PODCAST: Church Gives Over 200 Laptops to High School Students (UCN 3.25.21)

This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to the Black Wall Street Times, Many people can think back to our high school days and how daunting it was to consider their future. Transformation Church did something Monday that’s going to help make that process easier for seniors from McLain High School. Senior Pastor Mike Todd got the chance to speak to McLain seniors about the importance of chasing purpose. The message pairs with the current series he is preaching at Transformation Church called “Paper Chasers.” The theme is to chase after purpose over money. Todd shared on Instagram; “Went back to high school today and had the amazing opportunity to speak life into the senior class at McLain High School in North Tulsa…Compelling them to chase purpose not paper!” At the end of the message, Todd shared a gift with each senior: a brand new Apple MacBook to “help them chase after finding their purpose,” according to Principal Renee Rabovsky on her Facebook page. Rabovsky wrote: “Blown away is an understatement for what happened today….we all have a purpose, today was just more confirmation that I have found mine. McLain being blessed today by Transformation Church is a moment I will never forget!! And neither will our students…. We were BLOWN AWAY today by the incredible generosity of Transformation Church! Pastor Todd spoke to the Class of 2021 about finding their purpose, and to help them to chase after that, every single Senior was given a brand new MacBook laptop! He told them he hopes they turn that into a music studio, or a business, or the book that is living inside of them, or to use it to continue their education. All of the teachers and staff were also gifted a MacBook! We are so grateful, and even though they didn’t do it for the shout out, we want to SHOUT THEM OUT! Thank you for pouring love into McLain!”

According to Lifeway Research, A new Lifeway Research study shows most self-professing Christians attended church, whether in person or online, and are proud of the way their faith community handled COVID-19. The overall response was positive regarding online worship formats, drive-in church services and social distancing guidelines implemented during the pandemic. “Pastors have heard their share of second-guessing for how they have handled their church’s response to COVID-19,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “But a large majority of churchgoers agree with their church’s various responses, and few are critical overall.” The results highlighted the flexibility that pastors employed in creating new digital spaces over the last year. Of those polled, 4 in 5 churchgoers (85%) say their church offered livestreaming with 83% participation from churchgoers. Only 12% of congregants say their church didn’t offer livestreaming worship services. A younger generation seemed to be more keen on the “nontraditional” methods of meeting. Of the 52% who say their church offered online Bible studies for adults, more than half participated in them. Adult churchgoers under 50 were more likely to be a part of this demographic than congregants over 50 years old. Likewise, when churches offered drive-in services, participants ages 18-29 were most likely to participate.

According to NBC News, The South is bracing for another possible tornado outbreak just one week after 49 confirmed tornadoes tore through the region on St. Patrick’s Day. About 33 million people will be at risk for severe thunderstorms Thursday that could bring strong, long-lived tornadoes, hail up to the size of baseballs or larger and damaging winds in excess of 75 mph, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. Possible rain and thunderstorms are likely to start Thursday morning, which will clear out by the afternoon, setting the stage for a more volatile atmosphere later in the day. The severe thunderstorms will likely begin around lunchtime across portions of Louisiana and Mississippi, then will move east through the day bringing the risk for severe storms to Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Several large metro areas including New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; and Atlanta are in the threat zone for these severe thunderstorms. Some of these cities are still clearing out damage from the string of tornadoes that hit the same region last week.

According to KTBS, ClearView Church is celebrating its 10-year anniversary by giving back to the community in a big way with The Forgiveness Project. The church set out with a goal to raise $15,000 last fall and help eliminate $1.5 million worth of debt owed in Caddo and Bossier parishes through RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit specializing in medical debt elimination. Church and community members answered that call and then some. The Forgiveness Project raised $18,500, and through RIP Medical Debt over $2.3 million was forgiven in Northwest Louisiana. “As we celebrate ten years sharing God’s grace, we have an opportunity to share the gracious gift of forgiveness in a unique way,” said John Hawkins, lead minister at ClearView Church. “Medical debt can be a crushing burden. Right now, 42.9 million Americans, our friends and neighbors, have unpaid medical bills. In partnership with RIP Medical Debt, we were able to surpass our initial goal of $1.5 million of currently-owed medical debt for our neighbors in Caddo and Bossier parishes. As Christians, we know the value of forgiveness. Thank you for your generosity to offer that gift of forgiveness to those around us. May God use all of this for his glory.”

