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Mega Church mega scandal

The boy was watching people sing at a sweaty Pentecostal tent service one Sunday morning when a prophet onstage scanned the congregation and fixed her eyes on him.

“You need to come up here,” the prophet told the wide-eyed 9-year-old, D.E. Paulk. “The Lord has a word for you that you need to speak to the church today.”

As he was led to the stage, D.E.’s heart raced and his legs went numb. He grabbed the microphone with clammy hands and stammered the only words he could find: “Uh.. God… uh… loves you.”

From that moment on, D.E. hid behind furniture in his family’s church in Atlanta whenever pastors prophesied. But someone would steer him to the pulpit, and D.E.’s family would join the prophet in laying hands on him while predicting mighty signs and wonders for the boy they called “The Promised Seed.”

No prophet, though, came close to predicting what really happened to D.E. in the years ahead.

No one predicted that his family would build one of the most racially groundbreaking megachurches in America only to see it collapse from a series of bizarre sex scandals covered by “A Current Affair” and other tabloid magazines and TV shows.

No one predicted that D.E. would discover that the man he believed to be his uncle, Archbishop Earl Paulk Jr., was really his biological father. The bishop had slept with his brother’s wife while sharing the pulpit with both.

And no one predicted that after years spent extricating his family from assorted scandals, D.E. would do something in church that was, for many of his parishioners, far more outrageous than anything his notorious uncle did.

“And because it had nothing to do with sex or money,” D.E. says, “I never saw it coming.”

‘Raised by wolves’

The boy who was dragged onstage is now 42 and doesn’t look like he can be pushed easily in any direction. D.E. is 6-foot-1, with broad shoulders and beefy “I’ve been working out” arms. He greets a visitor with a boyish smile and a mellow voice that sounds more suited for a late-night talk show than a pulpit.

He is still in the church business, and so is his family. D.E. is co-founder and senior pastor of the Spirit and Truth Sanctuary, a quaint brick church in suburban Atlanta.

The headlines also don’t explain what happened to D.E.’s mother, Clariece. How did she explain her actions to her son and husband? Did the marriage survive? Clariece Paulk, 76, recently told me that she prayed for over 20 years that no one would discover her secret. At times, Bishop Paulk would apprise D.E. from a distance and say to her, “He kind of looks like me in the shoulders.”

“I’d be so afraid that somebody would see a picture of him and Donnie Earl at the same age, and I tried to hide the pictures,” she said. “I lived in fear, just misery.”

D.E.’s story is not just about a scandal. It’s about fate. Are we all captive to the arc of our family history, no matter what we do?

D.E. tells people the scandal was not of his making. He is not the bishop. Yet some things about D.E. remind others of Bishop Paulk. Is D.E. bound to make some of the same mistakes?

“He fights that,” says his 76-year-old dad, Don Paulk. “He’s made statements like, “I don’t want to do that. That’s what my Uncle Earl would do.'”

It’s a battle D.E. is already losing, says Jan Royston, a former Chapel Hill member who knew the bishop. She is part of a community of ex-Chapel Hill members who still feel betrayed by the Paulk family.

Royston started an online support group for former Chapel Hill members wounded by their experiences. She says D.E. isn’t contrite; he’s conniving.

The bishop twisted scripture to prey on people for riches, glory and lust. D.E., in Royston’s view, is just another manipulative, pulpit predator.

“He was raised by wolves,” she says. “Donnie Earl can’t help who and what he is.”

As tough as the critics are on D.E., no one was more so than the man who left him such a complicated legacy.

Before D.E. could find normalcy, he had to learn to deal with the strange. He had to take on the bishop.

Becoming the bishop’s spiritual son

He punctuated his sermons with “darling” and “honey,” but there was little tenderness in the bishop’s public persona. He was the anti-Joel Osteen, a stout, craggy-faced man who scowled more than he smiled and preached with a raspy, hectoring voice.

Once, the bishop drove away a church member who challenged his authority by implying that she was a lesbian. He warned another critic that he might come after him with his .38 revolver. He hid his television set in a closet because he didn’t want his congregation to discover he could succumb to worldly temptations.

Some leaders have Type A personalities. “He was Triple A,” says Don Paulk, who is 11 years younger than his brother. “He would rather preach than eat when he was hungry.”

The bishop’s wrath could fall on his family as well as his congregation.

LaDonna Diaz, D.E.’s older sister, was the bishop’s secretary.

“I would leave work some days crying,” she says.

But D.E. was treated special from the start. Prophets began calling him “The Chosen One” when he was just a child. Boys, it seemed, were the only ones chosen by God in the patriarchal, Pentecostal culture that D.E. grew up in.

