Category Archives: International

Lee: One must first be whole before connecting with another person

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By Donald Lee
Special to Inside The Pew

To anyone anxious about getting into a relationship without first being a complete person: Understand that you cannot be good to anybody else until you can allow God to

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto" (Matthew 6:33).

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto” (Matthew 6:33).

do a work on the inside of you.

When you allow God to smooth out your rough edges, you won’t subject yourself or your children to domestic abuse. When you allow Him to work on you, your tolerance level for foolishness drops to zero. You begin to understand that it’s not about you running a household in your own understanding, but instead about you allowing Christ’s headship to be the final authority in your family. It’s about kingdom principles being applied in the home.

Singles, if your desire is to be married or in a relationship that potentially leads to marriage, the best thing for you to do is to get into the presence of God — to strive to do what is pleasing to Him. Once you get hooked up with Him, then He knows how to connect you with the one who best complements you.

If you’re praying to God for a mate after having submitted yourself totally to His will for your life, the person He has for you will have a spirit that’s the right fit for who you are, and it has nothing to do with sex. It’s just an overwhelmingly special, holy feeling that grips the both of you, a result of having consulted with God sincerely before proceeding.

And when you seek God first before seeking a relationship with someone else, the Lord defines you (see Matthew 6:33). He lets you know who you are. That saves you the heartache that comes with permitting someone else to damage your self-esteem through the definition of you that he wants you

Donald Lee

Donald Lee

to have rather than the one God has given you.

When you allow God to prepare you for someone else, you’ll have a greater appreciation for that person and vice versa. And you can “see” one another. In other words, the two of you can see into one another’s hearts and discern agape love, an authentic, heavenly love — the kind of love that is best expressed through people who are committed whole-heartedly to the Lord.

So, the best way to significantly increase the likelihood of your entering into a truly loving relationship is to simply put God first. He will make you complete.

Donald Lee, co-author of the relationships book “Married to Commitment,” is founder-pastor of Kingdom Living Christian Center in Dallas. He can be contacted at

pastordonjlee@yahoo.com or (225) 773-2248. Visit him online at http://www.christiancouplesconference.com. Follow him on Twitter at @donaldj_lee. You can also write him at P.O. Box 211186, Dallas, TX. 75211. 

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Daily: Some thoughts on surprise resignation of the Pope Benedict XVI

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By Dennis Daily
Special to ASSIST News Service

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (ANS) — As a journalist who was raised in a Catholic home and went through 12 years in Catholic schools — and, like many Catholic boys,

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

thought he wanted to be a priest at one time – I am watching closely the events that are happening in the wake of the resignation of the Pope.

I awakened to the headline, “Pope Benedict XVI to resign, citing age and waning energy.” For there it was in black-and-white in the Washington Post, “Citing failing strength of ‘mind and body,’ Pope Benedict XVI stunned his closest aides and more than 1 billion Catholics by resigning on Monday, becoming the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years and ending the tenure of a formidable theologian who preached a gospel of conservative faith to a fast-changing world.

“Keeping with his reputation as a traditionalist, Pope Benedict delivered his resignation – effective Feb. 28 – in Latin, to a private church body in Vatican City. ‘I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,’ he said. ‘For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter.'”

On hearing this news, I was startled for several reasons:

First of all, since this is only the second time in 2,000 years that a Pope has called it quits, I realized instantly that this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Actually, it’s a once-in-many-lifetimes kind of thing.

From a pure journalistic standpoint, this was QUITE a story.

Secondly, I began to realize all the things that must be going on in the Vatican to prepare for the election of a new Pope.

I’m fortunate, when I was in high school, a nearly ordained priest came to the parish and he taught religion to us. You have to remember that most Catholic kids, and others who go to religion-sponsored schools, have to attend a religion class every day. No Sunday school for us Catholic kids.

The young priest assigned to my high school would eventually, in later years, go on to teach at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that this youthful priest was a real rebel — a fire-brand.

He had spent his seminary time at Collegium Canisianum, located in beautiful Innsbruck, Austria.

It’s funny, after all these years, I can still remember his mailing address there, when he went back for a while as part of a project: Tschurtschenthalerstrasse 7. I guess had his school been on White Street of Alps Boulevard I would have never remembered its address.

Actually, Kress was more than a fire-brand. Some in the parish thought he was a radical. His sermons were full of questions and doubt that troubled many of the older members of the parish.

