If You Are a Christian, Please Stop Doing These 5 Things

If You Are a Christian, Please Stop Doing These 5 Things

If you’re a Christian, please stop doing these 5 things.

1. Telling people “I’ll pray for you” without actually praying for them.

Guilty as charged. I can’t think of anybody who hasn’t done this at one time or another. And while most of us don’t actually mean to forget, it’s probably best that we just set aside time on the spot to pray for people. Are we really so busy that we can’t stop and pray for someone’s needs? We need to make sure we are fulfilling our duties as Christians and actually follow through with them. One prayer could be the tipping point to someone coming to know the love of God. Don’t miss the opportunity to speak life into someone because you don’t think you have time.

2. Attending Church on Sunday, but ignoring God’s voice the rest of the week.

Ouch! This one stings a little. Many of us get in the habit of making God just another addition to our weekly check-list, but the reality is that our entire lives should revolve around him. God deserves #1 priority in each of our lives, and to treat him any differently would go against the foundations of the Christian faith. Evaluate the way you are spending your time, money and energy. If you want to see a change in your life then you need to begin giving God the place of honor he deserves. Stop treating God like the last kid picked in doge-ball.

3. Praying for God’s provision when we have yet to use what he has already provided.

Way too many of us tend to treat God like a personal genie. Prayer was given to us as an open line of communication between us and God, but the harsh reality is that way too many of try to use it like a drive-thru at a fast-food restaurant. You don’t get to pick and choose the way God provides, but you do get the opportunity to trust his plan and have faith in his promises. I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve ignored God’s provision because it wasn’t wrapped the way I intended it to be. Every time we purposely ignore God’s provision, we are indirectly telling him, “I don’t trust your plan.”

4. Trying to be so relevant that we actually hurt the message of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with trying to be relevant, but we need to understand that there is a BOLD line between being trendy, and then completely disfiguring the message of Jesus. We can’t expect to bring any change to the world when we don’t look any different from it. I’m a firm believer that Jesus came to reclaim culture and not abolish it, but this doesn’t mean we need to water down His message so that it’s easier to swallow.

5. Telling people that “God will never give you anything you can’t handle.”

Why should we stop saying this? Because it’s a lie. … We’ve completely twisted 1 Corinthians 10:13, as this verse is pointing toward temptation, and even then it states God will be there if things get too tough. The reality is that God just might give us things we can’t handle so that we will gaze toward him for the extra help. Mind blowing right? Realize that not everything is going to go the way you plan, think or hope. Sometimes stuff is going to hit the fan, and in order for you to get through it, you are going to NEED to rely on God’s comfort, peace and understanding. We weren’t meant to do life alone.

7 Common Reasons Churches Have a Dramatic Decline in Attendance

“Where did everyone go?”

A business executive asked that question when she returned to her church after some extended international travels. In the four weeks she was out, the attendance at the church had declined from nearly 600 to under 400. The attendance had plummeted in that short time by 35 percent!

To be clear, such rapid declines are aberrations. Most declining churches go through incremental, not dramatic, reductions.

We consider a church to be in dramatic decline when the average worship attendance drops by 20 percent or more in three months or less. What causes such unusual declines? Here are seven common reasons:

A scandal in the church. The two most common are sexual and financial scandals. Either of those can cause immediate erosion of trust and send members out the door.

Sudden departure of a pastor or staff person. I am familiar with a church where the average attendance dropped from 1,250 to 850 in just a few weeks when a malevolent power group in the church forced the pastor out. The congregation never heard a reasonable reason for the departure because there was none. The church has not recovered.

Closure or decline of a major employer. Some communities are highly dependent on one or a few employers. When any one of those employers close, people who are members of churches in the community will often depart rather quickly. I saw this reality transpire many times during the great recession and when several military bases closed.

The church changes its position on a major biblical/moral issue. When a church makes a major doctrinal shift, many members often exit quickly. That exit is often exacerbated if the doctrinal change is related to a moral issue.

A power group continues to wreak havoc in a church. The story is not uncommon. The same power group opposes any change again and again. Pastoral tenure declines due to the leaders’ frustration with this group. At some point a large group in the church declares “enough” and departs en masse.

Another church moves close by. The new church or newly located church offers ministries and programs the affected church does not have. Often these ministries are particularly appealing to families who still have children at home. Those families move to the new church to try to keep their children interested and excited about church life.

A highly contentious business meeting. These churches have typically experienced conflict for some time. The conflict comes to a boiling point in a business meeting. Large numbers leave due to anger, weariness or both.

Admittedly, this level of decline is not common, but I am seeing it more frequently. It is my prayer that these seven reasons can also serve as seven warning signs.

It is incredibly difficult for any church to recover fully from such a massive exodus.

This article originally appeared here.

The Missing Elements of Modern Worship – Tim Challies

What's Missing in Modern Worship?

I once paid a visit to one of the most mega of America’s megachurches. It’s a church whose pastor is well-known, a church known for its innovation, a church held up as a model for modern evangelicalism. I went in with as open a mind as I could muster. I left perplexed. I was perplexed not by what was said or done in the service as much as what was left unsaid and undone.

Since that visit I’ve had the opportunity to attend many more churches and, as often as not, they have been similar, missing a lot of the elements that used to be hallmarks of Christian worship. Here are some of the missing elements of modern worship.

