LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network #560 with Daniella Whyte

1. According to Reuters, In a case that has rallied proponents of religious freedom, Atlanta’s ousted fire chief has filed a federal discrimination complaint against the city, arguing that his firing over a book critical of homosexuality was an attack on his faith. Kelvin Cochran wrote a 2013 book titled, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” in which he called homosexuality “vulgar” and “the opposite of purity”. He was fired from his post earlier this month by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Cochran did not immediately return an e-mail on Thursday seeking comment on the EEOC complaint.

2. According to Catholic News Service, Evoking a phrase long associated with the civil rights movement, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston told an overflow crowd in Washington that “we shall overcome” in the fight against abortion. Quoting Pope Francis in his homily Jan. 21 during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, Cardinal O’Malley said, “The church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for a better world. In our country, people have come together in the fight to overcome racism and other social ills. The quest for human rights and solidarity brought together people of faith to ‘repair the world,’ to use the Jewish expression.” Now, O’Malley said, the fight is for the right to life, “and we shall overcome,” he said to applause from a crowd of more than 11,000 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

3. According to Reuters, Countries must devote more resources to fight global extremism, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday, but the battle would falter if it becomes consumed by sectarian division or Islamophobia. Speaking against a backdrop of deadly Islamist militant attacks in France, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere, Kerry told leaders at the annual World Economic Forum: “These kinds of actions can never be excused. And they have to be opposed. With every fiber of our being, they have to be stopped. We have to take risks, we have to invest more resources.” Shortly before, President Francois Hollande of France, urged global business leaders to help fight terrorism by cracking down on money laundering and trafficking.

4. According to WFAA, It brought Oprah, Jennifer Hudson, Joel Osteen, and a long list of other stars to Dallas in 2013. On Thursday, we learned MegaFest will be back in our backyard this August. It’s our nation’s largest multi-day family festival, and MegaFest is living up to the saying, “everything is bigger in Texas.” MegaFest packs faith, inspiration, music, comedy, and film into a three-day event that draws big business. Organizers are staying mum on which big names will arrive this go-around, but Bishop Jakes promises we won’t be disappointed.

5. According to Fox News, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the powerful U.S. ally who joined Washington’s fight against Al Qaeda and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom has died at 90, according to Saudi state TV. His successor is his 79-year-old half-brother, Prince Salman, who recently has taken on the ailing Abdullah’s responsibilities. The announcement came in statement read by a presenter on Saudi state TV, which aired video of worshippers at the Kaaba in Mecca. Saudi state TV said he died after midnight Friday.

6. According to CBN News, More than 30 governors are taking oaths of office this month, including newly elected Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The Lone Star State’s 48th governor was sworn in Tuesday. Instead of using a family Bible for his first oath, Abbott preserved one of the state’s oldest inaugural traditions, using a Bible that’s been handed down from governor to governor for nearly a century. As part of the tradition, each outgoing governor marks a Bible passage for his successor. Gov. Rick Perry, who held the office for 14 years, chose a passage from the Gospel of Matthew 20:26b-28 which reads, “But whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosover will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.”

7. According to the Associated Press, Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group have posted an online warning that the “countdown has begun” for the group to kill a pair of Japanese hostages. The posting which appeared Friday shows a clock counting down to zero along with gruesome images of other hostages who have been beheaded by the Islamic State group. The militant group gave Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a 72-hour deadline — which expired Friday — to pay a $200 million ransom for the two hostages. The posting on a forum popular among Islamic State militants and sympathizers did not show any images of the Japanese hostages.

8. According to International Christian Concern, Since Prime Minister Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP took power in India in May 2014, attacks on Christians and their places of worship have skyrocketed. Among the victims of this new wave of persecution now stand the members of the only church in Tadur village. Approximately 70 members of the Parimala Beautiful Church used to meet in a temporary structure constructed of thatches, bamboo and tarps. On January 16, after the members of the church met for prayers, the church was torched by unknown assailants. Church members, police and a fire engine rushed to the church, but by the time they arrived, half of the building had been reduced to ashes. Almost everything inside the church was destroyed by the fire including carpets, instruments, and church literature like songbooks and Bibles.

9. According to the BBC, The main pro-Russian rebel leader in eastern Ukraine says his troops are on the offensive and he does not want truce talks with Kiev. Alexander Zakharchenko said his forces would push the front line back to the borders of Donetsk region. They are in control of the city of Donetsk. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukrainian government forces of “criminal” shelling of civilian areas. Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany have issued a call to end fighting. On Thursday, Ukrainian government troops withdrew from Donetsk airport’s main terminal.

10. According to Defense News, American soldiers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin training four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said during his first visit to Kiev on Wednesday. The number of troops heading to the Yavoriv Training Area near the city of L’viv — which is about 40 miles from the Polish border — is still being determined, however. Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman told Defense News, The American training effort comes as part of a US State Department initiative “to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law”.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

God loves you. He always has and He always will. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

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