The bishop had three daughters. D.E. was the only male offspring with the Paulk surname. He was expected to become the family’s fourth generation preacher and succeed the bishop one day.

The bishop encouraged that dream. He became D.E.’s spiritual mentor.

“I still have notebooks and notebooks from when he would preach,” D.E. says. “There would be moments of revelations. I almost couldn’t keep up. I was just writing as fast as I could.”

The bishop returned D.E.’s devotion.

He placed him front and center at church events. And when D.E. became a standout high school basketball player — good enough to land a college scholarship as a point guard — the bishop was a familiar figure in the stands.

D.E.’s wife, Brandi Paulk, says her husband and the bishop drew energy from one another. Now 35, she grew up in Chapel Hill watching that relationship evolve.

“It’s almost as if they fed off of each other,” she says. “There was a connection there spiritually. He considered him his spiritual father.”

When he was in high school, D.E. saw something that made him wonder if that connection went deeper.

Hearing ugly rumors

On the bishop’s 60th birthday, Chapel Hill celebrated with a video tribute. As D.E. watched images of his uncle flash onscreen, he was stunned by a black-and-white college graduation photo.

“My hair, my face, my body – I was like, that looks like me in black and white,” D.E. recalls.

He kept the realization to himself. “I pushed it way down inside of me.”

Others didn’t bury their suspicions. Every now and then, D.E. overheard church members joking about the bishop being his father. He ignored the whispers. But the salacious rumor spread.

“What I heard many times was that Donnie Earl is called Donnie Earl because they didn’t know if he’s Earl’s or Don’s,” says Scott Thumma, a sociology of religion professor at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. He spent five years at Chapel Hill gathering material for his dissertation on the church. “Everybody kind of chuckled about that.”

D.E. focused on his future instead of dwelling on the past. He experienced a series of dreams in college that convinced him to become a minister. He enrolled in a Bible college, the Earl Paulk Institute, and became a youth minister at Chapel Hill.

His timing could not have been better. D.E. had the right name at the right place at the right time. Chapel Hill was taking off.

The bishop had co-founded Chapel Hill in 1960 with his brother and sister-in-law. Pentecostals had been dismissed as country bumpkins, vulgar, lower-class whites who talked in tongues while getting “slain in the spirit.” But the Paulks were different.

The bishop preached a “kingdom theology” that added a progressive edge to the traditional Pentecostal message. The theology urged Pentecostals to transform the world here and now and not focus so much on waiting for Christ’s return. The bishop championed civil rights when many white Southern churches refused to admit African-Americans. Chapel Hill eventually became one of the nation’s first integrated megachurches. White pastors criticized the bishop for his stance on civil rights but he kept reaching out to black parishioners.

The Paulks identified with African-Americans because they themselves felt like outsiders as poor Pentecostals in rural Georgia.

“We always felt like we were the underdogs. We were not accepted; we were the minority,” Don Paulk says.

The underdogs became top dogs in the church world. They were riding a wave: the rise of evangelical Christians in America.

Conservative Christians helped elect Ronald Reagan to the White House in 1980. They seized control of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1985 at a raucous meeting in Dallas, Texas. And televangelists such as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart drew global audiences to their broadcasts. Chapel Hill, whose services were broadcast in Africa and Latin America, was part of that mix.

It eventually became the fourth-largest church in America, with 12,000 members. People didn’t flock there just to hear the bishop preach. They turned out for the pageantry, a show enlivened by Clariece Paulk.

Clariece changed the way megachurches worshipped. She was a classically trained pianist who introduced dramatic skits, modern dance, “Bach and rock” music – stylistic flourishes now common in megachurches.

“A hundred people would join the church a week,” she says. “I would just sit there and weep. I couldn’t believe it. I knew it wouldn’t last forever.”

It didn’t. And D.E. started to notice that behind the scenes, a megachurch was a lot like a basketball court: competitive and filled with games.

Mega-egos in the megachurch

D.E. was immersed in a world of signs and wonders. People testified to mighty acts of God: miraculous healings, revelations, divining evil spirits. And he saw his share of wonders – broken people born again; incandescent moments when it seemed like the finger of God touched people’s lives.

But he also saw the pettiness. He was the church emissary dispatched to pick up visiting preachers at the airport and tend to their needs. Their egos were as big as their entourages.

He met pastors who demanded a fueled private jet and $7,500 up front before they would deign to visit. When they arrived, they were surrounded by pastor groupies: “armor bearers,” “adjutants” and “servant spirits” who did everything from pick up their dry cleaning to pump their gas and carry their Bibles.

These pastors shared trade secrets with D.E.: How to extract a fat offering from a congregation, how to fake prophesizing and how to perform the all-important “courtesy drop” – crumpling to the ground when a man of God presses your shoulder during a “healing.”

