“Many traveled from all four provinces there just to be a part of that celebration, to thank God for the freedom to worship, to thank God for the freedom to preach the Gospel in their country, and to celebrate God’s faithfulness.” — Sergey Rakhuba
(Ukraine) — [CBN.com] The streets of Kiev filled with songs of praise and thanks as 500,000 evangelical, Ukrainian Christians gathered to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. (Photo Credit: Flickr)
“Many traveled from all four provinces there just to be a part of that celebration, to thank God for the freedom to worship, to thank God for the freedom to preach the Gospel in their country, and to celebrate God’s faithfulness,” Sergey Rakhuba with Mission Eurasia told Mission Network News.
The gathering came after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko signed an order recognizing the anniversary of the reformation.
“It was so exciting to see on the screen of my computer where I was watching young people with so much joy. They glorify God in the midst of their capital. This was the same place where they were protesting just a few years ago fighting for their freedom. But, also, this is the place where many years ago, Communists would force people to demonstrate and propagate Socialism, Atheism, Communism, and other ‘isms’ in their country.”
Rakhuba says young people are the key to spreading Protestantism in Ukraine.
“That’s what Mission Eurasia is doing, working with the next generation, those who take the baton, those who get into the generational gap and take the Gospel to their communities,” he says.
Young people aren’t just spreading the gospel in Ukraine, now they’re exporting missionaries throughout the world.
“I just talked to a group of young people. They just came to this celebration from their mission trip to Mongolia in China — young Ukrainians who felt like the Holy Spirit was leading them to take the Gospel to … Mongolia where they reached thousands of young people through summer camps!”
Ukraine may still be in the middle of a war with Russia, but it is growing leaps and bounds spiritually.
“Ukraine is still in the midst of war. Eastern Ukraine and territories are still occupied by Russian or pro-Russian separatists. Crimea was annexed by Russia. So yes, Ukraine is struggling politically, economically, but Ukraine is striving today spiritually, pleading to God to bless that nation,” Rakhuba says.
David Meade, who claimed the world is ending Saturday when a mysterious planet collides with Earth, is now backtracking on the calamitous claim.
Meade said the world won’t end on Sept. 23 after all, but instead Saturday will only mark the beginning of a series of catastrophic events to occur over several weeks.
“The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending,” he told the Washington Post. “A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.”
Meade said his prediction is based on verses and numerical codes found in the Bible, specifically in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation. He said recent events, such as the solar eclipse and Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, are omens of the approaching apocalypse.
The significant number is 33, according to Meade.
“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God for the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” he said. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible…and merging the two.”
Sept. 23 is also 33 days since the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.
Meade has also built his theory on the so-called Planet X, which is also known as Nibiru, which he believes will pass Earth on Sept. 23. This will cause volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes, he claims.
NASA has repeatedly said Planet X does not exist.
Meade’s prediction has been dismissed by people of faith including the Roman Catholic and Protestant branches of Christianity.
Ed Stetzer, a professor and executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, slammed Meade’s theory on Friday, calling it “fake news” and asked Christians to be critical.
“It’s simply fake news that a lot of Christians believe the world will end on September 23,” Stetzer wrote in Christianity Today. “Yet, it is still a reminder that we need to think critically about all the news.”
In the annual White House High Holidays greeting to Jews around the world before Rosh Hashana, President Donald Trump lauded the spirit of the Jewish people and reaffirmed the strength of the US-Israel relationship.
Last year, I expressed optimism for Israel in 5777. I suggested that Israel would continue to suppress the terrorism from within the Palestinian Authority, and at the same time learn to deal with a rise in terror coming from radicalized Israeli and Jerusalem Arabs.
Indeed, in 5777 the IDF and Israeli security forces prevented PA Arab terrorists from committing as many deadly or serious attacks as they had the year before — unfortunately, the ones that succeeded were still horrific. And the radicalized Israeli-Arab terror, while still limited, became far more extreme, setting the country on fire, in some cases quite literally.
Just so no-one misunderstands the statement above, the majority of Israeli-Arabs are law-abiding and appreciate living in Israel as opposed to living in any Arab or Islamic country. A survey by IDI in May of this year found that 51.1% of Israeli-Arabs felt proud to be Israeli (compared to 86.1% of Jews).
Former US President Obama’s anti-Israel November Surprise at the UN wasn’t much of a surprise, but, in the end, his words had no effect in the real world.
His actions, on the other hand, Obama’s massive financial contribution to the radical Islamic Iranian regime, which then used that fortune to consolidate their terror network forged a tectonic shift across the Middle East.
