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The Florida Senate has passed a bill allowing the opening of places of worship

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TALLAHASSEE — Churches and other religious institutions wouldn’t have to turn congregants away because of government orders during future emergencies, under a bill approved Thursday by the Florida Senate.

The Senate voted 31-3 to approve the measure (Senate Bill 254), which would prohibit emergency orders from “directly or indirectly” preventing religious institutions from conducting services or activities if businesses are allowed to stay open.

“It is born out of the pandemic, but not,” sponsor Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, said when asked if the measure applies only to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It applies to all emergency orders that would come in. It would basically say if Publix is open, so is your place of worship. What it doesn’t seek to do is what we’ve seen in some of the other states, where churches, synagogues and mosques were singled out for congregated activities.”

In voting for the measure, Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, said leaders of religious institutions would not be blocked from holding services online or requiring congregants to wear masks and abide by other safety precautions.

Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat who voted against the bill, argued earlier this month that the state has a responsibility to protect people. Powell was joined in voting against the bill by Sen. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, and Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton.

“There were a number of times that religious institutions decided to gather, and the result of that caused many people their lives,” Powell said during a Jan. 13 committee meeting. “That being said, we’re stewards of the state. We do have a responsibility to always kind of move the state forward. In essence, a religious institution being within the state of Florida, thus authorizing them to buck the system by ignoring emergency orders, is not what I think we’re here to do.”

Lawmakers pushed for the measure because of high-profile situations about churches in various parts of the country being forced to close or scale back early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis included a provision within one of the more than 50 supplemental coronavirus-related executive orders he issued after March 9, 2020, that allowed certain essential businesses and establishments to operate at reduced capacities, including churches, synagogues and other houses of worship.

DeSantis’ action followed the arrest of a Tampa megachurch pastor for holding two in-person church services in violation of a Hillsborough County ordinance prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people. The charges were eventually dropped.

The House version (House Bill 215) of the bill moved forward Wednesday to the full House.

Senators also voted 35-1 on Thursday to approve a measure (SB 542) intended to keep independent contractors who receive COVID-19 safety items and assistance from being labeled as company employees.

The proposal by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral, emerged, at least in part, because California has been fighting ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft about the status of drivers as independent contractors.

Under Rodriguez’s bill, certain actions by businesses during public health emergencies — such as providing safety training, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, medical testing or financial assistance to people unable to work because of health concerns — could not be used as evidence to establish employer-employee relationships for such purposes as workers’ compensation insurance and minimum wages.

Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, cast the only dissenting vote. The House version (HB 411) of the bill awaits a floor hearing.
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ടോറോന്റോയിൽ PCIC പ്രമോഷണൽ മീറ്റിംഗ് ജൂൺ 1 ന്

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ടോറോന്റോ : പെന്തക്കോസ്തൽ ഫെല്ലോഷിപ്പ് ഓഫ് ഇൻഡോ കനേഡിയൻസ് കോൺഫെറൻസിന്റെ പ്രഥമ പ്രമോഷണൽ മീറ്റിംഗ് ജൂൺ 1 (ശനിയാഴ്ച്ച ) 6:30 PM ന് International Revival Church ( IRC) 4150 Chesswood Dr , Toronto യിൽവച്ച് നടത്തപ്പെടുന്നു . Pr. Finny George ( Professor of Bethel Bible College, Punalur) മുഖ്യ സന്ദേശം നൽകും .
Sources:gospelmirror

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Teen Denied Diploma Because He Mentioned Jesus in Graduation Speech

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A high school senior in Campbell, Kentucky was denied his diploma because he went off-script during a commencement address and mentioned the name of Jesus Christ.

Campbell County High School graduate Micah Price broke from his pre-approved address to give honor and glory to his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

“He is the light, He is the way, the truth and the life,” Price said. “Class, everyone in the audience today, I’m here to tell you if you don’t have any of those things in your life, you can’t seem to find the answer, my Lord and Savior is your answer. He will give you the truth, the way and the life.”

Price said in a post, which you can watch [here], that he stands by his decision and that he will accept whatever punishment the school decides to levy.

“If anyone is in the wrong, it’s me. I went against school policy, school rules,” he said. “I deserve to get punished.”

“All speakers were told that going off their submitted speech, or any unplanned choices at graduation, may have repercussions as they would at any school function,” Superintendent Shelli Wilson said in a statement to Local 12.
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS

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Hope on Capitol Hill: ‘There Are a Great Number’ in Congress ‘Who Want to Bring Honor to God’

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I stood in awe at what a wonderful opportunity the Reverend Billy Graham statue unveiling event proved to be in terms of sharing the Gospel message. This month, within the walls of the elegant Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol, a prominent and faithful preacher was remembered and honored. Several speakers took the time to preach the good news, calling for those listening to put their faith in Jesus, “the Lord of lords and the King of kings,” as Senate Chaplain Barry Black proclaimed.

Looking at the world around us, especially when surrounded by contentious politics, it can feel utterly overwhelming and chaotic. Division appears to be the norm, and hope for a better society or government often feels scarce. But two weeks ago, I was struck with the beauty of hearing the Gospel proclaimed not once, not twice, but at least three or four times in the heart of our nation. It gave me hope. It was encouraging to listen as members of Congress, the Speaker of the House, and other authoritative figures represent Christ boldly. Who knows what seeds were planted? Perhaps their boldness will inspire other influential figures to be bold as well.

