3 - Ministry promotes "Day of Dialogue", encourages a breaking of silence over sexuality
This past week, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network held its annual "Day of Silence", encouraging gay teens and those who sympathize with them to engage in not speaking during an entire school day, in order to call attention to their plight - presumably, they are trying to show that silence somehow contributes to the solution to alleged bullying of those that participate in homosexual behavior. According to the Focus on the Family website, dayofdialogue.com:
Participating students take a “vow of silence” and distribute cards proclaiming they are a part of a “national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies … My deliberate silence echoes that silence …” Some students even wear duct tape as part of the protest throughout the school day. GLSEN encourages students celebrating this event to lobby for legislation supported by homosexual-advocacy groups and to pressure school officials to implement things such as a “queer friendly” prom. During this event, GLSEN also encourages teachers to display homosexual-themed books and other materials about transgender topics in the classroom and to “Discuss Day of Silence with your students.”Focus on the Family, with its public policy arm, CitizenLink, now sponsors a "Day of Dialogue", which took place on Thursday, April 19th, one day prior to the scheduled "Day of Silence". The purpose of this day is to engage in discussion about sexual issues, including God's plan for sexuality. This year, thousands of students in some 40 states across America participated. As the organizers put it:
The Day of Dialogue is also meant to help students like you have a safe space and equal opportunity to express a faith-based viewpoint in a loving and respectful way. The event provides a critical opportunity for thousands of thoughtful teenagers, as well as college students, to be able to discuss more than one perspective on important social issues in our nation’s public schools.In some cases, students would pass out conversation cards in order to stimulate dialogue. Where permitted, students were encouraged to put up posters promoting the day. The "Day of Dialogue" is an effort that is intended to build bridges and to encourage conversation about these issues free from confrontation or stigmatization. It is a Day that is intended to perhaps change the tone of the debate regarding gender identity, while also seeking to promote Biblical truth.
2 - Christian music recognizes talent, achievement
This past Thursday in Atlanta, the Gospel Music Association recognized its talent and achievement during the 43rd Annual Dove Awards. The actual awards ceremony, from the Fox Theatre, will be broadcast on Tuesday night, April 24th at 7pm CT and 9:00 Central on the Gospel Music Channel. Plus, a host of awards were presented in a special Pre-Show event on Thursday afternoon.
Overall awards in major categories such as Song of the Year, Male & Female Vocalist, Group, and Artist of the Year were given out. Plus, there were category-specific (or sub-genre-specific) awards, ranging from Rap and Hip-Hop to Rock, Urban to Southern Gospel, even Country and Bluegrass. Other areas of recognition included Praise & Worship, Instrumental, Children's, Special Event, and even Short- and Long-Form Videos. In most style categories, a song and an album were showcased.
And, the awards presentation was packaged in a way that showed the breadth of gospel, or Christian music, and effectively communicated that though there is a wide range of styles, these artists seek to glorify the same Lord and shared the same message.
The combinations of artists during the televised awards show effectively contributed to the narrative that there are different styles, but the same Lord, and that these styles can come together in creative ways. When you see Crystal Lewis, Yolanda Adams, Angie Stone, and Karen Peck on the stage at the same time, accompanied by a choir, you really gain a sense of the unity these artists have in Christ and how artists can combine from different perspectives and backgrounds to achieve a creative mix. In another example, Michael Tait (Newsboys, DCTalk), Todd Smith (Selah), Group1Crew's Blanca, and Rawsrvnt put together an entertaining tribute to music inspired by "The Story".
Some of the major awards presented include:
Song of the Year - "Blessings" by Laura Story (winner of 4 Doves)
Male Vocalist of the Year - Jason Crabb (also, Artist of the Year)
Female Vocalist of the Year - Natalie Grant (5th time!!)
Group of the Year - NEEDTOBREATHE (won 3 Doves)
New Artist of the Year - Jamie Grace
Artists who had a big night included Kirk Franklin and Karen Peck and New River, each taking home two Doves - their first ones! Todd Smith of Selah and rapper LeCrae were recipients of 3 awards, including recognition for their part in "Music Inspired by 'The Story' - the Special Event Album of the Year.
This was the first time I had ever "covered" the Dove Awards, and while it is quite a glamorous evening, with plenty of cameras clicking and a plethora of accolades to go around, I would hope that the main purpose is to point to the God who has gifted these artists with talent to be used to glorify Him.
1 - Colson passes away at age 80 following brain surgery
On Saturday afternoon, legendary Christian leader Chuck Colson died as the result of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 80. Mr. Colson had fallen ill at the Wilberforce weekend conference a few weeks ago, and had taken a turn for the worse this past week.
Chuck Colson, who had gained a reputation as a hard-nosed, ruthless White House counsel - Nixon's "hatchet man" - had accepted in 1973 as the result of Tom Phillips, then the president of the Raytheon Company, witnessing to him.
According to a release by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assocation, Phillips himself had accepted Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade at Madison Square Garden in 1968. “This is how the Gospel spreads, from Graham to Phillips to Colson,” wrote Colson in the book Billy Graham: A Tribute from Friends by Vernon K. McLellan. Graham is one of the host of Christian leaders who have paid tribute to Chuck Colson, saying: "When I get to Heaven and see Chuck again, I believe I will also see many, many people there whose lives have been transformed because of the message he shared with them."
Colson was incarcerated as the result of Watergate-related charges - he served seven months in prison, and spent time at the Maxwell Federal Prison in Montgomery, where the Lord essentially called him into prison ministry. Answering the challenge of a fellow prisoner who basically said that Colson would forget them once he left, the seeds of what would become Prison Fellowship were planted in his heart, and the ministry was established in 1976. From Prison Fellowship came Angel Tree, which provides Christmas gifts for the families of prisoners, which also has Alabama roots.
Chuck Colson's observations about how prisoners actually became involved in crime were instructive in showing him that the condition of the human heart, a life without Christ, led to people ending in prison. He became a leading voice for Biblical truth, challenging Christians to apply a Biblical worldview perspective in their lives and to engage the culture. Through his daily radio commentary, "Breakpoint", his involvement in the Manhattan Declaration, upholding the bedrock principles of life, marriage, and religious liberty, and in founding the Chuck Colson Center for Biblical Worldview, equipping Christian people to become more influential in the culture, Chuck Colson has established a remarkable legacy that has inspired many. For more information, you can go to www.chuckcolson.org.