AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Jews’ share of the population of Europe is as low now as it was 1,000 years ago and is declining even further, according to a landmark new demographic study. The study published Wednesday by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research found 1.3 million people who describe themselves as Jewish in continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Russia That figure has declined by nearly 60% since 1970, when there were 3.2 million Jews in the same area, wrote the report’s authors, Daniel Staetsky and Sergio DellaPergola. That decline, which follows the death of about 6 million European Jews in the Holocaust, owes mostly to the emigration of more than 1.5 million people following the collapse of the Iron Curtain, their data shows.

 

When it comes to issues of sexual purity, pastors are not “just one of the guys” and should be held to a higher standard, influential pastor and author John Piper said. In a recent episode of his “Ask Pastor John” podcast, Piper, founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, weighed in on the question: “Is faultless chastity too high a standard for pastors?” Piper first acknowledged that it takes “very special grace” to withstand sexual temptation — yet this grace is “is available in Christ to all Christians.” The standard for church elders and pastors are higher than for ordinary Christian church members, he added, because of the special gifting required for elders and pastors called “teaching” and “governing.”  “[T]here are ethical standards where the pastor is to be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2), because he’s a very public figure and has the weighty calling of being an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3) and an example to the world (1 Timothy 3:7),” he explained. 

 

Lakewood Church in Texas reopened its doors for its first in-person worship service on Sunday since the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions began in March. An emotional Pastor Joel Osteen spoke about reigning over problems to more than 4,000 people. “About a month ago, or a few weeks ago, I felt like God put in my spirit it was time to come back,” said the pastor of the Houston megachurch, which held the indoor service at 25% capacity. Attendees were required to wear masks at all times and follow social distancing. “We’ve never been closed; the building was closed but can I tell you these last months, we have had our greatest outreach of ministry in 61 years,” Osteen told the congregation, sharing that 12 million people watched the service online during Easter weekend. “God has raised up Lakewood for this time. Hey, when does the world need hope any more than now?”  During his sermon, Osteen said, "We were not created to go through life overcome by problems, struggling to make it in mediocrity … God created us to reign, to be the victor, not the victim.” We can reign over all our problems, he added. "Things that have been reigning over you, the loneliness, the guilt, the bad breaks, there's about to be a turnaround. It's your time to reign."