Countering criticism even from conservative Christians, the principal of a Christian school in Maryland invoked its moral code in defense of a decision to forbid a pregnant student from crossing the graduation stage.
“Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral,” wrote David R. Hobbs, administrator of Heritage Academy, about senior Maddi Runkles. He issued a statement to the school’s “family” on Tuesday (May 23).
The determination to not let Runkles “walk” when she completes her studies at the Hagerstown school prompted a sharp critique from Students for Life of America, which asked its supporters to urge the school to reverse its decision.
But Hobbs said the school is standing its ground about the June 2 ceremony for Runkles’ class of 15 students.
“Heritage is also pleased that she has chosen to not abort her son,” he wrote. “However, her immorality is the original choice she made that began this situation. Secondly, she will receive her diploma that she has earned.”
He noted that all students sign a pledge based on Philippians 4:8 (including language about “whatever is pure”) that “extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.”
The New York Times reported that Runkles, a student with a 4.0 average, was suspended and removed as president of the student council. Her father resigned as the school’s board president. Runkles declined to name the baby’s father but said he is not an academy student and they do not plan to marry.
“I told on myself,” she said to the Times, describing her choice to publicly speak to the student body instead of letting Hobbs share her news. “I asked for forgiveness. I asked for help.”
Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins said her organization remains concerned about the example the school is setting.
“By banning her and her alone, the administration and board collectively decided to make a public example of one student,” Hawkins wrote in a statement, “and has either intentionally or unintentionally communicated to the school community that pregnancy (not simply premarital sex) is a shame and should not be observed within our school community.”
Other anti-abortion activists are adding their support for Runkles. Susan Michelle-Hanson, writing in an open letter on Live Action’s website, called her “a courageous young lady” and thanked her for “choosing life.”
In an earlier blog post, Students for Life said the academy’s treatment of Runkles will be remembered by her classmates because it “wasn’t with love.”
Hobbs, the academy administrator, countered that assessment.
“A wise man told me that discipline is not the absence of love, but the application of love,” he said. “We love Maddi Runkles. The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her immorality that began this situation.”
Runkles’ parents are planning a private ceremony to celebrate their daughter’s graduation.
An ascendant terrorist group in the Philippines that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) yesterday wreaked violence on the island of Mindanao, kidnapping a catholic priest and 13 members of his parish.
Soldiers engaged in firefights with the Maute Group (MG) in Marawi City as its militants reportedly beheaded a police chief, kidnapped the priest and others, burned their cathedral and other buildings and raised the black flag of IS. Marawi is predominantly Muslim.
Authorities identified the abducted priest as the Rev. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, vicar-general of the prelature of Marawi, who was at St. Mary’s Cathedral when a group of armed men barged in and abducted him and 13 other parishioners. Reports indicated 10 worshippers and three other church workers were abducted.
Suganob is well-known in Marawi, in Lanau Province, and parishioners appealed for prayers using social media.
Facebook user Maychal Gabonada wrote in the local dialect, “I pray for their safety, especially Father Chit. He is a kind parish priest who is very close to our family.”
A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines appealed to the kidnappers in news reports, saying the priest “was not a combatant and was not bearing arms, so he was a threat to no one…His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilized conflict.”
Besides the cathedral, the assailants reportedly burned down three buildings of Dansalan College, which belongs to the Protestant United Church of Christ.
Prior to Tuesday’s violence, police backed by Philippine soldiers in Marawi raided the hideout of suspected Islamic terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon. The Maute Group on Tuesday (May 23) subsequently killed at least two soldiers and beheaded a policeman they had stopped at a checkpoint. Hapilon, a commander of the Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf militant group, has a US$5 million reward offered by the U.S. State Department for information on his whereabouts.
“We are in a state of emergency,” President Rodrigo Duterte said today after flying back to Manila, having interrupted a trip to Moscow. “I have a serious problem in Mindanao, and the ISIS footprints are everywhere.”
Duterte said the report of a police officer’s mutilated body strengthened his resolve to declare martial law for 60 days in Mindanao, expanding the military’s power to detain suspects without charge. He said he may declare martial law nationwide if authorities confirm that IS is involved.
The sounds of gunfire caused the public to panic, and thousands fled Marawi City towards Iligan City and Malabang Municipality. Khye Amerol, who fled to Malabang, said that even though the military claimed that calm has been restored to Marawi, he had to leave for fear of stray bullets, according to the International Business Times. The mass evacuation caused traffic congestion from late morning to evening.