One week, after wondering aloud from the pulpit if there really HAD been a “Great Flood” and if the “Noah Story” were just a great parable, my own grandmother went to the pastor, Kress’s boss, asking that he be sent to some other parish.

Part of his reasoning about the existence of a Great Flood was based on similar stories in myriad other cultures. He seemed to be more excited about relaying the liberal Catholic thought in which he was immersed during his time in Innsbruck, than delivering a traditional sermon that would warm the hearts of the congregation.

But, that was Father Kress.

The reason he enters the story here, is that during those years in Austria, Kress had worked among many members of the Catholic Church there who were helping to prepare for the Second Vatican Council … that great assembling of religious leaders of all stripes, from around the world. It had been called lovable Pope John XXIII.

Kress’s seminary years were spent during an intense period of debate within the church. The conflict, of course, centered on whether the liberalization of the Church was indeed necessary.

John Paul XXIII had used an Italian word to describe what he wanted to do at the council; that word was “aggiornamento,” or “updating.” But the then roly-poly Pope who, while a bishop, had saved the lives of countless Jews who would have been swept up in the Holocaust, wanted more than an updating. He told media that he wanted to “open the windows and let some fresh air into the church.”

Liberals in the church in Europe were thrilled at the Pope’s announced intentions. They were even happier when John XXIII invited observers to the council from every known religion in the world.

Conservatives were worried that the Church would make a decidedly leftward shift. The church had already begun to look more catholic (with a small “c”) and more universal in John XXIII’s time; he had increased the number of bishops and cardinals from Third World countries and worked for the canonization of saints from lesser-known areas of the world.

So, we students in the 1960s, during the Vatican Council, were given a running play-by-play of what was going on in the halls of the Vatican by someone who had been in the thick of planning for the multi-year re-examination of the status of Catholicism.

We would watch news reports and Father Kress would point to the TV screen and say: “Oh, look, there’s Cardinal Konig,” or, “There’s Cardinal Frings.”

Kress had worked with these men, especially with Frings. The cardinal, who was from the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, had graduated from the Canisianum and maintained close ties with the school.

Frings, at the time, was one of the closest of confidants of another priest from the region, a teacher and writer who, at the time, was perceived to be on the liberal bandwagon.

That priest was Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, today’s Pope.

Frings and Ratzinger and two other liberal thinkers, Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx, were Fr. Kress’s heroes.

Shortly before the first session of the council opened, Frings had given a speech in Genoa, about the First Vatican Council. It called in 1868 by Pope Pius IX, ostensibly to deal with a quickly changing world in the height of the Industrial Revolution.

Frings looked at the impact of that first council and wondered if Pope John XXIII was simply re-opening an old concept, putting a modern-day “aggiornamento” spin on it.

When the Pope was informed about Frings’ speech, he summoned the clergyman to the Vatican. The session was not negative, as Frings had feared. John XXIII actually liked the speech. Frings thanked him. He didn’t tell the Pope that the speech had been written by his friend, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger.

After leaving high school, and those five-day-a-week sessions with Fr. Kress, and the daily play-by-play of what was happening in Rome, my thoughts of the Second Vatican Council faded.

Occasionally, I would have dinner with Fr. Kress, during the time that both he and I lived in Washington, DC.

I remember one evening when he wondered what had happened to all the fire-brand liberals of the European church over the years. He told me that many of them had “converted” to the conservative cause. One of them was the man who would one day become the first German-born Pope in a long time … and who would startle the world by resigning.

There will be a lot of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” over why Ratzinger is leaving his post. As a close adviser to the late Pope John-Paul II, the current Pope saw his predecessor grow weaker and weaker and shakier and shakier, while still trying to minister to his flock.

I am sure that Pope Benedict didn’t want to be that kind of Pope.

It will be interesting for all of us, though, to see what kind of role a former Pope will play in society. The last time anyone had a chance to witness that was 77 years before Columbus first sailed to the New World.

