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WASHINGTON — A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against President Trump’s ban on “transgendered” persons in the military, finding that the five service members who sued over the ban had a likelihood of success in the lawsuit.
“[T]he presidential memorandum is causing Plaintiffs serious ongoing harms and will cause them further harms in the near future absent an injunction,” wrote U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, appointed to the bench by then-President Bill Clinton. “On this record, there are no countervailing equities or public interest in precluding transgender service members from the military that outweigh those harms.”
“On the record before the court, there is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effective on the military at all. In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects,” she asserted.
While Kollar-Kotelly blocked Trump’s ban from being enforced, she also declined to place a restraining order on the government ban on paying for “sex reassignment” surgeries.
“[N]o Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are substantially likely to be impacted by the sex reassignment surgery directive, and none have standing to challenge that directive,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote as none of the plaintiffs had proven that they would not be able to obtain their desired operations before the prohibition took effect in March 2018.
As previously reported, Trump announced his decision to reinstate the ban on transgenders in the military in July, advising that the issue is a distraction and would place a burden on the finances of the Armed Forces.
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” he tweeted. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgenders in the military would entail. Thank you.”
Weeks later, five service members filed suit to challenge the ban, with the assistance of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders.
“Because they identified themselves as transgender in reliance on [the government’s] earlier promise [of lifting the ban], Plaintiffs have lost the stability and certainty they had in their careers and benefits, including post-military and retirement benefits that depend on the length of their service,” the lawsuit read.
Pro-family groups decried Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling on Monday, stating that it is another example of judicial activism.
“As a result of her temporary injunction, the entire military will ‘revert to the status quo,’ a dangerous environment where people like Chelsea (Bradley) Manning can serve openly, women can be forced to shower with biological men, and ‘pregnant males’ can apply for maternity leave,” wrote Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins.
“There was certainly enough support among the Defense Department, top brass, and service members themselves — who know better than anyone what the effects [of transgenders in the military] would be and have been. But unfortunately, this is where judicial activism is leading us,” he lamented.
Courthouse News Service reports that the U.S. Department of Defense could still issue a ban of its own despite the injunction.
In order to not offend ”transgenders,” the British government is demanding that the United Nations scrap the term “pregnant women” in an official document and replace it with the LGBT-friendly term, “pregnant people.”
The United Kingdom is putting on the pressure, insisting that using the term “pregnant” in conjunction with “women” is nothing short of an insult – constituting discrimination and a violation of transgenders’ civil rights.
“The dispute arose because the nation’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] wanted to avoid excluding ‘transgender people who have given birth,’ meaning women who ‘identify’ as men,” WND explained. “The U.K. policy office was reviewing the U.N.’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by the U.K. in 1976 – some 10 years after it was created. One line in that document states the death penalty ‘shall not be carried out on pregnant women.’”
Feminist writer Sarah Ditum was quick to condemn the submission.
“This isn’t inclusion – this is making women unmentionable,” Ditum argued, according to the U.K.’s Christian Institute. “Having a female body and knowing what that means for reproduction doesn’t make you ‘exclusionary’. Forcing us to decorously scrub out any reference to our sex on pain of being called bigots is an insult.”
Now, however, the spokesman for the U.K.’s prime minister is responding to the backlash and trying to downplay the issue.
“[The FCO’s comments had been in relation to] one specific case [and] nobody in Government is objecting to the term pregnant women,” the spokesman insisted, according to the Christian Institute. “Of course, pregnant women is an acceptable term.”
Yet the U.K. government nonetheless moved forward with the transgender proposal and its suggested change.
“The U.K. does not object to the use of the term ‘pregnant woman,’” the FCO stated. “We strongly support the right to life of pregnant women, and we have requested that the Human Rights Committee does not exclude pregnant transgender people from that right to life.”
The issue of gender confusion was brought up earlier this month, as well, when a report surfaced that the U.K.’s next census will likely drop the question, “What is your sex?” because of concerns that transsexuals will be offended or feel excluded.
“A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that asking people to declare their sex is ‘irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive, particularly to trans participants,” the Christian group disclosed. “The document even states that meeting the needs of trans respondents should take precedence over ‘data requirements.’”
More medical madness
Earlier this year, doctors in the U.K. were banned from calling pregnant patients “mothers” by the official guidelines issued by the British Medical Association (BMA), which was afraid that it would upset transgenders, so it directed doctors instead to refer to expectant mothers as merely “pregnant people.”
“The move aims to avoid offending and alienating transgender parents,” the Daily Mail reported in January. “The advice came in a 14-page booklet titled ‘A Guide to Effective Communication: Inclusive Language in the Workplace.’”
NHS doctors were among the BMA’s 160,000 members who were ordered to comply with the pro-LGBT policy.
A woman going by the name of “Hayden” Cross was one motiving factor behind the guidance, as she delayed her gender-transforming surgery in order to become the first “trans male” to give birth in the U.K.