I don’t know if we’ll be facing off in a full-scale war this year with Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies (or even Iran itself), but it appears we are headed in that direction. It will be a serious conflict on multiple fronts when it finally breaks out, this coming year or next.
I hope that the newly emerging reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas will go the way of all their previous reconciliations — I would be surprised and worried if it survives the inherently tribal nature of the Arabs of the Land of Israel. There is reason to suspect that Hamas is trying to adopt the Hezbollah model of government.
As predicted, BDS and other anti-Zionist NGOs spewed their venomous propaganda against Israel’s celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation, and as predicted, no one paid attention.
Unexpectedly, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi/Ichud Leumi) introduced a real chance for progress towards resolving the Middle East conflict with his “One Hope” peace plan. If nothing else, it has opened up the tired, 50-year-old conversation to new ideas other than the “two-state solution.” The radical left was duly shocked and outraged.
Economically, Israel had some spectacular successes, and the country’s economy is doing well, despite Finance Minister Kachlon’s failed social engineering experiments in the real estate market.
My urgent concerns in 5778 are not for Israel, but for American Jewry.
Open anti-Semitism from the Left and the Right (talk about intersectionality) is on the rise in the US, and as the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said regarding a new Holocaust, “It can happen again overnight.”
Trump’s election (and equally, Hillary’s loss) has made the progressive/”liberal”/Reform Jewish community a little crazy, while the 2013 Pew study has forced them to face their denominational mortality.
With few exceptions, the Reform movement has avoided any real introspection as to why their ideas are failing — while their membership become less and less Jewish. Indeed, they no longer believe having a fast growing non-Jewish membership is a bad thing.
Instead, the Reform leadership has chosen to unite their dwindling community in a religious war against Israel and traditional Judaism, using Israel’s High Court as the battlefield where they attempt to force their failed and divisive ideologies and practices onto the Jewish State.
Israel has always struggled over issues of religion and the state, but the Reform and anti-Zionist NGO insurgency is helping to radicalize what most Israelis have been adept at working out — because we live here together and have no choice but to get along.
I am also concerned with the permanent damage Reform clergy are causing the traditional ties of their congregations with Israel, with their campaigns to grab more real estate at the Western Wall. Their decision to snub a sitting US President on the eve of Rosh Hashanah may also harm those same congregations. Their arrogance cannot but yield disaster and I can only hope they realize this and step back from the brink.
Here’s an uplifting note: more Jews have visited the Temple Mount in 5777 than in past years going back to 70 CE, and those numbers continue to grow. Israeli police have become more sensitive to the Jewish visitor than in the past (though far from perfect), and for one week this year we tasted how peaceful the Temple Mount could be without Muslim agitators on our holiest site.
As I write these words I’m thinking of the Israeli volunteers who recently flew to Houston to help after the hurricane, and the search and rescue team Prime Minister Netanyahu is sending right now to Mexico to assist after the earthquake. Our hearts are with the victims. It makes me proud to live in Israel, in a country that is able and willing to provide aid and assistance to those in need around the world.
Joel and Victoria Osteen, leaders of Houston’s Lakewood Church, are offering that Hebrew “happy new year” greeting to a displaced Jewish congregation. The offer comes just a few weeks after the couple were criticized for not immediately opening their stadiumlike downtown megachurch as a Hurricane Harvey shelter.
“Congregation Beth Yeshurun experienced devastating flooding,” an announcement on the church’s website says beneath a picture of the smiling Osteens. “This came at an especially bad time for Beth Yeshurun as the Jewish High Holy Days, (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), are this week. Beth Yeshurun’s leadership reached out to us and Pastors Joel & Victoria offered to help.”
The Osteens came under fire while Harvey’s rain was still falling when pictures shared on social media of a dry church seemed to contradict Lakewood’s Facebook post declaring the church “inaccessible due to severe flooding.”
The Osteens opened their 16,800-seat church as a shelter a few days later and have described the whole situation as a “mix-up.”
Beth Yeshurun, in the Meyerland section of Houston, took on a foot of water in its main sanctuary. The congregation of 2,000 member families is one of the largest Jewish sanctuaries in the country.
“Every square inch of the temple flooded,” Senior Rabbi David Rosen told Houston’s KHOU-TV.
It is not unusual for synagogues to use usually larger church sanctuaries for the High Holy Days, when the house is packed and services may require tickets.
