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7 Signs You’ve Become Too Busy for Your Own Good

By Alli Worthington An excerpt from the new book Breaking Busy. My granddaddy used to say, “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” That’s some good Southern preacher wisdom right there. Before I broke busy in my own life, I proudly wore my busy badge of honor. I was the queen of busy. I even had the tiara and sash to go with it. Busyness made me feel productive and needed, and I overlooked the havoc it was wreaking in my life. Oh, there were warning signs, but I just kept straightening my tiara and assuring myself I was a strong, confident woman, who could handle the stress and chaos. But contrary to what many of us have been told, we can’t handle it all, nor should we. So how do we know when we are reaching our limits? We aren’t like our phones with flashing numbers that tell us we’ve reached our capacity. But there are signs our body gives us if we’re paying attention, signs that may look different for each of us. For some the warning signs may be emotional. For others they might be physical, relational, or spiritual. But rest assured, if you are over capacity, you will …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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God Made All of Me: An Interview With Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

By Ed Stetzer I recently talked to Justin and Lindsey Holcomb about their new book which attempts to protect children. Q: Why did you write God Made All of Me? For what age range is it written? The book is for 2-8 year olds. We wrote it because we have two young children and know that parents need tools to help talk with their kids about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. It allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes. Our goal is to help parents and caregivers in protecting their children from sexual abuse. Because private parts are private, there can be lots of questions, curiosity, or shame regarding them. For their protection, children need to know about private parts and understand that God made their body and made it special. Q: What do the statistics about child sexual abuse tell parents about the importance of talking about this topic with their kids? Child sexual abuse is more prevalent than most people think and the offenders are usually people parents and the children know, not strangers. Approximately 1 in 5 children will be sexually abused by their …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees: An Evangelical Response

By Ed Stetzer How can Christians respond to this crisis. On December 17th, a number of evangelical leaders gathered together to meet about how the Church in America might engage the refugee crisis in a Christlike way. At our meeting, we drafted and signed the following statement: Impacting nearly 60 million people, the global refugee emergency is a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented size. Never have so many people been recorded as being displaced, put in danger, and sent on the move. In Syria alone, more than 13 million children and their parents need humanitarian aid. Nearly 4.4 million have been forced to flee to neighboring countries for safety. Moments like these are when Christians cannot remain silent and still. In light of this crisis, we commit ourselves and our churches to actively care for and minister to global refugees with mercy and compassion, both here and abroad, based on God’s compelling concern for all people in need and especially refugees. In light of these concerns, we affirm the following: Refugees possess the image of God and, as such, are infinitely valuable to God and to us. We are commanded to love our neighbor, and it is our privilege to love refugees. As Christians, we must care sacrificially …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Dispatch from Sundance – 'Love & Friendship'

By Alissa Wilkinson Whit Stillman adapts Jane Austen, and the results are sublime. For Love & Friendship, Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Last Days of Disco) adapted a novel by Jane Austen that was unpublished at her death. Later published under the title Lady Susan, it’s Austen at the height of her affectionately satirical powers. And it’s terrific. I’ve seen most Austen adaptations (including Clueless and Bridget Jones’ Diary), but they seem to get the genre wrong: they act like romances with comedic elements, but Austen’s books are classic comedies, stories in which all is set right by the end, in the Shakespearean manner, with wry character descriptions and witty banter. Because the genre is off, many Austen adaptations spend so much time setting up emotionally resonant characters that it feels (to this Yank) that they counteract the essential reserved British-ness of any comedy of manners. Not a problem in Love & Friendship. With one genius fell swoop (I won’t give it away, because it’s such a delightful surprise), Stillman hurdles the character set-up problem in a manner I think Austen would have liked. The audience sure did. This isn’t surprising. Stillman is a perfect match for Austen’s sensibilities: he’s a master of clever, erudite dialogue that also …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Modes of Mission: A Missional Posture

