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Darlene Zschech reflects on new era of worship music: Songs used to be uptight, they’re fearless now

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A pioneer of the modern worship era, Darlene Zschech says worship music has changed considerably compared to what it was just 10 years ago.

“In some ways it’s just gone ahead in such amazing leaps and bounds. I love some of the lyrical content that is around at the moment,” Zschech told about her new book, The Golden Thread, where she talks about God’s faithfulness during life’s battles, such as her recent journey through cancer.

The acclaimed worship leader and songwriter said she loves how the musical expression of worship has progressed overall. “I just love the way they feel it,” said Zschech, who described her admiration for how some young worship leaders are able to express themselves in their songs. “[But] there’s a part of the church that got a bit caught on smoke and lights,” she added.

“The Holy Spirit is very good at teaching this. I don’t think we should walk around as the Jesus police and judge everybody’s expression. Really, only God can see the content of the human heart,” Zschech continued, noting that she never would’ve thought to put together lyrics in such ways as some popular Christian artists do now.

In her 20 year career, Zschech penned the groundbreaking 1993 anthem “Shout to The Lord,” and more than 100 other songs, including “Victor’s Crown,” “In Jesus’ Name,” “Worthy Is The Lamb,” and “At The Cross.” Her music is regularly sung in churches across the world.

Zschech told  that she’s not too concerned about modern day contemporary Christian music straying too far away from God because, she said, the pendulum always swings from one extreme to the other before it finds its way back to the middle.

She went on to say that she also enjoys the acoustic feel of praise music that some groups are using. And said it makes her reflect on how King David must’ve been when he poured his heart out in worship. “I love how people have stripped things back, and have found a way through the mess of lights, camera, action,” she said.

“I just love it. I think we’re being a little bit more fearless, free worship and flowing where even 10 years ago it was a little more uptight. There’s a flow happening that I just love.”

The Australian native started her music career with Hillsong Church but has since planted her own ministry with her husband, Mark, in New South Wales, called Hope Unlimited Church.

Her new book, The Golden Thread: Experiencing God’s Presence in Every Season of Life, chronicles her battle with cancer in 2013 and how maintaining a posture of worship before the Lord brought her peace in the midst of the storm. It also explores her journey from leaving Hillsong.

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Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools

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An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.

In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.

‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’

The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.

While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.

The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.

He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.

Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.

But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.

John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.

‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.

They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.

They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.

This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.

He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.

The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’

He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.

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China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service

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The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.

An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.

The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”

China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”

“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”

While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.

The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.

In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.

Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.

In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.

The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.

“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”

“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”

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UAE to rebuild Iraqi churches destroyed by Daesh

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The United Arab Emirates, a Muslim-majority country, has pledged its support to help rebuild two historic churches in Mosul, Iraq. The efforts come in conjunction with UNESCO’s initiative, Revive the Spirit of Mosul.

Al-Tahira Syriac-Catholic Church and Al-Saa’a Church in Mosul were both destroyed by ISIS and are being rebuilt under a program to help postwar Iraq. Al-Tahira, an 800-year-old building, was damaged during mass raids in 2017 while Al-Saa’a was blown up by ISIS terrorists in 2016. The rebuild efforts will target to employee up to 1,000 locals and increase the city’s tourism economy.

UAE’s support of Iraqi Christians comes as part of their 2019 “Year of Tolerance” as proclaimed by the President, Sheikh Khalifa. The goal of the initiative is to place the UAE as a model of tolerance and increase communication between divided groups. The Abrahamic Family House, a religious facility that includes a mosque, church and synagogue, is another portion of UAE’s proposed religious tolerance efforts.

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