Fountain Hills man claims allegiance to ISIS, attacks deputy and is shot

Fountain Hills man claims allegiance to ISIS, attacks deputy and is shot




Man arrested in connection with Phoenix shooting

Phoenix man arrested after shooting friend during dispute about stealing his guns




James MacDonald Fired from Harvest

Leak of “highly inappropriate” comments by founding pastor of Chicago-area megachurch caps months-long clash with critics.

In the midst of efforts to reconcile with longtime critics, Harvest Bible Chapel fired its founder and senior pastor James MacDonald for “engaging in conduct … contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church.”

Harvest elders announced this morning that they were forced to take “immediate action” on Tuesday to end his 30-year tenure.

“Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported,” they wrote.

“This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors.”

MacDonald took an “indefinite sabbatical” in January, following a tumultuous few months defending Harvest in a defamation lawsuit against its critics and in the aftermath of a World magazine investigation into mismanagement at the church.

The public scrutiny continued with pushback against MacDonald’s decision to preach at a Harvest affiliate in Florida during his sabbatical. Then, a famous friend of his, Chicago shock jock Mancow Muller, spoke out in a local newspaper against the manipulation and ego he observed around MacDonald’s “cult of personality” at Harvest. On his radio show, Muller later aired what sounded like clips of MacDonald making harsh comments toward media who had covered the story.

Now, the church has decided its longtime leader won’t be coming back.

Muller had prematurely announced the …

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Cliff Sims, ‘Team of Vipers,’ and Faith Inside the White House – Part 3

“It’s important to remember that the gospel matters more than politics.”

Ed: You’re often featured on outlets that aren’t exactly evangelical bastions and they listen to you defend the President. Would you say that you are a supporter of the President now, as a private citizen?

Cliff: I’m certainly a supporter of the overwhelming majority of the agenda that he is trying to implement. When I’m supporting him, I plan to be vocally supportive and when I think that there are areas where he could do better, I’m going to be willing to share those thoughts as well. I think going towards 2020, we’re likely to have a very similar situation as 2016, with a liberal pro-abortion democrat candidate versus Donald Trump, who has governed as a pro-life conservative. When there’s that A/B option, I’m going to always go with the conservative, pro-life option and that would be Trump in that case.

Ed: Is there anything else that you learned during your time in the administration that you feel could be helpful for pastors or Christian leaders?

Cliff: Sure. I think if there was anything that I was naive about going into this it was my assumption that we would be able to have a nuanced conversation about anything in the current media landscape. People have probably seen a lot of headlines about the book. I would just love for them to cut through some of that and actually read it—I think there’s a lot there to be learned.

Ed: This administration probably has more evangelicals in cabinet posts than any other administration in history. Why? Has that impacted the feel of the White House at all?

Cliff: Well, sitting on the cabinet with evangelical men and women does not necessarily translate into a changed atmosphere at the White House, because they don’t work at the White House—they …

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Senate Finance Committee holds hearing on school vouchers

State senator J.D. Mesnard exchanges words with Rev. Anne Ellsworth during school voucher hearing.




State senators meet to discuss a school voucher program

Friends and foes of Arizona school vouchers packed a Senate room as lawmakers weighed a voucher expansion bill, despite voters denying an expansion.




Alister McGrath: Michael Green Taught Me the Importance of Evangelism

A tribute to the theologian who taught a generation how to evangelize through the local church.

When John Stott and J. I. Packer needed speakers for a crucial 1960s gathering of evangelical leaders, they invited only one in his 30s: Michael Green. The British theologian, who died in Oxford on February 6 at the age of 88, went on to become one of the most gifted evangelists of his generation.

Green, an academically talented student, was converted to Christianity as a teenager. In quick succession, he earned first class honors in classics at Oxford and first class honors in theology at Cambridge. His sense of calling to minister in the Church of England reflected his lifelong passion for evangelism. While serving on the staff of the London College of Divinity, a theological college of the Church of England, Green published two works aimed at a student audience that established his growing reputation as an apologist and evangelist: Man Alive (1967) and Runaway World (1968).

These books were widely read and shared by Christian students and led to invitations to speak at major churches and student gatherings throughout the United Kingdom. I read them both myself while a student at Oxford in the early 1970s, and I recall vividly the impact of a sermon Green preached in Oxford on John 3 which helped me grasp the core themes of the gospel.

Early Impact

Green was now a rising star in the Church of England. He was the youngest speaker at the National Evangelical Anglican Congress in 1967, organized by John Stott and J. I. Packer, which was widely seen at the time as setting a new and more confident course for evangelicalism within the Church of England.

