Hillsong Says Secret of Church's Success is Lifting Up the Name of Jesus

By Carrie Dedrick

Hillsong Church, an Australian-based megachurch with 12 campuses arranged all over the world, has seen constant and solid growth since it was founded 31 years ago. Autumn Hardman, a music ministry leader for the Australian campuses, says that the secret to the church’s success is glorifying Jesus’ name. 
“Our aim as a church is simple – to lift up the name of Jesus,” Hardman said in an interview with The Christian Post. “It's as simple as that. The worship music of our House has always been an expression of that. Over the years, the genre and the sound (have) evolved, but the message has stayed the same. We always have been, and always will be about lifting up the name of Jesus.”
The church is the root of praise songs that are sung in churches worldwide, including “Mighty to Save” and “Awesome God.” Hardman says that the music is meant to be a reflection of their love of God.
“Our motivation as a worship team is first and foremost our love for Jesus, and our desire to make His name great, and our desire to see the Gospel spread and shared throughout the earth with the tools of creativity that have been placed in our hands. Our hope would be that we would serve Jesus and others with every breath we take, and that we would be good stewards of the responsibility and gifts placed within our hands,” Hardman said. 
Hillsong Church is a pentecostal denomination affiliated with the Australian Christian Churches, the Australian equivalent of the Assemblies of God.

By Faith, Not by Sight

By Dena Johnson

For we live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Read more...

The Truth about Depression

By Debra Fileta

“True believers don’t suffer from depression.”

Iraqi-American Christians Fear for Lives of Family and Friends in Home Country

By Carrie Dedrick

Americans of Iraqi descent are speaking out about the crisis in Iraq, as friends and family members remaining in the nation are at risk of persecution. Islamic State (IS) militants have wreaked havoc across Iraq; reports say that the terrorist organization is systematically killing Christians in a mass genocide. 
"There's no future for Christians in Iraq anymore," said Bashar Bakoz, an immigrant who now resides in Detroit. 
Michigan is home to 64,000 Iraqi-Americans, most of which are Christians. Many of those who have immigrated have friends and family in danger. 
Michigan immigrant Auday Arabo said, "It's like the modern-day holocaust...It's Christian genocide. It's ethnic cleansing."
Rev. Manuel Boji, an Iraqi-American pastor fears that Christianity will be wiped out altogether at the hands of IS. "They're picking on the most vulnerable. You can see the extinction of Christianity in the region on the horizon,” he said.
A group of eight Americans of Iraqi descent met with Ben Rhodes, an aide of President Obama to discuss the situation. After the meeting the White House released a statement saying “The United States remains committed to helping all of Iraq's diverse communities, including Christians, Sabean-Mandaeans, Shabak and Yezidis.” 
Despite the statement, IS militants continue to terrorize Christians, as well as other religious minorities in the region. 
“The evil is spreading,” Arabo said.

Created Vegetarian

By Dr. Roger Barrier

Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org. Read more...

Why We're Living Through the Greatest Period in History

By Jim Denison

American jet fighters began engaging the Islamic State in Iraq last Friday; the markets have struggled recently; conflict has been raging in the Middle East.  If you're thinking that these are chaotic times, you're right.  But the news is not all bad.  Far from it, in fact.
A friend recently sent me an article titled, "50 Reasons We're Living Through the Greatest Period in World History."  Here are some of my favorites: 
  • In 1949, Popular Mechanics made the bold prediction that someday a computer could weigh less than one ton.  An iPad weighs 0.73 pounds.
  • U.S. life expectancy at birth has increased from 39 years in 1800 to 79 years today.
  • The average American retires at age 62.  One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51.
  • Despite a surge in airline travel, half as many people died in plane accidents in 2012 as in 1960.
  • In 1952, 38,000 people contracted polio in the U.S.  In 2012, there were fewer than 300 cases in the entire world.
  • Median household income adjusted for inflation is nearly double what it was in the 1950s.
  • Crime has fallen dramatically from 1991 to 2010.  Rape is down by a third, robbery is down more than half, and there were nearly four million fewer property crimes in 2010 than in 1991.  All this while the U.S. population grew by 60 million during this period.
  • Almost no homes had a refrigerator in 1900.  Today you can get one in a car.
  • The average new home now has more bathrooms than occupants.
  • High school graduation rates are at a 40-year high.
  • The average American work week has declined from 66 hours in 1850, to 51 hours in 1909, to 34.8 today.
  • Relative to wages, the price of food has dropped 90 percent since the 19th century.
  • In 1965, more than 40 percent of American adults smoked; in 2011, 19 percent did.
  • The number of Americans with a college degree or higher has risen from five percent in 1940 to more than 30 percent in 2012.
  • From 1920 to 1980, an average of 395 people per 100,000 died from famine worldwide each decade.  During the 2000s, that number fell to three per 100,000.
  • A three-minute phone call from New York City to San Francisco cost $341 in 1915.  Today many providers allow you to make such a call for free.
  • In 1950, nearly 40 percent of Americans didn't have a telephone.  Today there are 500 million Internet-connected devices in the U.S., averaging 5.7 per household.
While technology is changing our lives, human nature remains the same.  You and I still share the same hopes, fears, joys and sorrows as our first ancestors.  As a result, the Bible is as relevant today as when it was first inspired.  Technology is improving our lives, but Scripture improves our souls.
A. W. Tozer was right: "The word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection."  Are you living biblically today?