That church I visited all those years ago was the first I had ever attended that was almost completely devoid of prayer. The only prayer in the entire service was a prayer of response following the sermon. “With every head bowed and every eye closed, pray these words with me…” There were no prayers of confession, of intercession, of thanksgiving. There was no pastoral prayer to bring the cares of the congregation before the Lord. This is a pattern I have seen again and again in modern worship services, with prayer becoming rare and minimal instead of common and prominent. Conspicuous by their absence are any prayers longer than 30 seconds or a minute in length.

Scripture Reading
Another element that has gone missing in modern worship is the scripture reading. There was a time when most services included a couple of lengthy readings, often one from the Old Testament and one from the New. But then it was trimmed to one and then the reading disappeared altogether in favor of mentioning individual verses as they came up in the sermon. But what of Paul’s command to Timothy that he devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13)? In too many churches this element has gone missing. In too many churches the Word of God is almost an afterthought.

If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship?
Already we do well to pause and ask the question: If a worship service includes no prayer and no Bible reading, can we even recognize it as Christian worship?

Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon
Traditionally, Protestant worship services included a confession of sin and an assurance of pardon. Sometimes the congregation would confess their sins by reading a text or a liturgy or by silent prayer. Other times the pastor would confess the sins of the congregation on their behalf. It was a solemn moment. But then there would be the assurance of pardon, where the pastor would bring God’s own assurance that those who confess their sins are forgiven. Solemnity was replaced by joy. This pattern of confession and assurance naturally led to thankful worship and a desire to grow in holiness by hearing from God through his Word as it was read and preached. These elements came early and set up the rest of the service. Yet it is rare to encounter them today.

Expositional Preaching
When Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy he instructed him to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5). Christians have long understood that the best way to preach the word faithfully is to preach the word expositionally—to preach in such a way that the point of the sermon matches the point of the text. That is, the pastor needs to understand not just the wording of the passage, but the author’s intent in writing it. This leads to the most faithful interpretation and application. While there has been a great revival of expositional preaching in recent years, this element is still missing in so much of modern worship, replaced by topical sermons that wander from book to book, text to text, translation to translation. I am convinced that a congregation grows best when they are fed on a steady diet of expositional sermons.

Congregational Singing
The purpose of the band is to serve and facilitate, not perform and dominate. An element sadly lacking from so many churches today is singing that is truly congregational. Ironically, modern worship services focus on music more than ever before, but little of it is congregational. Congregational singing is more than a crowd singing along to a band. It is singing dominated by the voices of the people—all of the people. The purpose of the band is to serve and facilitate, not perform and dominate. You know you are experiencing congregational worship when the voices of the people rise higher than the instruments and the lead worshippers. Churches have turned away from hymnody, songs that at their best had deep truth set to simple but beautiful melodies. Instead, they have adopted modern worship which, at its worst, is shallow, repetitive, and set to difficult melodies. Not every song—not even every good and biblical song—is suitable for congregational worship. Wall-shaking, roof-lifting, band-driven worship is no substitute for the beauty of the human voice singing praise to God.

It’s not that every one of these elements has to be prominent every week (and it’s not like these are the only elements that have gone missing). There is a time and place for topical sermons. A confession of sin and assurance of pardon may not be necessary every week. There can be a time for special music that is not well-suited to congregational singing. Well and good. But there was a time when each of these elements was prominent in Christian worship. Where have they gone? Or, perhaps more importantly, why have they gone?

I am convinced that most of these elements have gone missing for pragmatic reasons—they do not accomplish something the church leaders wish to accomplish in their services. Instead of searching God’s Word to determine what elements should or must be present in a worship service, leaders are judging elements by whether or not they work (according to their own standard of what works). Yet each of these elements represents a significant loss because each in its own way expresses obedience to God and brings encouragement to his people.

Source: The Missing Elements of Modern Worship – Tim Challies

Why Homosexuality Is Not Like Other Sins • ChurchLeaders.com

Homosexuality is not the only sin mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

It’s not the only sin mentioned, but it is different from all the rest, at least right now.

At this moment in history, contrary to the other sins listed here, homosexuality is celebrated by our larger society with pioneering excitement. It’s seen as a good thing, as the new hallmark of progress.

To be sure, the masses increasingly make no bones about sin in general. Innumerable people are idolaters, not to mention those who are sexually immoral, or who commit adultery, or who steal and are greedy and get wasted and revile neighbors and swindle others.

It happens all the time. And each of these unrepentant sins are the same in the sense of God’s judgment.

They all deserve his wrath. And we’re constantly reminded that “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Concerning Popular Opinion

But as far as I know, none of those sins are applauded so aggressively by whole groups of people who advocate for their normalcy.

Sexual immorality is no longer the tip of the spear for the progressive push. Adultery is still frowned upon by many. Accusations of greed will still smear a candidate’s political campaign.

Thievery is still not openly embraced, and there are no official initiatives saying it’s OK to go steal things that don’t belong to you. There’s no such thing as a drunk agenda yet.

Most aren’t proud to choose a beverage over stability, and there aren’t any petitions that the government should abolish the driving restrictions of inebriated individuals. Reviling others still isn’t seen as the best way to win friends and influence people. Swindling, especially on a corporate level, usually gets someone thrown into jail. In fact, the infrastructure of the American economy depends upon, in some measure, our shared disdain for conniving scammers.

Perhaps excepting fornication, these sins are still seen in a pretty negative light.

But not homosexual practice, not by those who are now speaking loudest and holding positions of prominence.

According to the emerging consensus, homosexuality is different.

What to Be Against

As Christians, we believe with deepest sincerity that the embrace of homosexual practice, along with other sins, keeps people out of the kingdom of God.