D.E. remembers one pastor’s behavior after he delivered a sermon.

“He can’t even carry his own handkerchief. Somebody has to wipe the sweat off of him. He can’t dress himself after the sermon because he is still ‘under the anointing.'”

D.E. shakes his head in disgust.

“It’s just a bunch of bull really,” he says.

That’s the sentiment that seemed etched on D.E.’s father’s face in some of the photos taken during Chapel Hill’s rise.

Don Paulk looked like the bemused outsider as he stood in the pulpit with his charismatic brother and his celebrated wife. They loved the stage; he preferred the background. They were effusive; he was a stoic who didn’t like getting “mushy.” They reveled in the titles and rituals of church; he openly rolled his eyes if he disagreed with a sermon.

His brother’s ego grew along with the church. The bishop loved getting recognized at the airport. He surrounded himself with people who wouldn’t question his authority. And he treasured letters from folks who read his books, listened to his tapes or watched him on TV.

“He began to read too much of his fan mail,” Don Paulk said.

Don Paulk, though, had questions about God that the traditional church couldn’t answer.

As a boy, D.E. stumbled across a book by his father’s bed. It was called “The Christian Agnostic,” and it was written to reassure skeptics who couldn’t accept certain central Christian beliefs. D.E. felt like he had caught his father with a dirty magazine. He took the book to his mother. She reacted with shock.

“Let’s pray for your daddy,” she said as she grabbed her son’s hands.

There were others, too, who thought Don Paulk needed their prayers. They saw him as the weak link in the Paulk trio that built Chapel Hill.

“He was a patsy,” says Jan Royston, the ex-Chapel Hill member. “He would do whatever Earl Paulk would tell him to do.”

Thumma, the Chapel Hill expert, said Clariece Paulk was “clearly the authority in the family.” Her husband was “fragile” and “weak-willed.”

“He was utterly jealous of Earl,” Thumma says, referring to the bishop. Don Paulk “was back-biting, snippy and vindictive. You could read that into his body language every single meeting.”

Like his father, D.E. started to roll his eyes at some church traditions as he became a young man.

One Sunday when a pastor placed a microphone in front of D.E.’s face and told him the Lord had something for him to say, D.E. looked at the expectant congregation and said, “The Lord hasn’t told me anything today.” He handed the microphone back to the astonished prophet and sat down.

D.E. was becoming his own man, and there was one man who didn’t like it – the bishop.

Taking on the bishop

By 1991, Chapel Hill’s popularity peaked. President George H.W. Bush had honored the church with a “Point of Light” award for outstanding community service. The church grabbed national headlines for dispatching volunteers into a violent housing project in Atlanta and turning it around. People bragged about attending Chapel Hill. Some installed specialty license plates on their cars inscribed with the “K” church crest, a symbol of the bishop’s kingdom theology.

The church celebrated its newfound status by completing construction of a $12 million, 7,000-seat neogothic cathedral. The church’s spire soared majestically 245 feet, and the sanctuary featured stadium seating. One news account compared the church’s splendor to Solomon’s temple.

And just as Solomon was undone by his desire for other women, so was the bishop.

In 1992, six Chapel Hill women publicly accused the bishop, his brother, Don, and two Paulk nephews who were ministers of manipulating them into sexual relationships. They portrayed the Paulk ministers as diabolical manipulators, saying they used their spiritual authority and their “kingdom theology” to justify extra-marital relationships.

The bishop denied the allegations. Later that year, Don Paulk publicly confessed to an extramarital affair. The bishop said one nephew admitted to inappropriate contact with a woman and was disciplined; the other nephew did not speak to reporters. The women’s accusations were covered by the television program “A Current Affair.”

In 2001, a church member filed suit against Earl Paulk Jr., saying he started molesting her when she was seven. He denied the allegations, and the suit was settled out of court.

D.E. was at college in the early 1990s when the first wave of sex scandals hit. His father called him and apologized for his indiscretion. D.E. was bewildered, however, by the accusations.

“I didn’t know how to process it,” he says of the wave of scandals. “I couldn’t navigate it. I wondered why are they attacking my family so viciously.”

Yet he also knew that power can corrupt both pastors and their followers.

“I wasn’t naive enough to believe that there was no truth to it; I wasn’t naive enough to believe that all of it was true.”

He was seeing another side of his family as well as the church. His first instinct, though, was to stick by them when he saw news crews chase his father and uncle into their homes. The church’s public image was taking a hit. Chapel Hill needed something new to help draw people back to the pews.

D.E. became the Hot New Thing.

The bishop elevated his status. He allowed him to preach every other Sunday and beamed with pride when D.E called him his spiritual mentor. He stenciled D.E.’s name alongside his own on the brick entrance to Chapel Hill.

