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Gary Thomas: Toxic family members can ruin the holidays. Here’s how to save yourself (because life is short)

Westlake Legal Group holidayss Gary Thomas: Toxic family members can ruin the holidays. Here's how to save yourself (because life is short) Gary Thomas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values/family fox news fnc/opinion fnc c8acbc0c-416f-5c73-a4d5-2d425cf0e91e article

When our families are young, we want our holidays to be the very best, so why do they often feel like the worst?

If the answer is the occasional toxic relative, there’s some surprising teaching and examples from the life of Jesus that can help us avoid letting a family member ruin our celebrations.

My eyes were opened to new possibilities regarding how to treat toxic people when I counted dozens of citations in the New Testament where Jesus chose to walk away from someone or let someone walk away from Him without giving chase. Jesus spoke the truth to numerous groups and individuals and then let them respond freely without further argument.

NICK HALL: ADVENT HAS ARRIVED – A TIME TO REFOCUS ON THE FULFILLED PROMISE OF CHRISTMAS

This example means that walking in the footsteps of Jesus will occasionally mean following Him as we walk away from toxic people to find healthy ones we can invest in.

There are a finite number of holidays when the kids are young, which makes each one of them precious. Defending your family’s celebration is thus a wise and loving thing to do.  

But how do we know when to do that? And what about when the toxic person is a family member, especially over the holidays?

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Many young parents are surprised when I point out how few family Christmases they are going to have when everyone is together. Christmases and Thanksgivings may seem like an endless string of future promises, but once your kids move out and get married, holidays will never be the same.

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For most of us, there are a finite number of holidays when the kids are young, which makes each one of them precious. Defending your family’s celebration is thus a wise and loving thing to do.

The principle of learning “when to walk away” as Jesus did is applied differently in different situations. Let’s say you have a toxic aunt or uncle who you know is going to be at a family gathering and who is always quick to undercut others, inject inappropriate comments or opinions, and seems to relish “picking a fight” with any family member who doesn’t vote for who they voted for or worship where they worship,.

I wouldn’t let a toxic uncle keep my kids from their grandparents and cousins, but here’s what I would do: I’d walk away into the next room. As soon as the toxicity comes out, don’t waste your time trying to correct him/her. A toxic person enjoys conflict, even over the holidays. A peaceful, happy, joyous occasion is boring to them.

We can walk into the next room and find a healthy person to invest in, a nephew or niece to encourage, or seek general life advice or history from grandparents or great grandparents (who usually love to give it). If everyone leaves when the toxic winds begin to blow, the toxic person will have to learn how to keep from launching verbal grenades or else learn to eat by themselves.

Sacrificing your wife’s and kids’ relatively few Christmases together to placate an abusive person doesn’t honor God, and it won’t help the toxic person.  

In Brian and Angie’s case, the toxic person was Brian’s mom. Every holiday the abuse Angie gets from her mother-in-law takes weeks to recover from. The past year had been a particularly difficult one for their family and Angie felt like she had reached her limit. “I really can’t even stomach the thought of spending this Christmas with your parents,” she told Brian. “It takes me weeks to recover from her constant belittling. I just don’t think I’m strong enough to face that this year.”

Brian asked me what he was supposed to do. After all, isn’t a son supposed to honor his parents?

Let me state clearly that Angie wasn’t being overly sensitive, nor was she acting out of malice to get “back” at her mother-in-law by withholding the grandchildren. That isn’t her nature and it certainly wasn’t her motivation.

In this instance, I responded, “Treat your mom as if she was healthy, spiritually speaking. That’s the best way to honor her. If my son called me and said, ‘Dad, I’m sorry, but for the sake of my marriage we can’t spend Christmas with you this year’ it would break my heart. But I hope I’d reply, ‘Son, you’re making the right choice. Your wife comes first.  In fact, I’m proud of you for making what I’m sure is a tough decision. You’re a good husband.’

I would want to affirm him rather than make him feel guilty. The best way to honor your mom is to treat her like she’s healthy, explain what’s going on, and invite her to respond as a healthy person would. If she doesn’t respond in a healthy way, that’s on her, not you.”