 

Dennis Daily is a lifelong journalist and radio news anchor and programmer. He spent 20-years with UPI (United Press International). During most of his tenure there he worked for the now-defunct UPI Radio Network. During several of those years he served as the network’s Religion Editor. He previously worked as a national spokesman for the USDA in Washington, was a Congressional Press Secretary, all-news anchor and producer for “The Larry King Show.” Long associated with religious programming, Daily returned to his hometown in southern Indiana for 26 consecutive years to anchor and produce five hours from four churches on Christmas Eve. For several of those years the broadcast was relayed around the world via Armed Forces Radio. After his two decades with UPI he went back into local radio in California’s San Joaquin Valley. He now lives in Palm Springs, Calif., where he is semi-retired. He continues to do freelance radio work, voicing daily reports on various topics. Dennis also produces the Religion & Ethic s Minute based on the stories of the ASSIST News Service. He can be contacted by e-mail at: newscaster@earthlinknet.

 

American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran fears supporters have abandoned him

Published by:

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

TEHRAN, Iran (ANS) The American pastor sentenced to eight years in Iran’s Evin prison is unaware of the groundswell of international support for him, and insteadSaeedAbedini fears he’s been abandoned, according to relatives who met with him this week.

According to Fox News, Saeed Abedini mentioned his doubt during a visit with relatives on Monday. It was a second time he was allowed to see members of his extended family since he was convicted. Abedini expressed apprehension and concern to his relatives about his fate and openly asked if there were international efforts to secure his freedom, according to advocacy group American Center for Law and Justice (http://aclj.org).

The story said that it is believed that Abedini’s downtrodden spirit is due to abuse and brain-washing techniques used by prison officials.

“It is no surprise that the Iranian prison guards are engaging in this kind of psychological abuse. We know that Pastor Saeed is undergoing physical beatings and torture. And we know there is growing concern about his health,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director for ACLJ, told www.FoxNews.com.

“Now, a troubling report that the guards are trying to take away his hope — by feeding him false information about his fate — trying to convince him that no one cares — that efforts to secure his freedom have ceased. This tactic is predictable, but also very tragic.”

“What the Iranian guards will never tell Pastor Saeed is that there’s a growing international network of support. … We continue to urge President Obama to personally call on Iran to release Pastor Saeed. And now that Secretary of State Kerry is on the job, it is time for him to follow through on earlier statements demanding that Iran release Pastor Saeed,” he added.

Abedini also has been unable to communicate with his wife, Nagameh, and their two children since being sentenced.

“When I heard this from my husband, I cried. It broke my heart. Behind those walls he feels helpless and relies on us to be his voice. It is so easy to feel forgotten in the walls of the prison. Please help me make sure he is never forgotten,” she said in a report posted on ACLJ’s website.

Abedini, a 32-year-old father of two, denied evangelizing in Iran and claims he had only returned to his native land to help establish an orphanage. Authorities pulled him off a bus last August and threw him into the notorious prison in Tehran, the story continued.

“The exact crimes he was accused of only became public late last month, when the prosecutor outlined charges that Abedini undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and that he was attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam,” added the Fox News story.

“Supporters of Abedini believe the charges stem from his 2,000 conversion to Christianity and his involvement several years ago with house churches in Iran.”

Although Abedini’s lawyer has appealed the sentence, experts following the case think Abedini’s only chance at freedom lies with a grant of clemency from the religious clerics that rule Iran.

According to Jeremy Reynalds of ASSIST News, the American Center for Law and Justice recently reported award-winning musicians, Christian radio stations, and concerned citizens all across America and around the world are trying to get #SaveSaeed trending on Twitter and encourage people to sign the petition at www.SaveSaeed.org to free Abenini.

Reynalds said Ricky Skaggs, TobyMac, Bart Millard (Mercy Me), Kevin Max (DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline), Steven Curtis Chapman, Skillet, Rhett Walker Band, Air1 Radio, and thousands of others are helping to #SaveSaeed.

‘Fruit Of My Spirit’ a tale of God’s love despite our missteps

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By Tonya R. Andris
Inside The Pew

Deanna Nowadnick isn’t perfect. Despite her physical and internal imperfections, she also know that God loves her just the way she is.

In her book, “Fruit Of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace” ($12.95, Rhododendron Books; ebook available on Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook), she takes us on her spiritual journey. The book left me confident and empathetic.

Part Bible study, part memoir, and part confessional is the best way to describe Nowadnick’s release. The Monroe, Wash., author takes readers through moments in her life and shapes them around the nine qualities of the Holy Spirit’s fruit. In Galatians 5:22-23, apostle Paul tells the people of Galatia: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Recalling the nine qualities of the Holy Spirit’s fruit, the author uses pictures to relate each attribute to its Greek equivalent. The chapter on “Joy” or chara (Greek for divine happiness) is paired with cherries; “Kindness” or chrestotes (Greek for goodness) is paired with strawberries.

