how our witness has been damaged as a result of this election (Rebuilding Our Witness: Part 1, Part 2).

Regardless of how you voted, it’s just obvious that this has had a negative impact on the reputation of Evangelicals.

Of course, this topic is front and center for me with the inauguration of President-elect Trump later this week. I am even co-hosting a panel discussion on Tuesday, January 24, at 7:00 pm CST that you can attend in person or via livestream (Fractured).

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Christianity has taken a blow for the worse in this election, and likely antagonism toward Christians will continue to rise in our nation, because the fundamental pattern remains unchanged. (Of course, not in the form of martyrdom and death as in many other countries of the world, but in other real and tangible ways.)

When I say Christian reputation has taken a blow for the worse, it’s not because of who won or lost. It’s because of how the Church acted before, during, and after the process. It was, in fact, quite far from the shining moment of the Christian faith in America. And yet we must move forward. The gospel, and the Person the gospel speaks of, compels us to move forward and once again shine brightly in the world.

Let me share a few questions for us to consider over the next year as we adjust to a new political reality and how we can best respond.

1. How do I interpret my candidate's loss in light of scripture?

There were a lot of candidates in this election— and yours probably lost, either in the primary or in the ...

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America's Abortion Rate Hits All-Time Low

Less than 1 million pregnancies terminated for first time since 1975.

The abortion rate in the United States declined to an all-time low, while the number of lethal procedures dropped below a million for the first time since 1975, according to a new report.

The Guttmacher Institute reported Tuesday (Jan. 17) the rate fell to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old in 2014, which is a decline of 14 percent since its most recent survey in 2011.

In its census of all known abortion providers in the country, Guttmacher found abortions totaled 958,700 in 2013 and 926,190 in 2014.

The abortion rate reached its zenith at 29.3 in 1980 and 1981, and the total number of abortions peaked at more than 1.6 million in 1990, according to Guttmacher.

Pro-life advocates welcomed the report, and pointed to the work of pro-life citizens and legislators as a reason for the dramatic decline in abortions and their rate.

"The falling abortion number is due to the ceaseless advocacy and ministry of the pro-life community in neighborhoods all around this country," said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). "The pro-life movement advances by calling out to consciences with the truth of what unborn human life is and matching that call with real ministry to women in crisis.

"While a lower rate is undoubtedly good news, the violent taking of the life of even one unborn child ought to cause us to weep and redouble our efforts to protect every human life and contend against the predatory abortion industry," Moore told Baptist Press in written comments.

Americans United for Life (AUL), the country's leader in helping state legislators pass pro-life laws, cited such policies, as well as technology, in explaining the trend.

"Research ...

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Theology for Life (Ep. 7): A Discussion on Judaism, the Ancient World, and Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith.

In this episode of Theology for Life, Lynn and Ed delve into Ephesians 2:8-9 and what was going on culturally when people first heard Paul say this. What would they have been thinking about, especially related to works and what they needed from God? Who was this passage written to, and why does this matter? Ed discussed why he believes all people are wired towards a works-based righteousness that will please God/gods and how this passage addresses this tendency.

Lynn explains that after the Holocaust, many Christian scholars began to rethink how they were writing about Judaism and if they were being fair. The findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls also gave us more information on what Judaism actually looked like in the first century. This reexamination of Paul has come to be known as the New Perspective of Paul. In fact, the Jews did not work to get saved, but to stay in the community of God, which God created through His grace. How do the traditional view and the New Perspective contrast, and why does it matter?

Theologian John Barclay, however, came back to reminding us that Jews in the first century actually believed deeply in grace. In light of this, what does it mean that “by grace you have been saved through faith”? Barclay discusses “unconditioned” grace, something Lynn says would have been very dangerous to say in the Ancient World, as it opens up the idea of giving a gift to someone not worthy of the gift. But then we have the idea of sola fida, Ed reminds us, that God gives us something without us bringing any value to the table.

However, in the Ancient World, there was the expectation that you gave a gift to someone worthy of it. Lynn tells us that Barclay reminds us that gift-giving in the Ancient ...

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Compassion Has 'Very Little Hope' for India, Sets Deadline to Shut Down Sponsorships

About 145,000 children have already lost its assistance with food, education, and health care.

“We want to be honest with you, there is very little hope.”

So wrote Compassion International to its 130,000 sponsors of Indian children this past Friday.

One week after sharing the good news of four nations no longer needing child sponsors due to the passion of millennials, the ministry shared the bad news of another nation that will probably not need child sponsors due to government interference.

A little more than a year after the Indian government told Compassion that it could no longer receive funding from outside the subcontinent, the humanitarian organization will likely be closing its last operations there.

“Since we can no longer distribute funds to our field offices, we have just had to notify our India country staff that we must formally close our field offices in India by March 15,” Compassion told sponsors by email. “Should nothing change, that means an end to our sponsorship program in India in the next 60 days.”

Compassion, which has been working in India for more than 48 years, said it has tried everything in the last 10 months to stay afloat. The email listed its efforts, which include:

  • Seeking the advice of legal experts in both the US and India
  • Leveraging influential relationships, including US representatives and senators, the former US Secretary of State, the former and current ambassadors to India and the White House Office of Faith-based Affairs, as well as members of Parliament in the United Kingdom
  • Asking Compassion sponsors to pray and to write Congress (more than 35,000 letters were sent)
  • Testifying in front of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Leveraging personal relationships within the US and India

Compassion’s 580 Indian-staffed development ...

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Ten Reasons Every Church-Planting Team Needs a Worship Leader

Worship is warfare.

