Archives for Christian - Page 288

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Singled Out

By Cassie Curtis It’s time to lay aside our assumptions about singleness. Singlism: the stigmatization of uncoupled adults, whether divorced, widowed, or ever single. I picked up the vibe right away. We were standing in a hallway waiting for one or two people from a different department to join us for a casual lunch. As we circled up to make introductions, I noticed that one person quickly shifted his shoulders and denied eye contact. The man in question was probably in his late twenties. Moderately attractive. No wedding ring. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, assuming that he was just reserved. After observing his lively dialogue with other members of our group, I was forced to alter my assessment. Not reserved. What is his deal? Halfway through lunch, he had still not so much as looked in my direction when the words “my fiancée” drawled slowly from his mouth. I struggled to hold back a bemused chuckle. Of course! He was engaged! Acknowledging my existence was totally out of the question. As you know, if he had looked me in the eyes or started a conversation with me, I could not have helped myself from falling instantly in love with him. As humorous …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Across 198 Nations, Christians Face More Terrorism But Less Government Hostility

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Pew finds that terrorism threatens to surpass the traditional persecutors of the global church. From some angles, it looks like the beginning of a hopeful trend among the steady stream of persecution headlines. Both government and societal harassment of religion dropped worldwide in 2014, according to a Pew Research Center study released today. This is the second year in a row that researchers found such a drop. Overall, religious restrictions were high in 34 percent of the 198 countries and self-governing territories Pew examined in 2014, down from 39 percent in 2013 and 43 percent in 2012. About half of the countries (51%) saw decreases in government restrictions, while about a third (36%) saw increases. But the news was more mixed for Christians, which make up about 30 percent of the world’s population. Once again, Christians were the most harassed religious group, facing arrest, discrimination, and assault in 108 countries, up from 102 countries in 2013 (but falling short of the 110 countries in 2012). Pew has measured persecution both by governmental sources and societal pressure since 2009, when it launched its landmark analysis. In 2012, religious hostilities hit record levels. Overall, about a quarter of the world’s governments (24%) …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Interview: Q+A with Adam Grant: Does Our Calling Make Us More Creative?

By Interview by Kate Shellnutt The author of ‘Originals’ talks about how faith factors into our ideas and work. A psychology professor at Wharton Business School, Adam Grant probes motivations and inspirations to get at the heart of work. His research reveals unexpected glimpses of humanity and character, like how generosity can help leaders get ahead (his 2013 bestseller Give and Take) and how the rest of us are more like iconic innovators than we think (his latest book Originals). Packed with the stories behind the success and failure of memorable projects from Seinfeld to the Segway, Originals was the basis for Grant’s top-ranked TED talk on creativity and generated acclaim from figures like author Malcolm Gladwell and director JJ Abrams. It’s what inspired me to explore innovation among Christians for our July/August cover story, CT Makers. Grant offers up his expertise in organizational psychology—how individuals behave in groups and in the workplace—to discuss different ways evangelical faith may affect how we think and create. A lot of Christians express a sense of calling, the idea that they believe God has called them to work to solve a certain problem, help a certain group of people, or go into a certain field. How does this sense …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Creating for Good

By Richard Clark Our hope isn’t simply to solve a perceived problem, but to address deeper causes. There’s a certain entrepreneurial impulse I’ve always admired. To an entrepreneur, problems are opportunities. Read enough business books—or watch a few episodes of Shark Tank—and you’ll recognize the pattern. Someone experiences a problem and solves it with a new business model or product. It’s human nature to get tripped up by the problem itself, to assume it’s here to stay, or to cynically pass it on to someone else. These days we’re awash in business models that “work” for one group of people at the expense of another. Retailers sell cheap goods crafted by those who barely make a living wage. Media outlets produce content designed to court grievance and controversy rather than empathy. But God has called his people to seek justice, and Scripture focuses on root problems, not merely their outward effects. Our cover story (p. 40) showcases 20 Christians who have gone further than a surface-level treatment to address such problems. These producers, musicians, writers, and designers saw the world as it was and sought to make it better. We can all do that in our own spheres of influence. Even without a business model, it’s possible …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Weekend Edition—July 15, 2016