And if our society celebrates it, we can’t both be caring and not say anything. Too much is at stake.

This means it is an oversimplification to say that Christians—or conservative evangelicals—are simply against homosexuality. We are against any sin that restrains people from everlasting joy in God, and homosexual practice just gets all the press because, at this cultural moment, it’s the main sin that is so freshly endorsed in our context by the powers that be.

Let’s hope that if there’s some new cultural agenda promoting thievery—one that says it’s now our right to take whatever we want from others by whatever means—that Christians will speak out against it.

The issue is sin. That’s what we’re against.

And that’s what should make our voice so unique when we speak into this debate.

Some would like to see this whole issue of homosexuality divided into two camps: those who celebrate it and those who hate it. Both of these groups exist in our society.

There are the growing numbers, under great societal pressure, who praise homosexuality. We might call them the left.

And there are people who hate homosexuality, with the most bigoted rationale and apart from any Christian concern. We might call them the right.

Those Glorious Words

The current debate is plagued by this binary lens. Those on the left try to lump everyone who disagrees with them into that right side. If you don’t support, you hate. Meanwhile, those on the right see compromise and spinelessness in anyone who doesn’t get red-faced and militant. If you don’t hate, you support.

But true followers of Christ will walk neither path. We have something to say that no one else is saying, or can say.

Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under the societal pressure.

We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong,” and, “I love you.”

We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved.

We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross—the same words that God spoke to us—“You’re wrong, and you’re loved.”

God tells us we’re wrong, that the wages of sin is death, that unrepentant rebellion means judgment, that our rescue required the cursed death of his Son (Romans 3:23; John 3:36; Galatians 3:13).

And God tells us we’re loved, that even while we were sinners, Jesus died for us, that while we were unrighteous, Jesus suffered in our place, that though we were destined for wrath, Jesus welcomes us into glory (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:1–7).

You’re wrong and you’re loved—that’s the unique voice of the Christian. That’s what we say, speaking from our own experience.

As Tim Keller so well puts it, “We’re far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved than we could ever dream.”

That’s our message in this debate, when society’s elites despise us, when pop songs vilify us, when no one else has the resources to say anything outside of two extremes, we have this incomparable opportunity to let the gospel shine, to reach out in grace: You’re wrong and you’re loved. We get to say this.

That’s why homosexuality is not like other sins.

Source: Why Homosexuality Is Not Like Other Sins • ChurchLeaders.com

America’s Abortion Rate Hits All-Time Low | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com

America's Abortion Rate Hits All-Time LowGuttmacher Institute

The abortion rate in the United States declined to an all-time low, while the number of lethal procedures dropped below a million for the first time since 1975, according to a new report.

The Guttmacher Institute reported Tuesday (Jan. 17) the rate fell to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old in 2014, which is a decline of 14 percent since its most recent survey in 2011.

In its census of all known abortion providers in the country, Guttmacher found abortions totaled 958,700 in 2013 and 926,190 in 2014.

The abortion rate reached its zenith at 29.3 in 1980 and 1981, and the total number of abortions peaked at more than 1.6 million in 1990, according to Guttmacher.

Guttmacher Institute

Pro-life advocates welcomed the report, and pointed to the work of pro-life citizens and legislators as a reason for the dramatic decline in abortions and their rate.

“The falling abortion number is due to the ceaseless advocacy and ministry of the pro-life community in neighborhoods all around this country,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “The pro-life movement advances by calling out to consciences with the truth of what unborn human life is and matching that call with real ministry to women in crisis.

“While a lower rate is undoubtedly good news, the violent taking of the life of even one unborn child ought to cause us to weep and redouble our efforts to protect every human life and contend against the predatory abortion industry,” Moore told Baptist Press in written comments.

Americans United for Life (AUL), the country’s leader in helping state legislators pass pro-life laws, cited such policies, as well as technology, in explaining the trend.

“Research has shown that life-affirming laws do have an impact on lowering the number of abortions, and with all the life-affirming laws passed since 2010, we have a reason to celebrate the number of lives saved and women protected as legislators worked to defend them from a predatory and rarely accountable abortion industry,” AUL Acting President Clark Forsythe said in a written statement.

“But another factor in lower[ing] the number of abortions is the power of beautiful pictures of life inside the womb, through ultrasound,” he said. “Such pictures are worth more than a thousand words when it comes to helping people understand whose lives are on the line.”

In 2016, 43 states considered more than 360 abortion-related measures, according to AUL’s annual report released Jan 10. The bills introduced included such measures as bans on government funding of abortion, restrictions on late-term abortions, ultrasound requirements, and prohibitions on abortions based on sex, race, or genetic abnormality.

The Guttmacher Institute, which is affiliated with the abortion rights movement, suggested the improved use of contraceptives attributed to the falling rate and total. But it also acknowledged state regulations and the declining number of abortion clinics may have contributed.

“Abortion restrictions and clinic closures mean that patients may need to travel greater distances to access services,” said Rachel Jones, lead author of the study, in a written release. “The majority of abortion patients—75%—are poor or low-income, and nearly two-thirds are already parents. It can be very difficult for them to arrange for time off from work, transportation and child care. While many find ways to access care despite these obstacles, some of the abortion rate decline is likely attributable to women who were prevented from accessing needed services.”

The good news for pro-lifers came only five days before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court’s Jan. 22, 1973, decision that legalized abortion nationwide—and the observance of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on the Southern Baptist Convention calendar.