However, the question that lingered in my mind following the event was: How many faithful Believers do we have in our government? The short answer is that I don’t know exactly. But clearly, there are more than meets the eye. It would also seem there’s far more being done within the walls of the Capitol to edify, encourage, and equip Believers in government to stand firm.

A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture through Faith & Law (FL). If you’re unfamiliar, FL met for the first time on Capitol Hill in 1983 with pastor and theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul as their guest speaker. Other prominent FL speakers include Carl F.H. Henry, Os Guinness, and Nancy Pearcey. According to their website, FL’s “mission is to encourage and equip Christian policymakers to more fully understand the Biblical worldview and its implication in their calling to the public square.” The FL event I attended featured Ligonier Ministries’ CEO Chris Larson and Chairman Robert Godfrey to discuss the current challenges Christians face in society.

“Christians, along with a lot of other people in our society, are confused these days,” Godfrey said. “Things have changed a lot” in recent years, and “the source of our confusion,” Godfrey added, “is that a major shift has occurred in western history” in that we have dramatically shifted away from Christendom—the state of having a Christian-majority. That was Godfrey’s argument, but it’s not unique to him. A variety of scholars and experts refer to our day as a post-Christian society. But, as Godfrey emphasized, Christianity is not the same as Christendom. And so, to say we have moved away from Christendom in no ways means Christianity is of the past.

The societal turning point Godfrey emphasized was the legalization of same-sex marriage. Interestingly, he wasn’t arguing that the legalization marked the degradation of Christendom, but rather, that the public reaction did. Christendom served as a way of “establishing Christianity in law in some sense,” Godfrey said, and in many ways, it was a “unifying factor of civilization.” But in 2015, when the Obergefell decision legalized same-sex marriage, we saw that unity slip farther away. As Godfrey noted, a serious, vehement, and organized effort to overturn that decision did not seem to occur. Were there many against it? Surely.

But it stands to reason many lawmakers, such as former President Barrack Obama, who once claimed to oppose homosexual marriage, now champion the ideology. The same is true as we investigate society. Today, the push for LGBT ideology feels inescapable—and with pride month just around the corner, it will soon make that cultural domination painfully blatant. This sweeping secularism seems most obvious in the Pride mayhem, but it’s also seen in the rampant push for killing the unborn, the increased justification (and perhaps encouragement) of crime, and the list continues.

So, what’s there to glean from these observations? Well, according to Godfrey, the most important takeaway from this breakdown of moral impact on society, at least for Christians, is to recognize God’s sovereignty over all things. This is the first step towards garnering peace in a world of confusion and calamity. Regardless of the current cultural climate, we serve a God who’s in control of all. Hebrews 13:8 says our Lord “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” So, really, there’s no failure in store for the one with faith, because our God is a God of victory, and He’s secured His kingdom from now into eternity. “I will build My Church,” Jesus proclaimed, “and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

But the second step in securing peace during a time of frustration would be to pay attention to how the Lord is working in government. In my short time in DC, I’ve seen groups such as Faith & Law, the Word on the Hill, and others faithfully raise up Gospel truth within our Capitol. There are also plenty of congressional members who carry the armor of God into their political battles, and they need our prayers and support. In a conversation with Representative Michael Guest (R-MS), I got a glimpse into what it means to be a Christian lawmaker.

“You know,” Guest said, “I think we’re all challenged at certain times in life, whether you serve in a public capacity or whether you have a job in the private sector.” But a particular challenge Guest highlighted is how much time he must spend away from his family. Community is crucial, especially for the Believer, and it’s taxing to be away from home so frequently. The congressman explained how he’ll often be traveling Monday through Friday for four to five weeks in a row, with little time for his family on the weekends. In this regard, Guest makes sure to have a strong Christian community in his personal life, as they’re what “keep us grounded and … on track,” he told The Washington Stand.

Reflecting on when he first came to Congress, he emphasized, “it was important … for me to find fellow Believers.” And by God’s grace, he did. Guest shared there are multiple ways in which the word of God is alive and active on the Hill. “There’s a group of Believers … that meet every Wednesday morning when we’re in session, and we spend time in God’s word and time in prayer.”

He continued, “[W]e have the prayer caucus that meets between votes,” which he noted provides “the opportunity to be with those Believers and to pray about the things that we’re going to be doing that week in Congress.” And in addition to praying about their work, Guest said the prayer caucus also serves “to bring forward individual prayer requests of people in our district who may be suffering from some sort of bad diagnosis, or [may have just] lost loved ones.” Ultimately, “[T]here are a number of ways in which members can be plugged in with other members of similar faith and belief. And I think in this environment, it is so important to find those fellow Believers you can associate with.”

When it comes to having faith and being in government, Guest urged that both in words and in action, Christians are called to be a witness to the light of the Gospel. “Being able to share your faith and being able to talk about the things that God has done in your life is important,” he said, “but I [think], as a Believer, people are watching how we act. Do we act as the world acts, or do we act different? Do people see something different about us than they do non-Believers?”

Guest concluded, “I think it’s important for people to know that there are a great number of Believers here on Capitol Hill. … [P]eople who want to bring honor and glory to God” and “see our nation turn from our sinful ways and want to see God continue to bless this land that we’ve been so proud to call home for so long. … God is not done with America,” he insisted. “We have great days ahead, and … there are men and women of faith in Washington, DC and in our state capitals and in our local government who God will use to continue to see that we prosper.” S
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS

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