“The controversial advice to doctors in hospitals and general practice comes just weeks after it emerged that a Briton who was born a girl but is changing to a man put his operation on hold to have a baby,” the Daily Mail’s Stephen Adams and Sanchez Manning announced at the time. “Four-months pregnant Hayden Cross, 20, is legally male and has had hormone treatment but not sex-change surgery.”
Even though Cross’ pregnancy as a so-called transgender is an isolated instance in the U.K., the medical community is administering its policy on the entire medical community – and subjecting patients to it, as well – all along the island nation.
“There are no other known cases of a transitioning person becoming pregnant in the U.K., but official figures show 775,000 women give birth in Britain every year,” Adams and Manning stressed. “Despite this, the BMA insists doctors should drop the word ‘mother’ when referring to pregnancy to avoid offending transgender people and to ‘celebrate diversity.’”
One man, Martin Luther, stood alone against an empire. His motivation was spiritual, but the outcome of his conviction was spiritual and political, leaving a global legacy 500 years later and celebrated this October 31st.Unbeknownst to even himself, Luther completely upended the current religious system. He initially sought to clarify church doctrine and reform it from within. Despite attempts on his life and retaliation and persecution, his persistence led to one of the most significant events in history that quite literally changed political and religious institutions forever.
1. AT THE TIME OF THE REFORMATION, THE CHURCH RULED ALL.
The Holy Roman Church ruled the Holy Roman Empire through a feudal system of kings, queens, lords, landowners, and bishops. It stretched across several continents and rivaled other empires for thousands of years in economic and military prowess. Rome was its capital; the Vatican, the seat of its state religion and papacy. In AD 1054 the empire divided between East and West; its Eastern counterpart, the Byzantine Empire, ruled alongside the Eastern Orthodox Church, in Constantinople.
The Roman Catholic Church/Empire waged war against numerous countries for thousands of years. Its popes initiated seven out of the nine Crusades, one of which was solely against the Byzantine Empire, which subsequently hastened its catastrophic end in AD 1453. The Roman Catholic Church imposed taxes on everyone except its clergy. Its bishops ruled with an iron scepter, collecting taxes, and torturing and imprisoning those who couldn’t pay. The church regulated nearly all areas of life, including literacy. Its edicts were in Latin; no bibles existed in anyone’s native language.
Reeling from watching starving peasants buy indulgences for their salvation from his wealthy colleagues, Martin Luther delved deeper into the New Testament book of Romans. Un-coincidentally, the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians living under the same empire as Luther roughly 1,500 years before. His discovery led to repeated questioning and challenges about the political and religious system imposed by the church, an agonizing realization that he could no longer dedicate his life to what he had previously, and a new found faith in salvation through Christ alone.
2. ONE VERSE HELPED SHAPE THE REFORMATION.
What especially gnawed at Luther’s soul was one verse:
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘the righteous shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)
This text helped shape the doctrine of the Reformation and Luther’s declaration of Five Solas:
On October 31, 1517, Luther posted Ninety-Five Theses to the front door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, which listed 95 issues he could not reconcile between Roman Catholic doctrine and the Bible. This was a political act as much as it was theological, and it nearly cost him his life. Eventually, Luther stood trial at the Diet of Worms, where he was forced to recant or be excommunicated; which he could not do, and was.
Fearing for his life, Frederick the Wise requested that Luther be taken under his protection at Wartburg Castle. Luther hid there for nearly one year under a false name (Junker Jorg, “the Knight George”) and translated the New Testament into German in just a few months.
The first “Lutheran” New Testament was published in 1522. The complete Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments and Apocrypha, was published in 1534.
His motivation was spiritual, but the outcome was political — which reverberated worldwide.
Because of the gospel message– that every person has value and worth because they are created by God– peasants demanded their freedom. A light pierced through the Dark Ages; those who had been trapped in poverty and despair began to question the status quo and learned to read in their own language. If they were equal under God, why were some being oppressed by others in the name of God?
Protest, however, was costly. Revolting against an oppressive feudal system led to mass starvation and economic losses, civil wars and schisms, and persecution and martyrdom. Freedom inspired a thirst for knowledge and the opportunity to improve the lives of generations– but it was not free from a painful transition period.
New believers called themselves Protestants, marked by their protest of and separation from the Roman Catholic Church and empire. Luther’s protest and what became known as the Protestant Reformation, sparked reformation movements throughout the continent. His courage continues to inspire Protestants 500 years later worldwide.
3. LUTHER INFAMOUSLY GAVE A “HERE I STAND” RESPONSE TO ACCUSATIONS MADE AGAINST HIM.
For many, many centuries, the Roman Catholic Church was the political and religious authoritative head of the Holy Roman Empire. Marriages and national alliances could not be forged without the Pope’s consent. The Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church ruled through “the Divine Right of Kings.” Meaning, what the Roman Catholic Church ruled, was civil and criminal law.