It also arrived shortly before the second annual Evangelicals for Life conference Jan 26-28 in Washington, D.C. The conference—cohosted by the ERLC and Focus on the Family—features more than 50 speakers addressing not only abortion but such issues as adoption, end-of-life care, ministry to those with special needs, human trafficking, service to immigrants and refugees, and the development of a pro-life worldview. Conference attendees will be able to participate in the Jan. 27 March for Life.

The Guttmacher report also included the following information:

  • Nearly half—45 percent—of all abortions in the first nine weeks of gestation were performed using pills, and the percentage of such nonhospital abortions increased from 24 percent in 2011 to 31 percent in 2014.
  • The abortion rate declined between 2011 and 2014 in all but six states and the District of Columbia.
  • Ninety percent of all U.S. counties in 2014 contained no abortion clinic.
  • Five states—Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming—had only one abortion clinic apiece in 2014.
  • The number of abortion clinics fell by 17 percent from 2011 to 2014.
  • Abortion clinics made up 16 percent of all abortion facilities in 2014 but provided 59 percent of all abortions.

The Guttmacher Institute acknowledged its report has limitations. For instance, it reported only 58 percent of facilities it believes provided abortions in 2014 responded to the survey. Guttmacher used state health department information for 20 percent of facilities and made estimates on another 17 percent.

While the Guttmacher report is based partly on estimates, it covers all 50 states. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also reported a decline in abortions in its December announcement, does not require states to provide information on abortions. Three states—California, Maryland and New Hampshire—did not provide data to the CDC.

Forsythe said the country needs “a more complete picture of the impact of abortion on women, through verifiable tracking.”

In its annual report, AUL named these as the 10 best states for protecting life in 2016: (1) Oklahoma; (2) Kansas; (3) Louisiana; (4) Arkansas; (5) Arizona; (6) South Dakota; (7) Mississippi; (8) Georgia; (9) Michigan; (10) Pennsylvania.

The 10 least protective states were: (1) Washington, for the eighth straight year; (2) California; (3) Vermont; (4) New Jersey; (5) Oregon; (6) Nevada; (7) New York; (8) Connecticut; (9) Massachusetts; (10) Hawaii.

The ERLC has offered six pro-life priorities for action by President-elect Trump and Congress in 2017, including the nomination and confirmation of a pro-life successor to the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a permanent ban on all federal funding of abortion and the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the country’s No. 1 abortion provider.

Source: America’s Abortion Rate Hits All-Time Low | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com

How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently

When it comes to spiritual formation and discipleship, African American Christians are in it together.

Black believers are more likely to position their growth in Christ in the context of community and fellowship, while white Christians take a more individualized approach, according to a study released this week from Barna Research.

The survey found that twice as many black Christians as whites were currently being mentored or discipled by a fellow believer (38% vs. 19%). Over a quarter of black Christians also served as mentors themselves, compared to 17 percent of white Christians.

The prevalence of such relationships relates to traditional models of leadership and lineage in African American churches. In an interview with CT about his book Reviving the Black Church, pastor Thabiti Anyabwile described how “most of our pastors were in some kind of apprenticeship in preparation for the ministry. They would sit under another pastor or have a ‘spiritual father’ who would pour himself into them.”

Black Christians also preferred group-based discipleship to one-on-one (32% vs. 22%), while white Christians favored being discipled on their own (39% vs. 31%), according to Barna. They are four times more likely than white Christians to list study groups as “very important” to their spiritual development.

Barna Group

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, a mentoring coach and author of Mentor for Life, numbers among the churchgoing African Americans who see group mentoring as essential.

“In a mentoring small group, your learning is going to be enhanced because you’re not just hearing the philosophy of one person; rather you are drawing near to God by sharing in the diverse experiences of the group,” she wrote. “When we mentor people and intentionally make disciples in this way, we also create safe places for people to learn and grow, to love and be loved well.”

Barna researchers pointed out that fellowship was a particularly strong component of mentorship for African Americans. “There are plenty of similarities in how both groups define the primary goals of discipleship,” the report stated, “but black Christian leaders are more likely to say ‘deepening one’s faith through education and fellowship’ is a goal of discipleship (85% compared to 71%).”

The group mindset among African Americans also stems from church history and current racial tensions. Black churches and denominations formed when their members were excluded from white fellowship. Given that Martin Luther King Jr.’s observation on Sunday morning segregation mostly still holds true, believers continue to view these congregations as “a necessary place of refuge and resistance” in the aftermath of racially motivated violence and systemic injustice, CT columnist Christena Cleveland wrote.

About a third of black Christians and more than a quarter of white Christians say getting through tough times motivates them to pursue spiritual growth.


These realities add significance to fellowship found in churches and small groups. While white Christians are more likely to label their spiritual lives as “entirely private,” African Americans see their spiritual lives as intertwined with the social and political situations they face. Almost half of black Christians (46%) believe their spiritual lives impact society at large, compared to 27 percent of white Christians.

“There’s something powerful about being together. It reminds me of a Henri Nouwen quote about the ministry of presence that suggests we underestimate just what being together means,” said Cleveland, discussing a retreat held for Christian women of color last year. “Often we want to preach eloquent sermons or produce some sort of amazing artistic expression to touch people’s hearts, and that’s great … but a lot of it is laughing and knowing that we’re not alone.”

Source: How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently

Man Escapes Fiery Car Crash When He Calls on the Name of the Lord

Bridges and Williams reunite for the first time after the car wreck.