I’m not naïve; some parents will unleash the guilt gun and make all sorts of accusations, but we need to stop worrying about the unhealthy fallout of unhealthy people who are challenged by healthy decisions. We can’t control (and God doesn’t hold us accountable for) the way someone responds. We control being as loving, true, honest, gentle and kind as our God calls us to be as we live with healthy, God-ordained priorities.

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Sacrificing your wife’s and kids’ relatively few Christmases together to placate an abusive person doesn’t honor God, and it won’t help the toxic person.

Life is short and holidays are even shorter. Make the most of each one by going where your family can celebrate, worship and leave blessed, encouraged and filled with joy.

Westlake Legal Group holidayss Gary Thomas: Toxic family members can ruin the holidays. Here's how to save yourself (because life is short) Gary Thomas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values/family fox news fnc/opinion fnc c8acbc0c-416f-5c73-a4d5-2d425cf0e91e article   Westlake Legal Group holidayss Gary Thomas: Toxic family members can ruin the holidays. Here's how to save yourself (because life is short) Gary Thomas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values/family fox news fnc/opinion fnc c8acbc0c-416f-5c73-a4d5-2d425cf0e91e article

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Bible App announces ‘most popular Bible verse’ of 2019

More people engaged with the Bible App this year than any previous year.

YouVersion, which offers the popular option to read or listen to the Bible on your phone and has 400 million users worldwide, announced the most popular Bible verse from this year: Philippians 4:6.

THESE POPULAR COMPANIES HAVE BIBLE VERSES ON THEIR PRODUCTS

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done,” the verse reads in the New Living Translation.

Westlake Legal Group YouVersion-Lifestyle1 Bible App announces 'most popular Bible verse' of 2019 fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/2019-year-in-review fox news fnc/faith-values fnc d7d41ae0-f84f-5743-b72d-1475f15338ab Caleb Parke article

YouVersion’s Bible App offers people a chance to do Bible studies together on their phones. (YouVersion)

“We’re encouraged to see so many people turning to the Bible in response to their worries, remembering what God has done in their lives, and choosing to trust in His faithfulness,” YouVersion founder, Bobby Gruenewald, said in a statement.

With a “Verse of the Day,” reading plans, and other ways to access the Bible, YouVersion’s leader said, “We’re humbled by the opportunity to see lives changed in every country around the world.”

ARMY SAYS FAITH-BASED GROUP CAN NO LONGER PUT BIBLE VERSES ON DOG TAGS AFTER COMPLAINT

The Bible App, launched by California megachurch Life.Church in 2008, offers more than 2,000 versions of the Bible in more than 1,350 languages. However, over a billion people around the world don’t have access to a complete Bible in their native tongue, according to YouVersion.

Westlake Legal Group BibleLens-Lifestyle6 Bible App announces 'most popular Bible verse' of 2019 fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/2019-year-in-review fox news fnc/faith-values fnc d7d41ae0-f84f-5743-b72d-1475f15338ab Caleb Parke article

YouVersion added a feature to the Bible App this year called “Bible Lens” allowing users to take put Bible verses on photos. (YouVersion)

A majority of growth for the app came outside the United States.

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Poland was one of the fastest-growing countries with a 75 percent increase. India saw 51 percent more engagement in 2019 compared to last year. Bible engagement also grew across Southeast Asia in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam, seeing increases by 36 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

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“Every year, when we dig into these numbers, we’re overwhelmed by how God is using this app to deliver His message of hope and love to a hurting world,” Gruenewald added. “We also can’t help but recognize how much more work there is to be done together as the global Church to reach every nation.”

Westlake Legal Group BibleAppVerseoftheDay5 Bible App announces 'most popular Bible verse' of 2019 fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/2019-year-in-review fox news fnc/faith-values fnc d7d41ae0-f84f-5743-b72d-1475f15338ab Caleb Parke article   Westlake Legal Group BibleAppVerseoftheDay5 Bible App announces 'most popular Bible verse' of 2019 fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/2019-year-in-review fox news fnc/faith-values fnc d7d41ae0-f84f-5743-b72d-1475f15338ab Caleb Parke article

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Delaware town bans Nativity scene over safety concerns

A longheld Christmas tradition at the heart of Georgetown, Del., is ending this year due to public safety concerns, town officials claim.

