- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2024

A lack of spiritual formation among the nation’s preteens could spell “invisibility” for Christianity in the U.S. in coming years, evangelical Christian researcher George Barna said this week.

A mere 21% of those under age 13 who were surveyed believe there are “absolute moral truths that are unchanging and knowable.” Just 60% of those between ages 8 and 12 who he surveyed said they have read any part of the Bible.

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“Children are intellectual and spiritual sponges in their preteen years,” he said. “They are desperately trying to make sense of the world, their identity, their purpose and how to live a meaningful and satisfying life.”

Super Bowl players who put God first

There’s a big football game in Las Vegas today, as you may have heard. Many of the athletes expected to appear in Super Bowl LVIII are men of Christian faith, and they aren’t afraid to say it.

Contributor Marissa Mayer found six standout players on the roster of faith, three apiece for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Some of the names may surprise you!

Persecution of Christians rising in Western countries

While news of Christian persecution in countries such as Nigeria, India and China is widely known, a rise in governmental attacks on believers in Europe, the U.S. and even New Zealand often is unnoticed, according to a report from the Family Research Council.

One of the greatest areas of concern is the prosecution of Christians for publicly expressing their religious beliefs about hot-button issues such as gay marriage or abortion or for even silently praying outside an abortion clinic after business hours, a so-called “thoughtcrime.”

Bible meets Taylor Swift

A group of Christian high school students in Las Vegas, the venue for this year’s Super Bowl, can’t just “Shake It Off” regarding the Bible and Taylor Swift. The students at Faith Lutheran Middle School and High School in Sin City come in early on Tuesdays to study verses connected to Ms. Swift’s lyrics.

“Anytime we can make the Bible relevant — and even if it’s just the content of the lyrics that draws them the Bible study — and then they dive into God’s word, it’s connected to God’s Word,” Steven Buuck, the school’s CEO, told Higher Ground.

Ohio city drops criminal charges against homeless-helping pastor

Officials in the northwest Ohio city of Bryan dropped criminal charges against a Christian pastor who kept a downtown church open 24/7 so homeless people could drop in. Pastor Christopher Avell had been charged with 18 counts on Dec. 8. He later sued the city, claiming interference with his religious free exercise, among other claims.

Following an “extended meeting” between Mr. Avell’s lawyers and city officials, the pastor agreed to “cease residential operations” at the location while it pursued the permits and safety measures needed to provide those services.

Surfer Bethany Hamilton stands up for women in sports

Surfer Bethany Hamilton — a devoted Christian and mother of four — isn’t afraid to make waves in the athletic waters when it comes to defending the role of biological women in women’s sports.

Ms. Hamilton, who survived a life-altering shark attack in 2003, was greeted at a book reading in Springfield, Missouri, by transgender-rights protesters carrying a stuffed animal shark, but she took it in stride, The Times’ Valerie Richardson reported.

“It takes so much courage for female athletes to stand up for what’s right in their sports,” Ms. Hamilton said in a statement after the reading.

‘The Chosen’ scores big in theatrical open

A movie theater-only release of “The Chosen: Season 4, Episodes 1-3” raked in nearly $7.5 million in a four-day run in 2,300 cinemas at the beginning of February. 

That put the three-hour showing of the streaming TV hit in second place at U.S. box offices during that period, just behind the spy action-comedy “Argylle” and ahead of “The Beekeeper,” an action-thriller.

Video: Nick Shakoour’s life-changing encounter

“The Chosen” is not only touching audiences around the world — the series has had more than 200 million streaming views so far — but it’s also influencing some cast members, our Billy Hallowell found out.

Nick Shakoour, the actor who plays Zebedee in the series, had “a life-changing encounter with God” at the start of Season 3, and he told Mr. Hallowell about that event and the change it brought to his life and work.

Trooper lauded for roadside deliveries

Kansas Highway Patrol Master Trooper Da’Von Brame has mastered many aspects of his job during a nearly 25-year career, but delivering babies wasn’t on the agenda, Higher Ground contributor Marissa Mayer writes.

In a little more than three weeks, Master Trooper Brame performed two roadside deliveries when the mothers-to-be just couldn’t wait.

“We’re not trained in birthing; I think that may be something that needs to be added to the curriculum,” he said in a recent interview.

One delivery happened Jan. 12, when a couple headed for Wichita was an hour away from the hospital there. The other delivery took place a little more than three weeks earlier.

Master Trooper Brame — who said his colleagues now call him “Dr. Brame” — is apparently able to hand out much more than traffic tickets, a good thing for new parents in need.

In our opinion

Church head coverings. The question of whether women should cover their heads in church, something the Apostle Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, is taken up by Jason Jimenez, who says the early church leader didn’t intend to diminish or demean women with this suggestion.

Instead, he emphasized the need to “honor God in everything we do and to love others as we share the Gospel with those who are perishing.”

Toby Keith’s death brings out worst in some. The death of country music icon Toby Keith last week brought some “truly deplorable reactions” from those who remembered the singer’s feud with the Dixie Chicks (now known as just the Chicks), Mr. Hallowell writes.

Social media messaging that seemed to “gloat” about Mr. Keith’s death from stomach cancer means the nay-sayers have “checked their humanity at the door,” he said.

Praising God at Valentine’s Day. Carolyn Snelling talks about the pain and gratitude she feels this year, her first Valentine’s Day as a widow. Her husband died in September following a seven-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“Despite the pain, God has allowed me to survive the first Thanksgiving, Christmas and even Bob’s birthday without his physical presence here ,” she writes. “I trust on Valentine’s Day morning I will raise my hands to the Savior as I do every morning before I rise and thank the Lord for how He sent me the most remarkable representation of His Love!”

She adds that joy can be found in mourning if people choose Jesus.

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