Charming black-white photos capture transformations through 30 years of marriage for Deanna Nowadnick and her husband, Kurt, and family time with their sons Kyle and Kevin. In chapter 3, titled “Peace” or eirene (Greek for tranquility) she discusses how she found tranquility in several situations, from enjoying the outdoors without camping and overcoming a need to find comfort in food. Her reaction? She gave it to God.

“My heartfelt prayer was nothing more than, ‘Please, God.” I didn’t even have the words to know what to ask for. All I could repeat was, “Please, God,” she wrote.

Each well-developed story reveals a lot about the growth Nowadnick and how she learned she no longer rests on her own understanding and “let go and let Him.” By pouring out her soul in prose, she benefits. Even in recollection, Nowadnick shows how maturity and understand of her inner self.

Nowadnick feels confident in the way God made her. The tone of her writing is genuine and relatable. There are periods of self-doubt and weakness, but these traits don’t destroy her. Deep inside, she knows she is still loved by the Almighty, a feeling all His children has to understand and embrace.

Visit www.fruitofmyspirit.com to learn more about Nowadnick’s spiritual walk.

Comment on this weekly column by emailing Tonya Andris at pewnews@aol.com.

Report: Africa rises on World Watch List of worst persecutors of Christians

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ANS) – Africa, the continent of my birth, where Christianity has spread fastest during the past century, now is the region where oppression of Christians is spreading fastest, a new report says.

According to World Watch Monitor, the two-year-old Arab Spring has toppled autocrats across Northern Africa, but it also has energized militant Islamist movements that have killed hundreds of Christians and endanger thousands more, according to the annual World Watch List, released Tuesday.

The list, published by Open Doors International, a ministry to persecuted Christians, ranks the 50 countries it considers to be most hostile to believers during the year that ended Oct. 31. The countries on the list are home to about a quarter of the world’s 2.2 billion believers.

The story says that for the 11th straight year, North Korea tops the list, and Open Doors says it figures to stay there as long as its combination of “communist oppression” and “dictatorial paranoia” remains in place. The ministry estimates between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians live in the country, where they face arrest, torture and even execution if exposed. It is the only country where the list says “absolute persecution” reigns.

Two other African nations, Somalia and Eritrea, are included among the World Watch List top 10. In all, 18 African countries are included on the list of 50 nations. Five are ranked closer to the top than they were in 2012. Five others — Mali, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Niger — are on the list for the first time.

China fell furthest in the rankings, down 16 spots to No. 37. Its Christian population is growing faster than anywhere, and the government’s direct suppression of the Mao era has evolved into a wary watchfulness, according to Open Doors.

“There does seem to be the possibility of greater rapprochement,” said Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, director of Open Doors strategy and research, as Communist Party leaders begin to regard the church’s ability to moderate social tensions as an asset during and age of rapid economic and societal change.

South African author reveals social concern with ‘Diamonds In The Dust’

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

The concern of HIV/AIDS around the world takes a front seat Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day. In the 20-plus years since the first commemoration, South Africa had made strides to help its men, women, and children. While there is work that still needs to be done, deaths from HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa have declined. In 2011, 1.2 million South Africans died from the disease, down 32 percent from 2010, according to the UNAIDS report. In addition, the reports explain 5.6 million people in South Africa are living with HIV/AIDS.

A social conscience from people within and outside of South Africa is needed to help South Africans through this catastrophe. Shirley Tucker, author of the award-winning novel “Diamonds in the Dust,” uses her storytelling ability and faith in God to present a story of perseverance, hope, amid the storm. The South African author tells the story of Ida Morgan, a woman who experience the unthinkable when her husband is murdered. Ida’s road to healing and wholeness is paved by “diamonds in the dust.” Ida begins to question God and wonder how He could allow the wicked to gain a victory. In the end, Ida sees it is not God’s way of punishing people, it is His way of placing Ida in a role to help defenseless people in society, including children who are afflicted with AIDS.

As a backdrop to the powerful novel is the realism Tucker uses to tell “Diamonds in the Dust.” The novel is the winner of the 2011 inaugural Athanatos Christian Ministries Christian Novel Contest and it is worthy of the award. The author allows the reader to see what life is like in South Africa, such as Ida coming in contact with AIDS sufferers, orphans, and homeless people in her country. Ironically, Tucker and her husband, Mark, are founders of Phakamani Foundation to distribute micro-loans to enterprising, but poor, women in South Africa.