Clergymen have often become hostage victims of local terrorist groups operating in the southern Philippines. Last week Islamic extremists threatened Muslim preachers about to participate in an anti-terror summit organized by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). An ARMM official received an email from a local terrorist group ordering her to discourage Muslim leaders from attending the summit. The summit ended peacefully on Friday (May 19).
The Maute Group is one of the newest but most feared terror groups in the southern Philippines; it became better known in November last year when members raided Butig town in Lanao del Sur and raised an IS-similar flag in the town hall. MG engaged government soldiers, and since then the administration has not taken the group lightly.
Based in Central Mindanao, MG, locally known as the Islamic State in Lanao (ISIL), was founded by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute and originally had an estimated 100 members. Intelligence reports indicate that they have joined forces with other terror groups operating in the southern Philippines.
A number of the MG militants are erstwhile members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Islamic revolutionary group, which has entered into a peace talks with the government. The military is expected to face a complex challenge as MG members are married to relatives of MILF militants now finalizing a peace pact with the government.
Moreover, the Philippine military has also arrested suspected members of MG who were responsible for the September 2016 bombing of a Davao City night market that killed 14 people. Davao is the hometown of Duterte.
Poverty in impoverished areas in the southern Philippines has contributed to ordinary civilians willing to fight the government. Feeling excluded, militant and revolutionary organizations in Mindanao would like to establish an autonomous government.
President Trump and Pope Francis have agreed on their joint commitment to fight abortion and stand up for the life of the unborn. “During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life and freedom of worship and conscience,” the two leaders said in a joint statement, reports LifeNews.
Trump was gracious in his meeting with the Pope, thanking him and telling him how much of an honor it was to be invited to the Vatican. “He is something,” Trump said afterward. “We had a fantastic meeting.”
Veronica Neffinger | Editor, ChristianHeadlines.com | Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Is homosexuality a sin, and if so, is it worse than other sins?
These are questions our culture (and Christians in that culture) debate frequently. You probably won’t have to search long on social media or the internet to unearth such a debate. These debates often become fairly heated as well. Take, for example, the recent controversy surrounding Christian author and speaker Jen Hatmaker.
But is homosexuality truly worse than other sins as it often seems Christians make it out to be with the ample attention we give it?
“Hello Pastor John!” writes in the listener, named Daniel. “Very often Christians point out the sin of homosexuality as a major problem in this country, while seemingly forgetting about the massive amounts of sinners addicted to other sinful patterns in life. Is homosexuality truly more detrimental to a society than other sins? How would you weigh the cultural impact of this sin against, say, the sins of pride and overeating and greed?”
Piper gives a biblically sound response to Daniel’s question. He provides three reasons for why it often seems that Christians view homosexuality as the worst sin. But first, he says he believes many more people will be condemned for greed, pride, and covetousness than for homosexuality.
These sins, he says, are much more widespread than the sin of same-sex attraction. Piper does not debate that homosexuality isa sin, but he goes on to say that it is rarely as insidious as the sins of pride and selfishness which plague us all, often without us fully realizing it.
Piper then goes on to address why he believes it may seem Christians view homosexuality as the worst sin.
Firstly, says Piper, “It’s because the media feature this issue.” Piper argues that Christians engage in debate about homosexuality so often because we “are drawn to explain our position in public through preaching and writing as often as we do these days because the media have made the issue so public that we feel we need to serve Christians with careful, biblical answers, and we need to clarify for non-Christians how we think.” Christians must provide biblical answers when questions are asked or implied.
Secondly, Piper notes that, contrary to such sins like greed and pride, homosexuality has many staunch defenders. No one would announce publicly that they were in favor of greed or selfish pride, but this is not the case with homosexuality. “This is one of the things that makes the sin of homosexual intercourse stand out today,” says Piper, and is one of the reasons why it may seem Christians view this sin as worse than others.
Thirdly, Piper notes that the Bible says homosexual acts are contrary to nature. He cites Romans 1:26-27 which says, “God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” It is important to note that he makes a distinction between feelings of same-sex attraction (which are like many other temptations to sin we may face) and acting on those desires.
