Departure of 2 Icons...Greg Laurie

The departure of 2 icons

Posted: July 04, 2009
1:00 am Eastern

© 2009

As we all know, two American icons passed into eternity on the last Thursday of June, 2009 – Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Farrah Fawcett was once regarded as one of the world's most beautiful women. Her hairstyle was copied by countless girls in her day, and her posters hung on many a young man's wall. Tragically, she contracted cancer and eventually succumbed to it. Prior to her death, when she was still trying to beat it, a TV special chronicled her fight and her hope to overcome this dreaded disease.

Unfortunately, it was not to be, and Farrah Fawcett entered eternity. Her memorial service was held this week. Her boyfriend Ryan O'Neal and her family had been hoping for a miracle. In an interview he gave before her death, O'Neal said he would only talk about Farrah's recovery, because ''the alternative is too painful to accept. It would be an awful conversation to have.''

It's understandable, isn't it? People don't like to face — or even talk about — the reality of death. It frightens, even terrifies us. The New Testament speaks of those who are ''held in slavery by the fear of death'' (Hebrews 2:15).

But as we all know, there is no escaping it! The Bible says, ''There is a time to be born, and a time to die … .'' Across our world, 3 people are dying every second …180 every minute … nearly 11,000 every hour. That means that 250,000 people enter into eternity every single day.

In addition to Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, other recent notable deaths include Ed McMahon, legendary sidekick to Johnny Carson, as well as TV pitchman Billy Mays. This reminds us that death is no respector of persons. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, famous or unknown. Death knocks at every door.

King David said, ''Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath'' (Psalm 39:4-5, NIV).

In days gone by, people thought about such things more than many of us do today. In his book, "Heaven," Randy Alcorn points out that ancient merchants often wrote the words, ''Momento Mori,'' or think of death, in large letters on the first page of their accounting books. Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, commissioned a servant to stand in his presence each day and say ''Philip, you will die!'' In contrast, France's Louis XIV decreed that the word ''death'' not be used in his presence.

Although many knew Farrah was fighting cancer and might die soon, the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson was a shock to many. Now, as more comes out about his life, it would appear that he had been on a downward spiral for months, even years. Jackson had unprecedented success, winning 13 Grammys and selling a staggering 750 million records worldwide. He was one of the few artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. The Guinness Book of World Records declared him to be ''the most successful entertainer of all time.''

Before his death, Jackson was preparing for a series of 50 concerts that would have been held in London, England beginning July 13, 2009. But then death came, as it does to everyone. Even so, 50 years of age sounds like way too young an age to leave this life — and it's sounding younger all the time!

I don't know where Farrah and Michael were at in their spiritual lives. I only hope they had put their faith in Christ, and have both gone on to be with Him, the true and living King. On the same day that this news was breaking, I was called to visit a man on his deathbed. He knew he had cancer and that he only had days to live. We talked about eternity, and though he claimed to have faith, we went over God's glorious plan of salvation and prayed as he committed his life to Jesus Christ.

I told him that I would visit him again on Saturday, but he didn't make it. In fact, he ended up passing into eternity, into the arms of the Lord, only hours after our visit. I'm so glad I went to visit him! Thursday was an extremely busy day and I had considered waiting to go until Saturday, but felt prompted by the Lord to go that day.

This is why, as a pastor and an evangelist, I want to spend my life telling others about Jesus. Because we never know when life on this earth will end. If you know someone who is not yet a believer, go tell them today how to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the living Lord. If you yourself are not a believer, check out this link that will explain how to become one.

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock, is dead.

James Brown, the King of Soul, is dead.

Kurt Cobain, the King of Grunge, is dead.

And now Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, is dead.

But Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, is alive forevermore! Let's tell people that, so they too can live forever.

Jesus said, ''I am he who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.''


Where are thy accusers? .......Rick Warren

Rick Warren Supports New Conservative Anglican Body


Pastor Rick Warren expressed solidarity with hundreds of conservative Anglicans who broke from their national churches to form their own orthodox body.