D.E. brought energy and a clean past to the church – he even break-danced during service.

Yet as he grew into this new role, his preaching riled the bishop. D.E. suggested in his sermons that God affirmed gays and lesbians. The bishop didn’t tell him he was wrong but ordered him to wait to preach that message until people were ready.

D.E. responded with a question: How long had the bishop waited when God ordered him to preach acceptance of African-Americans in the 1960s?

“We had that first moment of I’m a man of God now, too,” D.E. said. “I have God telling me things to do, too. How can I deny it any more than you denied it?”

As D.E.’s confidence rose, though, the church’s fortunes continued to plummet. The scandals drove thousands of members away. Tabloid television shows joined the fray, and the Internet was eventually filled with lurid details about the bishop’s sex habits.

The amount of money in the weekly offerings fell, but the bills kept coming. People saw the cathedral’s glamour but not the financial grind. Sitting on 100 acres filled with church office buildings and a Bible college, the upkeep for the cathedral alone could make an accountant weep: a $45,000 weekly mortgage payment; a $30,000 monthly power bill; an annual $200,000 property insurance payment.

The church’s staff had grown to around 300, including 26 full-time pastors. The bishop had hired many down-on-their luck pastors to prop them up until they could find work and support their families again.

“The government had welfare,” Don Paulk says. “We had staff.”

D.E. told the bishop that the church couldn’t function like a charity. In a four-month period, D.E. didn’t get a paycheck on eight occasions. With a wife in college and two kids, he told the bishop he had to make a decision for his family.

“Do what you need to do,” the bishop said.

D.E. left the church in 2003 and started his own congregation. He had $600 to his name. He struggled just to rent a hotel room and a microphone for the Sunday services. But he didn’t have to answer to anyone anymore.

In 2005, the bishop’s fortune took another bad turn. He was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to have parts of his bladder, colon and prostrate removed.

Though his body and his church were failing, the bishop remained defiant. He told what was left of his congregation that God was not finished with him.

“We may be old, but we’ve still got a lot of fire left in us,” he thundered, “Honey, you don’t talk about retiring. We talk about re-firing.”

His body would not listen. Nor would the bill collectors. The church needed new leadership.

Don Paulk would not take his brother’s place. He turned to D.E.

“I need you to come back and take over,” he told his son, who had left three years earlier. “I can’t do it, and I don’t want to do it.”

It was a call D.E. expected and dreaded. He would be returning to the scene of a crime, a place where there was constant talk of lawsuits and depositions and reporters taking notes in the pews.

“I don’t want to go back,” his wife, Brandi, told him.

D.E. had found a sense of normalcy at their new church. It had grown to 300 members. He said he didn’t want the drama or the challenge of preaching every Sunday to an almost empty 7,000-seat sanctuary.

But he couldn’t say no.

“I stuck by my family,” he says. “It doesn’t mean I condone everything that happened. But what am I supposed to do, leave my elderly parents alone and let my uncle die? He’s old and sick. What am I supposed to do? Take him by the side of the road and drop him off?”

He agreed to return only if the bishop signed documents empowering him to make financial decisions for the church. He cut staff to save money. He began preaching more.

“From the moment we stepped back in there, the bishop was allowed to preach if D.E. allowed him,” Brandi says.

The bishop didn’t cotton to the demotion. He openly pouted. He sarcastically thanked D.E. when called upon to deliver a public prayer — after all, it was his church. He sat offstage most of the time because of his medical needs, but he resented seeing D.E. take the spotlight.

“They got me sitting on the front row like a little puppy,” the bishop grumbled to a fellow pastor.

The bishop would find a way back onstage. But he wouldn’t like the role he had to play.

Source: CNN.com

Dad Cares for Quadruplets After Wife’s Tragic Death in Childbirth

It was supposed to be the happiest moment of their lives. Carlos Morales kissed his wife Erica and told her he loved her just minutes before she delivered their quadruplets.

Tragically, it would be the last time he would ever see her alive, Morales tells PEOPLE.

Pregnant with four babies conceived through IVF, Erica, 36, went into labor at seven months on Jan. 15. Doctors prepared to deliver the babies by C-section.

Carlos Morales and his Quadruplets: Photo curtesy Carlos Morales
Carlos Morales and his Quadruplets: Photo courtesy Carlos Morales

“We were so excited to start our family,” Carlos, 29, who works in manufacturing in Phoenix, Arizona, says. “And then it all came crashing down.”

All four babies – three girls, one boy – were safely delivered. But Erica went into hypovolemic shock, an emergency condition where one experiences a severe amount of blood loss. She died at 1:50 a.m. on Jan. 16, before she even had a chance to hold her newborns in her arms.