The orthodox position of Christians through the ages has been that homosexuality is a sin, but also that it is not worse or less bad than any other sin. Certain aspects of culture at different times in history tend to highlight a particular sin, and the one of our day seems to be homosexuality, but ultimately, as a pastor once said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”
Piper ends with this: “I want to emphasize that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to save sinners — heterosexual sinners and homosexual sinners, greedy, proud, selfish, angry sinners and sinners who commit homosexual acts. We all need the same Savior, and the blood of Christ is sufficient to wash away every sin and remove all judgment and bring us to everlasting healing and joy.”
In the wake of the Manchester terror attack, evangelical leader Franklin Graham has backed up the President’s remakrs that ISIS militants are just ‘evil losers.’ “President Donald J. Trump was so right when he called the Manchester Islamic terrorists “losers.” The truth is, they’re losers in this world and in the next,” Graham wrote on Facebook yesterday.
“The President said, “This wicked ideology must be obliterated.” Jihadists following this are taught the lie that if you kill an infidel (a Christian or a Jew) and die in doing so, you will go to paradise where 70 virgins await you.”
“I’ve got news for them—Hell awaits, with real flames and real fire. Hell is a real place—and so is Heaven, but there is only one road to Heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is my prayer that Muslims around the world will come to know the truth and put their faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone.”
Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. He plays golf occasionally. He drinks coffee often. You can find more of his content at http://blog.baysideonline.com/
I don’t know when the light turned on. But at some point I realized I needed to read more books. For most of my life, I thought books were dumb. In high school, I scored a 14 on the reading comprehension portion of my ACT. Yes, a 14. The ACT is stupid and overrated. There’s more. I failed A.P. English as a high school junior, doing what no human has ever done, successfully flunking an A.P. class.
You need to stop judging me.
Not only did I hate reading. I sucked at it.
As I type this some years later, consistently reading remains a struggle. I’ve heard of people reading for hours, “losing themselves” in a book. These people are weird. But I could just be jealous.
Reading, for me, is a matter of will, and I find the will most every day because nothing has contributed more to my growth.
Early in the game, I stayed close to home, mostly reading books about theology and Christian living. As my line between sacred and secular diminished, I began to engage different content.
This was huge for my faith. As I read books that challenged conventional biases, my perspective grew, as did my empathy. I noticed that most books hit on Christian themes (love, death, identity, joy, meaning living, etc.) even if the author doesn’t identifying them as such. Some of these books were intriguing. Some were “meh.” A few books, however, were transformative, shaping and inspiring my walk with God.
Look, I get it. You’re busy. And with the ridiculous number of books around, you hardly know where to start. I want to help you with that. Having read more than a few books, here are 7 “non-Christian” ones that inspired my faith (and will inspire yours).
1. Daring Greatly (Brene Brown)
Why it’s inspiring: Few books more clearly and directly unpack vulnerability than this one. Brene Brown touches on stuff like scarcity and its proper response, which is not abundance (as you might think) but wholehearted living. Jesus, John 10, calls this the abundant life.
She also unpacks spiritual issues like worry and shame and how both negatively shape your identity. Again, topics Jesus addresses in his ministry. Put simply, this is an important book if you desire a full life.
And once you’re finished with this once, you will want to pick up The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong, the first and third books in Brene Brown’s trinity on wholehearted living.
2. Man’s Search For Meaning (Victor Frankl)
Why it’s inspiring: The setting for this book is a Nazi concentration camp. The author, Victor Frankl, horrifically details the conditions he faced as a prisoner in one of these camps. The question I continued to ask throughout was “Why not give up?” Why endure unthinkable suffering in the most hopeless of situations? The answers, I believe, are deeply spiritual, especially his thoughts on love and suffering.
On love. “The salvation of man is through love and in love.” Nothing is more central to the Christian worldview than love. But reading it through the lens of a Holocaust survivor somehow makes you realize this anew.
On suffering.“If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.” Suffering has meaning, otherwise it wouldn’t be so inextricably tied to life. The Christian worldview hinges around suffering. Even though Jesus’ death on the cross changes our story, we struggle to believe suffering has real value. And that’s especially tragic if, as Frankl suggests, suffering is tied to life.
3. When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi)
Why it’s inspiring: For starters, it’s a posthumous book, meaning the author is no longer alive. Paul Kalanithi was on the cusp of greatness, poised to become one of the best neurosurgeons around (and one of the best authors, as you will see if you read the book). Then cancer called. And when cancer calls, you must unfortunately answer. He battled it for a few years, dying at the age of 37.