The German monk, Martin Luther, upended this entire system, beginning the era of Protestantism, and a movement called the Protestant Reformation, which celebrates its 500-year anniversary this October.
But in what conviction did Luther stake his life, knowing he would be sentenced to death unless he recanted? And why?
For three days in April 1521 the Holy Roman Empire’s most powerful religious and civil leaders tried Martin Luther at a judicial assembly, called a “Diet,” which convened in Worms, Germany. (Thus, the ordeal is referred to as the “Diet of Worms.)” At the Diet, Luther infamously gave his “Here I stand” response to accusations made against him by the Roman Catholic Church, to the Roman Emperor Charles V, to the Pope– and everyone else– that on no uncertain terms would he recant his conviction in the truth of the Bible. He remarked:
Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, plain and unvarnished:
Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. May God help me, Amen.
4. “SOLA SCRIPTURA” MEANS 3 THINGS:
1. The Bible is God’s Word communicated to humankind so that they may know and love their Creator. It offers wisdom, hope and guidance for all areas of life.
The Bible is inspired by God, or “God-breathed,” meaning it is God’s Word:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (1 Tim. 1:16-17)
2. God’s Word is the sole authority over all of life, the only source of truth about life, and clearly communicates how one can know, love, and spend eternity with God. (Rom. 1:16-17). J. I. Packer clarifies:
. . . the Bible is both fully human and fully divine. So all its manifested contents – histories, prophecies, poems, songs, wisdom writings, sermons, statistics, letters, and whatever else, should be received as God’s authoritative instruction.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 5:8) quotes Jesus, identifying the reference of his quote– the Gospel of Luke– (Luke 10:7) as “Scripture.” Likewise, the Apostle Peter referred to Paul’s letters as “Scripture” (2 Pet. 3:15-16), describing Paul’s teachings about Jesus to be Spirit-taught: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” (1 Cor. 2:13)
Scripture is not only authoritative, but also trustworthy. The faithful preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God must be central to all worship. (2 Tim. 4:1-2)
3. Anyone can freely read the Bibleand have direct access to God. The Pope is not the sole authority on scripture, or anything else for that matter. The “universal priesthood of believers” (the saints), means that every Christian has direct access to God– to pray to God directly, to receive forgiveness from God directly, and to worship God directly. God’s grace and mercy is free. (1 Pet. 2:5, 9-10)
As such, only the Lord Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. (1 Tim. 2:5) No one need pray to, or pay for, prayer or access to God through a priest or anyone else. Likewise, the only sacraments believers should follow are those instituted by Jesus himself: water baptism (Matt. 28: 19-20) and the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
Luther, and millions after him, have staked their lives on this truth. Certainly, he was afraid. But God gave him the courage and protection needed to hold fast to the truth of His Word. A single protest 500 years ago has stood the test of time, continuing to encourage Christians even today
5. “SOLA FIDE” AND “SOLA GRATIA” ARE ABOUT FAITH AND GRACE.
Righteousness could not be bought, as the Roman Catholic Church advocated on the streets through the sale of indulgences and a piece of paper stamped by the Pope. Instead, after studying the book of Romans, Luther affirmed that he (and no one) could ever attain “the righteousness of God.” It was only by God’s mercy; only through faith in Jesus and his imputed righteousness that anyone could be saved. Salvation was already purchased by the blood of Jesus on the Cross.
There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: The righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely the passive righteousness with which the merciful God justifies us by faith. … Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.
Justification through faith alone in Jesus, and through God’s grace alone, not through baptism or penance or purchasing indulgences or Hail Mary’s, but through Jesus alone, could anyone be saved. Thus, the first two Solas, Sola fide (Faith alone) and Sola gratia (Grace alone)– became the foundational principle for the identity of believers even today who now have to clarify their faith with the qualifying adjectives: “conservative, evangelical, born again, Bible-believing Protestant followers of Jesus Christ.”
6. “SOLA CHRISTUS” MEANS THAT SAVING FAITH IN CHRIST IS ENOUGH.
Following Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, and Sola Gratia, Martin Luther clarified the ultimate distinction between Protestantism and every other belief: salvation was possible through Christ alone: Sola Christus. Truth comes from scripture alone. Faith comes from Christ alone.
At the heart of the matter lies the answer to the question: is saving faith in Jesus Christ enough? Or does one need to contribute something to atone for one’s sins– in addition to Christ’s death on the Cross and resurrection from the grave?
By the early mid-16th century, the Roman Catholic Church had instituted seven sacraments necessary for salvation:
Martin Luther’s reformation reduced these to two: baptism and communion. His reasoning was based on the centrality of the person and work of Jesus Christ as taught in the Bible.