Bridges and Williams reunite for the first time after the car wreck.

Join us on our podcast each weekday for an interesting story, well told, from Charisma News. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com. Michael Bridges was trapped in the fiery prison of his car. As flames licked closer, Bridges said the only thing he could think of: Jesus. “Usually when you’re hurt, you call your momma, like if you fall out of a tree or off your bike, but this time I called for Jesus Christ,” Bridges said. “I said ‘God, don’t let me die like this,’ and when I said that, this guy opened the door to the truck.” Meet Jason Williams, the man on the other side of the door. The truck driver saw Bridges’ truck blow a tire, catch on fire and careen across traffic and into the grass. “I stood there for a minute screaming ‘Is anybody in there?’ and I didn’t hear nothing, and then I heard, ‘Jesus, get me out of here,’ and that’s when I climbed up there and opened the door and helped him out or whatever happened up there. A miracle happened up there,” Williams said. According to Landmine magazine, Williams arrived at the vehicle to hear Bridges scream for help. As Williams attempted to extricate Bridges by the arms, the fire was too hot. Williams lost his grip as Bridges’ nearly melted skin slid away from Williams. Williams’ tenacity kicked in. He grabbed Bridges in a giant bear hug and successfully pulled the man to safety. “We got up and walked away from that. If that’s not God, then I don’t know what is,” Bridges said. The entire scene took place last year, but Bridges and Williams have now been reunited. Watch the video to see their emotional reunion.

Source: Man Escapes Fiery Car Crash When He Calls on the Name of the Lord — Charisma News

Boo! A Madea Halloween

Ghosts? Goblins? Things that go bump in the night? They’re no match for a mad black woman.

That’s right—Madea’s back. And if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from the dozen or so movies she’s appeared in, she doesn’t scare easily.

Oh, sure, she fears the police—but what woman with so many outstanding warrants wouldn’t be a little wary of the po-po? She’s shown a certain reluctance to go to church—but maybe that’s prudent, considering the threat of errant lightning. But should a vampire try to stick his fangs in Madea’s ample neck, he’ll spend the next few months sipping hemoglobin through a straw. And she sure isn’t scared of any smart-mouthed teen.

Good thing.

That’s because Brian, Madea’s soft-spoken nephew, is raising just such a truculent teenager. Tiffany’s her name, and, at 17, she’s perfected the dismissive eye roll. She feels like she knows all the world’s secrets and is ready to make her own decisions. So what if her father doesn’t want her sneaking off to a nearby frat house for a wild Halloween party with her friends? If Tiffany wants to do it, Tiffany will see it done.

Brian, divorced now and raising two kids by himself, is at the end of his parental tether. He can’t stand guard on Halloween. He tries to get Tiffany to spend the evening at her mother’s house, but the teen balks at that idea. As a last resort, Brian phones Madea and asks her to make sure that Tiffany stays put. Madea agrees (once Brian offers to pay her) and brings her posse to help: Aunt Bam, who smokes more marijuana than Seth Rogen; Hattie, a shortish woman with a speech impediment; and her oafish brother, Joe.

But Tiffany—with her own reluctant friend, Aday, in tow—refuses to be cowed by this geriatric cartel. There’s a party to go to, after all, and go she will. So she decides to spin a story of how the family home’s ghost, Mr. Wilson, comes out to play every Halloween—always looking for new souls to add to his collection. There’s only one sure way to survive the evening, Tiffany says: to lock yourself in a bedroom and just stay put.

Bam and Hattie are inclined to believe Tiffany. Joe’s just too stoned to care. But Madea knows a thing or two about sneaky kids. When she opens up Tiffany’s bedroom door and finds the room empty, she’s not surprised, and she’s certainly not scared. The child went to the party, Madea knows. There’s nothing for it but to go to the frat bash herself.

And soon everyone learns that, to paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, there is nothing to fear … but Madea herself.

If you’re familiar with Tyler Perry’s Madea character, you know she’s no role model. But if folks listened to what she said more often (while ignoring nearly everything she does), they might be better for it.

Madea believes that folks should be strong. Self-reliant. Unfailingly courteous to old people. And she’ll try to instill those traits in those around her, even if she has to beat them to the point of death to do it. In Boo! A Madea Halloween, she, Hattie and Bam encourage Tiffany to recant of her whiny teenage ways.

She also spurs Brian to act more like a dad. Brian admits that he’s read parents should be their kids’ friends. Madea has no respect for such nonsense: Kids don’t need their parents to be friends, she says; they need parents. And that means that parents sometimes have to put their foot down and dole out punishment—sometimes harsh punishment—if need be.

[Spoiler Warning] Madea and Co. then turn on the still disobedient Tiffany, pulling clothes out of her closet and telling her that if she’s not going to obey her pops, she might as well be on her way. They tell her that everything she “owns” was pretty much paid for by Brian, and thus not really hers. Brian joins in the packing, reinforcing the well-worn notion that if Tiffany’s going to live in Dad’s house, she’ll have to listen and obey the dad who pays for it.

While folks might quibble with the threat of throwing a 17-year-old girl out on the street, the lesson underneath this demonstration of tough love is a valuable one. Madea also tells Tiffany it’s important to cut her parents some slack, too. “They are not God,” she says. “They’re parents,” and thus prone to mistakes of their own.

Aday, Tiffany’s friend, is a pastor’s kid. She talks about how her family doesn’t typically celebrate Halloween, but they do have a celebration over at the church. Last year, she says, she dressed up as the Holy Ghost.