By Ed Stetzer This week, in our series examining mission modes, we look at how John lived on mission. One of the active characteristics of God’s mission is the notion of “sentness.” God establishes this pattern early in redemptive history. He goes to Adam and Eve, but sends Abraham to the Promised Land, Moses to Egypt, Jonah to the Ninevites, Jesus to the world, the Spirit to the Church, and the Church to the nations. Clearly, God’s mission involves sending. In the New Testament, John stresses the “sent” theme more than any other. Other than describing the sentness of Jesus and the disciples, John also references John the Baptist being sent (John 1:6–7, 15; 3:28, 34) and the Holy Spirit being sent (John 14:26; John 16:7–8). Thus, the Johannine mode of mission establishes sentness as a missional impulse. The missional impulse of sentness is found in John 20:21, where John records Jesus saying, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” It may seem on the surface that sentness means going. While sentness certainly implies going, the Johannine mode of mission stresses something far deeper and richer given that it connects the sentness of the disciples to that of the …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: What Arab Christians Think of Wheaton-Hawkins 'Same God' Debate

By Jayson Casper in Cairo Controversy echoes what Christians in Middle East have dealt with for centuries. Larycia Hawkins has a fan in Egypt. Theresa, the nine-months-pregnant wife of a Coptic Orthodox juice stand owner, could not hide her admiration when told how a Christian professor donned a hijab in solidarity with Muslims facing prejudice in America. “It is a beautiful thing she has done, going beyond the norm to better approach others,” she said. “But it would not work here.” Her comment came on the heels of her husband Hani’s discomfort. He called the symbolic act “extreme.” In doing so, the humble man mixing mango and strawberry mirrored the reactions of most regional theologians. All commended Hawkins’s intentions, but only one—the Palestinian head of a seminary—praised it as a stand for justice. One pastor called it “excessive.” A bishop, “unnecessary.” An Egyptian former seminary vice president even raised the idea of “second-class citizen.” And therein lies the rub. Whether considering donning the hijab in solidarity or debating if Muslims and Christians worship the same God, Arab Christians operate in a vastly different religious context. Only recently have American Christians had to deal with issues raised by Muslims in their midst. The 9/11 tragedy birthed a political culture that seeks unity through theological …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Noteworthy Deaths of 2015: Elisabeth Elliot, Robert Schuller, Andrae Crouch, and More

By Morgan Lee Here are the Christian leaders lost last year that CT readers mourned most. Here are the 20 obituaries and tributes that CT readers circulated most in 2015, presented in chronological order. Gospel Music Legend Andrae Crouch He combined Saturday night with Sunday morning. Marcus Borg, Liberal Jesus Scholar and Friendly Provocateur Borg was a prominent leader of the Jesus Seminar, an effort to separate what Jesus scholars saw as fact from myth in the Gospels. Steve Hayner, Former President of InterVarsity and Columbia Seminary He was known for his presidency at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and later at Columbia Theological Seminary. Samuel Hugh Moffett, a Leading Expert in East Asia Christianity Global Christian mission should pivot to Asia’s 4.4 billion people, Moffett said. Leanne Payne, Prominent Leader in Pastoral Care and Healing Movement Author of seven books, she supported orientation change for gays and lesbians. Lyle Schaller, Preeminent Church Consultant No one may have advised more churches in the 20th century. Kara Tippetts, Christian Mom and Blogger Tippetts mustered a vulnerability and beauty in the deep, kind love she lavished on friends and family through her last days, a capacity deepened …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Passion, Revisited: Remembering When I Was Radical for Christ

By Sharon Hodde Miller How can we stay ‘sold out’ for our faith? What would my 20 year-old self think of me now? Last week, I sat in an arena with 20,000 college students, asking this question. The Passion Conference—simultaneously hosted at three arenas in Atlanta and Houston (with a combined attendance of 40,000 students)—felt like a time machine. It was as big and amazing as 15 years before, when I sat in a similar arena with a similar group of students, praising God and dreaming of a radical life for Christ. Back then, I believed anything was possible. Anything. Nothing was too great for God. I had countless friends giving sacrificially, sharing faith without fear, and traveling overseas as missionaries. That’s what we thought it meant to be Christian, and that’s what I committed to, for the rest of my life. Attending the Passion Conference again so many years later felt like going to a wedding and remembering my vows. It reminded me of my promises and my dreams. It was also a heck of a gut check; I’m not the same person I was back then, and ever since I came home last week, I wondered why. As I grew up, I went through …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Force is With Her