Top reviews for the novel include Kirkus, where a reviewer concludes Tucker’s “Diamonds in the Dust” beholds “an addictive storyline that pulls at the reader’s social conscience and sense of justice, delivered in an honest, humane manner.” Furthermore, the Dove Foundation awarded Tucker’s “must read” novel the highest ranking a piece can receive, five Doves.

On this World AIDS Day 2012 (and everyday), it is important for those who confess His to listen to God’s divine call and help those in society who cannot help themselves. As it is said in Psalm 34:22, “The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” (NIV). Just as Ida found, forsaking our comforts and doing what is best in the name of God benefits everyone.

 

Iluno: Christian ladies, become attractive in manner that God approves

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By Rev. Nelson Iluno, corresponding assistant to Prof. Herbert Eze
Special for ASSIST News Service

NNEWI, NIGERIA (ANS) – “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold pearls or costly garments’ but rather by means of good works, as befits woman making a claim to Godliness” (1st Timothy 2: 9-10).

I have written this article for women, but I encourage men to read it also. The reason for addressing this article especially to women is because Paul, in our text, (also Peter in 1st Peter 3: 1-5) addressed himself primarily to women. This is not to say that men should not dress modestly, and cannot dress immodestly. Apparently, Michal felt that King David had displayed himself in an immodest manner in 2 Samuel, Chapter 6, so it is possible. The truth would seem too likely to be by a well-dressed man, as by a partially nude one. Taking these matters into account we may conclude that the principles of modesty apply equally to men and women, but they are principles of which women especially need to be aware.

In the story of David and Bethsheba we have illustrated the usual pattern of immorality. Bethsheba displayed herself in an immodest fashion, and David looked on her with lust (2nd Samuel 1: 1-4). Both sinned in ways that are far too common on the part of men and women. Neither could blame the other for their sin, for each had to assume the responsibility for their particular wrong doing. It is the same way today. Men need to be warned against lust, but women need to be concerned about how they present themselves to men; whether modestly? This article deals with this issue. Which is one that goes beyond the question of skirt length and styles?

The aim of this article is not to designate those clothing that are modest, and those which are immodest. I am not going to be picking on particular type of clothing nor do I wish to answer such question as: how short is too short? How tight is too tight? How low is too low? And how little is too little? What I do want to do is to encourage you to think about what is modest, and what is immodest.

I believe Christian ladies, young and old, need to give thought to the question of modesty when they put on, and when they put off, their clothes. The fact that many do not is what concerns me most. This point was driven home to me a few years ago when I was pastoring a Church in the northern Nigeria. I asked teenage girls in the church to name some styles of dress that they would not wear because they viewed them as immodest. The young girls could not identify as immodest any styles. However, the alarming thing was that they rarely gave thought to the question of modesty in selecting their clothing. I told them what I am telling you now. I have desire to set myself up as the final authority on what is, and what is not modest. However, I do want to exhort each individual to develop a personal sense of what constitutes appropriate dress, with the full realization that they must give an account of the standard they adopt.

I know there are those who would not hesitate to name certain styles of dress as being immodest and if pressed to do so I could supply you with a list of my own. However, in doing so I believe I would be failing to really impress on you the message of our text. There are those fundamentalists who would tell you that it is a sin to braid your hair, wear jewelry, or dress in expensive clothes, and they would point to our text as proof of their position. However, by taking such a literal view of another text which deals with the matter of modesty, I can prove that a woman should not wear any clothing. Note what Peter says: “whose adoring let it not be that outward adoring of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel” (1st Peter 3:3 (KJV) – emphasis mine).

If Peter’s words here are taken literally, then women sin by putting on clothing! I doubt that very many fundamentalists are going to want to take that position. To the contrary, most fundamentalists are more interested in putting more clothing on than seeing any taken off. In fact, any discussion of modesty will invariably focus on the matter of sexual stimulation; despite the fact, that doesn’t appear to be the primary emphasis of the two texts I have quotes.

Let’s hasten to make a point about what I am saying, before someone tries to misinterpret me. I am not saying that it is all right for women to take off their clothes, and that the potential for inciting lust is not to be a matter of concern. What I am saying is that a barrier against such misconduct will be better established by being true to the point of Paul and Peter’s words, than by using them as a pretext for setting ourselves standards of dress.