Apparent zombies chase Madea into a church, where she meets Aday’s mom and dad. “Help me, Jesus!” Madea shouts repeatedly as she barrels down the aisle. Aday’s mother tells Madea that she’ll be fine if she just accepts Jesus into her heart as Savior and confesses her sin. Madea agrees to the first part, but declines the “confession” aspect of salvation for now: She doesn’t think that the congregants (or perhaps even the walls of the church itself) would be able to deal with hearing all of her sins. She does wind up getting “saved,” but when she hears that the zombies outside were actually frat members, she immediately starts backsliding. Madea longs to curse inside the church and shouts, “Cussing demon, I bind you!” She plots her revenge against the frat. And when the pastor reminds her about Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek,” Madea says she aims to kick some cheeks Jesus didn’t have in mind. She finally leaves the church and the frustrated pastor, saying that sometimes salvation just doesn’t take.

We hear many references to God, Jesus and church. Aunt Bam, Hattie, Madea and others often implore God for help, with Bam suggesting several times that a little prayer wouldn’t go amiss (especially when they’re all being attacked by supernatural entities). A Jack-o-Lantern outside Bam’s house is carved with “I (heart) Jesus,” though Madea wonders why Bam is giving candy to “heathens.” Madea claims she had all the lights on in her bedroom because she was reading the Bible. When asked where that Bible is, she says, “On the table in my heart.”

There are references to demons and devils, too. Tiffany trots out a “game” designed to contact the dead (obviously a knock-off Ouija board), which Madea insists should be put away immediately. “Keep playing with the devil,” she tells Tiffany, “He gonna show up.” She also talks about how voodoo was “everywhere” in her hometown of New Orleans.

Brian doesn’t want Tiffany to go to the party for obvious reasons. “Those boys wants just one thing,” he tells Tiffany. (When her younger brother asks what that is, Brian lies, saying “to pay their student loans.”) Tiffany doesn’t care. She wants to keep pace with a couple of popular, risqué friends who wear crop tops that show, as Aday says, “what the good Lord gave them.” Aday goes to the party dressed fairly modestly, but the other three do not—wearing outfits that display lots of cleavage and leg. One of the girls, Leah, wears a thong over some rear-embracing leggings, and she spends a good portion of the party (that we see, at least) twerking and giggling as she waves her backside to the camera.

Guys usher Aday and Tiffany into private bedrooms, with the suggestion that they’ll be able to get more intimate there. The couples never kiss or make physical contact. When the frat brothers learn that both are just 17, they recoil in horror and kick the kids out of the party. (Their friends, Leah and Rain, lie about their ages.)

Madea exposes her breasts to frat brothers (though her shirt hides them from the camera) and encourages them to touch them. They do, and when they realize they’re “real,” the young men are horrified. Madea makes references to her younger days when she was a stripper. When she begins dancing against her will to the music, she says it’s her “inner whore” coming out. Rain and Leah dance sultrily together for a second or two in the background. Joe makes references, some with gestures, to masturbation, prostitution, group sex and oral sex.

People ogle each other and make crude comments on how they’d like to see various bits uncovered. Revelers wear revealing outfits. Criminals being taken to prison crudely come on to same-sex characters, much to those characters’ discomfort.

Tyler Perry, Madea’s creator, plays Madea himself, of course: There are a few winking references to how “manlike” Madea is. (Joe, for instance, suggests that Madea may actually have a prostate hidden somewhere under the dress.)

Even the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.

A body is found in the frat house, its throat sliced open and blood dribbling down the front. There’s a huge fracas on a bus, where several people fight.

When it comes to scary situations, Madea’s fight-or-flight reflexes are predominantly set on “fight.” She punches apparently evil clowns in the face. (Joe knocks one out with a cane.) She hits a frat guy or two, as well.

Both Madea and Joe regularly laud the effectiveness of corporeal punishment, encouraging Brian to beat some sense into his daughter. (Aunt Bam and Hattie also affirm physical violence against wayward kids.) They remind Brian that they often gave him “love taps,” and that they never hurt him. Brian remembers some of those “taps” a bit differently: They recall the time when Madea beat him so badly that it necessitated a trip to the emergency room. “But,” she adds, “I’d at least take you to the hospital.” Joe, Brian’s father, would do no such thing: One day Joe apparently pushed Brian off a roof, and somehow his scrotum got skewered by a pencil.

Brian reminds his elders that this is a different time—that people can be arrested for those supposed “love taps” these days. But later, he suggests he’s willing to go to jail if launching into a little corporeal punishment would help his daughter.

We hear about 20 uses of the s-word and four or five of the n-word. (Brian scolds Joe for using that sort of language in Brian’s house.) God’s name is misused once, while “Lord” is used a half-dozen times in contexts that could be heard either as profane exclamations or spontaneous prayers. Milder profanities are hurled with the sort of rapidity one would expect from a particularly profane Gatlin gun: “H—” is used upwards of 120 times, and “d–n” another 75 times. We also hear “a–,” “p-ss” and “b–ch.”

Joe and Bam both use marijuana, complaining when various apparent ghoulies interrupt their high. Joe is shown smoking a joint. Whenever someone discusses or questions Bam’s pot habit, she reaches inside her dress and whips out her medicinal marijuana card. She brandishes it in front of police officers, bragging that she’s completely legal. (She also complains about getting the “munchies.”) Police find marijuana in the frat house. Madea and others light and smoke cigarettes.