Their Love Story

Carlos and Erica met at a nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2006.

“I didn’t speak any English and she didn’t speak any Spanish,” Carlos tells PEOPLE, laughing. “But I asked her to dance and she said yes”

He only found out later that Erica, a real estate agent, ended up throwing out a piece of paper he gave her that night with his number scribbled on it.

But through mutual friends, they saw each other again, and this time, they didn’t part ways.

He knew right away he wanted to marry her. Erica learned Spanish, Carlos learned English, and in 2007 they got married in Las Vegas.

Carlos and Erica Morales
Carlos and Erica Morales, photo courtesy: Carlos Morales

“We also really wanted to have a baby,” says Carlos. “So we started to try right away.”

After experiencing a miscarriage, which Carlos says “was beyond devastating,” they found out Erica was pregnant last June after undergoing fertility treatment.

“We couldn’t have been more excited to finally have a baby,” he says. “Erica was taking such good care of herself.”

When she went for her first sonogram, she found out she wasn’t just having one baby, but four.

“Her doctor told her she had to just relax,” Carlos says. “So that’s exactly what she did.”

Carlos cooked, cleaned and made sure Erica stayed off her feet. Erica’s mother move into their house to help them.

Doctors closely monitored Erica, who was healthy throughout her pregnancy.

On Jan. 12, Erica was checked into the hospital because she was experiencing high blood pressure.

It was on Jan. 15 that she texted Carlos when he was at work saying the doctors wanted to deliver the babies.

“The doctor said she was having too many contractions so it was time to deliver the babies,” Carlos says. “We took pictures before she went into the delivery room, made some videos, and she was surrounded by family and friends. I said to her, ‘Let’s get these babies out.’ ”

The couple also discussed names. They settled on Carlos Jr. for the boy and Tracey and Paisley for the two girls. Erica couldn’t decide on the other girl’s name. They thought they had plenty of time to figure it out.

“‘We can decide after she’s born,’ ” Carlos recalls Erica telling him.

Some 24 people – doctors, nurses, family and friends – were in the delivery room when the babies were born. Each weighed from two to three lbs. For Carlos, it was the moment of a lifetime.

“I forgot about how expensive it was going to be to raise four kids or how hard it might be,” he says. “Seeing Erica and the babies healthy is all I could think about. I was just so excited for our future.”

Erica, who was coming out of an anesthesia-induced sleep, squeezed her husband’s hand. She couldn’t yet speak. Carlos sat by her bedside, with their newborn babies in the nursery one floor away.

Code Blue

Suddenly, around 1 a.m., Carlos heard equipment alarms going off and saw nurses rushing into the room. The medical team asked him to leave while they worked on Erica.

An hour later, they told him she was gone. He heard their words but couldn’t understand.

“How could this have happened?” he asked, something that still haunts him today. “She was fine, and then she wasn’t. She was alive and then she was just gone.”

He still asks himself every day if there is something he could have done to keep his wife alive.

“I went from having the best day of my life to the next morning experiencing the worst day of my life,” Carlos says. “My four babies came into the world and then my wife died.”

When he was sitting by his babies in the middle of the night after she passed away, the nurse asked him what the babies’ names were.

Carlos gave the nurse the three names they had agreed upon. The other girl’s name he chose himself: Erica.

Living for His Children

Carlos continues to grieve for Erica every waking minute. She lives in his dreams. The one thing that keeps him going: The babies.

Carlos Jr. and Tracey are already home; Paisley and Erica are still in the hospital. Carlos goes to visit them every day while his mother-in-law cares for the babies at home. At the hospital, Carlos is also a student, paying close attention in the free baby-care classes it offers.

“I’m learning everything from how to give them a bath, CPR, feeding, and how to manage their sleep schedule,” he says. “I need to be prepared.”

“Everything I do now is for my children,” Carlos, who will return to work, tells PEOPLE. “Our family and friends have been very supportive too.”

One friend, Nicole Todman, created a GoFundMe page where people can donate.

Erica Morales, Photo Courtesy: Carlos Morales
Erica Morales, Photo Courtesy: Carlos Morales

It’s hard for Carlos to think of the future when he still can’t understand the past.

“When I’m alone at home I still tell myself that I hope I’m dreaming,” he says. “Erica was the most special person in the world and she should be here to love her babies.”

Just recently he found a note that she had written on her iPad.

She had jotted down her dreams for her children to go to college, speak both English and Spanish and to have good jobs.

“I will try my hardest to make sure that happens,” he says.

And he draws comfort from his Catholic faith. He knows when he held all four babies for the first time after they were born, Erica was looking down on her family from heaven.

“She always used to do this happy dance and I know that right then and there she was doing it next to me,” he says.