The new town policy banning unattended displays means the annual Nativity scene, depicting the birth of Jesus, will no longer appear in the town’s circle, according to WBOC.

PRINCIPAL BANS CHRISTMAS CARDS AT SCHOOL OVER ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

“We have a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the center and our light poles all speak of the Christmas season and I think the nativity scene falls within that,” Charlie Koskey, owner of Chardon LTD Jewelers, told the local TV station. “I think it’s important that these symbols represent the faiths of everyone that’s gonna be celebrating this time of year.”

Westlake Legal Group nativity-scene- Delaware town bans Nativity scene over safety concerns fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/delaware fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections/local fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/us fnc cc1086a6-757c-5673-837a-789517fe9bd9 Caleb Parke article /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

The town of Georgetown, Del. banned a Nativity scene (like the one pictured) from the public circle over safety concerns. (Reuters)

The policy was not specifically aimed at religious displays, the Cape Gazette reports.

“There have been instances where unattended displays have been placed on The Circle and became safety issues,” Gene Dvornick, the town manager, told the newspaper. “The town’s policy on unattended displays does not just apply to religious displays; it applies to any and all unattended displays.”

The town manager claims it is really about public safety concerns.

ARMY SAYS FAITH-BASED GROUP CAN NO LONGER PUT BIBLE VERSES ON DOG TAGS AFTER COMPLAINT

“If the wind kicks up and there’s not anyone there and stuff blows out to the traffic lane,” he said.

But local residents are skeptical, especially after the city of Rehoboth Beach, just miles away, forced a Catholic church to remove their Nativity from public property for the second year in a row, even after the mayor promised a compromise.

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On Sunday, during a trip to the site of what is thought to be the location of the first Nativity scene, Pope Francis encouraged believers around the world to erect the Christian symbols in schools, workplaces and town squares.

Nativity scenes have sparked legal battles in the U.S., despite the Supreme Court ruling in favor of public Nativity scenes in 1984, ruling they have “legitimate secular purposes.”

Westlake Legal Group nativity-scene- Delaware town bans Nativity scene over safety concerns fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/delaware fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections/local fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/us fnc cc1086a6-757c-5673-837a-789517fe9bd9 Caleb Parke article /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday   Westlake Legal Group nativity-scene- Delaware town bans Nativity scene over safety concerns fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/delaware fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/politics/elections/local fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/christmas fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/us fnc cc1086a6-757c-5673-837a-789517fe9bd9 Caleb Parke article /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

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Nick Hall: Advent has arrived – A time to refocus on the fulfilled promise of Christmas

Westlake Legal Group crucifixcolosseum2 Nick Hall: Advent has arrived – A time to refocus on the fulfilled promise of Christmas Nick Hall fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/special/occasions/christmas fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 10d1608d-b151-5cae-a1a3-a0f1d8c50d6b

Picture the quintessential Christmas dinner. Three generations of family sit together around a table loaded with holiday favorites. A perfect fire crackles in the fireplace while everyone laughs with one another and snow falls softly outside.

Am I the only one who thinks Hallmark has it wrong?

Historically, the Christmas season is called Advent, a word that means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” During this month, Christians all around the world refocus on the fulfilled promise of Christmas, the coming of Jesus.

Advent begins Sunday and ends on Dec. 24 – the day before Christmas.

This is a time of reflection and celebration meant to be cherished with friends and family. Yet, this hallowed season can often feel hollow in the face of our messy reality.

DR. JACK GRAHAM: ADVENT REMINDS US OF GOOD NEWS IN A YEAR FILLED WITH TERRIBLE HEADLINES

That perfect family sitting around the table? They’re nowhere to be found. Someone’s kid is crying, the turkey is burned, and the snow outside has turned into freezing rain.

Old fights resurface, and someone inevitably brings up religion, sports, or politics. Nothing brings us together like the holidays — and nothing drives us further apart. And into this season of peace and chaos, the message of Advent is exactly what we need.

Jesus was born into a world not unlike ours — one filled with political division, ethnic tension, and social inequality. The rich held power, the poor were marginalized, and the religious elites shunned the “sinners” (anyone they viewed as less worthy than themselves).