By Ed Stetzer Race, Russia’s bad law, Church cookouts, church signs, and more! The Pastors Out to Save Millennials’ Souls—Amanda Abrams Great reminder of the need for planting churches in difficult areas. The Church at Its Racial Turning Point—Theon E. Hill Thankful for the churches that are stepping up and praying that more will do so. Russia’s Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church—Kate Shellnut Russian seems to be heading back to USSR views on religious freedom. Reflections on Amplify 16: a Fantastic Week—Alvin Reid Thankful for my friend Alvin and appreciate these meaningful remarks. My Church Is Having A Cookout This Weekend—Jay Sanders This rural Georgia church isn’t waiting for the government to “do something about race relations.” Don’t forget to subscribe to the The Exchange Podcast in iTunes. Click here to listen to my interview with Mark Batterson. This Week on The Exchange Learning to Recognize the Shepherd’s Voice Two Statistics Every Church Planter Needs to Know Leadership Development According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer Di-ver-si-ty: Overcoming Homogeneity in Our Churches Alcohol Abuse, Perry Noble, and the Church’s Response—What Now? Church Signs Good thing the law has been fulfilled. “Lovelutionaries”? That’s not a word, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Feasting and Fellowship in the Age of Food Allergies

By Hannah Anderson and Dan Darling Eating can be a source of fellowship—but in a fallen and allergy-ridden world, it can also present challenges. “I can’t eat that,” a friend said, passing by the staple of our church’s monthly potluck: the perfectly crafted homemade macaroni and cheese from the kitchen of a church matriarch. Eating Emma’s macaroni was a ritual in our church; to not eat it might signal to the longtime churchgoer that you really weren’t one of us. But this young woman wasn’t being either ignorant or pretentious. In fact, she had a rare stomach disorder that would not allow her to eat dairy products. Had she eaten Emma’s signature dish, she would have become violently sick. For most of us, eating is a joyful opportunity for Christian fellowship. For people like my friend, however, it can be a source of division and isolation. I (Dan) was a young pastor when this incident occurred, and it helped me realize how complicated church feasts— which serve as a visible symbol of Christian unity and identity—can be in a fallen world. Feasting together is good, but it can also get complicated. If we want to love our brothers and sisters in Christ well, then it’s worth our time …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Died: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy

By Jeremy Weber Jerry B. Jenkins: ‘Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul.’ Tim LaHaye, the best-selling author best known for the Left Behind series, “graduated to heaven” this morning after suffering a stroke at age 90. His family announced the news on his ministry Facebook page. On the eve of his death, ministry partners, fans, and friends urgently asked for prayer on social media this weekend, offering a wave of early tributes that spread through end-times prophecy circles and chapters of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the organization co-founded by LaHaye’s wife, Beverly. Some circulated a statement by LaHaye’s daughter Linda: “He will not recover from this, he will soon be graduated to heaven.” “Tim was one of the most godly men I have ever known,” said David Jeremiah, LaHaye’s successor at the San Diego church he led for 25 years (then named Scott Memorial Baptist Church, now named Shadow Mountain Community Church). “Almost every conversation I had with him ended with his praying with me and for me. He wrote me extended letters of appreciation for what God was doing in our church. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Developing a Missional Response to Seismic Shifts in the Church

By Daniel Im It’s time to stop holding on to yesteryear and start looking for ways to introduce Jesus to our dark world. There have been two seismic shifts in the church and culture in the English-speaking Western world over the past few decades. The first shift is predominantly a good one, while the second shift has mixed reactions. Seismic Shift #1: An Increased Focus on Church Planting Recently, I came across a tweet from my friend, Jeff Christopherson, who leads the North American Mission Board’s Send Network. I love this! In the Southern Baptist Convention, church plants baptize almost four times the number of people than existing established churches! I agree with the hashtag, #plantingworks. Statistics like this are one of the reasons that denominations are placing a greater emphasis on church planting. The dynamic long-term growth of many church plants has helped as well. Consider Life Church with Craig Groeschel, Saddleback with Rick Warren, and Redeemer Presbyterian with Tim Keller, among many others. Compare that to a few decades ago, when church planting was on the periphery and seen as a ‘suspicious activity’ to most. Seismic Shift #2: The Church Moving to the Periphery Over the past few decades another shift has occurred—the Church has moved from the …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How Celebrate Recovery Helped Evangelicals Open Up About Addiction