The Osteens are televangelists who preach a form of “prosperity gospel”. Recent sermon titles include “Living Joyful,” “Yes Is Coming” and “Better Together.” Their nondenominational Sunday services draw about 25,000 people and are broadcast to more than 100 countries in a program rated by Nielsen Media Research as the top inspirational program in the U.S.
Beth Yeshurun is a Conservative congregation, a branch of Judaism noted for its respect for Jewish traditions and law, including dietary laws. Its services are livestreamed.
After the High Holy Days, Beth Yeshurun will hold their regular services at another Houston synagogue.
“I cannot thank Joel Osteen enough for his sensitivity and his encouragement,” Rosen told KHOU. “It’s a reaffirmation of the beautiful spirit of collegiality and interfaith conversation we have here in Houston.”
“The end game is to rid the public sector of religious organizations unless they capitulate to the LGBT agenda,” writes the National Review about a recent action taken by the ACLU against faith-based adoption agencies.
It was recently reported that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court against the State of Michigan on behalf of two gay couples. The goal is to overturn a Michigan law that permits child placement agencies to offer adoption services in accordance with religious beliefs. This law violates the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, they argue.
On these constitutional grounds, they say that the law should be reversed and that religious institutions should be forced to give children to anybody who wants them — including LGBTQ singles or couples. In other words, the ACLU wishes to effectively deprive many children of the possibility of growing up with two married man-and-women parents.
The state has explained that the intent of the legislature was to protect the religious freedom of adoption agencies, particularly the free exercise of religion protected by the United States Constitution and the state constitution of 1963. And they are not the only ones with such laws. Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia all have similar laws protecting religious organizations.
In particular, Michigan and like-minded states have implemented laws protecting foster and adoption services from being forced to violate their consciences and religious beliefs by placing children in single-parent, same-sex or transgender households.
“But the children are merely a shield behind which the ACLU and other activists seek to advance their true objective — destroying religious freedom in the public sphere when it conflicts with the LGBT agenda,” writes the National Review.
“That’s the end game for the ACLU: Rid the public sector of religious organizations unless they capitulate to the LGBT agenda,” they continue. “But when you force faith-based organizations out, as one Boston-area adoption consultant and lobbyist lamented, ‘ultimately, the only losers are the kids.’ And religious liberty.”
Liberal California and conservative Texas are different in many ways – including their poverty rates.
California’s poverty rate is 20.4 percent and the Texas rate is only 14.7 percent, based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for the regional cost of living, out-of-pocket medical expenses and other items.
A plane flies over a homeless motor home and tent encampment near LAX airport in Los Angeles, California. (homeless02)
Why the dramatic difference in poverty between California and Texas – proportionately 38.8 percent higher in the Golden State, and affecting the lives of millions of people? And what can we as a nation learn from the success of Texas and the failure of California to hold down their poverty rates?
Three big factors are responsible for California having more poor people and Texas having fewer as a portion of their state populations:
California has high state and local tax rates, while the rates in Texas are low.
California has a generous welfare system that acts as a disincentive to work, while Texas incentivizes people to get jobs.
A homeless man reads the Los Angeles Times in the window of the building of Los Angeles Times newspaper, in Los Angeles, California (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
And California’s many burdensome regulations raise the cost of living and act as roadblocks to development, while inflating housing costs. So a family needs to have a higher income to get out of poverty in California than it needs in Texas.
California has the nation’s highest marginal state income tax rate – 13.3 percent. Texas is one of seven states without a state income tax. A ranking of all state and local taxes for median income households in every state shows that California ranks No. 8, while Texas comes in at No. 30 on the list.
The higher taxes are, the less money families have. And higher taxes mean employers have less money to hire new workers and raise the salaries of workers already on their payrolls.
California has a generous and costly safety net that discourages work, while raising state spending and the need for high taxes.
Some 1 out of 3 Americans who receive federally qualified welfare payments –Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – are Californians. And California has expanded Medicaid (called Medi-Cal there), to cover 13.5 million people. About one-third of state residents are enrolled in the health insurance program for the poor funded by the federal government and the state.
On the jobs front, California’s environmental and energy policies have created costly and burdensome regulations that have accelerated the shift of manufacturing and other jobs out of the state and out of the country to China and other nations.
When combined with generous welfare payments, this has resulted in fewer adults participating in the workforce in California than the national average. If Californians 16 and older worked at the same rate as they do in Texas, 550,000 more Californians would be earning a paycheck and many of them would be self-sufficient instead of dependent on government.