Bam’s bathroom habits are a source of conversation. Madea reminds her that she wets herself a little when she gets scared (prompting Bam, who was startled in her front yard, to walk into her home to change her underwear). But later, she complains of her inability to urinate more than just a couple of drops at a time. When she learns that Brian’s own privates had a literal run-in with a pencil, she suggests with a giggle that he must have a more difficult time than she does.

Frat guys apparently vomit after touching Madea’s breasts. Aunt Bam steals candy from trick-or-treaters. Tiffany spends a lot of the movie talking back, disrespecting and disobeying her father.

Ah, Madea. Love her or hate her, there’s no one quite like her. I think a lot of people like Madea for the same reason that people like Old West gunslingers or shoot-first detectives. Madea represents a kind of no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners justice. She’ll get folks to act “right” even if she has to beat them to do it.

But the very thing that makes her attractive also makes her, and her movies, so problematic. Madea demands respect, but she doesn’t give it. She believes that the Golden Rule, that “doing unto others,” is a great thing as long as it’s others that are doing it.

Now, I know that Madea herself would never hold herself up as a role model. She’s a comic character, oversized and exaggerated in every way. We’re not supposed to view her as a blameless saint.

But just because we know who she is doesn’t excuse all that she and her cohorts do. All that cursing, sexual innuendo and drug use doesn’t disappear just because we’re not supposed to take it seriously.

Source: http://www.pluggedin.com/movie-reviews/boo-a-madea-halloween

No Confusion: Alcohol Causes Seven Cancers

There is “strong evidence” that alcohol causes seven cancers, and other evidence indicates that it “probably” causes more, according to a new literature review published online July 21 in Addiction.

Epidemiologic evidence supports a causal association of alcohol consumption and cancers of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and female breast, says Jennie Connor, MB, ChB, MPH, from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, in Dunegin, New Zealand.

In short, alcohol causes cancer.

This is not news, says Dr Connor. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and other agencies have long identified alcohol consumption as being causally associated with these seven cancers.

So why did Dr Connor, who is an epidemiologist and physician, write a new review? Because she wants to “clarify the strength of the evidence” in an “accessible way.”

There is “confusion” about the statement, “Alcohol causes cancer,” explains Dr Connor.

Public and scientific discussion about alcohol and cancer has muted the truth about causality, she suggests.

“In the public and the media, statements made by the world’s experts are often given the same weight as messages from alcohol companies and their scientists. Overall messages become unclear. For these reasons, the journal [Addiction] has tagged this piece [her review] as ‘For Debate,’ ” she told Medscape Medical News.

The use of causal language in scientific and public discussions is “patchy,” she writes.

For example, articles and newspaper stories often use expressions such as “alcohol-related cancer” and “alcohol-attributable cancer”; they refer to a “link” between alcohol and cancer and to the effect of alcohol on “the risk of cancer.”

These wordings “incorporate an implicit causal association, but are easily interpreted as something less than cancer being caused by drinking,” observes Dr Connor.

“Stop drinking alcohol” is a catch phrase that could be ― but is not ― akin to “stop smoking,” she also suggests.

“Currently, alcohol’s causal role is perceived to be more complex than tobacco’s, and the solution suggested by the smoking analogy — that we should all reduce and eventually give up drinking alcohol — is widely unacceptable,” writes Dr Connor.

The newly published review “reinforces the need for the public to be made aware of the causal link between alcohol and cancer,” said Colin Shevills, from the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, in a press statement.

“Research shows that only around 1 in 10 people [in the UK] are currently aware of the alcohol-cancer link,” he said.

“People have the right to know about the impact of alcohol on their health, including its link with cancer, so that they can make informed choices about how much they drink,” added Shevills.

The lack of clarity about alcohol causing cancer, Dr Connor believes, is related to alcohol industry propaganda as well as the fact that the “epidemiological basis for causal inference is an iterative process that is never completed fully.”

What the Epidemiology Says

Dr Connor writes that the strength of the association of alcohol as a cause of cancer varies by bodily site. The evidence is “particularly strong” for cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and esophagus (relative risk, ~4-7 for ≥50 g/day of alcohol compared with no drinking) but is less so for colorectal cancer and liver and breast cancer (relative risk, ~1.5 for ≥50 g/day).

“For cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus there is a well-recognized interaction of alcohol with smoking, resulting a multiplicative effect on risk,” adds Dr Connor.

Other cancers are also likely caused by alcohol. Dr Connor writes that there is “accumulating research” supporting a causal contribution of alcohol to cancer of the pancreas, prostate, and skin (melanoma).

The exact mechanisms as to how alcohol, either alone or in combination with smoking, cause cancer “are not fully understood,” although there is some supporting “biological evidence,” she says.

One British expert had an opinion about alcohol’s carcinogenicity.

In a statement about the new review, Prof Dorothy Bennett, director of the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute at St. George’s, University of London, said: “Alcohol enters cells very easily, and is then converted into acetaldehyde, which can damage DNA and is a known carcinogen.”

In the new review, Dr Connor describes various hallmarks of causality that have been found in epidemiologic studies of alcohol and these seven cancers, such as a dose-response relationship and the fact that the risk for some of these cancers (esophageal, head and neck, and liver) attenuates when drinking ceases.

Current estimates suggest that alcohol-attributable cancers at the seven cancer sites make up 5.8% of all cancer deaths worldwide, she states.

The alcohol industry has a lot at stake, she says, which in turn leads to “misinformation” that “undermines research findings and contradicts evidence-based public health messages.”

