Heavy rain, 70 mph winds blast West Valley communities in latest monsoon storm

The second monsoon of the week blew through the state Thursday evening, producing heavy thunderstorms and damaging winds in the West Valley.

      

 

 

Democratic candidates for Arizona schools chief agree on issues, diverge on background

Kathy Hoffman touted her boots-on-the-ground experience as an educator. David Schapira pointed to his background in the political and policy arena.

      

 

 

My Foster Daughter Was Separated from Her Family at the Border

Caring for someone else’s kid brought heartbreak. But it also drew me closer to God’s kingdom purposes.

When the mother of my five-year-old foster daughter ran toward her and scooped her up in tears and smiles after an eight-month separation, I knew I was seeing shalom embodied.

Julia had lived in my home since February, one of the more than 3,000 children separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border since last fall. After her sponsor family neglected her, social services took her into custody and within hours, I became her foster mom.

Restoring children to their parents is the goal of foster care, but it’s also what repels many people from fostering in the first place. Why? The potential heartbreak is hard to reckon with. That prospect of loss is what I feared most last summer when my family and I initially embraced the call to foster.

After pursuing adoption in Mexico—where my family had served as missionaries—we found only closed doors and returned to the US with a greater attentiveness to the needs in our own community. I began to seriously consider America’s broken foster care system and found myself wrestling with Joel 2:12–13: “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments.”

My excuse for not fostering had been the possibility of heartbreak after a child left, but I began to recognize this anguish as an essential part of the calling. I realized that not only is there a deep human need to be part of a family—there’s also a deep need to know where one came from. In seeking adoption, I had focused on the former. In becoming a foster mom, however, I had awakened to the latter.

Embracing heartbreak, I learned, is part of carrying each other’s …

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A Fascinating Lost Email from Larry Norman on Music and Ministry

Our worship music is very often about ‘us’ and ‘I’ more than about God.

Ed Stetzer:

Thanks, Larry,

I appreciate it so much.

One of these days, I would like to get more of your thoughts on Christian music. It is such an important area.

I pray that your health will improve and I am sorry that I had to bother you during this challenging time.

Thanks,
Ed

Larry Norman:

Hi Ed,

I probably won’t call you because it’s 11:30 at night and you only need written permission, not a quote.

I’ve been very touchy about my lyrics in the past, and I’ve usually refused to give my permission. Especially when people want to use me as an example of rebellion. I never thought of myself as a rebel. I was operating as a satirical surgeon; trying to remove an ugly cancer from the church: The dogma which proclaimed that dance, modern music and the theater cannot be used by God because it is wholly profane.

Because I believed that God created all things in life, including the arts, then that meant that all things BELONGED to God. Christians had an obligation to reclaim the arts for the church. They are not the possession, nor the invention, of the secular realm.

But in aiming to set the arts free from a scriptural doctrine, I’ve been very disappointed to see the direction which this liberty has taken people. I don’t see a balance in the exposition of most of the CCM artists’ music, unless it is a bank balance.

And while there is nothing wrong with the artforms themselves, I can only agree in silence many times when Christians accuse the CCM industry of being ungodly in its presentation. It makes me sick to see the tattoos and facial piercings and hair colors. It reminds me of what Babylonian worshippers may have looked like. In our times, some tribes in Africa still stick bones and plates in …

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I-17 ramp-meter lights will be used to warn other motorists of wrong-way drivers

Some of the red lights on I-17 entrance-ramp meters will now be used to prevent traffic from entering the freeway when there’s a wrong-way driver.

      

 

 

'Darkest Minds' author Alexandra Bracken owes career to her dad's love of Star Wars

Scottsdale native Alexandra Bracken’s dystopian novel “Darkest Minds” comes to the big screen Aug. 3. She talks about Star Wars and “toxic fandom.”

      

 

 

Pew: Why Americans Go to Church or Stay Home

Among regular attenders of religious services: 2 in 3 go because of their kids, Catholics half as likely as Protestants to value sermons, and 1 in 5 don’t usually feel God’s presence.

About 2 out of 3 American adults who regularly attend church or other religious services say they go for their kids, for personal comfort, or to become a better person.

The most important reason for going: to become closer to God. Yet 1 in 5 adults who attend monthly or more say they do not usually feel God’s presence; 1 in 4 don’t usually feel a sense of community; and 4 in 10 don’t usually feel connected to their faith’s history.

Meanwhile, Catholic attenders are half as likely as Protestant attenders to say sermons are of enough value to be very important to their attendance.

These are among the results of a new Pew Research Center study, released today, examining 10 reasons why people might attend religious services and 8 reasons why they might not.

Pew has found a decline in attendance at religious services from 2007 to 2014, with about a third of Americans now saying they worship weekly and about a third saying they go rarely or never. However, the self-reported weekly attendance at evangelical churches stayed flat at 58 percent.

Who Attends:

Among US adults who do attend church or other religious services regularly (defined by Pew as attending monthly or more), 7 in 10 say a very important reason they attend is so their children will have a moral foundation (69%). Similar shares attend to become a better person (68%) or for comfort in times of trouble or sorrow (66%).

The most common reason for attendance is to become closer to God (81%), which far and away is also cited as the single most important reason (61%) with every other reason cited by less than a tenth of respondents.

Pew also examined the demographics of regular worshipers. Among the findings:

  • 71% pray daily
  • 56% are women
  • 55% are age 50 or older

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Renewing Your Church: His Greatness Through Your Willingness

God is using the revitalization of the church to demonstrate his glory.

If the mission is to advance the gospel and grow the kingdom, we can’t afford for churches to die at the same rate that we plant new ones. The call of revitalization has to become a priority. God placed that call in my life four years ago.

In February of 2014, I was on staff of a church plant in a suburban area of Columbia, SC. In order to supplement our income as well as help a church in need, my senior pastor and I began working with an inner-city church providing pulpit supply. When my pastor felt led to focus solely on the church plant, the leadership asked if I would stay and lead Rosewood Baptist Church, an 80-year old facility in the heart of downtown Columbia.

After prayer and good counsel, my family and I committed ourselves to Rosewood, a decision that would place me in the hardest, most fulfilling ministry I have ever been part of. I fully believe that God takes us through something to bring us to something so we can do something.

The culture of Rosewood was inwardly-focused and consumer-driven. A small group of long-time members had taken unhealthy possession of the church. It fulfilled every negative stereotype of a dysfunctional church. It had a history of treating their pastors as employees and grinding them up. Each of the last four pastors had left in the shadows of dissension, scandal, or dysfunction.

The focus on missions had been reduced to a small, weekly food pantry. The discipleship focus was limited to a few Sunday School classes that existed more for social interaction than biblical instruction.

The church’s negative reputation was well known in the community. Through decades of denying every request to use the facility, the church had isolated itself while earning a reputation that was as …

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Cab driver found fatally shot near southwest Arizona highway

A cab driver was found fatally shot Tuesday near Highway 95 and police believe the suspect(s) fled in the driver’s taxi.

      

 

 

What a son can learn about women, from the one who raised him

When I told my son he should ask first, I was teaching him respect and consent. It was one of many things I did to instill that all people are equal.