Many Evangelical Christians have a very truncated understanding of worship. When asked to define it, they respond, "It's singing," or "It's praising God." Worship, from a biblical perspective, is far more than merely singing or praising God in the assembly of the saints (as right and wonderful as that is).

For years now, I have collected definitions of the word. One of the best I have found was penned by Dr. Bruce Leafblad. I have expanded it slightly and hope that it will provide a framework for our understanding:

Worship is both an event and a lifestyle in which believers, by grace, center their mind's attention and their heart's affection on the Lord, humbly glorifying God in response to His greatness, His mighty acts, and His word.

One might also ask, "What is a worship arts leader?" This is someone who is uniquely gifted, called, and trained to lead the people of God into the presence of God. I incorporate the word "arts" into the role because, both historically and biblically, all the arts have played a major role in corporate worship. They should, therefore, continue to play a major role, especially in the cross-cultural church-planting context.

As those committed to church planting, our strategies and practices must be built on firm, biblical foundations. Much work remains to be done to better understand the implications of worship in regard to our theology and missiology. I humbly submit to you the top ten reasons every church-planting team needs a worship arts leader.

Every church-planting team needs a worship-arts leader because...

10. Every church should be a worshiping church. Worshiping God is the believer's highest calling. It is, as Dr. William Taylor ...

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A New Q&A on Facebook: Join Me Each Tuesday at Noon CST

www.Facebook.com/EdStetzer

I love technology. At any given time, I always have access to my cell or my laptop. All of the cool features help keep me to stay organized and allow me to do more and do it well. But if I’m honest, one of the main reasons I love technology is that is helps me develop, sustain, and grow relationships with people from all over. It gives me touchpoints with people at moments when, 10 or 20 years ago, that would not have been possible.

I am always looking for new and creative ways to use technology to equip and encourage others in their walk with Jesus and in their mission to show and share Him with our broken and hurting world. At the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, for example, we will be launching weekly podcast shorts and hour-long webinars in the coming months. We will be delving deeper in creating videos to equip you in your mission and online resources for leaders and lay Christians.

One of the things I began with the start of this new year is hosting Facebook Live Q&As on my Facebook page on Tuesdays at 12:00 pm CST. If you are a church, ministry, denominational, or organizational leader (or just interesting in listening in and asking some questions), I invite you to make this a regular part of your week. We cover topics related to church leadership, culture, church planting, evangelism, and more.

This coming Tuesday I want you to join me as I answer questions related to our witness. What challenges do church leaders have as we seek to mobilize our churches in evangelism and witness? How do we deal with these challenges? What’s really preventing our people from sharing their faith?

I’d love to have you join me and chime in with your questions and comments! Just head over to my Facebook pagetomorrow ...

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November 8th Is Long Gone, So Where do Christians Find Themselves?

God doesnt love countries. He loves people.

Many Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump on November 8th, and he is now our President-elect.

Last October and November, I ran numerous articles about Trump and the other candidates. As I posted piece after piece, however, my heart continued to grow pained as I watched fellow Christians do and say things that were not only unhelpful to our call as Christ's ambassadors, but also which tarnished the very name we say we love—Jesus Christ.

So here we are, and as many have moved on to other matters and sometimes even seem to be seeking to sweep our witness problems under the proverbial rug, I have been reminded that this witness problem is not a small matter. It's actually a significant problem.

So at the risk of re-offending many people, let me share a few random thoughts I've had concerning Evangelicals post-election and as we ramp up to Inauguration Day.

First, 20 years from now, we are going to look back at this election as a last gasp in which some Evangelicals thought that they could get their influence and culture back.

After all, in the minds of some, Trump has promised to put things back the way they were.

But culture is not going back to the way it was. And Trump can’t and won’t take it there.

For some, they are reaching for something that has been slipping from our hands for years—namely, the continuation of a commitment as a nation to Christian values.

If we look at trends in Christianity as a whole, and Evangelicals in particular, we cannot deny that many of those who once claimed to be Christian (what we call ‘nominal Christians’) have now become ‘nones,’ declaring no faith at all.

This trend is going to continue. In addition, there's a continual erosion of the ...

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Interview: Latasha Morrison: The Church Is the Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well

The founder of Be the Bridge reveals her vision for solving America's race problem.

For years, Latasha Morrison attended a predominantly African American church in Atlanta that intersected with both black and white communities, including those affiliated with Rick Warren and John Maxwell. “I noticed that wasn’t true for all churches,” said Morrison. “A lot of churches stay in their racial bubble.”

When Morrison left her church, she left with a plan. “My strategy was to be a pioneer for reconciliation within the white church,” she said. “So I strategically applied for jobs at white churches.”

The transition from her Atlanta church to an Austin congregation (she now works at Gateway Church) was tough for Morrison, but she found her stride after she connected with IF:Gathering founder Jennie Allen, who invited her to share her vision at the IF conference in 2014. Morrison’s mission was to enable racial reconciliation within local churches and develop resources for Christians who want to build cross-racial relationships.

Since then, Be the Bridge has exploded in size and now serves the local church by providing curricula and other tools that encourage bridge builders to “[foster and develop] vision, skills, and heart for racial unity.” “I see glimmers of hope,” Morrison says of the white evangelical climate today. “Even if they don’t get it completely. People are at least trying to lean into the conversation and acknowledge that there is an issue.”

Morrison recently spoke with CT about why white Christians and Christians of color can’t leave when it gets uncomfortable, why the Be the Bridge vision has resonated with so many people, and why the church is the best place for racial reconciliation to flourish. ...

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