By Alicia Cohn Star Wars’ leading lady sends a message to the boys, too. Star Wars: The Force Awakens probably would have made $1.5 billion even without its female lead. But it’s only fair that a female character get her due when she plays such a central—and compelling, thanks to actress Daisy Ridley— role in one of the most enduring and culturally-defining movie series in generations. In response to fan outcry around the hashtag #WheresRey, Hasbro this week announced they would re-release Monopoly: Star Wars to include Rey, Ridley’s character who wasn’t part of the original game. Retailers are scrambling to stock enough Rey toys to satisfy demand—especially Target, which left Rey out of a set that included only the male leads from the movie. This outcry didn’t come as a surprise to director J.J. Abrams. “I’ve been to enough Comic-Cons to be well aware that Star Wars has a wonderful and enormous female fan base,” he toldUSA Today. “But a lot of the approach to marketing has been to sell to boys.” The StarWars audience traditionally skews heavily male, though Rentrak reports the audience was just 66 percent men on opening weekend. Sci-fi has proven a feminist-friendly storytelling genre, perhaps …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Gospel, Breaking Sinful Patterns, and Addiction

By Ed Stetzer How Steps can bring a new kind of recovery ministry to your church. I’m a big believer in recovery from addiction. I’ve seen the power of recovery among friends and family. Yet, I’m also a Christian, and an evangelical one, passionate about the gospel. So, as we talk about recovery and higher powers, I’m convinced that the power of the gospel is what matter most. Yet, many people in our culture claim to be Christians but have never heard a comprehensive gospel message. Therefore, discipleship—in general—and recovery ministry in our churches—more specifically—must begin by laying the foundation of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross for those who believe (gospel truths) and then bid people to live out the call to follow Christ (gospel imperatives). As disciples, part of the sanctification process is examining our hearts before the Lord. This process of personal assessment involves confession and prayer about the fruit of our lives and its roots. We bring all this before the Lord so that He can uproot our sinful patterns and heal our hearts, freeing us to act faithfully for His kingdom. People both inside and outside of our churches need help breaking sinful patterns in their lives. Our culture offers various ways to …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Violent Side of Jesus' Baptism

By Jeff Strong And how it helped me discover my Father’s love. I grew up with a father who couldn’t communicate love or concern for me in a way that was meaningful. Whether he was unwilling to do so, I am still unsure. For most of my childhood, my father seemed indifferent to me. In the same way, he was a satellite orbiting my world. I knew he existed, but he was peripheral and seemingly untethered to my day-to-day needs. Relationships with fathers can get complex. I’ve wrestled with what it means to extend grace to a parent whose dominant posture toward me was and is apathy. Through prayer, I have sought to forgive my father for his shortcomings, and I have looked to therapists to help me grieve the absence of a father-son relationship that seems out of reach to this day. But despite all of my efforts to address my pain and longing, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a chronic ache that continues to haunt me in my quiet moments. I ache not knowing whether my father was even on my side. Still, I have experienced healing, most recently as I prepared to teach on Jesus’ baptism as it is recorded …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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What to Watch When There’s Nothing New to Watch

By Kenneth R. Morefield You’ve resolved to expand your film horizons. But where do you start? Americans watch a lot of movies. A 2015 poll from Rasmussen showed that 9 percent of those surveyed said they watched a movie “every day or nearly every day”; almost half (47%) of the respondents answered that they watched once a week or more frequently. But are we watching a lot of different movies—or just the same ones over and over? Older movies are more accessible today than ever before—but over 50 percent of the fans’ highest-rated movies at IMDB were released in the last 25 years. Nearly a quarter of the films that IMDB voters love best were released in the 1990s. What explains this? With so many movies at our disposal, why do we stick to the same favorites over and over? One reason might simply be choice paralysis: there are just more good movies than you can watch in a lifetime. Getting a foothold—finding a place to start—can feel intimidating. Yet watching broadly helps us become more aware of the world around us—and can even help us understand, feel empathy for, and learn how to love people who aren’t like us. Or it can give us a firmer grasp …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Wheaton, Hawkins: Let Us Reason Together, Please

