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12/31/2013 J. LEE GRADY

From left, clockwise: Richard Twiss, Edith Schaffer, Charles Lamb, Pat Summerall
From left, clockwise: Richard Twiss, Edith Schaffer, Charles Lamb, Pat Summerall

Media outlets have published lists this week of celebrities who died in 2013—lists that include Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, novelist Tom Clancy and actors Peter O’Toole, Jean Stapleton and Paul Walker of Fast and Furiousfame.

But religious leaders often don’t make these lists, mostly because the work of the Spirit is rarely celebrated on this side of eternity. As this year comes to a close, I decided to look back at 2013 and honor the memory of church leaders who died this year. They include:

1. Samuel Lamb. This brave Chinese pastor died in August at age 88. He spent 20 years in prison for his faith because he refused to bow to his communist oppressors. He taught his flock: “The laws of God are more important that the laws of men.” Today the illegal church he planted in the city of Guangzhou has grown to 4,000 members.

2. George Beverly Shea. Perhaps the best-known gospel singer of all time, Shea performed at Billy Graham’s crusades for decades and recorded more than 70 albums. A Canadian known for his booming bass-baritone voice, he teamed up with Graham in 1947. Ever willing to stand in the shadow of the more famous evangelist, Shea prepared audiences for Graham’s message by singing trademark songs such as “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “How Great Thou Art.” He died in April at age 104.

3. Edith Schaffer. She and her husband, Francis, both Presbyterian missionaries, established L’Abri Fellowship, a retreat center in Switzerland that became a think tank for Christian theologians and activists. Some believe Edith and her husband—through their many books and lectures—galvanized the Christian Right in the 1980s by encouraging believers to challenge culture rather than hide from it. She was 98.

4. C. Everett Koop. Hated by some members of Congress because of his personal opposition to abortion, this distinguished pediatric surgeon was tapped by President Reagan to serve as U.S. Surgeon General. When Dr. Koop took office in 1981, 33 percent of Americans smoked; when he left in 1989, the percentage had dropped to 26 percent because of his strident campaign against tobacco use. A devoted Presbyterian who wrote a book about his faith journey, Sometimes Mountains Move, he also defended the rights of the elderly and children with birth defects. He was 96.

5. Richard Twiss. Once a monthly columnist for Charisma, Twiss was a rare breed: An outspoken charismatic Christian from a Native American background. His ministry, Wiconi International, focused on promoting reconciliation between whites and Native people. Born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Twiss wrote the popular book One Church, Many Tribes, and used his pulpit to reach Native people for Christ. He was only 58.

6. Pat Summerall. Perhaps the best known sportscaster in the U.S., he was fondly referred to as “the voice of the NFL” because his career spanned more than 40 years—and 16 Super Bowls. But what many TV viewers did not know was that the man with the famous voice experienced a dramatic conversion to Christ in 1992 after battling alcoholism. He wrote in his autobiography: “My thirst for alcohol was being replaced by a thirst for knowledge about faith and God. … I felt ecstatic, invigorated, happier, and freer. It felt as though my soul had been washed clean.” Summerall became a Southern Baptist before he died at age 82.

7. Paul Crouch. Raised in the Assemblies of God and driven by a desire to spread the gospel through television, Crouch built his Trinity Broadcasting Network from scratch, starting in 1973 with a station in Tustin, California, using $20,000 of his own money. When Crouch died in November at age 79, TBN had more than 18,000 network affiliates. His fund-raising tactics and spending habits made him plenty of enemies, but millions of donors looked beyond his flaws to help him build the largest Christian TV ministry in the world.

8. Dallas Willard. Considered a leading authority on spiritual formation, Willard was a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California whose books included The Spirit of the DisciplinesThe Divine ConspiracyRenovation of the Heart and Hearing God. He was a passionate proponent for rigorous discipleship, and he chided the American church for thinking we can be Christians without being disciples. He wrote: “The spiritual life is a life of interaction with a personal God, and it is pure delusion to suppose that it can be carried on sloppily.” He was 77.

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How the West was lost by the selfie president

By Michael Goodwin December 15, 2013

My bookshelves sag with encyclopedic volumes arguing that America and the West are in decline. But proving that a picture is worth a thousand books, the “selfie” seen ’round the world ends the argument.

It’s official — the government of the United States of Obama consists of boobs and bores and is led by a narcissist. It is no consolation that Great Britain joins us in racing to the bottom.

President Obama’s flirting with Denmark’s prime minister would be shameful on any occasion. That it happened at the memorial for Nelson Mandela only adds to the embarrassment.

But the “selfie” episode also symbolizes the greater global calamity of Western decline. With British prime minister David Cameron playing the role of Obama’s giggling wingman, the “look at me” moment confirms we have unserious leaders in a dangerously serious time.

Iran marches toward nuclear weapons and already there is talk in military circles that a nuclear-armed Iran could mean mushroom clouds in the Mideast within five years.

China is flexing its muscles throughout Asia, its ships brazenly confronting ours on the high seas. Russia is expanding its writ in the Arab lands and in Eastern Europe while making casual threats about bombing America. Syria’s Assad uses chemical weapons and Obama and Cameron rattle little sabers before meekly agreeing to become his partner.

The sign-language interpreter wasn’t the only fake at the Mandela funeral. Obama and Cameron were posing as world leaders.

They will never be confused with FDR and Churchill. The fratboys stand in stark contrast to the days when the “special relationship” meant two great leaders uniting two great countries in the fight for freedom. Those leaders understood the consequences if evil prevailed and were committed to victory.

(British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt carried a more somber tone during their 1945 meeting in Yalta.Photo: AP)

Churchill coined the term “special relationship” during World War II and used it again in his “Iron Curtain Speech” in 1946 that marked the unofficial start of the Cold War. Fearful the West would disarm again, as it did after World War I, he wanted to combat communism by maintaining the “special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.”

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As Christians, we are commanded by God to pray for President Obama. Let’s us continue to do so.

Catholic Bishop Slams Nelson Mandela’s Legalizing Unlimited Abortion as “Shameful”

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/9/13 7:09 PM

A Catholic bishop in the United States is taking exception to the unrestricted praise the world is heaping on deceased South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, calling his signing a bill to legalize unlimited abortions “shameful.”

The bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin, criticized “Mandela’s “shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa.”

“Many people around the world and in our own nation are mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela,” Bishop Tobin commented in a statement. “Indeed there is much to admire in Mandela’s long life and public service, particularly his personal courage and his stalwart defense of human rights.

“There is part of President Mandela’s legacy, however, that is not at all praiseworthy, namely his shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa. In 1996 Mandela promoted and signed into law the ‘Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill’ that, according to the New York Times, ‘replaced one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal.’”

Tobin continues: “While we pray for the peaceful repose of President Mandela’s immortal soul and the forgiveness of his sins, we can only regret that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children.”

In their statement at the time of his death, the bishops of South Africa also pointed out that not all of Mandela’s legacy is positive.

“As with all people he made mistakes and had shortcomings — we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (cf. Romans 3:23),” wrote Archbishop Stephen Brislin, president of the country’s episcopal conference. “Thus, we commend him to the Lord and pray that he will rest in peace. May perpetual light shine on him.”

John Smeaton, of the British pro-life group SPUC, offers this documentation about Mandela’s pro-abortion views. He writes as a Catholic but the comments are instructive of all pro-lifers to praise the good things Mandela did but to keep in mind he did not respect human life before birth.

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