According to the Christian Post, Megachurch Pastor John Gray has offered prayers to embattled Christian relationship guru Derrick Jaxn who’s facing backlash after he confessed to being unfaithful to his wife multiple times during his marriage. Gray’s prayer for Jaxn, which was highlighted by The Shade Room on Instagram, comes despite previous criticism from Jaxn, when Gray faced public criticism over allegations of infidelity in his own marriage in recent years. Gray wrote on Instagram: “Hey Derrick. You remember when I responded to your words about me? Remember when I posted videos about you? Neither do I. To be clear, I’ve slept with one woman in my life. My wife. But that DOES NOT ABSOLVE ME OF THE WRONG I DID. Any interaction or communication with anyone was wrong. My failures are mine and I have gone through – and continue to – go through counseling to address the vast empty places that led me to behavior that is antithetical to how I was raised and what I believe. I’ve learned in life that everyone gets a turn. When it was mine, I didn’t obfuscate my wrong by addressing what I knew about others. I kept others names out of my mouth. Maybe it would be wise to do the same,” Gray wrote. “One more thing, I sincerely pray for you and your family to heal. I know how people throw you away. I will never do to another man what was done to me. May you receive the grace I didn’t receive from others. May you rise to be a better man. One moment will not define your life.” In early 2020, Gray, who leads Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, publicly revealed he had wanted to end his life and received prayer from Bishop T.D. Jakes as allegations of infidelity clouded his marriage.

According to Religion News Service, (RNS) — Americans are becoming more confident they can attend in-person religious services but church attendance at Easter services will still be far lower than usual this year, a new Pew Research poll finds. The poll, conducted in early March among 12,055 Americans, finds the percentage of regular attenders who say they actually have attended religious services — in person — in the past month is slightly higher than it was in June, about 17%. Among Christians, only 39% said they planned to go in person to church services this Easter Sunday (April 4), with white evangelicals the most likely to say they planned to — 52%. That’s far lower than the 62% of Christians of all kinds who typically attend services at Easter, the holiest day of the Christian year. The poll also found that people who attend religious services favor keeping a lot of the COVID-19 restrictions, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, in place.

According to the Christian Post, An editor employed by USA Today has suggested that Oral Roberts University, a Christian institution that has made a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, should be banned from NCAA competition over its policies on sexuality. A private Christian school based in Oklahoma founded by Charismatic televangelist Oral Roberts, ORU has an honor code that prohibits students from engaging in homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Hemal Jhaveri, editor and columnist at For The Win, which is part of USA Today, penned a column published Tuesday claiming that “the university’s deeply bigoted anti-LGBTQ+ policies can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.” “Now, as Oral Roberts gains national attention, the focus shouldn’t just be on their very good men’s basketball team, but on their prejudiced teachings and moral regressiveness,” wrote Jhaveri. Jhaveri went on to argue that ORU’s stance on LGBT issues was “nothing short of discriminatory and should expressly be condemned by the NCAA.” “The fact is, any and all anti-LGBTQ+ language in any school’s [policies] should ban them from NCAA competition,” she argued. Jay Maxson of Newsbusters, a branch of the conservative watchdog group the Media Research Center, labeled Jhaveri a “would-be moralistic referee” who engaged in “anti-Christian hatred.” Maxson argues that “[a]ttacking the values of Christian universities is now an annual rite and ritual of March Madness media coverage.” “During March Madness two years ago, Deadspin spewed the same kind of anti-Christian bigotry against Liberty University, the school they called the ‘most hateable’ in the Big Dance. Liberty lost in the first round of this year’s tournament and was spared of another brutal media assault.” Last week, the ORU Golden Eagles delivered a major upset when they defeated the No. 2 seed Ohio State University Buckeyes in overtime by a final score of 75-72. Then on Sunday, ORU secured another upset victory against the No. 7 seed Florida Gators, staging a comeback from a first-half deficit to win the game 81-78.

You can read these stories and more at UrbanChristianNews.com

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. 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 Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart 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 and may God bless your day!