The Purpose Driven pastor pumped up the group, who have established themselves as the Anglican Church in North America, as he encouraged them on their move and challenged them on their journey ahead.

"My heart is so full for you today," Warren told more than 800 Anglicans on Tuesday. "If we want God's blessing on ACNA, then we must make our agenda God's agenda."

The ACNA was officially constituted on Monday during this week's inaugural assembly in Bedford, Texas. It unites some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes that have severed ties with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada into a single church.

Establishing an Anglican national province where such a national church already exists is unprecedented.

While forming another province may seem divisive, conservative Anglicans argue that there has been division in the global Anglican Communion since 2003 when The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – consecrated its first openly gay bishop.

Warren told the breakaway Anglicans that God did not call the ACNA to be a "reactionary group."

"In the first place, you didn't leave them (The Episcopal Church)," he said to "amen's" from the conservative crowd, who believe The Episcopal Church has departed from Anglican tradition and Christian orthodoxy.

Warren, who leads the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in southern California, had offered support to conservative Anglicans earlier this year when the California Supreme Court ruled that a Newport Beach parish may lose their property after splitting from The Episcopal Church.

On Tuesday, he reminded Anglicans, "You may lose the steeple but you won't lose the people."

"The Church has never been a building. Christ did not die for property," he said to rousing applause.

As the ACNA begins its journey, Warren urged them to follow the Jesus model of ministry by not only winning people to Christ but also growing and maturing disciples.

"We have an unchanging message in a constantly changing world," he said.

"If you want God's blessing on your ... communion, don't pray 'God bless what we're doing.' Instead pray 'God help us to do what you're blessing,'" the Southern California pastor exhorted.

Summing everything up in a simple sentence, he emphasized, "A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a great communion."

The ACNA assembly concludes Thursday.


I often hear all the Negative Press about Rick Warren and the Saddleback Church I figuered since Day One of the time I heard the NAY SAYERS I would pray and Wait on the Lord. I recall Chuck Smith being criticized for being the "father of Hippies" and Leader of that New Cult, "The Jesus Movement".

I remember the best teaching I heard Chuck Smith give when many times Ministries, "broke off" to do thier own thing.

He said, If God is in it, it will prosper, if not, it will die out. We will wait and watch and see if God is in it.

I see Fruit in a Tree and I see Jesus name on it........anything else I will go in person to see, but I know this, since salvation is occurring, I may not have the gift Rick Warren has, or His ministry, but I would rather Let God be in control than the criticisms of men because I have seen too many times how men are m ore often wrong than right.

The crowds crucified Jesus, and they did it in the Name of the Purity of Faith. I take flack all the time for not being An Accuser of the Brethren against many ministries some would have me condemn. I have been on both sides of the issue and I rest in m y relationship with my Father because I go to Him and ask....

"Well....What about Him? And you know what he tells me?

You leave him to me, you worry about yourself.

Since God said it to me, I take his advice to me seriously and will not Condemn a Man of God because He serves God a way I do not. I do not advocate inclusiveness, I promote sound judgement in scripture. But my standard I can apply to myself,

Can you?

Michael James Stone

Chinese Persecution Home Church's

Chinese Office Becomes New Force for Religious Repression

Government seminar on house churches, once considered encouraging, results in crackdown.

Amid vigorous debate among scholars in China on the status of house churches, one prominent scholar has suggested the government offer more openness and legal standing to house church Christians, but authorities have reacted with raids, arrests, forced church closures and a ban on the Chinese Federation of Christian House Churches.

Scholar Yu Jianrong and others have concluded that house churches are a positive influence on society, but the government is wary of such influence, particularly since Yu’s research estimated the total number of Protestant house church Christians at between 45 and 60 million, with another 18 to 30 million attending government-approved churches – potentially putting the number of Christians higher than that of Communist Party members, which number around 74 million.

The one-year, government-commissioned study by Yu and associates suggested that officials should seek to integrate house churches and no longer regard them as enemies of the state.