It is my conviction that the Holy Spirit is making the same point in both texts penned by Paul and Peter. The point being that Christian women are being noticed for their character, not their bodies. An attractive, well-dressed, well-manicured Christian woman is not a sinner. In fact, I believe Christian woman should be (and are) the most neat and attractive woman on earth.

However, their beauty is not to result from undue attention to their outward appearance, but as one of many products of their inward spirits. This exact point is made by Peter as we see when we complete the thought begun in verse 3: “And let not your adornment be merely braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses: but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quit spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women` also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being frightened by any fear” (1st Peter 3:3-6).

Those who would abuse Peter’s words here to place under restrictions on women who are aimed only at making them drab and unattractive might want to consider this. Sarah, whom Peter used as an example, was so attractive that Abraham was afraid Pharaoh would kill him to have her for himself (Genesis 12: 10-20). Also, Rachel’s good looks caused Isaac similar concern (Genesis 26). Finally, Esther not only entered the King’s beauty contest, but was declared the winner (Esther 2: 1-20). All of these examples should show one’s physical appearance to become the focus of attention in your own mind, and the thing which others are most aware of when they observe you.

In the context of what has been said to this point I would like to suggest two questions that every girl and woman should ask about their clothing and the manner in which they are presenting themselves. First, you should ask “how will others perceive me when I adorn myself in this fashion?

The first question is, perhaps, the more important of the two, and should be the more easily answered. It has to do with your self – image, and the emphasis of your life. I find it contradictory when woman complain about being viewed as sex objects, and yet direct so much attention to their physical appearance. While Paul was not speaking directly of modesty when he wrote that “bodily exercise is only of little profit, but godliness for all things “(1Timothy 4:8), I believe these words have a general application to our society, with its emphasis on physical attractiveness.

Those women who derive a sense of their worth only from the appearance of their hair, the slimness of their figure, the beauty of their face, etc, are to be pitied. We must also understand this tendency in light of the emphasis being given these matters by so many. The wonderful things about God’s commands are that they are always in our best interest. God’s commands regarding modesty are no exception.

The woman who understands God’s will on this matter escapes the “beauty trap” and the superficial value systems of our society, and is able to experience her real value as a child of God’s. While there are women who need to be rebuked for their blatantly seductive and suggestive ways, there are even more who need to be freed from the cross of feeling compelled to give undue emphasis to their outward appearance at the expense of an awareness of their true worth.

The second question, pertaining to how others will perceive you if you dress in a certain fashion, is a little more difficult to ascertain. In seeking an answer I would suggest that you speak with your husband, father, minister, or trusted friend (male or female) whom you know cares about the real you. If they see you as appearing coarse or vulgar, then you probably need to examine your heart and your style of dress.

I must advise you that there will always be those who will be critical, perhaps because of their own struggles with sin. However, if close friends see you as being immodest, or if a majority (or even a significant minority) of people know you more to your dress (or lack of dress, as the case may be) than they do to your Christian character, then you have a problem.

The goal of every Christian woman is not to be unattractive but to be attractive in a manner which God approves, keeping in mind that the ultimate aim of our existence is to give glory to God. The final word in respect to modest apparel may well be this verse from Psalms, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name, worship the Lord in holy array” (Psalms 29: 2).

Prof. Herbert Eze can be reached by email at herberteze@juno.com

 

Gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas’ strength is in Lord

Published by:

By Aimee Herd
Special to ASSIST News Service

LONDON, UK (ANS) — One of the favorites for Team USA this Olympics has been 16-year-old Gabrielle Douglas, who helped her team garner gold in women’s gymnastics. She also competed in the All-Around competition, along with teammate Aly Raisman, and Gabrielle took gold once again.

Setting Gabrielle – affectionately called “Gabby” by her teammates and fans – apart is her willingness to share with the press, Facebook and Twitter friends, about what gives her strength, courage and peace in the midst of the fierce contest of skill: her faith, and relationship with the Lord.

Upon learning that she and her fellow USA gymnasts had won gold, she posted on Facebook, “We are the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medalists!!! We are all so happy right now. It’s a dream come true! Gotta give God the Glory! Thank you everyone for praying for me! It means so much to me! Now I have to prepare for the All-Around competition! I am so excited! Gabby.”