Paul Kalanithi approaches death with an odd courage, one Christians should possess naturally but rarely do. I don’t. The thought of death terrifies me. The author shows us how to live in the face of death. He also forces us to examine our lives and figure out what really matters. Too many of our pursuits are exposed as petty and vain in the presence of impending death.
4. The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
Why it’s inspiring: In a word…resistance. Resistance is an unseen, but very much real force. And though Steven Pressfield mentions this in spots, I’ll say it directly. Resistance is a spiritual problem. Now, most Christians know and believe such a force exists (whether you call the force evil or Satan or whatever), but at times we’re guilty of living as if it doesn’t.
Every day you roll out of bed, resistance has one goal: by any means possible, prevent you from drawing closer to God and doing good in the world. If this book does nothing else, it at once reminds you that Satan exists and inspires you to press through this resistance.
5. The Alchemist (Paul Coelho)
Why it’s inspiring: The only fiction book to make the list, The Alchemist is about the search for meaning and purpose. And where are such things found? Inside, of course. Few ideas are more central to the message of Jesus, that the abundant is not something that’s found but cultivated, from within.
This is also a book that inspires you to enjoy the journey, specifically the present moment. There is no life to be found in “What ifs” and “If onlys.”
Finally, The Alchemist shows us both the reality and proper response to suffering and failure. By reality, I mean the journey to a meaningful life always includes failures. By response, I mean perspective. Failures aren’t setbacks. They’re proof your on the right path.
6. Grit (Angela Duckworth)
Why it’s inspiring: If there’s an under-appreciated spiritual discipline, it’s this grit. The Bible would call it perseverance or steadfastness. When it comes to faith in God, grit or resilience is essential. You won’t “finish the race” (as the apostle Paul says) without it.
Following Jesus isn’t a stroll down rainbow lane. It’s not void of fun and laughter, but many days it’s quite hard to walk the “straight and narrow.” At times you want to throw in the towel. Many do, especially in the face of suffering. But many don’t. The latter group (like Jesus or Paul or basically any character in the Bible) share the common virtue of grit (or perseverance). This book defines grit and shows you how to develop and nurture it.
This article was written by Frank Powell and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.
President Donald Trump has met Pope Francis for the very first time, in what looked like a rather tense conversation. The Pope greeted the President with a smile, but then looked very serious as the two came together for a picture. The pair took a seat at the Pope’s desk, and Francis looked like he was ready to get down to business.
From what you can make out of their early exchanges, the Pontiff asks the President how things are going in the US, to which he replies, “Very good, actually!” Then, the microphones were turned off so that they could hold a private conversation. The two hold starkly opposing views on many key political issues, something that Cardinal Peter Turkson acknowledged on Tuesday night.
“Pope Francis & Pres Trump reach out to Islam-world to exorcise it of rel. Violence. One offers peace of dialogue, the other security of arms,” he wrote, in an apparent reference to the multi-billion weapons sale that Mr. Trump sealed with Saudi Arabia.
“The thing they have in common is a major responsibility to govern,” said Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest who edits the Vatican-approved journal La Civiltà Cattolica, according to The New York Times. “The pope is an actor on the world stage and Trump is the president of a country with a huge impact on the world.”
But the Pope has maintained that he will not make a snap judgement on Trump, despite their differing views. “In our talk, things will come out, I will say what I think, he will say what he thinks, but I never, ever, wanted to make a judgment without hearing the person,” he said.
The Pope went on to greet First Lady Melania, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as well as other members of the Trump delegation.
Then, before the two exchanged gifts, Pope Francis quipped a witty remark.
“What do you give him to eat?” he asked Melania Trump in Italian, “Potizza?”
“Potizza!” Melania responded in delight, recognizing the Pope’s knowledge of the Slovenian dessert.
As the President and The Pope exchanged gifts, Trump promised to read copies of three Papal encyclicals that Francis gave him – one of which is his ‘Laudato si,’ a treatise about preserving the environment.
The other two concern family and the Gospels. “Well I’ll be reading that,” remarked an attentive President Trump.
President Trump gifted Francis with some First Edition writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, which the Pope greatly appreciated. Then, Francis presented Trump with a sculpture, explaining that it depicts an olive branch extended as a sign of peace, with the division of war in the middle. But that the two sides are slowly coming togther.