Yu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Rural Development Institute, used a combination of interviews, field surveys and policy reviews to gather information on house churches in several provinces from October 2007 to November 2008.

After comparing various research statistics, Yu determined that Protestant house church members numbered between 45 and 60 million, with another 18 to 30 million attending government-approved churches. He acknowledged in one interview, however, that the total number of Protestant Christians might be as high as 100 million.

Highlighting discrepancies between government figures and those from other sources, Yu claimed that some official churches under-reported attendance to deflect government scrutiny, while some Christian organizations working in China inflated house church figures to attract support from foreign donors.

Yu then examined the rapid growth of house churches and concluded that love and concern for fellow believers and the evangelistic nature of Christianity were key factors driving the growth of the church.

Yu’s team found that most house or “family” churches fit into one of three broad categories: traditional house churches, open house churches or urban emerging churches. Traditional house churches were generally smaller, family-based churches, meeting in relative secrecy. Though not a Christian himself, Yu attended some of these meetings and was impressed by the religious devotion of church members; he also noted that the focus was not on democracy or human rights but rather on spiritual life and community.

The “open” house churches were less secretive and had more members, sometimes advertising their services and holding public gatherings, he found. Urban emerging churches functioned quite openly but independently of government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches. In some provinces such as Wenzhou, these churches had constructed their own buildings and operated without interference from local officials.

While some house churches actively seek registration with authorities to avoid arrests and harassment, they would like the option of registering outside the government-approved TSPM structure, as they disagree with TSPM beliefs and controls. Many unregistered evangelical Protestant groups refuse to register with TSPM due to theological differences, fear of adverse consequences if they reveal names and addresses of church leaders or members or fear that it will control sermon content.

n a speech at Beijing’s Peking University last December, Yu noted clear differences in the training of TSPM and house church clergy and suggested that legal acceptance of house churches would lead to more balanced, transparent training of house church leaders. Secrecy and suspicion on both sides had made the issue unnecessarily sensitive, Yu added, calling on the government to initiate dialogue so that tensions could be resolved.

“I think we have reason to use Christianity to advance the democratization of China,” Yu said in closing.

Government Seminar on House Churches A summary of Yu’s findings was presented at a government seminar on “Christianity and Social Harmony – Special Session on the Chinese House Church,” organized by the China State Council Development Research Center on Nov. 21-22, 2008.

The seminar was the first of its kind organized by the government, and some house church leaders were encouraged by the move. But shortly afterwards, the Ministry of Civil Affairs banned the Chinese Federation of Christian House Churches on grounds that it lacked proper registration.

Studies had shown that there were 10 times as many unregistered Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as registered ones, and that NGOs run by house churches had played a significant role in relief work after the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province.

In a commentary on “Religious Demography and House Churches” that appeared online in February, scholar Yantao Bi said the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in banning the Federation, had become “the third major force along with public security bureaus and the department of religion in repressing house churches,” and that a large sector of civil society had now been defined as illegal.

The November seminar resulted in a new crackdown on house churches in December, Yantao said, but it at least stimulated discussion on the issue.

A second meeting on Dec. 1, 2008, organized by Beijing academic Dr. Fan Yafeng, brought together only a group of NGO representatives to discuss issues relating to house church identity in China, according to a Voice of America report in January. The meeting was later mistakenly portrayed in international media as being authorized by the Chinese government.

Participants had intended to “indirectly pass our opinions to the government and appeal for a legal identity for the house church,” Wang Shuangyan, a Beijing house church leader, told Voice of America in January. “It’s true, the government has not responded. But this is our attitude – we will not give up on negotiation and legal identity.”

Said another participant who requested anonymity, “We hope that, through discussions on the relationship between the house churches and the government, we will impact future policy on religion.”

Confused Approach

More raids over the past month illustrate what scholar Yu described as a confused approach to religion, with authorities leaving some house churches to operate openly while other churches were specifically targeted for arrests and closure.