7. MARTIN LUTHER ARGUED FOR “THE THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS.”
The Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine reduced Jesus to a wooden crucifix still nailed to a cross, rather than allowing anyone to know the power of Jesus’s resurrection from it. Its doctrine repudiated the truth of what the Bible teaches: there is only one mediator between God and humanity, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, there is only one way to be purified from sin’s stench of death, through Christ’s single atoning death that was powerful enough to propitiate for every kind of person’s sins. Anyone, regardless of their ethnic, cultural, religious or social background could be saved.
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Tim. 2:5-6)
Could the mediator be the Pope, bishops or priests? No.
The only mediator could be Jesus Christ, because only Jesus can rightly identify with both God and humanity. The Apostle Paul points to the fact that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tim. 1:15) As such, Jesus preexisted as the eternal Son of God– by coming into the world of people from the heavenly realm. When Jesus became fully human, without having any sin (Hebrews 2:9-18), he could die as a sinless substitute for humanity. The guilt of sinners was bought by the cost of his death. (Titus 2:11-14) Only Jesus, as the perfect God-Man, could please both God’s demand for justice and humanity’s need for salvation. Only he, as part of the triune God, can mediate on behalf of the condemned.
Martin Luther argued that Christian theology was “the theology of the Cross.” This meant that salvation from eternal death and separation from God was achieved only through faith alone (sola fide), grace alone (sola gratia), and Christa alone, Solus Christus.
Jesus, Martin Luther argued, was enough. There is no need for priests, Roman Catholic saints, or praying to or asking for blessings from Jesus’s mother, Mary. There is no need to ritually perform sacraments to earn salvation (baptism, penance, communion). And there definitely is no need to pay for anyone’s “unpaid-for- sins” who the Roman Catholic Church claims are trapped in the non-biblical “purgatory.” In fact, belief in Jesus in alone brought such relief and joy to Luther that he wrote,
If you have true faith that Christ is your Savior, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love.
This conviction led Martin Luther to declare 95 theses questioning Roman Catholic policy. It led to widespread social and political change. It led to an untold number of lives saved, and an empire that was financially threatened by his protest and willing to do anything to stop him and others from upending its power.
8. LUTHER ALSO ARGUED THAT NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN SECULAR OR SACRED VOCATIONS COULD EXIST (SOLI DEO GLORIA)
The last of Martin Luther’s Five Solas, Soli Deo Gloria, puts into perspective the purpose of life for all Christians: to glorify and enjoy God forever. One’s vocation, or calling and purpose, is to glorify God– no matter their ethnic, religious, cultural, or socio-economic background. No distinctions exist within Christianity; no one Christian is above another.
This was another revolutionary concept Luther introduced– and mind-blowing– coming from an ordained priest and monk– who rallied against one of the Roman Catholic Church’s sacraments, the Holy Orders (becoming a bishop, priest, or deacon). Luther renounced his ordination and later married, arguing there was nothing biblical about the Holy Orders or a requirement of celibacy for ordination.
Neither bishops nor priests had the power to grant absolution, grace, or anything else. Nor could “the clergy” receive more grace or special favor from God than “the laity.” The divisive and non-biblical Roman Catholic doctrine that had categorized everyone other than bishops and priests as “less than” for centuries– was now declared null and void. One’s highest calling, Luther clarified, wasn’t to the church, but to God.
Therefore, whatever Christians do, Luther argued, should always be motivated by their desire to glorify God, citing the Apostle Paul once again:
So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
Luther also argued that no distinction between secular or sacred vocations could exist. Every job could be done to the glory of God. He wrote:
God is a butler who sets forth a feast for the sparrows and spends on them annually more than the total revenue of the king of France. Christ worked as a carpenter. ‘I can just imagine,’ said Luther from the pulpit, ‘the people of Nazareth at the judgment day. They will come up to the Master and say, ‘Lord, didn’t you build my house? How did you come to this honor?’ The Virgin Mary worked, and the most amazing example of her humility is that after she had received the astonishing news that she was to be the mother of the Redeemer, she did not vaunt herself but went back and milked the cows, scoured the kettles, and swept the house like any other housemaid. Peter worked as a fisherman and was proud of his skill, though not too proud to take a suggestion from the Master when he told him to cast on the other side.
No matter one’s job, whether it be cleaning, care-taking, teaching, participating in athletic or music competitions, solving mathematic equations or building architectural feats, Christians do so primarily to glorify God. Christians can rejoice and give God the glory, no matter their vocation or circumstance– and no matter the outcome.
9. YOU CAN HAVE IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO GOD, PERSONALLY SERVE GOD, AND INTERCEDE FOR OTHERS.