Source: People.com

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If Women Knew These Historical Tidbits About High Heels, Would They Still Wear Them?

If Women Knew These Historical Tidbits About High Heels, Would They Still Wear Them?

Fifty-shades-of-grey-poster

Why Are “Christian” Women Watching ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?

The unavoidable truth is that many are becoming desensitized. When the Holy Spirit no longer fills hearts and minds with a passion for purity and holiness, there is a general lack of conviction.

Compromise in this area can be well illustrated through a story that I heard years ago.

Eskimos in the barren North often kill wolves by taking a razor sharp knife and dipping it in blood. They allow the blood to freeze to the blade. Then they bury the handle of the knife in the snow with the blade exposed. As the wolf begins to lick the blade, his tongue becomes numb and desensitized due to the cold. As he continues, his tongue begins to bleed, and he licks even faster—unaware that he is consuming his own blood and slowly killing himself.

Within time, the Eskimos return and bring the dead animal home. In the same way, the enemy numbs us through compromise. Within time, we, like the wolves, don’t realize that we are dying—dying spiritually. The enemy desensitizes us until we are numb to the things of God.

A famous quote resounds with clarity for us today: “All the water in the world, no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a ship unless it gets inside. All the evil influence of the world, no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a Christian’s soul unless it gets inside.”

The greatest battle we will ever fight is within. Our mind is where the battle is either won or lost: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Prov. 3:27). Galatians 5:17 says that the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what our sinful nature desires, and that these two forces are constantly fighting against each other.

As a result, our choices are rarely free from this conflict. Don’t be alarmed. The fact that there is a fight confirms the value of our commitment to Christ and His standard of holiness.

There is a very troubling trend toward moral compromise in the evangelical church. I’ve witnessed soft porn images on Christian websites, questionable movie clips during PowerPoint sermons, and youth pastors talk about their favorite sexually charged TV show or movie with the youth, all under the guise of “relating” to the culture.

Most walk away from Christ not because He fails them, or because the Word of God proves to be untrue, but because of the love of this world (gratifying the flesh). We cannot overlook the seriousness of this issue. Jesus said that the worries and desires of this world, along with the deceitfulness of wealth, come in and choke the Word of God, making it unfruitful (cf. Mark 4:19).

The passion we once had for the purity of God’s Word can easily be exchanged for the pollutants of the world. For this reason, I take every opportunity to write about making wise entertainment choices. What we put into our mind affects our relationship with God at a very deep level.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Love not the world [the worlds mindset], neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

What we watch and listen to affects the heart—it’s impossible to separate the two. If we would make it our goal to know Christ more personally, we would preach Christ more powerfully. For example, if a pastor (or Christian leader) fills his mind with the world all week and expects the Spirit of God to speak boldly through him from the pulpit, he will be gravely mistaken. E.M. Bounds said, “The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher.”

Carnal Christians give God “His due” (a few hours on Sunday), but they forget His call to “come out from among them (the world) and be separate.” Every day of the week is the world influencing you? What does your mental media diet consist of? Who do you hang out with? What, and whom, do you listen to? Is your heart set toward the things of God or the world’s influence? A quick peruse of your “likes” and posts on Facebook reveals what we truly value.

Compromise also deceives. James 1:22 reminds us that if we listen to God’s Word without doing it that we are fooling ourselves … we are deceived. The power of God’s Word lies in the application. In addition to non-Christians, it is Christians who are moving sexually explicit and violent movies to the Top 10 by not applying purity to their lives. It is Christians who are addicted to porn and supplying the revenue to fuel the industry.

We cannot love both Christ and this world. Carnality destroys our relationship with Christ and genuine fellowship with other believers. It destroys our prayer life as well. A carnal Christian does not pray, really pray and seek the heart of God. A deep prayer life exposes facades and crushes hypocrisy. Carnality also destroys spiritual power and hinders the infilling of the Spirit. It also affects our home life. In short, everything that God calls us to be is compromised.

Being selective with what we watch and listen to has nothing to do with legalism; it has everything to do with wisdom. We are to recognize what glorifies Christ and what clearly does not then choose accordingly. Grace does not relieve us of responsibility. We actually live under a higher standard when grace guides our decisions, not rules. It’s not about following rules. Let your freedom in Christ, and a relationship with Him, guide you. We’ve all watched questionable material and have made wrong choices; don’t live with ongoing regret. But don’t justify wrong behavior by thinking that God doesn’t care about what you watch or listen to, He does. We serve and love God with our mind. (See Romans 7:25.)

Watch my sermon, “Are You Wheat or Tare?”

Shane Idleman is the author of the “What Works” book series and “One Nation Above God.”

Unless otherwise specified, the opinions expressed are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Charisma Media.