On June 24, police released house church leaders Liu Caili and Huang Shumin of the Taochuan Village church in Shaanxi province after 10 days of detention for engaging in “illegal religious activities,” while a third leader, Xu Fenying, was released on June 19 after five days of detention, the China Aid Association (CAA) reported.

Police had arrested the leaders at their homes or places of business on June 14; all three were shown in handcuffs on a local television broadcast. Earlier, on June 5, authorities declared the church closed after Christians advocated for justice on behalf of peasants in the village.

Authorities in Langzhong city, Sichuan province on June 20 released 18 house church leaders arrested on June 9. Police had initially arrested a total of 30 house church leaders who had gathered at the church of Pastor Li Ming, but 12 were released later that same day.

On June 14, officials from the Zhengzhou Municipal Bureau of Religion and Bureau of State Security forcibly interrupted services of the Rock house church in Zhengzhou City, Henan, CAA reported. Officials occupied all the rooms and took video footage and photos of those present, before detaining six Christians, including pastor Dou Shaowen and his wife Feng Lu.

Officials also read out a public notice from the local Ethnic Religious Affairs office stating that, “it has been found through investigation that Dou Shaowen, Feng Lu and other individuals who call themselves missionaries have established a site for religious activities without approval … where they engage in illegal religious activities … Dou Shawen, Feng Lu and others are hereby ordered to immediately stop all the illegal religious activities at this site.”

Church members insisted on finishing their worship service even after officials cut off the electricity supply. Officials then sealed off the building and declared the Rock church abolished.

Finally, on June 4, authorities began disrupting services of the Autumn Rain church in Chengdu, Sichuan province, preventing members from entering their rented facilities for Sunday worship, according to CAA. On June 21, as church members gathered for a conference in a nearby hotel, at least 10 police officers entered the building and called the meeting to a halt. Officer Huang Wei then read out a statement declaring Autumn Rain Church to be an “unregistered social organization,” making it subject to administrative penalties such as the confiscation of church property and the cessation of all church activities.

Church members had initially planned to continue the conference on the banks of a nearby river, but this proved impossible as approximately 100 riot police and plainclothes officers were deployed both inside and outside the hotel.

Autumn Rain church has decided to continue holding services, appeal the imposed penalties and publicly apply to register the church at the Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs, in the hope that this may resolve ongoing difficulties with local authorities.


Wycliffe...Whats Stopping You

Jobless Christians Invited to Join Bible Translation Teams

Wycliffe Bible Translators, the world’s largest organization of its kind, is looking for workers with a range of skills to assist in the translation of the scriptures into the last remaining languages.

“Of course, a large number will go into translation,” said Chuck Michaels of Wycliffe to Mission Network News. “But for every translator team we send out we need three support personnel: people who are pilots, IT personnel, teachers that will teach missionary children, managers that will help us in our administrative work, government relations officers, and a whole host of other areas.”

The Bible translation organization estimates that 25,000 more workers are needed over a period of 10 years for its Vision 2025 effort that seeks to start translation in every language by the year 2025. Wycliffe aims to recruit 7,000 people from the U.S.

Some 200 million people, making up a third of the world’s language groups, still do not have the Bbile in their own “heart language.”

The goal of Wycliffe’s Last Languages Campaign is to provide literacy and life-saving health information along with the Bible to all the world’s small language groups in need of language development by 2025.

Besides Wycliffe, other mission organizations have also referenced the troubled economy in their missionary recruitment efforts. World Gospel Mission president recently reported that "the job market for missionaries has never been brighter.”

He noted that young adult Christians are showing increased interest in serving in the mission field on a short term basis. There has also been an increase in full-time missionaries.

Currently, Wycliffe is in the process of creating a financial support system to help families pay their bills between the time they commit to the translation project, or to full-time missions, and when they actually begin serving.


When Jesus said, Deny Yourself, Take up your Cross and Follow me....Some did.

Will You?

Can you think of a better time?

Michael James Stone


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