Stephen J. Nichols points out in The Reformation: How A Monk and a Mallet Changed the World, that,
a German musician would subscribe to this teaching of Luther. So Johann Sebastian Bach would sign his pieces, both pieces commissioned for the church and his so-called secular works, JSB and SDG. JSB stands, of course, for his initials; SDG stands for Soli Deo Gloria. Luther and Bach, both significant figures from the pages of history, remind us that in our seemingly ordinary work and life we are doing something extraordinary.
Because truth was found in scripture alone, and only Jesus could mediate between God and humanity, every Christian can have immediate access to God, personally serve God, and intercede for others:
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. (1 Pet. 2:5, 9)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:16-17)
No Holy Order is necessary to serve God. And, with the emphasis on this sola, Luther reoriented the concept of the church to the definition of scripture. The body of believers wasn’t defined by what one could get from the church (absolution, forgiveness, mediation), but what one could give to fellow believers. Soli Deo Gloria reemphasized that the importance of one’s time, talent, and treasure– was how it glorified God
10. THE LEGACY OF SINGING IN CHURCH TRACES BACK TO LUTHER.
Martin Luther’s Five Solas solidified the doctrine of the Protestant Reformation: individuals had free access to God. Faith alone, grace alone, salvation alone through Christ was all possible once people understood that the basis for all truth is found in scripture alone. The Bible, not the state religion, provides the foundation for all knowledge. People no longer were enslaved to false promises and salvation through taxation. Rather, they could enjoy fellowship with other believers, and have freedom. Freedom to read, learn, and think for themselves. Freedom to work and love without the regulations and restraints enforced by the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1529 German princes officially “protested” against Rome, thus becoming called Protestants. Their acts following Luther’s initial protest is what Protestants worldwide celebrate and remember 500 years later on this Sunday, called Reformation Sunday.
The outworking of Luther’s transformation of the church was the emphasis of corporate worship. This meant that one could read– and sing– in one’s own language. The days of not being able to understand Latin or have access to knowledge were over. Martin Luther revolutionized praise and worship by teaching Christians how to read and sing.
Martin Luther wrote often about the importance of praising God through music and song. He said:
Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. … music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through Music.
Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.
Next to theology I give music the highest place of honor. As long as we live there is never enough singing.
Martin Luther wrote hymns and instituted singing– by the congregation– into all services. This was never done in the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, Luther wrote entire hymnals including carols for holidays. His influence on German hymnody was enormous; his repertoire included 37 hymns. United Methodist Hymnal editor Carlton R. Young remarked:
he “wrote several original hymns and melodies, revised many Latin hymns to German texts set to adaptations of plainsong and folk melodies, and encouraged the composition of new texts and rhythmic hymn melodies. His thirty-seven hymns and paraphrase are cast in simple, plain, and sometimes rough phrases and striking metaphors, qualities that are for the most part lost in English translations.”
Luther wrote five Christmas carols, initially for his children. He wrote From Heaven on High for his five-year-old son Hans, which was published a few years later. As part of his family’s Christmas Eve devotions, the children sang in response to a man dressed as an angel. His hymns and carols are a testament to his creative celebration of music.
His most well-known hymn, “Ein’ Feste Burg,” otherwise known as, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, was based on Psalm 46 and Luther’s own experiences. According to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook:
Stanzas 1-3 of the original text were inspired by Psalm 46; stanza 4 arose directly from Luther’s persecution experience. The text expresses trust in God’s protection amidst the battle that Christians wage against the devil. “Earthly powers” in stanza four undoubtedly referred to the Roman Catholic authorities of Luther’s day, but modern Christians may identity other “powers” that oppose the rule of Christ. The closing line of the text provides much comfort: “God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever!”
A Might Fortress is Our God has been considered “the true National Hymn of Germany.” It was sung on the Leipzig battlefield in 1631 during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). The famous nineteenth-century German poet, Heinrich Heine, considered this hymn comparable to France’s national anthem, calling it, “the Marseillaise Hymn of the Reformation.” It’s still referred to as the Battle Hymn of the Reformation:
Imagine no choirs, no carols, no singing in church. No praise and worship bands. No reading hymnals. Martin Luther, and the Protestant Reformation made this possible. The legacy of singing in church is directly credited to Luther and his counterpart reformers in other European countries.
The Rev. David Ayeola, 26, was kidnapped and killed in southwestern Nigeria.
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Christian woman and her two children were killed in north-central Nigeria last week, three days after a kidnapped priest was slain by his abductors in the southwestern part of the country, sources said.
Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Tuesday (Oct. 24) ambushed and shot to death Rebecca Daniel Choji, her 16-year-old daughter Suzanna Daniel Choji, and her 29-year-old son Joel Choji, in Jol village, Riyom Local Government Area (LGA) in Plateau state, as the family members were on their way to a health facility in Vwak village, sources said.
Suzanna and Joel Choji died immediately, while their mother succumbed to her gunshot wounds two days later at Plateau State Specialist Hospital in Jos, sources said.