In an Us Weekly interview, Gabby said, “Right before a competition I pray and listen to music.” And when she was asked by the press how she focuses and stays calm when surrounded by the immense pressure of the Olympic competition, the teen replied that she meditates on Bible scripture.

In evidence of that, on the morning of the all-around competition, Gabby tweeted, “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me.”

A video posted on Crosswalk describes the journey Gabby and her family has taken on her road to the Olympics, including the difficult decision by her mother Natalie – a single mom– to allow her youngest daughter at 14 to move halfway across the country to train.

Despite the cultural differences, Gabby found a second home with her host family in Des Moines, Iowa, and the move for intense training paid off.

Watch the moving video here.

Egyptian captors release American pastor, other hostages

Published by:

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

CAIRO, EGYPT (ANS) – Kidnappers in Egypt have released two Americans, one of them a pastor, and their Egyptian tour guide, after holding them hostage for three days, a news source stated Monday.

Mohamed Fadel, writing for the online presence of CNN in a report to which CNN’s Salma Abdelaziz and Ed Payne contributed, cited Gen. Ahmed Bakr, head of security in northern Sinai.

“They are at security headquarters with us now, in good condition. The negotiations succeeded, but we did not give in to the kidnappers’ demands,” said Gen. Bakr.

CNN reported the Americans were happy and relieved to be free.

“We are heading directly to Israel to join the members of our church as soon as we get our passports sent to us from Cairo,” said Michel Louis, the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Boston.

“I tell my family I am in good health and in good spirits, but I have not taken my medicine since Friday, so I am a little tired.”

Family members had previously said that Louis suffers from diabetes and they weren’t sure if he had his medicine with him, according to the CNN report.

Lisa Alphonse, a parishioner at another American church, said the group was “treated really well,” the CNN report said.

Earlier Monday, a senior Egyptian government official told CNN that intelligence officers had visited with the alleged kidnapper, Germy Abu Masouh, on Friday and on Sunday, and communicated with him by phone.

“We saw the hostages, who seemed to be composed, but in a state of shock and fatigue from the grueling heat, especially Michel Louis, who said he had suffered a minor diabetic attack and avoids eating much,” the official said before the hostages’ release.

CNN said that Abu Masouh, a member of a prominent Bedouin tribe in the Sinai, had said he wanted Egyptian police to free his uncle, whom Bakr said had been caught in Alexandria, Egypt, with a half-ton of drugs.

CNN also reported that family members said the two Americans and their guide were taken hostage Friday when gunmen boarded their tour bus, which was on its way to Israel.

Louis offered himself as a hostage after gunmen took the female parishioner, his son, the Rev. Jean Louis, told CNN on Monday.

“Being the leader of the missionary group, my mom said that … he stood up and he just asked that they leave the lady and take him. So this is why there’s two people in addition to the translator detained right now somewhere in Egypt,” he said. Michel Louis’ wife was on the bus when the kidnapping occurred.

Jean Louis told CNN the family was not aware of security concerns about travel across the Sinai, where Americans had been kidnapped and swiftly released in two separate incidents since February.

“If we were aware, I would believe we would use correct judgment not to enter that area,” Louis said.

According to the CNN report, Bakr earlier said the situation was “partially the fault of the travel agency,” which he said had not informed police of their route. If it had, “we would have sent a police escort,” he said.

Kidnappings and armed robberies have increased since the “Arab Spring” popular uprising which ousted Egypt’s long-ruling dictator, Hosni Mubarak, last year.

Ancient synagogue discovered in Galilee excavations

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By Elisa Moed, Founder and CEO of www.Travelujah.com
ASSIST News Service

HUQOQ, ISRAEL – A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (circa fourth and fifth centuries C.E.) has been discovered in archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee.

The excavations are being conducted by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, under the sponsorship of UNC, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., and the University of Toronto in Canada.

Students and staff from UNC and the consortium schools are participating in the dig.

Huqoq is an ancient Jewish village located approximately two to three miles west of Capernaum and Migdal (Magdala). This second season of excavations has revealed portions of a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the synagogue building. The mosaic, which is made of tiny colored stone cubes of the highest quality, includes a scene depicting Samson placing torches between the tails of foxes (as related in the book of Judges, chapter 15).

In another part of the mosaic, two human (apparently female) faces flank a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription that refers to rewards for those who perform good deeds.

“This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq),” said Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”

Excavations are scheduled to continue in the summer 2013.