A recent example comes from New Zealand, where a symposium on alcohol and cancer was covered by national media. An opinion piece by an industry-funded scientist in the capital’s daily newspaper disputed the evidence reported from the conference. That essay was entitled: “To Say Moderate Alcohol Use Causes Cancer Is Wrong.”

The essay included the statement: “While chronic abusive alcohol consumption is associated with a plethora of health problems including cancer, attributing cancer to social moderate drinking is simply incorrect and is not supported by the body of scientific literature.”

But there is no safe level of drinking with respect to cancer, says Dr Connor, citing research about low to moderate levels of alcohol, which has been covered by Medscape Medical News.

This was also the conclusion of the 2014 World Cancer Report, issued by the World Health Organization’s IARC.

The promotion of health benefits from drinking at moderate levels is “seen increasingly as disingenuous or irrelevant in comparison to the increase in risk of a range of cancers,” writes Dr Connor.

Public health campaigns “with clear messages” are needed to spread the word about alcohol’s carcinogenicity, she told Medscape Medical News.

“I think that the UK is leading the way. Alcohol consumption as a public health issue has had high exposure in the UK over quite a number of years,” said Dr Connor, who provided links to two awareness campaigns, the Balance campaign, and the Balance Northeast campaign.

Earlier this year, the United Kingdom issued new guidelines on alcohol drinking, recommending that men drink no more than women and warning that any amount of alcohol increases the risk of developing a range of cancers.

Organizations in New Zealand are also taking action. The New Zealand Medical Association, the Cancer Society of New Zealand, and the National Heart Foundation have all adopted evidence-based position statements that “debunk” cardiovascular benefits as a motivation to drink and that highlight cancer risks, Dr Connor said.

Dr Connor has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Addiction. Published online July 21, 2016. Full text
Medscape Medical News © 2016 WebMD, LLC
Send comments and news tips to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cite this article: No Confusion: Alcohol Causes Seven Cancers. Medscape. Jul 27, 2016.

The Shocking Truth About How Americans View the Bible

To commemorate American Bible Society’s 200th anniversary, the organization unveiled The Bible in America, a joint effort with Barna Group providing an in-depth review of its six years of research on behaviors and beliefs about the Bible from American Bible Society’s annual State of the Bible report. While many Americans still value the Bible, the number of skeptics is rising. The current reality is viewed by American Bible Society as an opportunity to develop new strategies for helping people overcome barriers to engagement with the Bible.

“As American Bible Society celebrates its 200th anniversary, we are spending much more time looking ahead than revisiting the past,”said Andrew Hood, director of communications for American Bible Society. “The Bible in America research provides valuable insights into how people are interacting with the Bible—and why they are not.”

Over the past six years, a majority of Americans, an average of 62 percent, have expressed a desire to read the Bible more. The Bible in America points to several other positive trends that showcase Americans’ high regard for the Bible:

  • A two-thirds majority of adults believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know in order to live a meaningful life.
  • Two-thirds of adults hold an orthodox view of the Bible, believing it is the actual or inspired Word of God.
  • Forty-four percent of Americans read the Bible at least once a month.
    On average, eight out of 10 Americans consider the Bible to be sacred literature or a holy book.
  • Most Americans, 64 percent, believe the Bible has more influence on humanity than any other text according to the 2016 State of the Bible data.

In contrast to trends about the Bible’s value, the number of Bible skeptics has increased to 22 percent in 2016, surpassing the number of Bible engaged people (now at 17 percent). Two key markers reveal how skepticism has risen and gained a stronger cultural foothold in America. These include declines in the following:

  • American adults who believe the Bible is sacred literature (86 percent in 2011; 80 percent in 2016).
  • Those who say the Bible is sufficient as a guide for meaningful living (77 percent in 2011; 67 percent in 2016).

Millennials in particular are driving these declines as the age group with the most respondents saying there were no books they considered sacred. Christian millennials, however, are very different than their non-Christian counterparts when it comes to Bible attitudes and behaviors.

  • Christian millennials share similar beliefs and engage the Bible much the same as older generations.
  • 69 percent believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.
  • 63 percent would describe the Bible as “fact.”
  • Non-Christian millennials are the most likely to be Bible skeptics and engage with the Bible the least.
  • 62 percent have never read the Bible.
  • 30 percent said the Bible is a useful book of moral teachings.

The percentage of American adults as a whole considered Bible friendly has declined (from 45 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2016), while the percentage of those identified as Bible neutral has stayed relatively the same (from 25 percent to 24 percent). In addition, the percentage of Americans who said there were no books they considered sacred doubled (from 7 to 14 percent).

“Looking at modern-day America, we see a country moving away—for decades now—from the foundational, biblical values so cherished by those who came before us,” said Roy Peterson, president and CEO of American Bible Society. “As we work together to address the skepticism of our day, now is our time to renew hope in the promises of God’s Word, to open the healing words of Scripture as people are battling extreme violence, poverty and oppression.”

Among other strategies, the ministry is leveraging technology to reach Americans wherever they are by using social media to deliver Scripture. It is also lending support to the development of a Bible-based online game for teens and administering the top-level domain .Bible.

“American Bible Society has a 10-year goal of seeing 100 million people in the U.S. regularly engaging with Scripture,” said Hood. “Our hope is that as more Americans recognize the value of reading the Bible and make time to engage with God’s Word, they will begin to see the transformation it can bring in their lives.”

For more information about The Bible in America (including additional demographic data) and the latest State of the Bible research,visit http://stateoftheBible.org.