Members of the Church of Christ In Nations (COCIN) in Jol village, the three victims were being driven to a hospital by a relative, Dachung Yakubu, as Choji’s two children were ill. The herdsmen attacked at about 7 p.m. and also wounded Yakubu, who at this writing was in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit at Plateau State Specialist Hospital, sources said.
The attack was the latest by herdsmen on Christian communities in Plateau state’s Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Bokkos, and Bassa LGAs.
“We have been under attack constantly from these Fulani herdsmen because we are Christians,” Gyang Dahoro, 55, an area COCIN congregation elder, told Morning Star News by text message. “Our villages have been ravaged, and our houses and churches destroyed, and in most cases these herdsmen have taken over the villages where Christians have been displaced.”
He added that the woman and her two children were some of the “Christians killed in recent times as the herdsmen in collaboration with Boko Haram continue to invade our communities.”
The attack came a week after similar assaults were carried out in villages around Miango town, in Bassa LGA.
“We are saddened by yet another attack on our defenseless members in Jol who were on their way to visit a health care center,” Dachalom Datiri, COCIN president, told Morning Star News by phone. “All we can do is to keep praying for an end to these attacks and hope that Nigerian government can halt these senseless killings.”
Emmanuel Jugul, chairman of the Riyom Government Council Management Committee, confirmed the killing of the Christian woman and her two children and the wounding of the fourth relative, as did Tyopev Terna, police spokesman for the Plateau State Command.
“The four persons were going to a clinic when they were attacked by gunmen,” Terna told Morning Star News.
In southwest Nigeria, a priest with the African Church was killed after being kidnapped by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
The Rev. David Ayeola, 26, was kidnapped at gunpoint in an ambush on Oct. 17 and was shot to death on Oct. 21 after failed rescue efforts by police, sources said.
The priest was a chaplain at the headquarters of the African Church in Akure, Ondo state. A church bishop, his wife and driver escaped capture.
He was kidnapped while traveling to a burial for an in-law of the bishop in Ayegbaju as they drove from Imojo Ekiti, the bishop said in a press statement texted to Morning Star News.
The Rev. Samuel Ojo, bishop of the African Church, a denomination in Nigeria, said that somewhere between Imojo and Oye Ekiti, masked gunmen emerged from the bush, blocked the road and started shooting.
“Our driver attempted to turn back, but he discovered that members of the gang were also coming from the back,” Ojo said. “He suddenly drove into the forest. Myself, my wife, the priest and the driver ran into the bush. I told them to run for their lives, and we fled in different directions. I crawled in the forest like a snake for hours.”
After capturing Ayeola, the armed gunmen phoned church headquarters and demanded 100 million naira (US$275,368) for his release, Ojo said.
“The kidnappers started calling me from the priest’s phone number,” he said. “From their accents, they sounded like Fulani. They were threatening to kill him if we didn’t pay the money. When I offered them 500,000 naira (US$1,375), they insulted me and the church.”
Villagers saw the priest with three armed gunmen at a farm and reported it to police late the night of Oct. 21, he said, and officers from three divisions in Ekiti and Ondo states went into the forest and surrounded the property.
Bishop Ojo said the Fulani gunmen forced police back, and then shot Ayeola as they fled, leaving him to die in the forest.
Adeyemi Ademola, a police spokesman for the Ekiti State Command, confirmed the murder in a statement sent to Morning Star News.
“When the kidnappers noticed that the police and the hunters were coming, they shot the priest and escaped,” Ademola said. “We went after them for a while, but the team had to turn back when it was getting dark. This was to avoid endangering the lives of members of the team in a terrain that the kidnappers may be more familiar with. We took the priest to a general hospital, but sadly, we lost him.”
Ojo said Ayeola, a graduate of the African Church Theological Seminary in Lagos, was ordained two years ago.
“I ordained him in 2015. He was the best at the college of theology in his set,” he said. “He was an excellent and vibrant preacher of the gospel. We are all saddened by his death. We want the police to get the suspects and bring them to book. This is a great loss to the church.”
A Christian pastor recently said that the majority of millennials do not have a Christian worldview and society is “on the verge of having a generation that has completely lost the knowledge of God.”
According to TheBlaze.com, these remarks were made by Mike Sherrard, director of RC College Prep, a high school ministry of Ratio Christi, which is a campus apologetics group.
Speaking on “The Billy Hallowell Podcast,” Sherrard stated, “Seemingly, no young adult has a biblical worldview anymore. They don’t know who God is. Even fundamental things about salvation and heaven and hell and things that are in the category you might argue are Christianity. They have no understanding of these things.”
Sherrard continued, noting that there is much work to be done to bring these young people back to a foundational understanding of God.
“[T]here’s a lot of work to be done because we have so many young adults that do believe in God, but they have very little understanding why they even should believe in God or who this God even is, which makes them, of course, ripe for the attacks of the militant atheists when they go off to university that offers them one compelling reason why they should leave behind the fairytales of their childhood, and they’re ripe to be harvested in that regard.”