By Kate Shellnutt Over 25 years, the program has made churches a safer space for recovery. If you’ve heard a sermon, small-group discussion, Sunday school lesson, or testimony that addressed one of those once-taboo topics—alcoholism, drug abuse, anger issues, porn habits—you probably have Celebrate Recovery to thank. “It used to be if someone was an alcoholic or a drug addict or, heaven forbid, they had any kind of issue with anger, then it was hush-hush,” said Huston McComb, a licensed professional counselor who leads Celebrate Recovery at Houston’s First Baptist Church. “We’ve kind of taken that stigma away.” While some of the shame around addiction has faded over the decades, Celebrate Recovery has shifted how evangelicals in particular view “hurts, habits, and hang-ups.” The ministry hosts regular meetings at 29,000 churches and has trained more than 100,000 pastors in the recovery process. Its annual summit this weekend marks 25 years since John Baker founded the program at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, immediately following his own journey to sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous. Like many evangelicals at the time, he had reservations about the generic spirituality of AA, whose 12-step program refers to “a Power greater than ourselves” and “God as we understood him.” Baker saw a need to create …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How Resources Changed My Mind

By Ed Stetzer The books we read and allow to influence us hold great importance, for good or bad. When I was a young teen, my mom (a new Christian) gave me a book called Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. She said it was a science fiction book written by a Christian. Being the sci-fi fan that I was, and intrigued by the idea of a Christian authoring those types of books, I finished it and the rest of Lewis’ Space Trilogy. At that time, I had no idea how much I would come to be influenced by their author. I later discovered C.S. Lewis as the man behind The Chronicles of Narnia and numerous other works influenced by his faith. His nonfiction writings built my passion for accessible theology. I read Mere Christianity and have since shared it with hundreds of different people as an apologetic defense of the gospel. As a young, recently converted believer, I was drawn to the writing of Lewis—an articulate and engaging Oxford professor who talked about Jesus. To me, Lewis made it OK to love Jesus and have a brain. Half a century after his death, we still read his works because of how he wrote …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How Churches Change the Equation for Life After Prison

By Morgan Lee One of the hardest days of incarceration may be the day it ends. The church can be there to make a difference. Two blocks from the North Carolina Capitol, a dozen women are sitting on couches in a circle. Unmarked, with dark windows and fluorescent lights overhead, the upstairs room of Raleigh’s First Presbyterian Church smells musty and damp. Alice Noell’s Job Start program is in session, and the women are here to make sense of their lives. The women currently live in the Raleigh Correctional Center for Women, which they leave five days a week to attend Noell’s 15-week course. Noell—an energetic and passionate teacher—isn’t speaking right now. Instead, she’s invited one of her former students to address a captive audience. All of the women, equal numbers black and white, lean in as Miea Walker walks in, waves, and finds the recliner in the center of the circle. Walker, 45, was released from prison in March 2012, a date still fresh enough for her to drop the names of wardens and guards. “I know what it feels like,” she says. “You feel like you can’t breathe. You’re in a box all day long.” During her own nine-year sentence for embezzlement, Walker received her bachelor’s …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Russia's Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church

By Kate Shellnutt (UPDATE) Putin signs new restrictions that limit where and how Christians share the gospel. Update (July 8): This week, Russian president Vladimir Putin approved a package of anti-terrorism laws that usher in tighter restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism. Despite prayers and protests from religious leaders and human rights advocates, the Kremlin announced Putin’s approval yesterday. The amendments, including laws against sharing faith in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings, go into effect July 20. Though opponents to the new measures hope to eventually appeal in court or elect legislators to amend them, they have begun to prepare their communities for life under the new rules, reported Forum 18 News Service, a Christian outlet reporting on the region. Protestants and religious minorities small enough to gather in homes fear they will be most affected. Last month, “the local police officer came to a home where a group of Pentecostals meet each Sunday,” Konstantin Bendas, deputy bishop of the Pentecostal Union, told Forum 18. “With a contented expression he told them: ‘Now they’re adopting the law I’ll drive you all out of here.’ I reckon we should now fear such zealous enforcement.” “There are potentially very wide-sweeping ramifications to this law,” Joel Griffith …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Evangelical Views of the 2016 Election: "There are No "Must" Candidates!" -Darrell Bock