He was appointed principal of the London College of Divinity in 1969 while still in his 30s and supervised the college’s move to the city of Nottingham in England’s East …

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On Mancow, MacDonald, and the Harvest Mess

CT’s editor in chief on today’s aired remarks.

The controversy around James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, swirls ever more intensely. I would like to clarify a few things so that in the debate surrounding this topic—especially CT’s coverage—people can have a better notion of how we cover such controversies.

First, we want to address MacDonald’s alleged derogatory remarks about various members of CT’s staff broadcast today on Mancow, a radio show based in Chicago. MacDonald is clearly angry with the way CT has covered his leadership at Harvest, and he’s succumbed to the temptation to slander me, threaten our CEO, and denigrate others. This is unfortunate. But this is part of the life of journalism, because we know that we’re not exactly popular with people about whom we have to report bad news. We also know that people (including me) privately say things in anger that they later regret. So we’re not going blast back at MacDonald or to demand a public apology. The only things we demand is that he deal fairly with his accusers, that he tell the truth about what’s been going on at Harvest, and that he make amends if and where he has misused his office.

Second, as MacDonald’s reaction demonstrates, it’s common for people on both sides of a dispute to believe that CT is against them. It’s pretty clear by his slanders that MacDonald thinks we have it out for him. That’s ironic, because his accusers, whom he sued, believe we’ve taken his side. They base their accusation on the fact that we gave him space on our Speaking Out forum to explain why he believes it is biblical to sue fellow believers.

In fact, this is a tradition at CT: to allow mainstream, otherwise orthodox evangelicals …

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Making the Liturgy Sing a New Song

How a retired Anglican priest and a young church music director created Liturgical Folk.

In 2015, when retired Anglican priest Nelson Koscheski shared one of his religious poems with the young music director at his Anglican church in Dallas, he never expected the poem to become a folk song. Koscheski thought the poem, which is about the Transfiguration, might make a good hymn, but would probably end up like most of his others—glanced at perfunctorily and then disregarded.

But the music director, Ryan Flanigan, was so moved by the poem’s beauty that he set it to a simple folk tune, which he incorporated into the church’s Transfiguration Day service.

“For the first time, I realized that my poetry was a form of ministry,” Koscheski says.

Since then, Flanigan, now 39, and Koscheski, 77, have written almost 50 hymns together. Under Flanigan’s direction, the cross-generational partnership has grown into a multifaceted folk music project. The two named the project Liturgical Folk, and in 2017 released their first two albums through the producer Isaac Wardell, who works with acclaimed religious musicians like Josh Garrels and Sandra McCracken. Liturgical Folk released their third album last fall and their fourth this February.

They are not alone. Rather, they are part of a growing number of Anglican musicians who are rearranging traditional hymns, adapting liturgy to contemporary music and writing songs of their own, says Bruce Benedict, the chaplain of worship and arts at Hope College in Michigan and founder of Cardiphonia, which resources the greater church with liturgical music.

“Liturgical Folk is really just sort of one group of folks that have been doing this for 10 or 15 years,” he says.

How did this movement come about?

In the late 1970s, a group of Anglican churches …

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After Major Investigation, Southern Baptists Confront the Abuse Crisis They Knew Was Coming

The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News collect 380 allegations spanning 20 states in an unprecedented look at sexual misconduct across the denomination.

A landmark investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches opened with a collage of pictures of the offenders, row after row of headshots and mugshots of men who had been accused of abusing a total of 700 victims over the past 20 years.

In Sunday’s report, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News were able to do what victims say the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has failed to for years: provide a picture of the extent of the abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention and a database of those found guilty of their crimes.

With allegations against 380 church leaders in 20 states (a majority of whom were convicted or took plea deals), it’s believed to be the biggest report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists in the movement’s history. The report confronts the longstanding defense that the organization can only do so much to monitor abuse since affiliated congregations operate autonomously.

Another set of pictures captures a sense of the impact of abusers in Southern Baptist congregations. In response to the investigation, Southern Baptist women and fellow Christians shared childhood photos on Twitter from the age when they first suffered abuse.

Dozens joined a thread started by Living Proof Ministries founder and popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, including advocate and abuse survivor Jules Woodson and other ministry leaders.

Over the past couple years, the #MeToo campaign has raised awareness about abuse within the SBC and galvanized official efforts to improve the denomination’s response. Last December, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram rounded up more than 400 allegations among independent Baptists, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission …

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