By Mark Galli How might a Christian college handle a controversy that threatens to undo it? The situation at Wheaton College continues to unravel. Political science professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins refuses to meet any longer with the administration, and the college is now initiating the process of firing her—many assume because she said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. (If you’re not aware of this controversy, check out our news coverage here and here and here.) Of course, a controversy of this magnitude—it’s been international news for weeks, with stories and comments in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Guardian, and now Time—is never actually “all because” of one thing. The media coverage has often needlessly inflamed the conversation, and yet you could hardly invent a case that would touch on a greater number of fundamental issues in Christian higher education: 1. The theological integrity of a Christian institution. Evangelical Christians want their institutions to have and maintain standards of belief and behavior. We’ve seen too many historical examples of Christian institutions that let their theological guard down, and the result has been the sabotaging of the institutions’ Christian identity. 2. Loving our Muslim neighbors. Islam …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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When Planned Parenthood Praised Ed Dobson

By Marshall Shelley The unlikely friendships the former Religious Right leader built while serving AIDS victims. I first met the late Ed Dobson when he was a columnist for Fundamentalist Journal, a publication published by Jerry Falwell. I was raised not far removed on the theological spectrum from fundamentalists, so I read each issue of the publication with great interest—and a tinge of fear. Would they represent the fundamentals in a positive or a cringe-worthy manner? I came to depend on Ed Dobson’s column as one place you could always find clear biblical convictions—as you would expect from one of the architects of the Moral Majority—but articulated with great compassion. To Ed, people weren’t just souls to be won (and tallied for their PR value), or voters to be recruited, but individuals to be loved as Christ loved. When Ed became pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it wasn’t long before I was tapping him for Leadership Journal (LJ). I was impressed that some of his first contacts in Grand Rapids were with local leaders of Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women. This certainly wasn’t in any pastor’s manual at the time. But because Dobson took Jesus’s words so seriously, he …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Why 734 Pastors Quit (and How Their Churches Could Have Kept Them)

By Lisa Cannon Green – Facts & Trends LifeWay Research studies how churches can help pastors last longer. No sabbatical. No help with counseling. No clear picture of what’s expected. Hundreds of former evangelical pastors say these were the crucial elements missing from the final churches they led before quitting the pastorate. A recent study by LifeWay Research points to ways churches can encourage pastors to stay in the ministry, said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Nashville-based organization. “Almost half of those who left the pastorate said their church wasn’t doing any of the kinds of things that would help,” Stetzer said. “Having clear documents, offering a sabbatical rest, and having people help with weighty counseling cases are key things experts tell us ought to be in place.” LifeWay surveyed 734 former senior pastors who left the pastorate before retirement age in four Protestant denominations: the Assemblies of God, Church of the Nazarene, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Trouble begins early, the survey indicates, with 48 percent of the former pastors saying the search team didn’t accurately describe the church before their arrival. Their churches were unlikely to have a list of counselors for referrals (27%), clear documentation of the church’s expectations of its pastor (22%), a sabbatical …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Dispatch from Sundance: 'Agnus Dei'

By Alissa Wilkinson A must-see film that quietly suggests a surprising answer to the problem of evil. One of the oldest refrains in the world is the theodicy question: how could a good God let bad things happen? That question animates Agnus Dei, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday. But the film’s answer is expansive, complex, and subtly subversive. Directed by Anne Fontaine (CocoBeforeChanel, GemmaBovary) and led by an all-female cast, the movie tries to approach (but not fix) the repercussions of unspeakable cruelty with the quiet balm of beauty. It’s a must-see for CT readers. Agnus Dei is set in 1945, amid the ruins of World War II. Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) is a young French doctor working with the Red Cross in Poland. Through an unusual set of circumstances, she comes into contact with a convent of Polish nuns who, she discovers, are in advanced stages of pregnancy. Months earlier, a group of Russian soldiers had broken into the convent and raped the women repeatedly, staying for several days. The horror haunts them still, even while they have tried to regain their faith and practice their vocation. Full of shame, they’re convinced of the need to conceal their condition, lest …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Evangelism, Church Planting, and Alpha Course