Source: charismanews.com

beyoncepreciouslord

Beyoncé Releases Mini-Documentary Highlighting Racial Injustice (VIDEO)

Reactions from Beyoncé’s Grammy performance of notable gospel song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” has drawn a great deal of attention from fans on social media. And while some may feel the international pop star slighted Ledisi from performing the track, who sang the song in the movie “Selma,” Beyoncé has revealed how personal the tune is to her family lineage.

On Monday, via her official website and YouTube channel, “Queen Bey” released an exclusive 8-minute documentary titled, “’Take My Hand, Precious Lord’: The Voices” highlighting rehearsal footage of her performance and interviews with her background singers sharing their thoughts on racial injustice.

In addition to the Grammy Award-winner recollecting childhood memories of her mother, Tina, playing Mahalia Jackson’s original version of the song, she also discussed singing the ballad in honor of black men including her father and former manager, Mathew.

“I wanted to find real men that have lived, that have struggled, cried, have a light and a spirit about them,” Beyoncé said in the clip. “I felt like this is an opportunity to show the strength and vulnerability in black men.”

“My grandparents marched with Dr. King and my father was part of the first generation of black men that attended an all-white school,” she continued.

“My father has grown up with a lot of trauma from those experiences. I feel like now I can sing for his pain, I can sing for my grandparents’ pain. I can sing for some of the families that have lost their sons.”

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Threepeat-Collage

Wardrobe Threepeat: How to Wear One Dress Three Ways

Threepeat-Collage

When my newest LBD (Little Black Dress) from Monifc.com arrived to my home I was excited to see how it was going to fit. Secondly, I asked myself, “will I be able to wear it again?” I always answer “yes” especially when my husband asks. Now for the task of justifying this splurge item by really making it work for more than one occasion.

So I decided to create three looks out of one dress. 1) Red Carpet Ready, 2) Out on the Town, and 3) Business Dinner Chic.

Red Carpet Ready

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My first instinct was to put together an elegant look. I love a black dress because you can pair it with your favorite pumps and you instantly look simple and elegant. Every woman needs a LBD and a good pair of go-to pumps. I decided to pair this dress with my favorite nude pumps and my very flashy, but regal BCBG chandelier earrings. The nude pump plays off of the gold in the earring and offers a little color variation. This look is perfect for an award ceremony, banquet, or upcoming holiday party.

Out on the Town

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The second look I came up with is more of an edgy look, giving downtown vibes. I have been wanting to try the pants under a dress look, so this was the perfect opportunity. The asymmetrical hem can accommodates this look quite well. So because of my love for leather I decided to go with a faux leather pant under this dress to add dimension and texture. I also went with leather boots, to create a seamless effect. The turban and gold jewelry scream personal style. As you can see the same dress is now part of a “look” that’s perfect for a night out with the girls or your beau, Boaz or whatever you fancy calling him.

Business Dinner Chic

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My last look is accomplished by the simple addition of a blazer. It’s the simplest way to give a dress new life. My closet is full of blazers because I grab one whenever I want to look a bit polished. Because I wanted to downplay the dress I added a black sandal. This is a great look for when you want to mean business, but still be a lady.

The next time you’re thinking that you have nothing to wear, think again.

So the next time you’re thinking that you have nothing to wear, think again. Pull out your little black dress and put a spin on it. Anyone can accomplish one or all of these looks.

Source: gospeltoday.com

tina-campbel

Mary Mary’s Tina Campbell Admits To Shameful ‘Ungospel’ Behavior

Mary Mary recently appeared on The Arsenio Hall show where Tina Campbell, one half of the gospel music singing duo, dished about being ashamed of some of her behavior.

Campbell, 39, is married to gospel drummer Teddy Campbell, also 39, who has also worked as the percussionist for “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. On her WE tv reality television series “Mary Mary” Tina lets fans know that she is working on rebuilding her relationship after finding out about her husband’s infidelities.

After first exposing the issues within her marriage in an EBONY magazine interview last year, Tina recently told talk show host Arsenio Hall that she was ashamed of how she acted after being hurt by the situation and coming out with it publicly.

“During the process, yes I did. I was like ‘It’s embarrassing, it’s shameful.’ I’m doing a bunch of stuff thats ungospel,” she said on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” “I wasn’t nice, I wasn’t nothing to be played with when it was going on. I’m just saying it was really bad for everybody that was around me.”

Still, Tina explained why she acted in a way that she is not proud of.

“I was like, ‘I’m hurting, I’mma hurt the world, that’s how it’s going down’. You don’t really want to do that while the cameras are rolling, it helps to get behind bars,” she admitted. “I was trying to figure out how do I manage this in the process.”

The singer revealed why she felt the need to share such an emotional and personal part of her life with countless fans.