“Well, we could use that. We could do with peace,” responded Trump, to Francis’ delight.
“This is the message of peace. I signed it personally for you,” Francis told him.
“Ooh,” Trump said. “That’s so beautiful. Thank you so much”
Trump left the meeting, turning to the Pope to say “I won’t forget what you said.”
You can watch President Trump meet the Pope below, and see him meet the rest of the Trump family beneath that.
Famous pastor and evangelist T.D. Jakes has spoken out about his frustration over the current taxing system in America. Speaking at the International Pastors & Leadership Conference, Jakes joined White House correspondent April Ryan for “a discussion about issues, solutions, and the role of the church in the future of our country”, according to his Facebook.
“It got real. It got animated. Even Bishop Jakes went from audience member to VERY active participant in this all too critical conversation.”
“If you take the gross national income of all the churches in America. If we didn’t pay the mortgage, if we didn’t pay the staff, if we didn’t pay the light bill. If we took all of the money and give it all away to the poor, and became homeless to feed them, we still don’t have the money, when we’re taking ten percent of a few people’s income, and they’re taking thirty-five percent of everybody’s income,” Jakes declared.
“When I did the math on it, I realized that what I am asking the people to do doesn’t work. I can help. I can do my part. I can participate. I can join in. But why did you take forty percent of my check and then tell me that I gotta turn around and take another ten percent, to do what you’re not doing.”
“When I gave the forty, I thought you were gonna feed somebody!”
Kris Vallotton is the Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Kris travels internationally training and equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. He’s a bestselling author, having written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the kingdom.
Have you ever sat on a Sunday at church and thought, “If only I could be like that worship leader, with the passion they carry and their beautiful voice…. If only…”
It can be easy to think that they have it all put together. I know we’ve all been there—getting caught up in the comparison game. Whether we realize it or not, whenever we put people up on pedestals, we are partnering with comparison. And when we feed into that, we’re partnering with the invisible measuring stick that tells us one is greater than another, most times counting ourselves as less than.
It’s totally okay to look up to worship leaders and pastors who serve on the stage on a Sunday, but I want to challenge the thinking that publically serving God from the pulpit is the most glorious part of the body of Christ. The truth is that being the most glorious is being authentically who God created you to be. What I really want you to understand today is that there is nobody else like you. You are made to be you, and not like anyone else.
I think that when we begin to appreciate the full, complete, and multi-faceted body of Christ, we will kill comparison! There’s enough glory to go around for each of us, and when we’re all operating in our created purpose, together we are the most glorious. Paul taught us that Christ’s Body is made up of many members that have different functions. These verses are so rich with truth!
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:12-21).
Now go back and read those verses a second time. Let them sink in.
So although we can and should respect our church leadership, we really need to understand our own individual role in the body of Christ. But how do you figure that out? I’ve heard that we become the reflection of our perception of others’ thoughts towards us. John Maxwell said, “Most of us become what the most important person in our life thinks we should become.” This principle really works in our favor when the most important person in our life is God and the lense of our life is clear. If we are becoming what we think God thinks of us, and our perception of God’s thoughts towards us are accurate, then we really are being transformed into the image of God! Who God is to us, He will be through us.
WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS?
The story in Matthew’s Gospel is a great example of this. In chapter six Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Another way to say it is, “Who am I to you?” I believe that question was more for Peter’s sake than for Jesus. He wanted to reveal something in Peter, and the core of who He said Jesus was would then resonate in Peter’s divine destiny. You don’t always see God in His fullness, but you tend to see specific parts of His character—do you see the Lord as a gentle shepherd? Or maybe a fishermen of men? Pay attention to this. When you describe God to someone, you’re often times describing the aspect of God’s character that He wants to express through you!
So I’ll ask you the question, who do you say God is? Do you relate to His heart for the lost, or are you more passionate about teaching His flock to hear His voice? Once you answer this question I encourage you to think and pray through what that means for you and your place in the body of Christ. As you get a grasp of how amazing and necessary you are to the body, I want you to journal that revelation out with God. It’ll serve as a beacon of truth any time you start to struggle with comparison. I’d love to hear about your process in the comments! Who do you say God is?
This article was written by Kris Vallotton and originally appearead at his blog. Find it here.