It’s easy to see how the life of Jesus would have caused a stir.

Jesus seemed to have a radar for the outcast and forgotten. He ignored cultural taboos and societal expectations in the way he loved others, choosing instead to embrace the sick, help the weary, and eat with sinners — all while declaring: “This is what the kingdom of God looks like.”

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Jesus didn’t fix political division. He didn’t solve the problem of ethnic tensions or social inequality. Instead, He did something far more powerful and subversive: He undermined all these systems by demonstrating self-sacrificial love.

The classic hymn, “O Holy Night” says it well:

“Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,

And in His name all oppression shall cease”

The name of Jesus breaks the power of selfishness and oppression because it’s only in Jesus that we see how far love is willing to go to set us free from ourselves.

While the love of Jesus might not keep people from arguing around your dinner table this holiday season, it can do something far more powerful. It can release the chains around your own heart and set you free to demonstrate the same sacrificial, freeing love to others.

But the love of Jesus does more than give us hope for dinnertime conversation. This subversive love has the power to transform society from the inside out.

The love of Jesus helps us to see that “unity” does not equal “uniformity.” The Founding Fathers echoed this theme when they talked about the important of unity.

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Consider what James Madison wrote in The Federalist #14: “Hearken not to the unnatural voice which tells you that the people of America, knit together as they are by so many cords of affection, can no longer live together as members of the same family. … No, my countrymen, shut your ears against this unhallowed language. Shut your hearts against the poison which it conveys.”

Madison’s centuries-old warning calls America today to a renewed commitment to live in unity as members of the same American family. But how do we live in unity with people who are so different than us in the presence of broken systems led by broken people just like us? We do it by receiving the selfless love of Jesus and letting our lives reverberate this love through our words and actions.

Westlake Legal Group crucifixcolosseum2 Nick Hall: Advent has arrived – A time to refocus on the fulfilled promise of Christmas Nick Hall fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/special/occasions/christmas fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 10d1608d-b151-5cae-a1a3-a0f1d8c50d6b   Westlake Legal Group crucifixcolosseum2 Nick Hall: Advent has arrived – A time to refocus on the fulfilled promise of Christmas Nick Hall fox-news/world/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/special/occasions/christmas fox-news/opinion fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 10d1608d-b151-5cae-a1a3-a0f1d8c50d6b

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Kanye West drops ‘Closed on Sunday’ music video promoting his Christian beliefs

Westlake Legal Group KanyeWestfamily1 Kanye West drops 'Closed on Sunday' music video promoting his Christian beliefs fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/tech/companies/instagram fox-news/special/occasions/thanksgiving fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/thanksgiving fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values fox-news/entertainment/music fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Caleb Parke article 37bf7e6f-f377-5672-aeba-8e8aff35db98

Kanye West dropped his music video for “Closed on Sunday” — his Chick-fil-A-themed song about family values — on Thanksgiving Day, featuring Kim Kardashian and their kids.

The 42-year-old rapper-turned-gospel singer teased the “world premiere” Wednesday on Twitter for his second music video from his “Jesus Is King” album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

LAWRENCE JONES: KANYE BACKLASH FROM ATHEISTS IS ‘ANTI-CHRISTIAN RHETORIC’

“Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A,” he sings, referencing the popular fast-food restaurant’s Christian beliefs of observing a Sunday Sabbath. “You’re my number one, with the lemonade.”

He takes a swipe at Instagram, the platform for which his wife has 152 million followers, and is one of the most followed celebrities in the world.

KANYE WEST SAYS ‘GOD’S ALWAYS HAD A PLAN’ AS HE PERFORMS ‘JESUS WALKS’ ON JAMES CORDEN’S ‘CARPOOL KARAOKE’

“Hold the selfies, put the ‘Gram away,” he sings. “Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray… Stand up for my home. Even if I take this walk alone.”

The fashion mogul and father of four, 42, sings about protecting his daughters from indoctrination and raising sons in the faith.

KANYE WEST’S SUNDAY SERVICE HAD ‘OVER 1,000’ COMMIT THEIR LIVES TO CHRIST: ‘NEW WAVE OF REVIVAL’

“Follow Jesus, listen and obey,” he sings with passion. “No more livin’ for the culture, we nobody’s slave.”