Addicts at Arms-Length

By Kelly Givens

Do you have a family member who is an addict or recovering addict? Joan Nesbitt’s experience as the sister of an addict has struck a nerve with many who have had similar experiences. In her piece, My Sister is an Addict and for Years I Stayed the Hell Away, Joan describes her sister, a drug addict whose actions, coupled with Joan’s contempt, severed their relationship and estranged the two for most of their lives. Read more...

Iraq Genocides Spark International Prayer

By Amanda Casanova

Today, Aug. 6, is being marked as a day of prayer for Iraqi Christians suffering against Islamic State members.
Aug. 6 is also the day of the Feast of the Transfiguration, the day that Jesus appeared on Mount Tabor in front of Peter, James and John.
In Catholic and Orthodox tradition, the Feast of the Transfiguration is a day of hope.
Iraq church leaders are asking Christians worldwide to pray for an end to the conflict in Iraq and Syria.
"May the light of Tabor fill the hearts of all suffering people with consolation and hope,” said Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako. “May the message of Tabor, through our prayers, inspire the leaders of Iraq to sacrifice personal interests for the common good and welfare.”
Added Bishop of Clifton, Rev. Declan Lang: “I call on our government and those of other states to prioritize action to save the Christian and other persecuted communities of Iraq and to offer them the help and support they need urgently.”
The day of prayer comes as Huffington Post writer Nuri Kino called for government action to stop the violence. Recently, he started the #demandforaction Twitter campaign. According to Kino, the Islamic State is slaughtering Christians and needs to be stopped.
“Americans of all backgrounds: if you are God-fearing and freedom-loving, please support Christians of Iraq and Syria!”
But Kino said he wants the UN to “sit at the table with IS to negotiate for human rights and the protection of Assyrians and other minorities.”

China’s Crackdown on the Cross Spreads

By June Cheng

Three months after Chinese officials ripped down the gigantic Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, the number of churches facing persecution—whether that means demolition, cross removal, or threatening notices—in Zhejiang province has reached into the hundreds, according to Texas-based Christian human rights group ChinaAid.
Every few days, news of cross removals and confrontations between church members and police streams out of the region. ChinaAid has compiled many of the reports into this list. The government claims the demolitions are part of a three-year campaign to deal with “illegal structures” in Zhejiang, but authorities have only focused their attention on churches. Many fear this is a beginning of a nationwide campaign to slow the rapid growth of Christianity in the country.
The past few weeks saw a number of clashes. On July 21, 14 members of Salvation Church in Pingyang County were injured as more than 100 government officials broke through a human wall the congregants had formed around their church.
“More than a hundred security guards with batons in their hands rushed to [church members] standing at the door and beat up whoever was in their way,” church member Xu Dingdu told ChinaAid. “I was dragged to the middle of the road by security guards and savagely beaten up by a batch of people, about a dozen. A second batch of people came up shortly after and gave me another beating.”
Photos online show bloodied church members, including an 78-year-old man, outside the church before they were rushed to the hospital. But congregants continued to sing hymns and chant “Defend the cross and resist forcible demolition.” Even non-believers joined in to protest the action, according to ChinaAid.
A church member wears a T-shirt with the Chinese words "Defend the cross" as he stakes out overnight to protect the cross from being demolished at a Christian church in Ao'jiang, Pingyang county.
In Taizhou, another city in Zhejiang, authorities had difficulty trying to demolish the two crosses perched on Chengguan Church, a house church. The first two attempts were thwarted by the typhoon Matmo at the beginning of last week. Then on Friday, the government’s machinery started malfunctioning, keeping officials from removing the larger of the two crosses. The government sent as many as 4,000 officials to face the Christians who had come to sing hymns and pray at the church, according to The New York Times. About 40 people were detained.
Other churches don’t put up as much resistance. At Longgang Township Gratitude Church in Wenzhou, about 200 Christians in the area held an overnight prayer vigil but didn’t put up a fight when officials came to cut off the 10-foot cross, according to the Times. “We didn’t want to get in a fight with them, but obviously what they did was illegal,” Qu Linuo, pastor of a nearby church, told the Times. When the police handed the cross to the congregants, “many of them were weeping inconsolably,” Qu said.
While authorities have mainly targeted government-sanctioned churches, many of the house churches have put aside differences to help protect the symbol of their faith. One house church pastor from northern China said everyone fell silent as their train entered Wenzhou and they saw church after church with crosses torn off. “When we saw the crosses demolished, we were heartbroken,” he said.
And things seem only to be getting worse: Churches in other provinces also are starting to receive demolition notices, and house churches that prev Read more...