What bridges between denominations and churches need to be built for the trust to make collaboration possible? In the UK, over 8,000 church buildings have been closed over the past 25 years. In Canada, where I live, just one of our mainline denominations has announced that over the next 5 years, 1000 of their buildings will follow suit. It doesn’t take much of a news scan to see this repeated throughout the Western Church. Maybe this is a good thing? Maybe it is a shake-up, a wake-up, an opportunity? There is also a dark side: as one of our Anglican leaders in the UK said, “a closed church appears to a city like the empty palace of a long-forgotten King!” Just over 10 years ago, Nicky Gumbel (pioneer of Alpha and leader of my home network & church, Holy Trinity Brompton) wrote a letter to the national church authorities in England telling them that, “over my dead body will you close another one of these buildings—you name the building and we’ll send a team!” A generation of us stood up to say “over our dead bodies too” and as a team by God’s miraculous intervention, some 45+ London UK churches have now been …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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A Better Way to Be Evangelical

By Anthony L. Blair “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” As the president of an institution with evangelical in its name, I’ve had many opportunities to reflect on the mixed legacy that comes with that word. If you don’t explain what you mean, others will fill in the meaning for you—and today, all too often, they will treat it as a synonym for “narrow-minded,” “fundamentalist,” “intolerant,” or even “hatemonger.” The hard truth is that those of us who have borne the label “evangelical” have not always put our best foot—or our best gospel—forward. We may have held to orthodoxy, but it has not necessarily been beautiful or full of grace. What should we do? We could abandon the word altogether and leave it to its narrowest, most reactive partisans. Or we can reclaim it with fresh descriptions of what evangelical faith really can and does mean. To paraphrase Charles Dickens just a bit, we have a far, far better gospel and a far, far better Savior to offer this world than what they have heard from us at times. It is time to embrace the call to be boldly, broadly, and beautifully evangelical. Being Evangelical The word “evangelical” today …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Here’s What Evangelical Experts on Missions and Muslims Think of Wheaton's ‘Same God’ Debate

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Special journal looks at whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God, why it matters, and better questions to ask. Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Nearly two dozen evangelical experts on missions and Muslims have compiled their thoughts on how the answer affects Muslim missions, why it’s a bad question to begin with, and propose better questions to ask instead. A 32-page, special edition of the Occasional Bulletin from the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) seeks to constructively contribute to the highly publicized dispute over whether Wheaton College should discipline professor Larycia Hawkins for stating in a Facebook post that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” Robert Priest, a mission and anthropology professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and current EMS president, has “watched with interest” the unfolding Wheaton-Hawkins debate because, for evangelicals worldwide, “what Wheaton does affects us all.” “As I’ve observed the unfolding drama, I’ve had concerns over the way Wheaton has framed the issues, over the repercussions of this for Christian witness, and over the failure to include missiologists and missionaries as interlocutors,” wrote Priest. “That is, for most evangelicals in America, our encounter with people who are Muslim is relatively recent, relatively superficial, and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How 'No Country for Old Men' and 'Spotlight' Help Me Serve a Broken Church

By Elijah Davidson Do I really want to count myself among Christians if they let injustice continue? As I left the theater after seeing Spotlight, two members of the film’s publicity team asked for my thoughts on the film. I fumbled for words and said I was heartbroken. My wife mercifully pulled me away before I broke out in tears. Spotlight left me helpless. The film, which tells the true tale of the Boston Globe investigative journalism team that uncovered the child molestation scandal in its local Catholic archdiocese in 2002, ends with a list of cities in which similar abuses have been discovered. I was overwhelmed by the scope of the atrocity, the knowledge that this sin-crime is not solely a Catholic problem, but a Christian problem, and the horror of realizing I, too, am complicit in this systemic injustice. (Read CT‘s review of Spotlight.) Spotlight focuses on the little things that accumulate over time to create systems that either function well or deplorably. We watch characters have endless conversations with lawyers who won’t say anything; knock on doors hoping to get impromptu interviews, only to have them slammed instead; wait in government offices for hours only to be told they’ll have to …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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