To help further craft their vision for criminal justice reform, Bishop T.D. Jakes and a Dallas County judge visited the Dallas County Jail last Wednesday to meet with inmates who say they want a second chance at life.
Going before a parole board, the inmates told Jakes and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins their stories, which included background on their childhoods, families, and addictions, as well as their plans for how to stay out of jail, their support systems and even their fears, hopes and dreams.
Among those stories was one 35-year-old inmate's concern that his criminal record will "scare off" employers and landlords, and his hopes to overcome the negative labels of "junkie" and "crackhead" that he has endured. Another inmate, a 50-year-old woman, is ashamed to allow her sons to visit her after being imprisoned more than eight times. Her latest conviction involved the sale of crystal meth. She hopes to see more programs in place that help ex-offenders stay on the straight-and-narrow after they get out of jail. more >>
American pastor Saeed Abedini has issued a statement about his troubled marriage with wife, Naghmeh, revealing that he does not agree with much of what she has written about the issue, but said that he is praying for healing and restoration.
"Naghmeh has been a hero to me and suffered enormously as a result of being 7,000 miles away from me and being a single parent to our two precious children while traveling and leading a crusade on my behalf. I will always love her for her sacrifice," Abedini said in a statement sent to the Idaho Statesman on Saturday.
The pastor, who was released earlier in January following three and a half years in Iranian prison for his Christian faith, noted that Naghmeh has been writing to her supporters about the troubled state of their marriage, but he had so far chosen not to respond, because he wants personal issues to be dealt with personally. more >>
In the days leading up to the pivotal Iowa caucuses, a group of Iowa pastors and a number of prominent national Christian leaders have endorsed Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president, which contrasts the notion that evangelical leaders are coalescing around Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Rubio has repeatedly touted his faith in recent weeks in commercials, during campaign stops and at presidential debates, in a concerted effort to attract the support of the pivotal Iowa evangelical voting bloc, a group that both Cruz and frontrunner Donald Trump have also courted heavily.
In a press release issued Saturday, the Rubio campaign announced a "growing" list of at least 26 Iowa pastors, who represent various Christian denominations and will be supporting Rubio at Monday's Iowa caucuses. more >>
"You're an ordained minister, aren't you?" The question came to me from a staffer in a congressional office where I worked fifteen years ago. I was the congressman's district director and briefly acting chief of staff. Years before I had been a White House aide.
The congressional staff member's rhetorical question inferred another, unspoken: "If you are a pastor what are you doing here?"
I could have replied, "For the same reason the pastors who made up seven percent of the nation's first Congress were there … For the same reason Pastor Frederick Muhlenberg was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives … For the same reason — as listed by the Pew Research Center — that Pastors Benjamin Contee, Abiel Foster, James Manning, Joseph Montgomery, Jesse Root, Paine Wingate, John Witherspoon, and John Joachim Zubly were there … For the same reason Mississippi AME Pastor Hiram Rhodes Revels became, in 1870, the first black man to serve in the Senate (despite the opposition of Democrats who argued that, as a former slave, he had not been a citizen until the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted)." more >>
Theologian John Piper explained how the church in America is living with "cultural indifference or derision or exclusion or hostility," and why this is not strange but normal, and how Christians are called to respond to it according to the Bible.
Speaking at the Bethlehem 2016 Conference for Pastors and Church Leaders in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Piper quoted Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, as saying that Christianity in America is becoming "less nominal, more defined, and more outside of the mainstream of American culture."
"More outside of the mainstream of American culture" is not the same as saying true Christianity is declining in numbers or faithfulness, clarified Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. more >>
To find happiness, Christians must stop worrying about inconsequential things and find relaxation in the grace of God, Pastor Rick Warren shared in a recent devotional.
Warren, who heads Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, writes in his "Daily Devotional" that Christians need to stop worrying about God's approval, and rather relax knowing that God loves all of his children unconditionally.
"You can't earn God's approval. You can't earn his love. You can't earn his recognition. God is love, and he loves you unconditionally. If you want to be a happy person, you need to relax in God's grace every day," Warren writes. more >>