He also gives an ode to his personal values: “I bow down to the King upon the throne. My life is His, I’m no longer my own.”

PASTOR JUDAH SMITH LAUNCHES ‘GUIDED PRAYERS’ TEASED BY JUSTIN BIEBER

Earlier this month, West released his first music video from the new album for “Follow God” featuring his father, Ray West, on their ranch in Cody, Wyoming.

The newly-born again believer has made waves through his Sunday Service events, most recently held at Joel Osteen’s megachurch, Lakewood Church, in Houston, before releasing his opera titled “Nebuchadnezzar” that is now available on Tidal.

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West has promised a “Jesus Is King Part II” collaboration with Dr. Dre “coming soon” as well as a “Jesus Is Born” album due Christmas Day.

Westlake Legal Group KanyeWestfamily1 Kanye West drops 'Closed on Sunday' music video promoting his Christian beliefs fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/tech/companies/instagram fox-news/special/occasions/thanksgiving fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/thanksgiving fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values fox-news/entertainment/music fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Caleb Parke article 37bf7e6f-f377-5672-aeba-8e8aff35db98   Westlake Legal Group KanyeWestfamily1 Kanye West drops 'Closed on Sunday' music video promoting his Christian beliefs fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/tech/companies/instagram fox-news/special/occasions/thanksgiving fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/lifestyle/occasions/thanksgiving fox-news/faith-values/family fox-news/faith-values fox-news/entertainment/music fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Caleb Parke article 37bf7e6f-f377-5672-aeba-8e8aff35db98

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Lawrence Jones says recent Kanye backlash from atheists is ‘anti-Christian rhetoric’

Westlake Legal Group Kanye-Lawrence-Getty-FOX Lawrence Jones says recent Kanye backlash from atheists is 'anti-Christian rhetoric' Julia Musto fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/shows/fox-friends-weekend fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 72787860-850b-5e90-9694-4d44d153ade1

Outrage about rapper Kanye West’s performance for inmates at the Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Office is founded on nothing but anti-Christian sentiment, Fox Nation host Lawrence Jones said Saturday.

Last week the Freedom From Religion Foundation penned a complaint to the Sheriff’s Office. Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel said that West’s service was a “constitutional violation” which “is particularly egregious because it imposed religion on inmates — literally a captive audience.”

KANYE WEST’S SURPRISE GOSPEL-RAP PERFORMANCE AT TEXAS PRISON AN ‘EGREGIOUS’ VIOLATION ATHEIST GROUP COMPLAINS

“It is no excuse that Kanye West is famous,” Seidel wrote. “If anything, this makes the violation worse because the captive audience may be more receptive to his message.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, whose district is in Houston, called it a “very cool move” by the “Jesus Walks” rapper.

KANYE WEST AND JOEL OSTEEN: A POWERFUL FAITH COMBO

Appearing on “Fox & Friends: Weekend” with hosts Ed Henry, Pete Hegseth, and Rachel Campos-Duffy, Jones asked, “Did they not see the photos?”

“Look, my grandmother is actually a chaplain for the state’s women prison in Texas,” he said. “And, you know, they support any type of religion that you may have, but it’s funny that the only time there’s attacks is when it’s Christians.”

Jones added that Texas is known for its seminary program and “a lot of people in prison become converts.”

“And, they go to school and become pastors. And Texas, the correctional system, is known for that. So, you would think people that were former criminals — no matter what they decided to choose — that people would be celebrating that,” he stated.

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West performed for more than 500 inmates, including male inmates at one jail facility, before crossing the street to another for a smaller crowd of female inmates, where they could be seen joining along in worship and prayer.

“Kanye has turned over this new leaf and he wanted to share his faith. You have all these people that are clearly worshipping Christ, giving their life to Christ…shouldn’t we be celebrating this as a country?” he questioned.

“This is anti-Christian rhetoric going on; that’s the bottom line,” Jones concluded.

Fox News’ Caleb Parke contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Kanye-Lawrence-Getty-FOX Lawrence Jones says recent Kanye backlash from atheists is 'anti-Christian rhetoric' Julia Musto fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/shows/fox-friends-weekend fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 72787860-850b-5e90-9694-4d44d153ade1   Westlake Legal Group Kanye-Lawrence-Getty-FOX Lawrence Jones says recent Kanye backlash from atheists is 'anti-Christian rhetoric' Julia Musto fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/shows/fox-friends-weekend fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 72787860-850b-5e90-9694-4d44d153ade1

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Franklin Graham talks Kanye’s church service with Joel Osteen, Operation Christmas Child

Franklin Graham sat down with “Fox & Friends” Monday to discuss Kanye West and his Sunday Service at Joel Osteen’s church, as well as his flagship program, Operation Christmas Child, which kicks off this week giving gifts to needy children around the world.

The president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse told Fox News he is “thrilled at what’s happened” in the “Jesus Walks” rapper’s life.

KANYE WEST’S SUNDAY SERVICE HAD ‘OVER 1,000’ COMMIT THEIR LIVES TO CHRIST: ‘NEW WAVE OF REVIVAL’

“I always like it when God works in a person’s life and changes them,” Graham said. “And Kanye’s is a life that’s been changed by the power of Almighty God and it was his faith in Jesus Christ.”

Westlake Legal Group KimKanyeJoelOsteen Franklin Graham talks Kanye's church service with Joel Osteen, Operation Christmas Child fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/occasions/christmas fox-news/shows/fox-friends fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/faith-values fnc Caleb Parke article 0be7e676-62c6-5ea9-8e7b-c8d3c2b1d41c

From left, Kim Kardashian West, North West, Kanye West and Joel Osteen answer questions after the 11 a.m. service at Lakewood Church, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

He added: “Who would’ve thought that he would’ve been in a church? And who would’ve thought a year or two ago, that God would be using him to touch another generation of young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

The son of the late Billy Graham said he prays “God will keep his hand on him” because “there’s going to be a lot of people that want to use him and manipulate him.”

“I hope he just stays focused on what he feels God has called him to do now for the rest of his life.”

PASTOR JUDAH SMITH LAUNCHES ‘GUIDED PRAYERS’ TEASED BY JUSTIN BIEBER

West held his largest service yet, teaming up with megachurch pastor Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church in Houston, where 45,000 attend weekly. Graham tied the newly born-again believer’s life transformation to the Christmas story.

“So I’m just thrilled at what’s happened in his life and this is what Christmas is all about,” Graham said. “Christmas is about God’s love — sending his son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to change our lives and to save us from our sins. And of course, Kanye is out in churches. … So I’m proud of him. I pray for him. I hope he will be very successful, and he’s going around to churches doing this, I just say more power to him!”

FIVE FEEL-GOOD STORIES FROM THIS WEEK YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS

This is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child.

Westlake Legal Group FranklinGrahamOperationChristmasChild Franklin Graham talks Kanye's church service with Joel Osteen, Operation Christmas Child fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/occasions/christmas fox-news/shows/fox-friends fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/faith-values fnc Caleb Parke article 0be7e676-62c6-5ea9-8e7b-c8d3c2b1d41c

Franklin Graham helps a girl unpack her shoebox gift in Belize. Each Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift is packed with items such as toys, hygiene kits and school supplies. (Samaritan’s Purse)

“I want the children of the world to know God loves them,” he said, adding that he asks every person filling a shoebox of toys, hygiene items, and more to pray for the child who receives the box.

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“So many children are in war areas, there are so many kids in desperate situations, and you give them a gift when they’ve never had a gift, the little bit of hope that that gives to a child, knowing that there’s somebody out there that cares for me and loves me.”

People can go to Samaritan’s Purse website and pack a box and even track it.

Westlake Legal Group kanye-West-3 Franklin Graham talks Kanye's church service with Joel Osteen, Operation Christmas Child fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/occasions/christmas fox-news/shows/fox-friends fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/faith-values fnc Caleb Parke article 0be7e676-62c6-5ea9-8e7b-c8d3c2b1d41c   Westlake Legal Group kanye-West-3 Franklin Graham talks Kanye's church service with Joel Osteen, Operation Christmas Child fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/religion fox-news/special/occasions/christmas fox-news/shows/fox-friends fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/faith-values/faith fox news fnc/faith-values fnc Caleb Parke article 0be7e676-62c6-5ea9-8e7b-c8d3c2b1d41c

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Kanye West performs free ‘Sunday Service Experience’ concert at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church

Kanye West took his talents to Pastor Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch Sunday, performing his “Sunday Service Experience,” a faith-filled concert featuring a choir.

The evening at Lakewood Church started with the choir performing and Osteen speaking of his journey in life as a minister. Then, Kanye took the stage.

“He saved a wretch like me,” West sang off-key with his choir from the song, “Selah,” from his latest album.

He then rapped, reading his lyrics off a smartphone he held in his hand.

West has been vocal in recent months about his conversion to Christianity and how God has been guiding him. Sunday’s concert was open to fans of all faiths.

Tickets for the free concert were distributed through Ticketmaster and sold out within minutes Saturday, though some people were known to be reselling them for hundreds of dollars.

Westlake Legal Group Kanye-West-1 Kanye West performs free 'Sunday Service Experience' concert at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/faith-values/faith fox-news/entertainment/genres/hip-hop-rap fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 3e3aa614-7f11-5f85-b12b-ce42fefe0bc7

Kanye West, right, answering questions from Joel Osteen earlier Sunday in Houston. (Associated Press)

Earlier in the evening, the choir sang medleys of pop and Christian songs. Then, speaking to the crowd, Osteen opened up about the sudden death of his father, the church’s founding pastor, in 1999.

He said his darkest days launched his brightest time in life. “You got to keep moving forward.”

Osteen added: “You are anointed at being you. … Walk in your own shoes.”

Adam Tyson, senior pastor of Placerita Bible Church, 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, led a prayer as well. Tyson has been leading West in a Bible study for the past few months.

West also announced on Twitter he will present an opera called “Nebuchadnezzar” at the Hollywood Bowl next Sunday. West shared a golden invitation to the event about the ancient Babylonian king.

Earlier Sunday, West said his recent spiritual awakening has made him realize he’s no longer in the service of fame and money but “in service to God.”

Lakewood Church, where more than 43,000 people have attended services each week, has become the largest church in the U.S. It’s held services at the former Compaq Center, which was once the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Osteen’s weekly television program has been viewed by more than 13 million households in the U.S. and millions more in more than 100 nations around the world.

Westlake Legal Group Kanye-west-2 Kanye West performs free 'Sunday Service Experience' concert at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/faith-values/faith fox-news/entertainment/genres/hip-hop-rap fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 3e3aa614-7f11-5f85-b12b-ce42fefe0bc7

Kanye West opened up about his faith while speaking at Lakewood Church. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

West has been traveling around the U.S. holding his “Sunday Service” concerts since January, including at the Coachella festival, an outdoor shopping center in Salt Lake City and at an Atlanta-area megachurch.

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On Friday, he and his choir performed for inmates at the Harris County Jail in Houston.

Last month, West released  “Jesus Is King,” a Gospel-themed album that’s been described as Christian rap.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Bruce Ashford: Kanye visits Joel Osteen’s church – Here’s what he should do

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On Sunday, musician – and self-described born-again Christian – Kanye West will take the stage at Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston. According to news reports, he will appear with Osteen in the morning and will perform with his traveling choir on Sunday evening at the church.

West is arguably the most significant hip-hop artist of our day and has made headlines recently because of his profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Fellow artists Nicki Minaj and Chance have noted the seriousness of his newly-found faith and the change in his demeanor.

West, who once released a song titled, “I Am a God,” now holds concerts that are gospel-themed and recently released an album entitled “Jesus is King.” The new album reveals a straightforward faith and proclaims the freedom that can be found in Christ.

KANYE WEST PROMPTS CHRISTIAN GROUP TO GIVE 9,000 FREE BIBLES TO FANS SEARCHING FOR FAITH

Criticism of West’s conversion story abounds, with news outlets and opinion pieces expressing skepticism, claiming that he is under captivity to white evangelicals, and even accusing him of being a charlatan.

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But I think we should take him at his word. Rather than assuming he’s a fraud, we can view him as being similar to the tax collector Jesus befriended and who became a genuine follower of Jesus. We are all tax collectors in that we are all sinners in need of what Jesus offers: forgiveness.