A man sleeps on a bench in downtown Los Angeles, California, May 31, 2017 (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
As for affordable housing, California lawmakers know they have a problem. But their proposals to fix it are more of the same: bigger government, more borrowing, and higher taxes to pay for more government housing – while telling homebuilders what to build.
Instead of continuing on this course, elected officials should fix the terrible state of property rights in California. After New Jersey and Maryland, California is the third least-free state when it comes to housing regulation.
Development fees, global warming carbon dioxide concerns, restrictive zoning, and other barriers act to create a massive artificial scarcity of housing in California. This pushes the cost of a home beyond reach for the middle class, while making rent virtually impossible for the poor.
In sharp contrast, housing costs in Texas are far more affordable. While the average listing price for a home in California is nearly $698,000, the average listing price for a home in Texas is less than half that – $320,000.
California’s defenders claim that the Golden State provides a great deal for its diverse population. Only 52.5 percent of California residents are non-Hispanic whites or Asian – the two large racial or ethnic groups with above-average income in America – compared to 66 percent nationwide.
However, in Texas, only 47.4 percent of the population is made up of non-Hispanic whites or Asians. Using this metric, demographers would predict that Texas, not California, should have a higher poverty rate.
Clearly, the poverty reduction policy in California is badly broken.
I’m a former Republican member of the California state Assembly. I saw firsthand how big-spending Democrats in the state Legislature raised taxes and increased regulations with the intention of helping poor people – but wound up hurting them instead.
As the old saying goes: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
In Texas, where I now live, small government, low taxes, and a regulatory environment that encourages job creation and economic growth have turned out to be a better way to hold down the poverty rate and create pathways to the middle class.
Other states and our national government should learn from the experience of California and Texas if they want to replace poverty with prosperity for more Americans.
North Korea’s foreign minister has said the Communist nation may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean after dictator Kim Jong Un vowed he would take the “highest-level” action against the United States, South Korean media reported Thursday.
The Yonhap news agency reported on comments made to reporters by Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un,” Ri was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
Such a test would be considered a major provocation by the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Ri was scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, a day later than previously scheduled.
Ri’s comments followed Kim’s extraordinary statement lashing out at President Trump, calling the American leader “deranged” and vowing that Trump would “pay dearly” for his threat to destroy North Korea.
Kim’s first-person statement was published by North Korea’s state propaganda arm in response to Trump’s fiery speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. South Korean media called it the first such direct address to the world by Kim.
Kim said Trump was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.” He also described the U.S. president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.”
Some analysts saw Kim’s statement as a clear announcement that North Korea would ramp up its already brisk pace of weapons testing, which has included missiles meant to target U.S. forces throughout Asia and the U.S. mainland.
On Tuesday, Trump mocked Kim as a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission,” and said that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
Kim characterized Trump’s speech to the world body as “mentally deranged behavior.”
He said Trump’s remarks “have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.”
Kim said he was “thinking hard” about his response and that Trump “will face results beyond his expectation.”
Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean military official who is now an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said Kim’s statement indicated that North Korea would respond to Trump with its most aggressive missile test yet. That might include firing a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan to a range of around 4,349 miles to display a capability to reach Hawaii or Alaska.
In recent months, the North has launched a pair of still-developmental ICBMs it said were capable of striking the continental United States and a pair of intermediate-range missiles that soared over Japanese territory. Earlier this month, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, drawing stiffer U.N. sanctions.
“I was definitely startled, ’cause the volume increased exponentially,” she said. “I wasn’t alarmed in the sense of thinking something was wrong, ’cause I assumed it was some sort of hack,” she said.
A man’s voice could reportedly be heard saying: “Realize this, extremely violent times will come.”
One person said the voice sounded like Hitler.
A spokesman for Cox Communications told the paper that the problem occurred because one or more radio stations conducted an emergency test.
“With these tests, an emergency tone is sent out to initiate the test,” Joe Camero told the paper. “After the tone is transmitted, another tone is sent to end the message. It appears that the radio station (or stations) did not transmit the end tone to complete the test.”
The report said it was unclear if the alert had anything to do with the Christian numerologist who recently claimed the world will end Saturday when a planet will, supposedly, collide with Earth.
According to Christian numerologist David Meade, verses in Luke 21:25 to 26 signify that recent events, such as the recent solar eclipse and Hurricane Harvey, portend the apocalypse.
The verses read:
“25: There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“’26: Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.’
Saturday’s date, Sept. 23 was pinpointed using codes from the Bible, as well as a “date marker” in the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Meade’s views are not endorsed by Roman Catholic, Protestant or eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity.