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Sept. 2009 In this issue: Pop Culture Moments by Mo Caster Semenya Underground Friday: Aradhna, C.O.G. Arrested for praying in public Extending rights to the unborn How Much do You Know about the Jewish People T.I.’s Spirituality And more…

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Pop Culture Moments by Mo: Obama shakes off O‘Reilly and Glen Beck Originally here: August 14, 2009 by Mo

President Obama has been under a lot of pressure from vociferous right-wing pundits including Glen Beck and Bill O‘Reilly. Beck even lost advertisers after calling Obama a racist. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a cooment at The Underground. Tags: bill oreilly, glen beck, obama

IAAF responsible for prejudice athlete Caster Semenya facing Originally here: August 25, 2009 by Tiffany Filed under Commentary and News When 18-year old Caster Semenya of South Africa obliterated her competition in the woman‘s 800 meters in Berlin Wednesday, most thought ―Wow, that‘s an extremely fast young lady,‖ and thought nothing else of it. Some people, however, listened to her deep voice and looked at her muscular, masculine-looking frame and thought, ―This must be a man.‖ Gender controversy is nothing new to Semenya. She accepts the taunts with grace and dignity, just like a world class athlete. Her coach, Michael Seme, said he was constantly asked about Semenya‘s sex, since her voice and features are so masculine. According to the Guardian, ―Semenya had been ‗crudely humiliated‘ a few times and the closest Seme said he had seen her to anger was earlier this year when some people wanted her barred from using a women‘s public toilet. Then Caster said, ‗Do you want me to pull down my pants that you can see?‘ Those same people came to her later and said they were extremely sorry.‖ Seeming to confirm the suspicions of the naysayers, the International Associate of Athletics Federations, the body that oversees the Berlin World Championships, asked gold-medal recipient Semenya to take a gender test. I understand why most people are concerned about Semenya‘s gender: It goes against people‘s sense of egalitarianism and general fairness if a man can compete as a woman.

Because of all the doping scandals that have taken place over the years, I also understand why the IAAF is concerned. What I don‘t understand, however, is why the IAAF confirmed that Semenya was undergoing genetic testing. According to its Policy on Gender Verification, matters such as this are supposed to be confidential. No wonder Semenya‘s family and even the South African government is crying foul. Jacob Semenya, Caster‘s father told a local South African newspaper, ―She is my little girl; I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman, and I can repeat that a million times.‖ ―For the first time South Africans have someone to be proud of, and detractors are already shouting wolf. It is unfair. I wish they would leave my daughter alone.‖ The African National Congress, South Africa‘s ruling party asked South Africans to support the athlete. ―Caster is not the only woman athlete with a masculine build and the International Association of Athletics Federation should know better,‖ said a statement from South Africa‘s ruling party. To further fan the flames of prejudice, someone also recently leaked that Semenya‘s testosterone level is three-times that of a normal female. What nobody is saying, however, is that there are any number of biological reasons why Semenya‘s testosterone could be three-times higher than that of an average woman. These include: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, androgen-producing tumors and anovulatory androgen excess (polycystic ovary syndrome). There is also the possibility of Semenya having an intersex disorder such as androgen insensitivity. Androgen insensitive individuals can have the genitalia of one sex, but have the chromosomal make up of the opposite sex. Though some such as Steve McConkey of 4 WINDS, a Christian track and field ministry, think that Semenya should be stripped of her medal if she is genetically male, Semenya will likely be able to keep her medal if she is androgen insensitive, as the IAAF makes provisions for the disorder. After reading the IAAF‘s Policy on Gender Verification, it seems as if the only reason it is testing Semenya is to see if she had an unfair advantage, testosterone-wise, over the other women she ran against.

I say this because the issue can‘t be about Semenya being genetically male or female, as the IAAF, along with the International Olympic Committee, has allowed male-to-female and femaleto-male transsexuals to openly compete in athletic events since 2004. But that‘s just my best guess. Unless the IAAF tells people why it decided to test Semenya, we won‘t know. One thing I do know though: By leaking confidential information to the press, the organization has tarnished South Africa‘s ―golden girl.‖ And as far as I‘m concerned, the organization deserves every accusation of racism, classism and sexism that Semenya‘s family and her supporters hurl at it, as it bears most of the blame for the way Semenya has been treated. View the IAAF‘s Policy on Gender Verification here: Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: athletics, caster semenya, gender, iaaf, intersex, transgender

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Pop Culture Moments by Mo: I Can Do This All Day August 25, 2009 by Mo Filed under Commentary and News

I can do this all day- An irate health care town hall attendee stares down President Obama and his healthcare bill. This week, the president has taken a break from the debate, vacationing with his family in Martha's Vineyard. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: bill, health care, obama, reform, town hall, United States

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Let‘s Talk About Change: Can a Person Change Sexual Orientation? August 27, 2009 by Josh Givens Filed under Commentary and News Regaining a Perspective on one of Christianity’s Most Debated Topics These days the word ―change‖ has been thrown around a lot. If you spent any time listening to our new President Barack Obama during his campaign speeches across the country, you likely heard phrases such as these: ―change we can believe in‖ or ―change will not come if we wait…‖ But the issue of change is not just being hotly debated in political realms. In countless Christian circles and church communities worldwide, the issues of homosexuality and change continue to be controversial and often dividing. Is a person born gay? Can a person choose to change their orientation and adopt a different sexual lifestyle? Can a person be a Christian and gay at the same time? Brian Peterson, 45, has been gay from the womb. Ask him and that‘s what he will tell you. ―Yes, that‘s right. I believe I was born gay,‖ he says. ―And do I think my sexual orientation can change? No, not really. And I may be wrong. But again, I don‘t think it‘s a critical issue except for arguing with gay people and thus building barriers to the Gospel.‖ You see, Brian isn‘t your typical gay male, in that he does not fit the statistical stereotypes placed on him by so many organizations. Although he officially declared his sexuality at the age of 31, he is a born-again believer, the son of a longtime assistant church pastor, and was raised in a strong, Christian household and spiritual community environment from day one. This is where many popular theories surrounding the origins of homosexual tendencies fall short in Brian‘s case.

"It just seems we spend way too much time trying to figure out the gay issue and not enough time loving the gay people."-Brian, 45 Countless researchers, both on the conservative Christian and secular sides alike, tend to postulate a ―father-deficit theory‖, citing that the lack of involvement on the father‘s part may increase the potential for these behavioral and lifestyle developments. During a speech at the London-based Anglican Mainstream Conference, American psychologist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi stated, ―…the fact remains that if you traumatize a child in a particular way, you will create a homosexual condition. If you do not traumatize a child, he will be heterosexual. If you do not traumatize a child in a particular way, he will be heterosexual. The nature of that trauma is an early attachment break during the bonding phase with the father.‖ Brian disagrees wholeheartedly. ―I think there are a lot of people who are desperate to make homosexuality a choice, so they grasp at anything they can find. I am very blessed to have two wonderful, godly parents who were actively involved in my life…I never had a deficit in the presence of my father.‖ He went on to note, ―I have many gay and straight friends who grew up with both parents active in their lives…And I have many gay and straight friends from broken homes. You know, I can get a psychologist to tell me anything I need him to tell me.‖ Try typing the phrase changing homosexuality into your favorite Internet search engine and see how many interesting results you receive. You may be shocked at the number of ―professional‖ and even ―psychological‖ organizations in existence, each attempting to ―cure‖ homosexuality through radical therapy methods. From to articles featured in Scientific American magazine, it seems everyone is looking for that ―miracle cure.‖ And perhaps worse, these curing strategies are typically promoted as scientifically sound and medically professional. A British survey published in March 2009 discovered that one in 25 therapists would agree to assist a homosexual person convert to heterosexuality. Although recent medical evidence suggests that such ―curing treatments‖ have been proven harmful, unsuccessful, and even

potentially damaging to an individual‘s psyche, countless psychologists continue to promote and employ them. However, it is not only scientific and psychological organizations that have missed the mark on dissecting and addressing the homosexuality conundrum. What about the ministry efforts of the church? It certainly doesn‘t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, globally, the church has not had the best effects in terms of reaching the unsaved or un-churched gay demographic. Brian doesn‘t believe the church is failing, however. ―I would say grossly ineffective is a better term to use,‖ he cautioned. ―The problem as I see it is that the church has been more interested in having a gay ministry than reaching gay people. You see, Jesus never intended for churches to have gay ministries or support organizations to reach gay people. So they don‘t have to. Let‘s just call it what it is…The problem is: ―How did we get to the point that we are so concerned about everything under the sun but the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?‖ Without question, the church is more interested in dealing with men having sex with men than men having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything I ever saw and continue to see is a pre-occupation with the sin rather than the Gospel that sets us free from sin.‖ For Christians ministering to homosexuals, grace is the kicker. The Gospel of grace sets us free from sin. In Romans 6, Paul writes, ―What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?…Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.‖ (Romans 6:1-2, 12-14, New American Standard-updated, emphases added). Churches, Christian communities, leaders, pastors, and congregates desperately need to reembrace the grace found in the life-transforming power of the cross of Jesus Christ and His work in people‘s lives. It is time to lay aside the hellfire and brimstone sermons and attitudes and instead pick up the methodology of truth and love. Radical, undeniable lifestyle change is more than possible for ―whoever will call on the name of the Lord‖ (Romans 10:13), and that includes all of mankind, gays and straights alike. And, as Brian expressed: ―It just seems we spend way too much time trying to figure out the gay issue and not enough time loving the gay people.‖ Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: changing sexual orientation, gay christians, gay marriage, gay rights, homosexuality

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Arrested for praying in public: Guilty by association September 2, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Commentary and News Santa Rosa County, Florida – Two school employees were arrested for saying a Christian prayer in public at a luncheon – not in the school, not during school duty. They are now up on criminal charges. How did this happen? Last year, the ACLU brought a lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County School District, claiming that some of the administrators and teachers were ―endorsing‖ religion. The ACLU submitted a Consent Order to the School District. This Consent Order bans all school employees from engaging in public prayer or other religious activities - even outside of school hours and offproperty…a completely illegal order according to the real First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But instead of engaging in battle with the ACLU, the School District chose to accept the ACLU‘s Order. And without any legal argument, the Pensacola Federal District Court allowed the Consent Order which unconstitutionally infringes on the rights of both school employees and their students. That wasn‘t enough for the ACLU. They began going against individual employees. Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman prayed at a luncheon which included former booster club members and others who had helped with a school project. The ACLU complained that Lay and Freeman offered a prayer to bless the meal (served to consenting adults at the appreciation luncheon). Based solely on the ACLU‘s allegations, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers initiated criminal contempt proceedings against Lay and Freeman to the United States Attorney‘s office for prosecution. Unbelievably, the U.S. Attorney accepted the assignment and is proceeding with prosecution. If convicted, Lay and Freeman are subject to fines and possible imprisonment. Attorneys from Liberty Counsel are acting on behalf of Freeman and Lay. On the Liberty Counsel website, Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: ―It is a sad day in America when school officials are criminally prosecuted for a

prayer over a meal…‖ ―…It is outrageous and an offense to the First Amendment to punish a school official for a simple prayer.‖ In a related Liberty Counsel case… Michelle Winkler, a clerical assistant at the same School District, attended an off-campus event, after school hours and sponsored by private funding, to honor non-teaching employees of the schools. She asked her husband, not a school employee, to read a prayer she wrote for the honorees. The ACLU brought a civil contempt case against Winkler (do they have spies everywhere?). However, in this case Judge Rodgers ruled against the ACLU, concluding that for Winkler‘s husband to pray at a voluntary gathering outside of school did not violate ACLU‘s Consent Order. Can Christians help in cases like this? Anyone concerned with the preservation of the First Amendment can voice their opinion in this case, but especially calling all residents of Santa Rosa County, FL., where the ACLU‘s Consent Order should never have been accepted in the first place. Go to Liberty Counsel‘s Press Release and read toward the bottom to see how they are asking for help. Liberty Counsel Press Releases: Principal and Athletic Director Face Criminal Charges for Prayer at Luncheon, 8/10/09,; Michelle Winkler is Cleared of Civil Contempt Charge in Santa Rosa County Prayer Case, 8/24/09 Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: ACLU, christian, criminal, First Amendment, politics

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Are You an E-mail or Twitter Alarmist? September 5, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Commentary and News, Culture Are you an e-mail or Twitter alarmist? You know what I‘m talking about…you get an e-mail or Tweet about all the questionable stuff going on in the government, or how crooks have found some new way to steal identities. The subject line looks something like this… LOOK WHAT PRESIDENT SO-AND-SO IS DOING NOW! Or… ALERT! THIS IS SCARY! BE ON THE LOOKOUT! So you frantically put all your friends‘ and co-workers‘ e-mail addresses (and anyone else you can possibly think of) in the ―TO‖ Field and hit ―Send.‖ You put it on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and all your other avenues of connecting with people. Never mind that the e-mail‘s been going around since the last President was in office or since e-mail was first invented. Yes, it‘s true – some e-mail tales have circulated through the computer since the word ―apple‖ just meant a fruit. There‘s the one about giving a little boy money for a kidney, the hero gas station attendant who sees a criminal hiding under a lady‘s car seat, and of course the everpopular Madelyn Murray O‘Hare is working from the grave to take ―Touched by an Angel‖ off TV. And when you get them, it looks like they just happened yesterday. Then you feel like an idiot when someone you don‘t know, whom your message got forwarded to, writes you back: ―Hey buddy, this thing‘s ancient history.‖ To be sure, there is some pretty unsavory and confusing stuff making the rounds now, especially about health care. And just the other day, there was one about all our cell phones being bugged by criminals. But how can we discern whether it‘s anything to get upset about, or to scare others about? Well, since there‘s no E-Mail Alarmists Anonymous, here are several suggestions. -Don‘t circulate anything that doesn‘t come from a well-known, reliable organization or company.

-Don‘t circulate anything on which you can‘t find an original date, sender or source. -Don‘t circulate anything that has hundreds of e-mail addresses or Twitter friends attached with the original going back more than several weeks ago. -Separate the Truth from Fiction. You‘d be surprised how fast the websites and get hold of stuff, and how far back their archives go. It‘s worth taking a look to see if your questionable e-mail was originally dated 1990, or if the President really said that the other day. Just put in a few key words from the subject line you received. For a while, it was rumored that Snopes was taken over by one party in Congress, but that also turned out false! -If it‘s a government thing, wait a few days and see what else falls into place. Or do other research. Go to at least two media websites that you trust. Don‘t base your evidence on someone‘s private opinion blog. Everyone‘s a journalist today. -If it turns out true and you can take any constructive action, like calling Congress people to object to a bill, do so. Keep these things in mind: -There are people out there who start rumors on purpose to see if they can make ―the other side‖ look like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling. They want us to get upset and run around like chickens without heads. They start rumors for the fun of it. The Christian community seems to fall victim to consistently becoming alarmed and circulating misinformation too quickly. -For Christians reading this, there is no cause for alarm. Cause for prayer, yes – always. But not for alarm. And if you are not a Christian, you can still take comfort in the following verses when you yield your life to God‘s amazing grace and Jesus as Lord: Psalm 27:1: The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Isaiah 41:10: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. LATEST NEWS: (This is not a fake e-mail) CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION COMES TO AMERICA For the last decade, we have seen a rising of Christian persecution in America, like the true case of two teachers now going on trial for praying in public on their own time. Christians in other countries have bravely dealt with this for years. We can remember this when standing for truth:

Mark 13:11 – But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Christians have nothing to fear but fear itself, as the old saying goes. Man can take our physical body, but not our soul. Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: christian, facebook, jesus, Madelyn Murray O'hare, Myspace, President, Twitter

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25 Year Old NIV Translation will be New Again September 7, 2009 by Josh Givens Filed under Commentary and News Revision Plans already Underway say Sources The widely known and published New International Version of the Holy Bible will soon be undergoing a scholarly revision process for the first time in over 25 years, according to NIV copyright owner Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society). As one of the most popular Bible translations of the 20th Century, the NIV has set the standard for countless subsequent translations and Biblical commentaries and is even included in dozens of PC Study Bible computer software programs. Its impact is one that exists on a global scale via print and digital media.

The popular NIV translation of the Bible is scheduled for a revision. Evangelical book and Bible publishing giant Zondervan, along with the CBT (Committee on Bible Translations) have additionally announced their plans to completely cut all sales of the TNIV (Today‘s New International Version) translation—a translation which several conservative Christians had qualms about during its debut nearly seven years ago. Apparently, controversy surrounding the use of ―gender-neutral language‖ caused a stir among certain large sects of conservative believers (Source: The Christian Post). According to Biblica‘s official website, the

goal of the TNIV was to offer ―clarity in contemporary English.‖ When referring to people, the TNIV employs the use of gender-inclusive language, but does not refer to God with such language. Although the original NIV was first published and marketed to the general populace in 1978, it underwent a heavy revision process in 1984. Now again, in 2009, Biblical scholars and Greek/Hebrew translators plan to revisit the ancient texts in an attempt to remain faithful to their desire for contemporariness and cultural relevancy. Members of the NIV revision team and the CBT have not yet released any official statements revealing how they plan to handle the controversial gender language issues that will no doubt arise over the coming months. CBT Chairman Professor Douglas Moo told The Christian Post, ―The new 2011 NIV is all about maintaining and enhancing the original values of the NIV for today‘s readers.‖ Together, the CBT and Biblica are certainly striving for one goal above all else: accuracy. Remaining true and faithful to the words and intentions of the original authors should indeed be the goal of any and every Bible translation. Biblica and Zondervan have officially announced that the new and revised NIV translation will be published in 2011, a year that will also mark the historic 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. You can read more about this new revision process of the NIV at Biblica‘s official website: You can learn more about the products offered by Zondervan Publishing at their official website: Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: Greek and Hebrew, King James Bible, New International Version revision, the bible, TNIV

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Hubby Hubby: Why Ben & Jerry‘s was wrong to take a stand on gay marriage September 9, 2009 by Tiffany Filed under Commentary and News

Friday, as I was wrapping up my work week, I got an innocuous looking e-blast from Ben & Jerry‘s. I love Ben & Jerry‘s ice cream, so I‘m on their opt-in mailing list, Chunkmail. It was entitled simply, ―Introducing… Hubby Hubby.‖ For some reason, the title did not make me pause. I guess I was too busy thinking of pints of Ben & Jerry‘s dancing in my head. Intrigued, I scrolled down to read the message in the newsletter.

I read the brief paragraph that the message contained, and then I looked to my right. I finally understood what ―Hubby Hubby‖ meant: An ice cream confection celebrating the legalization of gay marriage in Vermont. According to a press release, Ben & Jerry‘s is renaming its well-known ice cream flavor Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby to raise awareness of the importance of marriage equality. ―Ben & Jerry‘s has a long history of commitment to social justice, including gay rights. Its partnership with Freedom to Marry, a national leader in the movement for marriage equality, aims to raise awareness of the importance of marriage equality and to encourage other states to follow the blazing trails of Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Maine. Freedom to Marry promotes the national conversation about why marriage equality matters and brings together partner organizations into a larger whole – a shared civil rights campaign.‖ The company will also serve Hubby Hubby sundaes in its Vermont ice cream shops throughout September. To be honest, I was taken aback by it all. I really couldn‘t believe that Ben & Jerry‘s decided to take up the cause in this way. I‘m not sure why ―Chubby Hubby‖ was chosen to be re-christened Hubby Hubby, but I‘ll never be able to think of it in the same way. Chubby Hubby contains fudge-covered, peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets in a sea of fudge and peanut butter swirled vanilla ice cream. For peanut butter and chocolate fans, this is a win-win flavor. However, when paired with gay marriage, Chubby Hubby can seem unappetizing to some due to the sexual imagery the contents of the pints can elicit. One blogger at Friction and Harmony wrote, ―Silly activist advertising folks — you may as well call it what it is. In this new context, even the flavor description elicits a visual that‘s so fittingly disturbing I won‘t be able to pass the B&J section without throwing up a little…So I have to ask, what about the lesbians? Don‘t they get a flavor too? Maybe call it something like ―Strawberry Red Wings―?‖ I know Ben & Jerry‘s was just trying to be clever about things, but in all honesty, whether hetero or homosexual, I don‘t think people necessarily want to think about sex when eating ice cream. While I don‘t agree with the way the blogger at Friction and Harmony made his point, I do understand what he‘s getting at.

If he is correct, then the imagery and description associated with the ice cream is actually offensive to homosexuals–many of whom who are trying to move people away from the idea that their sexuality is somehow aberrant. Then there‘s the issue of actually commemorating a socially-charged cause like this. How could a company even try to distill the struggle of a group of people into an ice cream flavor? A potentially offensive one at that? As an African –American, my first thought was, ―What‘s next? Chocolate ice cream with black jelly beans to celebrate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or to protest slavery in Darfur?‖ Furthermore, and I hate to say it but, this may go down in history as a blunder for Ben & Jerry‘s, because the company really just told a large segment of its customers, that it doesn‘t share their values. Through countless referendums and, more importantly, their votes, people from all walks of life in the United States have shown that they are not for gay marriage. Some may be for civil unions, but they aren‘t ready for a radical redefinition of marriage. To many in the United States, marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman. It‘s as simple as that. The problem with Ben & Jerry‘s supporting this issue on the grounds of social injustice is that most people in the United States don‘t believe that homosexual marriage is an issue of social justice. While it seems as if homosexuals are being denied a fundamental right by not being allowed to marry someone of the same sex, most people don‘t believe they are. Depending on the side of the law that you are on, all laws are discriminatory in that they prevent someone from doing something. One commenter on Issue Clash, a PBS discussion on gay marriage raised an interesting point with regards to this. He said, ―Personally, I don‘t see how you can ―change‖ the definition of marriage for homosexuals without changing it for any alternative group that wants to be married. In Islam, a man can ―marry‖ four wives… and when three men want to ―marry‖ nine women, what grounds will the state have to regulate them once the precedent has been set? Homosexuals call this a civil rights issue because marriage laws are (in their view) discriminatory.‖ I understand companies having causes, but many people enjoy Ben & Jerry‘s ice cream.

This campaign is offensive to homosexuals and heterosexuals. By choosing this highly controversial cause, stand by it Ben & Jerry‘s may, the company is alienating part of its customer base to placate another segment. It‘s just not right… even if it is only for a month. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: Ben & Jerry's, Chubby Hubby, debate, gay marriage, Hubby Hubby, ice cream

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Pop Culture Moments by Mo: Obama‘s Indoctrination of America‘s Youths September 15, 2009 by Mo Filed under Commentary and News

President Obama‘s speech to public school students on Sept. 8 caused an uproar among conservative parents. Prior to the speech‘s delivery, many ―conservative‖ parents accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas. Others said they were concerned because the speech had not been screened for political content. There was even a Student Walkout to Prayer (President Obama‘s Live Address To Students), which more than 1,000 people attended, according to Facebook. (

When Obama gave his speech Tuesday, he urged students to work hard and stay in school. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: Conservative Christians, education, indoctrination, obama, speech to students, United States

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Underground Friday: Aradhna‘s latest release Amrit Vani as good as Indian worship music gets September 18, 2009 by Tiffany Filed under Music

Amrit Vani cd cover Since 2000, Aradhna has set out to create authentic Indian worship music. By blending Indian bhajans (spirituals) with Biblical subject-matter, band members Chris Hale (lead vocals, sitar), Peter Hicks (acoustic guitar, sitar, English vocals), Fiona Hicks (Hindustani violin) and Travis Macafee (bass), have proven that good Christian music is not an oxymoron. Amrit Vani (Immortal World) is the band‘s latest release.

While listening, you can almost smell of Tibetan juniper incense, frying spices and rain-drenched soil wafting through the air as you lift up fragrant praise offerings to the Most High God. Although this album in performed (mostly) in Hindi, the album‘s lush, hypnotic grooves and the simplicity of the Gospel make you want to worship the Lord. If you read the lyrics while listening to the music the (impact) is trebled. For those who don‘t know Indian languages, the album‘s liner notes are in English and Hindi. Amrit Vani begins with Jaya Dev (Victory to God) and ends with Narahari (The Man-God). Jaya Dev sets the tone for the album. The track begins with a low hum that blossoms into a rousing, yet exotic song of praise with table, guitar and a choir of angelic voices singing out ―Jaya Deva Narahari‖ on the chorus. As it gets stuck in your head, don‘t be surprised if Jaya Dev becomes your personal anthem. Narahari is sort of a reprise of Jaya Dev. It wraps up the album nicely. In between Jaya Dev and Narahari are eight sublime tracks dealing with various aspects of Christianity—from the suffering of the believer to the awesomeness of God‘s creation.  

Yeshu Raja (King Jesus) is a simple bhajan celebrating the incarnation. It‘s sweet, sort of like a lullaby. Amrit Vani gives praise to each person in the Trinity. It‘s more up tempo than some of the other songs on the album. Expect someone to sample it for a rap song in the future.

Bhajo Re is a fun, call and response song that sounds like something you could sing with your mates at a sporting event, except it‘s in Hindi and it‘s about finding rest and peace in Jesus. Dhyana Mulam is a short hymn of devotion to Aradhna‘s guru-Jesus.

Man Mera is tender and gentle. Like the other songs on this album it‘s in layers. It build up and builds up, finishing in a worshipful frenzy where Peter Hicks‘ Peter Gabriel-esque vocals are striking when juxtaposed with the Hindi voices in the background.

Prem Milan (United in Love) is a folky travelling song. It is reminiscent of Bunyan‘s Pilgrim’s Progress in that it‘s about a person who reaches his beloved after a long journey. Prabhu Hamare- has Aradhna interpreting a portion of a song from one of the greatest songwriters, ever— King David, as the lyrics in this song are taken from a Hindi translation of Psalm 91, verse four. Khat Khataao (Knock, Knock)—Christ‘s words from Matthew 7: 7 set to music. Perfect. Aayo Hai Aayo (A Nepali Christmas Song) recounts Jesus‘ birth in a manger and His purpose for coming into the world—to become our Salvation. This might be one to add to the traditional Christmas rotation to mix things up.

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From start to finish, Amrit Vani transforms its listeners, while transporting them to faraway lands.

For more info For more information on Aradhna, visit or Buy Amrit Vani at or

See them live Aradhna is currently on tour. Though they perform well in the studio, Aradhna is even better live, as their previous album, Satsang proves. Check out their schedule to see if they‘ll be playing near you.

Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: Amrit Vani, Aradhna, christianity, Hindi, Indian music, world music

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Iranian Christian Women Still in Prison – told to ―reconsider‖ their faith September 17, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Causes

Can American Christians be this Courageous? Background: Two Iranian Christian women, Maryam Rustampoor (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (30) were first arrested in Iran in March and accused of apostacy against the Muslim faith. Current: Rustampoor and Amirizadeh, who have both become ill while in Evin prison, were brought to trial in August. A sentence was supposed to be pronounced. Instead, because of the strong Christian testimony of these two young women, the prosecutor sent them back to their cells to reconsider their testimonies before sentencing would be pronounced. The courtroom proceedings are recounted at Elam, a ministry to the growing number of Christians in Iran. It makes one wonder why we, as American Christians, sometimes don‘t even have the courage to witness to our next door neighbors.

Mr. Haddad, the prosecutor, at one point asked the two women if they were Christians. They replied that they love Jesus. So he asked again if they were Christians, to which they replied, ―Yes, we are Christians.‖ This could have been a death sentence for a man. Iran does not sentence women to death for apostasy, but they could face life imprisonment. Haddad then proposed that they admit to previously being Muslims. Rustampoor and Amirizadeh replied they were born in Muslim families, but were not Muslims. Haddad asked them if they regretted becoming Christians, to which they said no. He told them they should renounce their faith in both verbal and written form. They said they would not. During the questioning, Rustampoor and Amirizadeh stated they believed that God had convicted them through the Holy Spirit to accept Christ. Haddad told them they were not worthy of God speaking to them. Amirizadeh answered, ―It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy.‖ Haddad sent the women back to prison to think about coming back when they are ready to comply (in renouncing their Christian faith). But to this, the women told him they had already done their thinking. Why has this barely been reported outside of Christian/Conservative media venues? In June of 2009, President Obama said this in his now-famous Cairo Speech (text retrieved from USA Today): …‖And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.‖ Yet, Iran and many other countries no longer recognize, or never did recognize, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights set forth on December 10, 1948 after World War II. It declares, among other things (Article 18, bolding mine): ―Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.‖ (Take a look at the second part of that…we don’t even have this total right in the United States anymore.) These two women are prime examples of Luke 12:11-12 (also Mark 13:11, just used in a recent article but worth repeating): ―When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.‖

What say you, American Christians? If ever in such a situation, can we follow Paul‘s advice to Timothy? ―…God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of selfdiscipline‖ (2 Timothy 1:7). Fervent prayer is needed for the failing health and eventual fate of Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh. As of the writing of this article, there was no news of a verdict. They are still in prison. Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: christian, faith, iran, islam, jesus, obama, prison

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―The Top 13 Questions About God‖-A Review September 15, 2009 by Josh Givens Filed under Features, Theology Youth Curriculum by Group Publishing Hits Home with Today’s Kids

"The Top 13 Questions About God" provides excellent insight & interactivity into the controversial questions of today's youth. Youth ministry can be one of the most difficult, challenging, and intensive career fields out there. Troubled teens, drug and sex issues, and poor home lives can make for a demanding schedule and a hectic life. Any leader of teens and young adults will likely face a myriad of these and other obstacles along the way. But it can also be one of the most rewarding. Encountering the smile of young girl or boy whose life has been turned upside down by the redemptive power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will leave any youth pastor or leader in awe. It impresses upon us a sense of fulfillment like no other; a fulfillment only God Himself can deliver. When the grace of God and the power of the Scriptures excite a young life, it is truly a sight to behold.

Having led worship for and taught youth groups in two churches for the past six or more years, I can personally testify to the need for solid, Bible-based curriculums when forming small group meetings. The Top 13 Questions About God, released in 2002 by Group Publishing, is just such a curriculum. Geared toward junior and senior high students, this radical approach to youth discussions offers ―Hard questions, Solid Answers‖ and results in ―Rock Hard Faith.‖ The premise is simple: Jesus did not shy away from controversial questions about Christianity or the Scriptures. So why should your students? In a 13 week format, you will cover several faithchallenging questions, including: ―How can I know God exists?‖ ―Why would a loving God send people to Hell?‖ ―How can I hear God communicate to me?‖ ―Which is right: evolution or Creationism?‖, and ―Will God forgive any and every sin?‖ And that‘s just the tip of the iceberg. Each lesson is packed with interactive handouts for your students as well as a My Response section in which to write their personal thoughts about the lesson and challenge. Speaking from personal experience, it is a wonderful discussion starter to help kids talk about things they have always wondered about God and their faith. Additionally, it is not required that you stick to the layout of each lesson. Many of the topics themselves will allow for two or three lessons, based on your students‘ interests in them. Before leaping into lesson 1 (―How Can I Know God Exists?‖), I personally recommend developing your own introduction to the curriculum. Introduce yourself to the group if necessary and find out a little bit about each of your students: their names, ages, hobbies, favorite school subjects, favorite music and movies, etc. Much of these interests will play a large role in several of the discussions covered by the curriculum. You may also desire to start by explaining more in depth the concept of Jesus not being afraid to answer tough questions. Personally, I recommend the passage from Mark 10:17-31 in which Jesus is approached by a rich young man who asks ―What must I do to inherit eternal life?‖ Help your students take note of the man‘s actions by emphasizing the action verbs in the passage. When this rich ruler had a tough question about faith and God, he ―ran to Him‖ and he ―fell on his knees…‖ (New International Version, emphases added, vs. 17). By doing so, this man displayed both humility and reverence. He also advertised to the crowd and the Pharisees around him that he knew Who to go to with the big questions in life. This is the same thing we must do as Christians. Go to Jesus in humility and simply ask. Likewise, we are to confront tough questions as Jesus does in the aforementioned passage. As Christians, we have been charged by Jesus as ―the light of the world‖ (Matthew 5:14) and have a responsibility to shine light and truth into dark places, just as Jesus did. However, we must do so with gentleness, kindness, and sincerity. Remember how Jesus saw the rich young man: ―Jesus looked at him and loved him.‖ (verse 21, NIV). The Top 13 Questions About God will help your students understand that they do not have to fear the unknowns or the uncertainties of God and their Christian faith. Instead, they will come to embrace them, answer them, and learn how to handle tough questions from their unsaved and unchurched friends and classmates.

You can find out more about the curriculum at Group Publishers official website: You can also purchase the curriculum at Lifeway Christian Stores online store: Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: group publishers, spread the gospel, youth curriculum, youth groups, youth ministry

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Human rights ―personhood‖ amendment – Extending rights to the unborn September 15, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Causes

Should Human Rights, as defined today in America, extend to yet unborn babies? The American Life League says yes, and along with other pro-life organizations has announced its intent to propose a ―Personhood‖ Human Rights Amendment to the Florida State Constitution. A Press Conference was held Friday, September 11 at Florida‘s State Capitol in Tallahassee to announce their intent. With pre-released media announcements, the group was already receiving criticism from pro-choice and abortion rights organizations. The Amendment would recognize human rights for all human beings from the beginning of their biological development. Florida would be the first state to pass such an amendment. The Florida personhood movement recognizes unborn children as having the same inherent rights, dignity and value as every living human.

The proposed Amendment to the Florida Constitution reads in part as follows: SECTION 28. Person Defined– (a) The words ―person‖ and ―natural person‖ apply to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, health, function, condition of physical and/or mental dependency and/or disability, or method of reproduction, from the beginning of the biological development of that human being. This connects with the Founding Fathers‘ understanding of life as God created it: As much as the colonists wanted to separate from Great Britain—and as much as American society today tries to obliterate the founding fathers‘ faith in God— the words, faith and theories of English lawyer and judge Sir William Blackstone greatly influenced original American law. Blackstone‘s ―Commentaries on the Laws of England,‖ written circa 1765, was used to help shape the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. If our judges who presided over Roe v. Wade had gone back and read some of what Blackstone said on life, they would find these statements (italics and bolding are mine): ―Life is the immediate gift of God, a right inherent by nature in every individual; and it begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb. For if a woman is quick with child, and by a potion, or otherwise killeth it in her womb; or if any one beat her, whereby the child dieth in her body, and she is delivered of a dead child; this, though not murder, was by the ancient law homicide or manslaughter…‖ ―An infant in ventre fa mere [in the mother’s womb] is supposed in law to be born for many purposes. It is capable of having a legacy, or a surrender of a copyhold estate made to it. It may have a guardian assigned to it; and it is enabled to have an estate limited to it‘s use, and to take afterwards by such limitation, as if it were then actually born.‖ Blackstone‘s opinion was obviously formed with a Biblical basis, echoing a key Bible verses which commands respect for early human life: Psalm 139:13: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Florida Personhood Amendment: Personhood Florida: American Life League:, 540.659.4942. This writer is not receiving remuneration or recognition of any kind from the organizations mentioned in this article. See the writings of Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on The Laws of England, Book I, Of The Rights of Persons, Vol I. Section 1, originally written in 1765, reprinted Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1962. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: abortion, America, bible, constitution, pro-choice, Roe v. Wade

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Is the Church Caring for Senior Adults? September 11, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Culture Senior adults (age 65 and over) represent the fastest growing segment of America‘s population. In Florida alone, a popular location for retirement, some county profiles show senior adults composing 24.5 percent of the residents. According to a recent formula by the National Academy of Science (NAS), the poverty level among senior Americans may be nearly twice as high as previously thought under the still-used government formula from 1955. The old formula had measurements showing 10 percent of senior adults at the poverty level; the NAS measurement puts 18.6 percent of seniors at the poverty level. Is the Church in general, as an institution, caring for its elderly population, or do we look at our senior members as ―the nice old people who used to do all the work around here‖? Moreover, are we concerned for the elderly in the area surrounding our church, even if they don‘t attend? Seniors May Hide Their Poverty- Even from Family and Church Our seniors may hide their poverty—out of embarrassment, or they don‘t want to worry anyone. Many depend on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which don‘t cover all costs, and they can‘t afford supplemental insurance. More and more are retiring from jobs without pensions, or being laid off just short of receiving one. The money they thought was going to be there just isn‘t. Two years after my mother‘s husband died, my sister and I discovered she was broke. The car had been repossessed, she‘d been scammed by a magazine and book club for hundreds of dollars and her monthly expenses cost more than her social security checks. She was living on frozen and canned foods. They had resided in a different state, and although we went for visits, she‘d kept this situation from us. She didn‘t want to relocate. Shocked into reality, I began researching and found that mom‘s situation was typical. To make matters worse, if one must plan for the possibility of a Medicaid-approved nursing home which takes the person‘s social security check as full monthly payment, many states require that a senior citizen has less than $2,000 to their name and be considered ―destitute.‖ They must turn all other possessions over to family longer than three years before applying for a home of this

type. Otherwise, they won‘t qualify and will need to face an average monthly nursing or assisted living cost of $4,000-6,000 per month. Some families don‘t save the gifted money to help with this expense. Sabrina, a local hairdresser, tells of an elderly widowed client: ―Her property taxes had gone so high; she had to sell her home of forty years because it was taking two months‘ worth of her social security.‖ A senior couple whom I‘ll call ―Pete‖ and ―Mary‖ finally admitted their plight to our church, asking: ―Can the church help us pay some bills and give us some food? We are living on baloney sandwiches. It‘s too expensive to eat healthy.‖ Fortunately, the church had a food closet. But there were barely enough funds to pay the church‘s monthly bills, let alone help its members. Why are churches short on funds to help senior members, or senior adults in their neighborhoods? Author Arthur C. Brooks, in his book ―Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservativism,‖ discovered that churchgoers give more to charities than non-churchgoers. But these charities are mostly outside their churches. A 2008 Barna poll on tithing shows the percentage of Christian adults who ―tithe‖–giving 10 percent or more of their earnings regularly to their church–averaged only 5 percent in 2007 (9 percent among those considering themselves ―born again‖). From 2000 to 2008, Barna reported the average overall percentage of churchgoers giving within their churches to be only 5 to 7 percent. Here are some possible reasons: -Some denominations now consider tithing to be ―just an Old Testament concept‖ and have the laid back attitude ―just give when you can‖ so as not to offend parishioners. -Tithing isn‘t being taught as good stewardship, part of Christian discipleship growth, or as a way to show your faithfulness to God. It has become an inconvenience. -Misuse of church funds that hits national news makes people distrustful of their churches, so they give elsewhere. The majority of churches in America are still small churches, and most small churches have depleted funds. They are often unable to help with anything but a food closet, which they must depend on parishioners to keep stocked. And many small church parishioners are elderly. It‘s a vicious circle. As Christians, we rely on Old Testament prophecies to prove who Jesus is; we still believe the stories of Moses, Abraham, David, Esther and Ruth; we still learn the lineage of kings. So how can we throw the Old Testament verses on tithing away? Especially Malachi 3:8-10 (NIV):

―Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‗How do we rob you?‘ In tithes and offerings…bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,‖ says the LORD Almighty, ―and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.‖ The blessings in return may not be monetary, but there will be blessings. Or would we prefer to give everything like the Christians of Acts 2:42-47 in the New Testament? How many of us wouldn‘t hesitate before bringing everything we own to be shared by a whole congregation? James 1:27 says religion is simply taking care of orphans and widows in distress and keeping ourselves clean from the corruption of the world. Widows, widowers, elderly left alone – the Church must consider taking better care and being alert to the needs of the senior adults in our congregations. Don‘t wait to be asked. Do something nice for a senior citizen today. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: Barna, christian, Medicare, nursing homes, poverty, senior citizens, Social Security

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Interview with Pastor Jim Cessna September 9, 2009 by james wait Filed under Causes, Culture, Theology

Jim Cessna is definitely a man of God. He has influenced many– myself included. Though he has primarily ministered to people in the United States, his influence is felt as far away as Nigeria. Bottom line: He brings salt and light to our dark world. I got a chance to speak with Pastor Cessna recently. I want to thank Mr. Cessna for this interview, please pray for him, that God would continue to use him, like he has for the past 30 years. Check out our conversation below. ~James

JW: Can you tell me a little about you? Where did you grow up? What you like doing for fun? When did you get saved? JC: I was born in Fairplay, Colo. during the depression. My family moved to Windsor, Colo. when I was two years old and to Boulder, Colo. when I was 12. I lived in Boulder until I finished high school. JW: What you like doing for fun? JC:I really like to fish and ski and hunt and just about everything else that involves the outdoors. I love to pray and spend as much time as possible with my wife and family. JW: When did you get saved? JC:I came to Christ in 1962 thanks to a loving group of people who love me with Christ‘s love. JW: What are some of your favorite bible verses? JC: Favorite Bible verses: I‘m always gripped by the Sermon on the Mount. JW: What led you to become a pastor, or when did you feel by God to become a pastor/teacher? JC: Early on I felt a call to the pastorate, but it took 12 years of growing a serving in the church before I went to Seminary. I became a pastor in 1974. JW: Are you pastoring a church right now? If so, can you tell me a little about your church and your different ministries? What are some challenges leading a church or being a pastor? Also, what are some joys being a pastor? JC: I am now retired, living in the same town where I was born. I serve as an elder in my church and give Spiritual Direction to 8 different people–one in Fairplay, one in Nigeria, and 6 in Denver/Boulder. My greatest joy was as a missionary teaching in a seminary in Nigeria for three years. Other joys of the pastorate involve watching many parishioners grow in their relationship with Christ. The challenges of being a pastor are mainly staying true to your calling and to the truth while trying to put out endless fires that seem to fester in many churches. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: colorado, jim cessna, missionaries, nigeria

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4Real Weekend for Teen Girls offers good times and encouragement September 8, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Culture, Music Attention Teen Girls – Help Yourselves to a Serving of Encouragement! Moms – Take Your Daughter and Her Friends! The Revolve Tour, a relatively new offshoot of the popular Women of Faith Conferences, is presenting 4Real for Teen Girls. It‘s a weekend of encouragement to let teen girls know that they can have a sense of self-worth and fun without giving in to sex and immodesty. And just in time. Representatives from Women of Faith announced the following statistics at a recent Conference in Tampa, Florida: -500,000 teen girls have had plastic surgery or something like liposuction in the past year. This can include anything from chemical peels to ear reductions to breast implants. Although teen girls are not yet fully developed, they‘re often unhappy with their bodies according to two standards: (1) desiring the voluptuousness of oversized breasts on actresses, porn stars and major league sports team cheerleaders, or (2) wanting to appear thinner and prettier in order to match the air-brushed photos of reef-thin supermodels. -25% of teen girls have an eating disorder due to reasons as stated above. -79% of teen girls have had ―some form‖ of sex. Our culture today says that nothing is ―sex‖ unless it is penetration of the vagina. This is untrue. Acts of sex can be petting, oral sex, mutual masturbation and any other acts of arousal that may lead to actual intercourse. -39% of teens have sent nude or semi-nude photos over their cell phones. ―Reality TV shows‖ has made girls feel this is a normal way to show themselves to others. It may be ―the norm‖ in our society today, but it‘s not healthy, and in the end girls can lose their self-respect and pride. -―Hooking Up‖ – sometimes called ―Friends with Benefits‖ has never been more popular from middle school through college. These are casual sexual relationships taking place amongst circles of friends with no further relational commitment. In time, young people who indulge in

this practice end up heartbroken and unable to form future loving intimate relationships. See more about ―Hooking Up‖ here. -Suicide is the second highest cause of death among teens, right behind traffic accidents. At the 4Real Weekend, there will be contemporary Christian music, drama, and real-life stories starring real teens – guys too! By gathering teen girls together in great numbers, it will also let them know: ―I‘m not the only one told ‗No‘ to certain things by my parents!‖ The Tour is hitting cities all over the country from Baltimore, MD on Sept. 25-26, to Norman, OK on Dec. 11-12 (This article will probably be published too late to register for Sept. 11-12 in Columbus, OH). See all the Calendar Dates and Cities here and ticket details here, or call 1-8779-REVOLVE . That‘s Not All! Visit the Revolve Tour Website for articles like “What’s it Like to be a Teen Girl in 2009?” And “Tweet.Tweet. Do you Twitter?” or the ―Ask Chad‖ Q&A column, giving girls advice from a responsible guy‘s perspective. And girls can also see the smokin‘ hot Entertainment line-up. There‘s a section for Youth Leaders and Parents, too. Hurry – Check it out today. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: casual sex, faith, hooking up, plastic surgery, pop culture, teen

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Testimonial Website ―I Am Second‖ Offers Radical Perspectives on God‘s Grace September 6, 2009 by Josh Givens Filed under Culture Let‘s face it: we all love the story of the underdog. That lonely, worn out, down-on-their-luck man or woman who rises to the heights of greatness and success despite all surrounding adversity. We‘ve love reading about them, revisiting them at movie theatres, and sharing their tales of glory with family and friends. The Rocky Balboas and Rick & Dick Hoyts of the world inspire us to physical and even spiritual ideas of grandeur (never heard of the Hoyts? See their amazing story here: This same longing desire to behold extraordinary tales of excellence manifests itself in Christian circles and church communities as well. Personal accounts and chronicles of men‘s and women‘s toilsome life struggles and exhausting spiritual battles often leave us in wonderment and awe of God‘s amazing grace. Whether it‘s an award-winning singer at the peak of their fame finding contentment in the saving arms of Christ or a pornography-addicted husband abandoning their lusts to re-embrace God and their family, we simply can‘t get enough. I Am Second is a Christian movement ministry branch of Plano, Texas-based e3 Partners global missions organization; the kind of movement where ―significance in life is a shared value among people of all kinds. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Your next-door neighbor. People just like you. Their authentic stories here on provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living.‖ The group made Texas newspaper headlines back in 2008 when mysterious highway billboards featuring the simple phrase ―I Am Second‖ popped up all over the Dallas area. Plastered on each billboard, next to the phrase, was a photograph of a famous man or woman, a largely recognizable face. From local Dallas Cowboy linebacker Greg Ellis to NASCAR champion driver Darrel Waltrip, it seemed everyone was in on it. But what was ―it‖? e3 Partners Ministry Vice President Nathan Sheets told the Dallas Morning News, ―We are training people to take advantage of advertising that will help them live lives of intention. I Am Second is a mindset to live out authentic, transparent lives.‖

Since its emergence in 2008, I Am Second has already filmed, edited, and composed countless personal, real, and honest testimonial videos with some of American cultures most recognizable names: Republican politician and non-ordained Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, former Korn rock band superstar Brian Welch, former American Idol contestant Jason Castro, former Washington Redskins NFL Coach Joe Gibbs, and countless others. The stylized structure of the group‘s official website and editing, composition, and lighting techniques of their video interviews are far superior to that of any backyard church ministry. The site has more the feel of a professional documentary organization than the efforts of a church-sponsored Christian ministry. The site has already garnered well over 160,000 hits in various countries around the globe.

Brian Welch, former guitarist/co-founder of rock band Korn, says he is second. But I Am Second also features men and women just like you and me: sex addicts, druggies, anorexics, Iraqi War soldiers, and dozens more. Their stories of personal redemption through the saving grace of Jesus Christ and His work in their lives will blow the doors off of traditional mediocrity and conservatism within church communities and broadcast loud and clear that we are all second to the God who redeemed us. I Am Second reminds us that it is neither a watered-down, ill forgotten Gospel we treasure nor a powerless, feeble Savior that we serve. Rather, it is a vast and diverse world in which we live, where people lead broken lives and many suffer under the weight of sinful temptations and struggles of all kinds. What captures our attention for that single, fleeting moment in the vast expanse of eternity are the grace and God-filled stories of hope, the shocking tales of redeemed prodigals, and the bewildering personal accounts of real, raw, transparent people in need of a loving Savior. You can visit the I Am Second official website at: Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment. Check back with us often at The Underground. Tags: brian welch, i am second, mike huckabee, spread the gospel, testimonies, underdog

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Underground Friday: C.O.G. – A ‗Child of God‘ on a mission September 4, 2009 by Tiffany Filed under Music Samad Bilal grew up in a Muslim household in Raleigh, N.C. He prayed five times a day facing Mecca, abstained from pork and shunned the Christianity the culture tried to foist on him. When Bilal came of age, he joined the Navy. During his stint in the armed forces, he served his country faithfully, but realized he wasn‘t a ―lifer,‖ so he got out. He was 23 years old, the world was in front of him, but he didn‘t know whether to turn to the right or to the left. ―After getting out of the Navy, I was really lost and confused as to what direction my life was to go in,‖ he said. Then a coworker became a minister and teacher to Bilal. ―A friend at work began to minister to me about Christ, and I accepted Christ on the job in a restroom.‖ ―The fact that Jesus Christ died for my sins…In Islam, I was taught to ‗atone‘ for my wrong doings, yet, no matter how much I could atone, I would STILL fall short of God‘s glory and be unworthy,‖ he said.

―When I heard that JESUS died for all of that? WOW!‖ As Bilal grew in his Christianity, he realized that he wanted to give back; he wanted to affect change within his community. Blessed with musical ability, Bilal decided that the best medium to reach the most was hip-hop, so C.O.G. (Child of God), his rap alter ego was born. Recently, I spoke with the National Independent Gospel award-winning rapper to discuss his music, life and everything else. —Tiff: Did you expect your life to radically change after accepting Christ? C.O.G.: I did expect a radical change in the beginning. I had always heard or seen part of what ‗traditional‘ church would do. You know, the tongues, the dancing, the shouting. I never felt that, so I never felt I could have that unless I did those things. Tiff: A lot of Christians think people will reject the simplicity of the Gospel or think it‘s foolish, but you heard it and it made sense. C.O.G.: When it was taught the actual simplicity of the Gospel, it really was and is easy. When a man or woman is down, with nowhere else to turn, the Gospel is very simplistic, necessary and welcomed. Tiff: So going back to your story post-Navy, and post-conversion…was it easy for you to find a church or Christian community in which you could learn about Christ or were you still put off from "church folk?" C.O.G.: It was very difficult. Having not been a part of the church community, the things that I had always heard, seen or read about in church were the first things that I witnessed. It wasn‘t until I met Pastor Leroy Staley in Forest City, N.C. that I saw different. Tiff: How did Pastor Leroy change the way you viewed things? C.O.G.: He didn‘t come across as pushy or arrogant. He was truly concerned for my salvation. He always taught me to keep the Gospel elementary. ―Just love people,‖ he would say. That‘s all I‘ve ever known him to do. He didn‘t come at me with too much theology. For a new convert, that can be too much too soon. Tiff: Is he still your pastor today? C.O.G.: He will always be ―my pastor.‖ I‘m in Raleigh now and Rodney Finch is my pastor; but there will always be a very special place in my heart for Pastor Staley and New Bethel.

Just like Pastor Staley, Pastor Rodney doesn‘t push. He teaches the Bible verse by verse, allowing us all to grow. That‘s the most important key to becoming a better Christian: Growth. Tiff: It‘s interesting that you say that. At what point did you grow enough in the faith that you decided to become a musician? C.O.G.: Well, that was a part of me before becoming a believer. I sang in night clubs, was in a couple of groups, etc. When I got saved, I took time to learn the Word and grow. There was no point of growth, when the Holy Spirit said to go back to music, I just did. At first, it was very difficult. I was not accustomed to the type of music the group I was with was singing at the time. We were a quartet group, and that was something a bit new and very different for me. Tiff: How did you come up with your rap persona? C.O.G.: By that time, I was a Sunday school teacher and a youth pastor. I was singing and teaching, but it didn‘t feel right. It seemed like I was just going through the motions, not really making a difference. The very children in my youth ministry were still turning to the music of the street, hip hop. I wanted to do something to win them back. I believe that turning point came when I heard my daughter listening to some rap that I didn‘t approve of. I told her that I didn‘t want to hear that music in my house, and she said, ―Daddy, make something I can listen to then.‖ I started that day. Tiff: You just started writing raps, just like that? C.O.G.: Just like that. Went in the studio and wrote my first CD in two weeks. That‘s how I know it was God, not me! Tiff: When did you first step out as C.O.G.? C.O.G.: My daughter started sharing the music with her friends and the local paper heard about it and wanted to do a story on me. This little old lady asked me what my rapper name was, and I told her I didn‘t have one, I‘m just a child of God. She said, ―That‘s it! Your name should be Child of God.‖ And that‘s how C.O.G. came about. Tiff: How did people receive you? C.O.G.: People at first did not like what I was doing. People would say, ―God don‘t need no hip hop music to save souls.‖ And I would agree and say, ―He don‘t need no quartet music, choirs, organs either!‖ I‘ve been doing this now for almost six years. I‘ve been extremely blessed that no matter where I‘ve been, people have LOVED my music. I believe the music should remain fun, only the message should change.

There‘s a way to deliver the Word without it being boring, docile or too dark. So many young people think serving God is a drag, but that‘s just because of the way tradition has caused it to be delivered. For way too many years, preachers have preached, hell, fire and brimstone and that‘s not a very pretty picture. If you‘re already in a bad situation, why would you want to join something that seems so grim? Being a Christian is fun! You have the freedom to just be you. No peer pressure, no pressure to do drugs, drink alcohol, curse, etc. Tiff: So what kind of message would you say you "preach" through your lyrics? C.O.G.: I keep it very simple. I truly believe why my music has been so well received. Little children to grandparents all seem to appreciate what I do. That‘s a true blessing. I try to reach a broad range of subjects in my music, but the most consistent message I try to deliver is that Jesus Christ died for your sins; forgiveness of sins is yours if you‘d just believe, repent and turn away from sin. Tiff: Okay, so tell me about your latest album. What‘s the name of it? C.O.G.: The latest CD is entitled Ghetto Hymnbook. The CD is a very easy listen. The songs are fun, the hooks are catchy and the Word is evident. Oh, and the beats-oh my goodness! I have the very best producer in Gospel music on this project His name is Spec (, and he used to be a big producer in the secular realm. Tiff: So it‘s music that young people won‘t be ashamed to bump in front of their friends? C.O.G.: Actually, they will want to bump this in front of their friends. I know a lot of people say that type of thing, but listen for yourself and see.

Buy C.O.G.‘s music here: · (Digital download only) · Send $7 to Ghetto Hymnbook, 1225 Delham Road Knightdale, NC 27545 (Hardcopy)

Check out C.OG.‘s music and get in touch with him at the following sites: · ·

Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: C.O.G., Child of God, christianity, hip hop, Music, National Independent Gospel award winner, PdSoul

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Life your Life, Dead and Gone reflect ‗spiritual‘ side of T.I. September 4, 2009 by Tiffany Filed under Music

Sometimes things have to happen before you turn your life around. For T.I., the ―thing‖ that made him change was a felony weapons charge, resulting in one year and one day in prison for the charges. As he sat a home under house arrest awaiting his report date, T.I. took out his notebook and started writing. As he wrote, he thought about his past. He thought about his future. When he couldn‘t write any more, he hit the studio and recorded some 100 tracks for his latest release, Paper Trail. Like anything T.I. releases, the album is an able collection of Southern rap, but two songs on the album stand out: Dead and Gone and Live your Life. Both of these songs reflect T.I.‘s increasing maturity. They also reveal a side of T.I. that may have been invisible to many of his fans:

His spirituality. On the surface, Live your Life is your typical club banger, It even features ―it‖ girl, Rihanna, on the hook. Underneath, however, the song is reminiscent of the Bible‘s wisdom literature. In Ecclesiastes, the preacher tries to teach people about life. He recounts his experiences, and records them so that you can learn. That‘s exactly what T.I. does in Live your Life. He‘s learned from experience that it‘s not good to be morally bankrupt. ―Your values is in disarray/prioritizin‘ horribly Unhappy with the riches/ ‘cause you‘re piss poor morally Ignorin‘ all prior advice and forewarnin‘ And we mighty full of ourselves All of a sudden, aren‘t we?‖ He‘s also learned to ―ignore the haters.‖ In the Bible, ―haters‖ are known as the scornful. These are people who are jealous on a different level. They don‘t have what you have, and they don‘t want you to have it either. T.I., says these people make him want to react, ―I pray for patience but they Make me wanna melt they face away Like I once made ‗em spray Now I could make ‗em put the K‘s away‖ But like a wise man (Proverbs 29:8), he keeps his peace. If Live your Life is something out of Ecclesiastes, Dead and Gone, another single on T.I.‘s Paper chase, is definitely a Proverb. Proverbs, though on the surface they seem disjointed, are actually one to two line portable ―nuggets‖ of truth. The wisdom in this song transcends most of the categories into which we lump ourselves—race, ethnicity, socio-economic status. Specific truths in this song are: · Pride causes people to make deadly decisions;

· Think before you act; · Even if you‘ve made a mistake in the past, move on, but don‘t return to your folly. LYL is also a coming of age song with obvious allusions to 1 Corinthians 13. ―When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.‖ As a man, T.I. let‘s things go. No more squabbles over frivolous things—like dope money and dice games gone awry. ―No more stress, now I‘m straight, Now I get it now I take Time to think Before I make mistakes Just for my family‘s sake That part of me left yesterday The heart of me is strong today No regrets I‘m blessed to say The old me dead and gone away.‖ Themes from Romans 6-8, chapters of the Bible that have been described as the power of Christian living, also seems to be evident in the chorus: ―I turn my head to the east I don‘t see nobody by my side I turn my head to the west Still nobody in sight So I turn my head to the north, Swallow that pill That they call pride The old me is dead and gone, The new me will be alright.‖ Chuck Swindoll said, in his Bible study, Old Testament Characters, ―Too often, if God‘s name isn‘t billboarded in front of us, we can‘t see Him…can‘t feel the warmth of His breath. But God doesn‘t always advertise His presence. Sometimes He only whispers it.‖ Though Live Your Life and Dead and Gone are ―secular‖ songs, Christians can take a thing or two from them as well, namely the deeper truths about humanity, and truths about how God wants man to live. That makes these songs bright spots and contemplation points for those who may hear the edited versions on local radio.

Watch Dead and Gone

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How Much do You Know about the Jewish People? Part Two September 4, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Apologetics, Culture, Theology When we left George in Part 1, he needed answers to ten questions as a way to improve his friendship with Simon. It‘s just the tip of a huge iceberg of information, but it would be so helpful if Christians could know these things before springing the gospel message on their Jewish friends. How good is my knowledge of the Old Testament compared to the New? I can relate a helpful story. My friend Betsy was raised in a ―New Testament Christian‖ family. They believed the New Testament ―overcame‖ the Old. But when she met and married a pastor, she discovered many Old Testament prophecies by comparing them to New Testament scriptures. The New Covenant between God and his people doesn‘t overcome the Old; it enhances it. By studying the Jewish portion of the Bible (―Torah‖), Betsy learned more about who Jesus was, the relationship between Judaism and the first ―Christ followers,‖ Jesus as the reason for an end to animal sacrifices, and Jesus‘ own Jewish upbringing as part of our Christian heritage. In what New Testament book and chapter does Paul concentrate on explaining God’s special place for the Jews to new Gentile believers? In Romans 10 and 11, Paul explains why many Jewish people are blinded to who Jesus really is. But he also warns Christians not to boast about being believers, comparing both Jews and Christians as branches being grafted on to an olive tree for salvation. Am I aware of how sensitive most Jewish people are to the mention of Jesus and the Gospel message? This goes with another question: Am I aware that Jewish people feel The Church in general supported Hitler’s actions? ―Al S.‖ is a Jewish believer who accepted Jesus after being invited to a Christian church several times. He described his initial feelings to me: ―I thought, how could I sit here listening to things about Jesus, a man who inspired the Christian faith that has caused so much persecution and pain among my own people?‖

You see, Al had to learn about true Christianity to understand that not all ―gentiles‖ are Christians—a common Jewish misconception. When I was growing up as a young Jewish girl, I thought anyone who wasn‘t Jewish was a Christian. Even today, many Jewish people feel if someone doesn‘t identify themselves as a Muslim, Buddhist or something else, they are a gentile and therefore a Christian! This associates all Christians with heinous acts against Jews throughout the ages, especially the Holocaust. Was Hitler a Christian? Did all Protestants and Catholics ignore or take part in the crimes committed? This is in the back of every Jewish person‘s mind when approached by a Christian with the gospel. They find it intrusive and frightening. What’s another name for Jesus that I can use when speaking with Jewish people? It is better to just say ―my Messiah‖ or ―The Messiah‖ in initial conversations. Later, you can refer to Jesus as ―Yeshua.‖ Why is the phrase “Jewish person” more polite than the term “Jew”? The word ―Jew‖ is offensive when referring to a single Jewish person because of the yellow stars and other labels forced onto Holocaust-era Jews in Hitler‘s targeted countries. When talking about ―Christians, Muslims and Jews,‖ the word ―Jew‖ is alright. But one should never call a Jewish person ―Jew.‖ Younger Jewish generations are not as sensitive to this as their baby boomer parents and grandparents. Am I aware of the significance of other Jewish holidays: Passover, Hanukkah and Purim – and their importance to Christians? Every Jewish holiday can have significance for Christians. Jesus celebrated them as was commanded by God. The Jewish High Holidays can be found in Leviticus 16 and 23; Passover in Exodus 12 and Luke 22; Purim in Esther 4, and also Sukkot (the ―Festival of Booths‖ in October) in Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16. Hanukkah didn‘t make it into canonized Scripture, but the story of the Maccabees* and one day‘s worth of oil that burned eight nights (circa 160 B.C.) is where the Bible derives being anointed with oil. Is Judaism a nationality, a religion or a culture? Judaism is a religion and a cultural way of life, but it‘s not a nationality. A Jewish person‘s nationality is wherever they come from. Being Jewish by religion makes them American Jews, Russian Jews, Spanish Jews, African Jews, etc. All Jewish people don‘t come from Israel, and all Israelites are not Jewish. A Jewish person may truly believe in God, or they may be ―culturally Jewish,‖ observing Jewish traditions without holding fast to the Scriptures. Do Jewish people need to be “converted” to Christianity? Jewish people need the knowledge of salvation by the grace of God, and that Jesus is the Messiah they are waiting for. A Jewish person doesn‘t need to ―convert‖ by leaving all Judaism behind; many actually feel a stronger love for their Jewish roots and culture once they‘ve found Jesus. What’s a “Messianic” Jewish person? A Jewish person who comes to believe in Jesus as Messiah will usually call themselves a ―Messianic Jew,‖ a Jewish Christian or a Jewish believer in Jesus.

*Want to know more about the Jewish holidays and how to appreciate them from a Christian viewpoint? These answers are excerpts from Sheryl‘s book “What Every Christian Should Know About the Jewish People.” See more excerpts and how to buy the book here. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: christians, Hanukkah, jesus, jewish, Passover, spread the gospel, Torah

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Pop Culture Moments by Mo: Hollywood, Please Stop hatin‘ on Tyler Perry September 3, 2009 by Mo Filed under Culture

Heleer!I just wrapped another movie. Cha-Ching! Tyler Perry has the Midas-touch. I believe he‘s anointed regardless of what his critics say. Those in Hollywood just won‘t allow themselves to believe it. While Hollywood spends hundreds of millions of dollars making movies, Tyler makes them on half of that budget and in less time. The man is a spiritual, refined and meticulous person who is able to rally his cast and crew and make them be of ―one accord,‖ so that they are comfortable with each other. His formula has always been like this, since he was producing his plays on the ―Chitlin Circuit.‖

That is why he continues going to the bank. ―Cha-ching.‖ Tyler Perry‘s next movie, I Can Do Bad All By Myself comes out Friday (Sept. 11). Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment. Check back with us often at The Underground. Tags: hollyweird vs. tyler perry, i can do bad all by myself, madea, Tyler Perry

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How to Remain Hopeful During an Economic Recession September 1, 2009 by Josh Givens Filed under Culture Scriptural Principles & Healthy Mindsets to Live By So the secret has been revealed. The cat is out of the bag. America is in the midst of strained and struggling economic conditions. I know you‘re shocked. Please refrain from gasping in utter surprise, as hyperventilation is not particularly the healthiest means of expressing one‘s ―flabbergasted-ness.‖ You certainly don‘t have to be an avid news junkie to realize the weightiness of the financial demise our country has become immersed in. Job loss and home foreclosures are at an all-time high. Small businesses and even corporate conglomerates are closing their doors left and right. Families are cutting back on grocery bills and even the most devoted of churchgoers are steadily placing less and less into the Sunday offering plate. Across the country, Americans are wondering: ―What will be the ultimate outcome of the poor economy? Is there a leader who can turn things around?‖ Almost in synchronization with the recent poor economy has come a wave of increasing depression statistics. According to Depression Guide:  

Approximately 18.8 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder affects 9.9 million American adults, or about 5.0 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.

We‘ve all been there. We‘ve all had those days. It is certainly easy to adopt a negative or pessimistic outlook on life during such financially unstable time. All too often, however, it is these very outlooks that lead to such staggering depression percentages among adults. So where is the hope? What in life is worth clinging to? What in life can give us the strength to keep going?

In such poor economic times, how can we truly not worry about money issues? We desperately need to be reminded, as a nation, who our God is. We need to be reminded of His grace and eternal sovereignty. I believe the Psalmist David got it right when he said: ―The nations have sunk down in the pit that they made; in the net which they hid is their own foot caught…The Lord made Himself known; He executes judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands…[But] the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the expectation and hope of the meek and the poor shall not perish forever.‖ (Psalm 15-16a, 18: Amplified Bible) In case you were wondering, it is the Lord God Himself who is not forgetting the needs of the poor and the meek referred to by David in the aforementioned passage. How often we limit our Creator! How often we downsize His limitless, unfathomable mercy, might, and majesty! May we always remember that He remembers us! In his excellent book My Heart’s Desire: Living Every Moment in the Wonder of Worship, renowned Christian author, pastor, and speaker Dr. David Jeremiah says, ―Life has its holocausts—that‘s not news. The real story is the persistence of glory rising from the ashes. How is it that within the context of the worst life can dish out, many people come to love and to glorify God more deeply? I don‘t know the whys and wherefores of the evil that is allowed to afflict us. It‘s an enigma whose answers won‘t be unraveled in this lifetime. But the worst of misery is overshadowed by the wonder of faith; we marvel when people can look into the sky after it has fallen upon them with a crash and whisper, ‗Praise the Lord anyway!‘‖ There is indeed something to be said for maintaining an outlook and lifestyle reflective of true joy, even during the most uncertain of times. It is a trait very much lacking in our current culture. But in exercising an attitude and mindset of joy, we must simultaneously remember not to worry. As busy, hardworking Americans, how often do we worry and fret over monetary issues? Perhaps the words of Jesus Himself are needed to address this particular warning: ―For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you

by being worried can add a single hour to his life?‖ (Matthew 6:25-27, New American Standardupdated ed.) What indeed will it profit a man to worry about that which he cannot control? Why not walk, live, rest, hope, and trust in the all-sufficient grace and plan of Jesus Christ? It won‘t always be easy. The days will be long and the road will be hard. But, in keeping with the words of David, we have not been, nor are we being overlooked by our loving Creator. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment. Check back with us often at The Underground. Tags: Bible verses about hope, economy, job loss, money

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The Heart of Worship: James Wait Interviews Alicia Lohse August 28, 2009 by james wait Filed under Culture, Music

Alicia Lohse, worship leader at Grace Church. Though she‘s not well-known, Alicia Lohse loves God, is kind to strangers and is filled with the joy of the Lord. She also leads people in worship at Grace Church in Durango, Colo. If you are ever in Durango, make sure you stop by Grace Church to worship with Alicia and the local Christian community there. Give it up for the little guys, and keep reading to find out why she thinks worship is important. JW: Can you tell me a little about yourself? AL: I was born in Minnesota but moved to Colorado when I was nine years old. I moved around the state and finally settled in Durango. I got saved at camp when I was 16 years old out in Hesperus, Colo. For fun I love to play (of course) and chill with my buddies while jamming or watching movies.

JW: What are some of your favorite verses in the Bible? AL: Exodus 32:18, Isaiah 40:31, Colossians 1:10, Romans 12:3 JW: Tell me a little what is like leading worship at a church? AL: I lead worship at TNF at Grace Church and play guitar for the praise team at Grace Church. It‘s always interesting and not to mention challenging. Keeping the focus on God and worshipping Him should always be the most important thing but at times we get in the way of His glory and have to step back and humble ourselves so He can shine. JW: What age did you start playing music? AL: I started playing music when I was about 14 years old. JW: Who or what are some of your influences in music? AL: My influences include everything from country to rock to jazz. JW: Will you be recording any albums? AL: I won‘t be recording any albums, although I have recorded a few songs. One song I wrote myself for my fiancé and the other I wrote for another band I perform with. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment. Check back with us often at The Underground. Tags: christian worship, christianity, colorado, grace church

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Michael Jackson is alive … or so some people want people to think August 27, 2009 by Tiffany Filed under Culture, Music The Michael Jackson life-after-death machine has officially kicked off. Like Elvis, Tupac and other icons who died before their time, people have started saying that Jackson faked his death. Though Michael Jackson died on June 25, and his death has since been ruled a homicide, videos like this one proving that MJ‘s death was a hoax have been popping up all over the Internet. These videos claim that Jackson, faced with billion-dollar debts, decided to just drop out of sight for a while, leaving his family, friends and fans behind. Conspiracy theories aside, people around the globe, from Spain to Dubai, have also reported seeing Michael Jackson. Most recently, a video posted on purportedly shows the King of Pop jumping out of the same van in which his dead body was hauled away. Though some people will immediately scoff at the "silliness" of these conspiracy theories and sightings, as a Christian, I understand why people would come up with such things: People need something in which to believe. However, as G.K. Chesterton said, "When people stop believing in God, the problem is not that they will then believe in nothing, it‘s that they‘ll believe anything." For a segment of the world‘s population, Michael Jackson is that "anything" of which Chesterton spoke. I‘m sure there are benefits for those who worship MJ–His music and legacy makes them feel alive; he represents the last vestige of goodness in an increasingly cruel world.

Since MJ was world-renowned, those devoted to him also have an opportunity to make fastfriends who share their devotion and love of the icon… sort of like being a member of a church. Though faith in Michael Jackson sounds promising, the only problem with it is that it probably isn‘t what Michael would‘ve wanted. Michael Jackson knew that he was just a man. As such, I don‘t think he‘d want his fans deifying him in death, as I also believe MJ knew that every talented celebrity owes his ability to God. Michael‘s friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach reportedly said, ―Our favorite stars might light up the crowd, but their glow is a mere reflection of a more infinite radiance." If Michael‘s most devoted fans would put their energy into seeking after the source behind Michael‘s talent, instead of trying to lay the foundations of the Church of Michael Jackson, they‘ll have a greater treasure–God. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment at The Underground. Tags: christian, dead or alive, Michael Jackson, worship

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How Much do You Know about the Jewish People? Part One August 23, 2009 by Sheryl Young Filed under Apologetics, Culture, Theology A Christian named George has become friends with Simon, a Jewish man. George hasn‘t yet found a way to approach the subject of the gospel with Simon. One day, he invites Simon to a party. ―I‘m sorry, George, I can‘t go that night,‖ Simon says. ―It‘s the start of the Jewish New Year.‖ ―Jewish new year?‖ asks George. ―I knew you had a separate one, but I didn‘t know when.‖ ―Yeah, we sort of celebrate it for ten days leading up to Yom Kippur,‖ Simon replies. ―Yum what?‖ George feels stupid for asking. He wants to tell Simon about Jesus, but now realizes he hasn‘t really bothered to learn more about the Jewish people and their own customs. How much do you know about the Jewish people? The Jewish ―High Holidays‖ are right around the corner. Rosh Hashanah (pronounced rush hasha-na and sometimes spelled Rosh Ha‘Shanah) is the Jewish New Year. For 2009, it begins at sundown September 18. Rosh Hashanah is a celebration ushered in with the blowing of the beautiful shofar, a sort of trumpet made from a ram‘s horn. At the end of ten days is Yom Kippur (yome kippoor). Yom Kippur is the yearly Jewish day of fasting - the Day of Atonement - when the people bring their sins before the Lord for forgiveness, as well as ask forgiveness of anyone they may have offended. They do not eat, drink or do any work for twenty-four hours. You may be thinking, I really don’t know any Jewish people; why should I read this? It‘s important that Christians—and American ones in particular—make a special place in their heart for the Jewish people, especially because we two faiths believe in the same one true God of the universe, the God of Israel. Why in America particularly? Because it has the highest percentage of Jewish people in the world, and a climate of religious persecution is coming to America fast for both our faiths. Heavy persecution of churchgoers along with a new rise in anti-Semitism has reared its head in

America as in many formerly neutral European countries. By learning more about the Jewish people and their culture, Christians can better defend Israel and illustrate a desire for unity with Jewish people, thereby opening more opportunities to express our faith and hope. George is now exploring some Jewish issues before he talks to Simon again. Let‘s go along with him and take a self-survey! As a Christian reading this, you are probably curious about matters concerning the Jewish world community, the nation of Israel and their relationship to world peace and Christianity. Ask yourself these questions: -How good is my knowledge of the Old Testament compared to the New? -In what New Testament book and chapter does Paul concentrate on explaining God‘s special place for the Jews to new Gentile believers? -Am I aware of how sensitive most Jewish people are to the mention of Jesus and the Gospel message? -What‘s another name for Jesus that I can use when speaking with Jewish people? -Am I aware that Jewish people feel The Church in general supported Hitler‘s actions? -Why is the phrase ―Jewish person‖ more polite than the term ―Jew‖? -Am I aware of the significance of these other Jewish holidays: Passover, Hanukkah and Purim – and how they can be important to Christians? -Is Judaism a nationality, a religion or a culture? -Do Jewish people really need to be ―converted‖ to Christianity? -What‘s a ―Messianic‖ Jewish person? If you couldn‘t come up with the answers to five or more of these questions, don’t go witnessing to a Jewish person just yet! Stay tuned for Part Two, where we‘ll be answering these questions for George. Thanks for stopping by. If you find our content useful, leave a comment. Check back with us often at The Underground. Tags: christian, holidays, Jeshua, jesus, jewish, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur

About us The Underground is… Decidedly Christian—A Relevant Ministry This is a Christian Blogazine. As Christians from various ecclesiastical traditions, we write and produce artwork from a Christian perspective. A Place for You No matter your race, religion, or socio-economic status, you are welcome here. Remember that the Underground is as much your platform as it is ours. Feel free to tell us what you like, and tell us what you hate by leaving comments on our articles. If you want to be a contributor, send an e-mail to staff [at], and let us know. Unbought and Unbossed Yeah, we stole that from Shirley Chisholm, but for the most part, we do our own thing. We write about what we want to write about. It just happens that those things revolve around culture and news. While we are not theologians, we also try to throw some theology in there, because learning is fundamental. A Labor of Love God‘s love–it‘s what‘s paying the bills. If you want to, ―ah, further the kingdom, ah,‖ click on some of our ads or shop in our store. Contact us if you want to advertise with us. Written by these People: James Wait, staff writer Josh Givens, staff writer Maurice Williams, staff writer and cartoonist Sheryl Young, staff writer Tiffany Orr, managing editor Marcene Taff, contributor

Mike Jones, contributor

The Underground -- Not Your Average Christian Magazine, Sept. 2009  

In this issue: Can you Change Your Sexual Orientation, Pop Culture Moments by Mo, Caster Semenya, Underground Friday: Aradhna, C.O.G., Arres...