A Malaysian Christian woman’s campaign for Christians’ right to use the word “Allah” for “God” has resumed in Malaysia’s High Court.
Jill Ireland has been campaigning for Christians’ right to use the word ever since immigration officials at a Kuala Lumpur airport seized eight Christian CDs from her in May 2008 because the CDs used the word “Allah” in a Christian context.
After a seven-year legal battle, Ireland was given back the CDs in 2015, but she maintained that the court had failed to address her constitutional right as a Christian to use the word.
As her court challenge resumed on 19 October, her lawyer, Lim Heng Seng, noted that 60% of Malaysia’s Christians speak the Bahasa Malaysia (‘language of Malaysia‘), which uses “Allah” for “God”. He said Christians were never consulted when in 1986 the country banned Christians from using the word, and that the government’s blanket ban was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
“We say in this case it is neither reasonable nor proportionate,” Lim said. “Here the use of the word for generations is just taken away without giving them the right to be heard.”
“With all respect, nothing in the Federal Constitution says ‘Allah’ is exclusive to Islam; neither is there [anything about this] in the Quran,” he told the High Court, as reported by Malay Mail Online.
“We also have views of experts not only locally in Malaysia, but also international experts that say ‘Allah’ is not exclusive to Islam and that while Christians and Muslims have different understanding of ‘Allah’, there is no claim to exclusivity.”
“There is no copyright to the word ‘Allah’”, he added, so no-one should be able to claim “exclusive rights”, nor should Muslims claim an infringement of their rights if Christians use the word.
The next hearing will take place on 2 November, when the court will hear responses from defence lawyers acting for the Home Minister.
Muslim leaders across the world, and UN human rights bodies, decried Malaysia’s decision to ‘copyright’ the word ‘Allah’ for the exclusive use of Malay Muslims.
The Malaysian Catholic Herald newspaper had spearheaded the fight to overthrow the ban, but its final appeal to challenge the decision that it could not use the word in its Malay edition was rejected in January 2015 by the Federal Court, the country’s highest legal authority.
In March 2015, the Islamic Religious Council of the capital applied to have its say in Ireland’s case, but this was dismissed. It argued that it had the right to regulate non-Muslims on how to pray, and the materials they use – including audio and texts.
But Ireland has continued to argue that she has the constitutional right to import and possess material that contains the word ‘Allah’ for God. The word (which predates Islam) has been used by local Christians for hundreds of years, since Europeans first spread the religion, long before Malaysia came into existence.
Ireland is Melanau, a group who mainly live in the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, far from Kuala Lumpur, the capital in peninsular Malaysia. Malay is the ‘lingua franca’ of Melanau Christians, so she argued they have a constitutional right to use the Malay term for God.
Ireland’s case was first heard in May 2009 and the High Court granted her leave for a judicial review. In July 2014 the High Court ordered the government to return the spiritual material to her and pay $5,000 ringgit (US$1,335) towards her legal costs. But the government initially refused to return the CDs and appealed against the ruling.
As soon as Israeli Jews began asking for rain in the Amidah prayer on Friday, it started raining – recommended talking point in debates with atheist friends. The, on Saturday night, Israel switched to the winter clock and on Monday morning heavy rains began in earnest. Haifa and the rest of northern Israel are already flooded, as an estimated 60mm of rain came down in just a few hours. The temperature are in the 50s and 60s, this after a warm and muggy summer that never ended (well, it did end, last Friday).
Several traffic arteries were blocked in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, including the Paz bridge heading north to the Check Post (where Haifa Bay makes a turn to the northwest). The city of Atlit, on the coast south of Haifa, is also experiencing serious traffic delays due to a ditch that opened up in the middle of the highway. Several communities circling the Carmel mountains are also experiencing serious road flooding.
The weather report calls for more winter for the rest of the week, topped by a major rain system moving into Israel come the weekend.
You know what comes next: the Negev desert is going to bloom overnight with a carpet of fresh flowers, which means more traffic jams, this time on account of Israeli nature lovers.
Iconic musician Little Richard is renouncing his past rock-and-roll lifestyle of sexual immorality, saying he has repented and turned to Jesus Christ for salvation.
In previous interviews, the famous singer referred to himself as “omnisexual,” revealing in an interview with GQ five years ago that he lived a life of perversion, including orgies with men and women.
But in an extensive interview with Three Angels Broadcasting Network, an Illinois-based Christian TV, and radio network, Little Richard says you can’t live that way and go to heaven, referring to “unnatural affections” that include same-sex relationships.
“When I first came in show business they wanted you to look like everybody but yourself,” he recalled.
“And anybody that come into show business, they gonna come at you and say you’re gay, you’re straight, you’re a homosexual or something,” he said. “But God, Jesus, made men men, He made women women, and you’ve got to live the way God wants you live…he can save you,” the 84-year-old singer told Christian broadcaster 3ABN.
The singer admits he fell to the temptations of the entertainment industry.
In Charles White’s biography, The Life And Times Of Little Richard, Richard, who’s given name is Richard Wayne Penniman, revealed that his marriage to Ernestine Campbell fell apart due to his sexuality and being neglectful.
“You know, all these things. So much unnatural affection,” the singer told the network. “So much of people just doing everything and don’t think about God. Don’t want no parts of Him.”
“I was talking to Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine and she said she believed in the Resurrection. I said I believed in the Resurrection too. But I believe you’ve got to live right now in Jesus. He’s a real Savior and the Prince of Life,” he added.
“Regardless of whatever you are, He loves you. I don’t care what you are. He loves you and He can save you. All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Lord, take me as I am. I’m a sinner.’ But we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The only holy, righteous person is Jesus and He wants us to be just like Him because, in order to go to Heaven, we’ve got to look like Him,” Richard continued.
Richard said he asked God to save him and the Lord spoke to him saying, “Richard, you’re singing Tutti Frutti. You’re singing Good Golly Miss Molly. You’re singing Long Tall Sally. You’re singing The Girl Can’t Help It and She’s Got It and all of these things.”
And Richard asked, “Lord, can I do this and still be saved?” And according to the singer, the Lord replied, “Richard, no man can serve two masters.”
Richard said he had to release everything after that, so he retired from performing and recording.
“People want to go to heaven, but they don’t want to have to give up nothing,” he said. “And in order to see Jesus, you’ve got to give up something.”
He related a recent incident where a producer came to him, offering millions of dollars for a new television series titled “Little Richard.”
The producer told him if he would allow the series to go forward, he would be the hottest thing on the planet.
“And I said, ‘I don’t want to be hot in the fire. I don’t want to be hot in the flames,” he told the producer. “I want to do what God wants me to do.”
Richard confessed the offer was tempting.
“I don’t want to sing rock and roll no more. …I want to be holy like Jesus,” he said. “Give everything you’ve got to Jesus, and oh, you’ll feel so much better.”
“I want to show the world that I know a man that created everything. I know a man that gave his life that I might have a right to the tree of life.”
The tomb of the Jewish Prophet Nahum in Al Qosh. (Chaldean/Wikimedia Commons)
The ancient tomb of the Jewish prophet Nahum, located in the Nineveh region of Iraq and guarded for decades by local Christians, is in serious danger of damage from local warfare, warned an Israeli MK recently.
“As Iraqi forces approach the town of Al Qosh, the danger to the historic tomb of Prophet Nahum is growing,” Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova, chair of a Knesset group tasked with protecting Jewish culture and heritage in Arab and Muslim countries, was quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post.
“I’m concerned that the warfare in the region between the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga will result in a destruction of the tomb that was once a center for Jewish pilgrimage from all parts of Iraq.”
For the past week, Iraqi forces have been battling Kurdish troops for control of strategic border territories containing oil fields near the ancient Christian town of Al Qosh, the location of the already vulnerable tomb. The 2,700-year-old tomb was first endangered by warfare in 2014, when ISIS conquered the Nineveh plains and expelled the region’s Christian communities.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was able to protect Al Qosh for three years, holding ISIS off until the Islamic State began to lose its footing in Iraq. Meanwhile, the tomb remained under the care of the Assyrian Christian Shajaa family, which has guarded it for over 60 years.
Al Qosh’s Jewish population left the region for good when the Iraqi government expelled the country’s Jews in 1950. Before leaving, the community asked the Shajaa family to watch over the precious tomb of the Prophet Nahum, identified as an “Elkoshite” (one who hails from Al Qosh) in the Bible.
“When the last Jewish people in Al Qosh left, they asked my grandfather to watch over the tomb, to keep it safe,” Asir Salaam Shajaa told the Christian Post in 2015. “Nahum is not our prophet, but he is a prophet, so we must respect that.”
The prophet Nahum is best known for his predictions of the fall of ancient Nineveh in the seventh century BCE. Nineveh was one of the largest cities in the world during Nahum’s time, with a population of about 150,000 people. Today, it lies in ruins, but it is still surrounded by an almost intact massive 7.5-mile long brick rampart.
But despite efforts by conservationists, Jewish donors, activists, and the KRG, the tomb has never been officially recognized or protected as a historical site. It was in a state of partial collapse during a visit in 2015, and now once more faces the threat of destruction.
MK Svetlova urged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to add the tomb to its list of protected historical sites in 2016, but without success. In the wake of the recent fighting in the region, Svetlova has turned to the American government to ask for assistance.
“I urge the American authorities to protect the Jewish shrine of the Prophet Nahum at Al Qosh before it is too late,” she said.