We should pray for West and that he will grow in his faith. And, as celebrity Chris Pratt recently noted, we should pray for celebrities such as Kanye who must live their lives under an enormous spotlight.

 EVERY SONG ON KANYE WEST’S ‘JESUS IS KING’ ALBUM DEBUTED ON THE HOT 100

So, what should West do when he takes the stage at Osteen’s church on Sunday?

He should do what many preachers never get around to doing: preach the Gospel.

What is the Gospel?

The Christian Gospel is the announcement that 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. Powerful members of the religious, political, and military communities colluded to strip him naked, mock him publicly, and crucify him. And it is the announcement that, even while powerful men were conspiring to kill the Son of God, God himself was acting to save the world from itself, once and for all.

But what does Jesus’ crucifixion have to do with him saving the world? The answer to this question can be summarized in three truths:

 On the cross, Jesus suffered so that we could be delivered from suffering.

Unlike other religions, Christianity teaches that all of us are born with a tendency to sin. Like Adam and Eve, we refuse to recognize God as God and we break his law repeatedly. Because God is the universal King and ultimate law-giver, our sins are mutinous; they represent an attempt to steal His kingship and replace His laws. For that reason, each of us deserves death as the penalty for our law-breaking.

Yet the Bible also teaches that God loves us and does not want us to suffer the penalty of our sins. For that reason, He took on a human body and came to Earth as Jesus. When He did that, he “traded places” with us.

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He lived the sinless life that we should have lived, and died the death that we deserve to die. He took our guilty record, died for it, and offers us His perfect record in return. That is why the apostle Paul declared that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).

Through the cross, we can be reconciled to God and each other.

Because of our sins, we alienate ourselves from God and others, but Jesus saves us from our sins in order to mend those relationships (Col 1:19-20). In fact, Jesus’ reconciling powers will cause all relational barriers to be torn down, including the barriers of ethnicity and nationality (Rev 5:9-10).

 Because of the cross and resurrection, we have hope for the future.

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The Bible connects Jesus’ crucifixion with His resurrection. After Jesus suffered on the cross, He was buried, but on the third day He rose from the grave! When He rose from the dead, He not only confirmed His divinity but declared that He would return one day to make things right. He will return to disestablish evil, sin, and death from their artificial throne, and establish Himself as the true King over a kingdom characterized by justice, peace and love (Rev 21-22).

For these reasons, West should take the stage at Lakewood Church and invite every person who will listen to embrace Jesus as the King and Savior that He is. There is no sinner too bad for Him to save (1 Tim 1:15).

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY BRUCE RILEY ASHFORD 

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Florida pastor accused of sexually abusing minor kills himself, police say

Florida pastor and popular Christian radio host who was recently charged with sexually abusing a teenage girl has killed himself, authorities say.

Bryan Fulwider, 59, was pronounced dead in his home late Sunday, Altamonte Springs police told the Orlando Sentinel. The pastor and former ‘Friends Talking Faith’ co-host had been out on bail since Oct. 17.

The Medical Examiner’s Office for Seminole County ruled Fulwider’s death to be a suicide. Fulwider was arrested earlier this month after a young woman told investigators he sexually abused her for years while he was her pastor.

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Bryan Fulwider was facing multiple sex abuse charges when he killed himself.  (Orange County Sheriff’s Office )

The alleged abuse began in 2014 when the victim was 14 and Fulwider was the senior minister at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. He faced multiple charges and could have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

“Fulwider’s day in court will never come because he knew all the truths I could tell,” the woman wrote in a statement published by the Sentinel.

Fulwider co-hosted the weekly “Friends Talking Faith” on Orlando radio station WMFE.

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His attorney, Jacob Stuart Jr., said his client denied the allegations. He criticized the way Fulwider was portrayed in the media, legal system and in the community saying that his client was not treated by the standard of “innocent until proven guilty.”

“This was not the case when it comes to Reverend Fulwider, especially when the ‘charges’ were measured against his innocence and when the salacious sensationalism of the accusations were compared to the facts,” Stuart said. “Reverend Fulwider’s rights were denied.”

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