“Maybe someone could heal by watching me heal. I kinda made (that decision) in the spur of the moment,” she admitted on the late night talk show. “I didn’t know how challenging the process of healing was going to be, but I made the decision in the spur of the moment.”

Source: Christianpost.com

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Dad Calls Sheriff’s Office to Supervise Spanking

Spanking is a divisive issue in America – according to one poll, 78 percent of parents say spanking can be appropriate, while most parenting experts warn against it. In the eyes of the law, though, it’s acceptable: Corporal punishment is legal in all 50 states.

But just to be on the safe side, one father in Florida called in the local authorities last week to supervise as he spanked his 12-year-old daughter.

“My understanding is that the father was going to render corporal punishment to his daughter,” Undersheriff Neal Stephen, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, tells Yahoo Parenting. “She said ‘no you can’t, it’s abuse.’ And the father said ‘Okay, let’s call the sheriff’s department to find out.’”

Stephen says one of his deputies answered the call, went to the family’s home, and told both the father and daughter that corporal punishment was within the dad’s rights as a parent.

The father spanked his daughter four times with a paddle, according to the incident report.

Stephen says the call to his office was for the father to prove to the daughter that spanking was legal. “We have an ‘asking why’ generation,” he says. “Adolescents question what exactly parents can do, which makes parents begin to question. There is a misconception among kids that spanking isn’t an option for parents. I’m not saying it’s the answer, but it’s their prerogative.” Since the deputy was already there, the father asked him to stay to supervise the paddling, Stephen says.

But just because something is legal doesn’t make it right, and Stephen says he and Child Services don’t always interpret parental behavior in the same way. “I’m there to determine whether or not a criminal act took place,” he says. “Child Services is there to determine if something was right by their statute. We may not always agree on our interpretation of what happened.”

Dr. Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center, says corporal punishment is ineffective. “Moderate or severe spanking doesn’t change behavior,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “It stops it in the moment, but doesn’t change the rate of the behavior in the coming days, months or year, and will actually increase the negative side effects.” These side effects can include increased risk of mental health problems, short-term and chronic physical health problems, and even an altered immune system.

So what should parents do? “The better route is one that focuses on building the behaviors you want,” Kazdin says. “Instead of punishing, praise incidents where kids do good things.”

“This dad was right, the law intervenes only in extreme cases,” Kazdin says. But if he wants his daughter to stop misbehaving, he might take another route next time. “Based on the evidence, spanking is an ineffective way to change people.”

Stephen says this isn’t the first time his department has answered a call from a disciplining parent. “We’re not in the service of standing by while parents spank their children,” he says. “But I’ve seen this maybe a dozen times in my 27 years on the job.”

Source: Yahoo

ericacampbellsalon

Erica Campbell Educates People On The Difference Between God and Satan’s Voice

Erica Campbell may be known for her gospel music, but the Mary Mary group member is also using social media to educate people about learning the difference between the voice of Jesus and Satan.

Campbell, the 33-year-old “HELP” singer, took to Twitter and Instagram to give fans insight about telling the difference between the voice of God and Satan’s voice.

“No heart is an empty heart! Either Jesus is in control or Satan is in control,” Campbell wrote. “Who’s in control Gods way gets Gods results! Stop letting Satan talk to you!”

She went on to speak about the importance of avoiding negative thoughts.

“Those negative thoughts aren’t yours they’re his! U been listening so long, you can’t hear God anymore,” she wrote. “Who’s been in your ear? Who do you listen to?”

The singer explained how her followers could get to know the voice of God.

“Read the Bible today to learn God voice There’s no excuse not to, it’s on your phone, there are different versions of the bible so you can understand and comprehend and apply it to your life #seekHimfindHim #Satanwantsyourcompleteattention,”

she wrote.

Earlier this year, the singer announced that she would add church leader to her resume with The California Worship Center. Erica and her husband Warryn Campbell III have decided to become church leaders after hosting Bible studies in hotel rooms.

Warryn, the My Block Records CEO, who has produced music for his wife and her sister Tina in their group Mary Mary for years, has inspired a direction for the church.

“Warryn is real serious about ministry and wants to make sure that, above all, it is God-centered,” she said on The Yolanda Adams Morning Show earlier this year. “We kind of take the approach of [reaching out to] the broken, wounded people who have kind of been jaded by church and don’t want to go no more.”

Soure: Christianpost.com
Image: salon.com

SPOUSE

Cherish: Recognize Your Spouse’s Value

Honor isn’t based on behavior or subject to emotion. You grant your spouse value whether they want it or deserve it. Honor is a decision you make and a gift you give. This is exactly what the apostle Paul encouraged the early Christians to do when he wrote, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10).