By Darrell L. Bock Professor of New Testament Studies articulates the dilemma many Christians face in this election cycle Many Christians have it right. There is a real dilemma for their vote in this election. The choice we have before us is no real option. It is like choosing between facing a tornado rolling through your home or a hurricane. Both will do real damage in different ways. The only possible check on this regrettable situation involves the considered selection of legislators put around the poor choice the nation faces. Our votes for other offices now count for more. The dilemma we face is one we have given ourselves. Our votes created our choices. We have opted for decades to step back from reflection on character, teaching our children the skills and economics of life but not judgment, discernment, and wisdom. A soulless child rearing produces what we face today. T.S. Eliot spoke of hollow men, people without chests, without souls. So we get what we pay for at the ballot box. We will not get a mulligan on our choice now, but we can prepare to do better next time. Some will argue that one choice now is a must because of future Supreme Court justices, choices …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Evangelical Views of the 2016 Election: Not the Lesser of Two Evils, Choose Candidate Evan McMullin Instead

By O. Alan Noble Editor-in-Chief of Christ and Pop Culture wants to lay a foundation for a future conservative party I support Evan McMullin’s campaign for President. For the first time in my life, I even donated to a political campaign, and I did so knowing that McMullin would almost certainly not win, or even come close to it. I have been informed by many concerned citizens that I am throwing my vote away, or voting for Trump by not voting for Clinton, or voting for Clinton by not voting for Trump. Others have accused me of being too elitist to vote for Trump, as if voting for McMullin were merely a way to ease my conscience or feel morally superior. The truth is I support McMullin for President because I believe that doing so is the best chance we have for cultivating an influential, vibrant conservative party that promotes human flourishing and defends life into the future. I’ve come to this position begrudgingly, but driven by a few principles. One is that it is possible for a candidate to be so unacceptable that they do not deserve our vote regardless of how bad the other major candidate is. The minimum standard is opposed to the more popular, pragmatic …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Q&A with Steve Carter On “This Invitational Life”

By Ed Stetzer Teaching Pastor for Willow Creek Community Church Ed: The book does not have evangelism in the title, but it’s categorized under that. So, why an evangelism book? Everyone’s talking about mission, justice, etc., but not a lot about evangelism. So, why write on that? Steve: Friends told me that writing your first book on evangelism isn’t the smartest business decision, but for some reason I felt like I needed to do it. Over the past ten years, I’ve seen a decrease in urgency when it comes to sharing one’s faith. I think a lot of it has to do with the way evangelism has been portrayed and done over the years. What I want to do is to try and reclaim the essence of the word. Paul tells Timothy to “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:2) and he’s telling Timothy to make the good news your life’s work! This Invitational Life is an attempt to inspire everyday people to live winsomely and risk themselves to align with God’s heartbeat for humanity. Ed: Talk to me about the title— why “invitational”? Steve: We come from a great tradition of invitation. I think of a devout disciple in Damascus who heard God whisper his …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Before You Vote, Watch ‘Vertigo’

By Jeffrey Overstreet What Hitchcock’s thriller can teach us about sexism, nostalgia, and the gospel’s call to justice. As I write this, we’re less than 20 days from Election Day 2016. A great deal is at stake. It matters, doesn’t it, what we do with our minds and our hearts during this time? So why bother with movies? What film could possibly make a difference? Last week, I invited readers to watch a documentary that does, I believe, matter. This week, my recommendation is a murder mystery—one that a 2012 survey of film critics declared to be “the greatest film of all time.” Vertigo? That creepy Alfred Hitchcock movie? The one that makes us so uncomfortable we want to throw things at the screen? Hear me out. Vertigo seems familiar at first: A suave and sexy detective on the verge of retirement is persuaded to investigate “one last case.” Detective Ferguson begins following a mysterious and meandering woman to answer her husband’s questions. Madeline becomes his most confounding mystery. The more he shadows her around San Francisco, the more obsessed he becomes. And as her mysteries prove unsolvable, he grows desperate to possess and control her. Then, he loses her. Devastated, his ego shaken, his appetites unsatisfied, Ferguson …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Let My People Build

By Jayson Casper After 160 years of suppression, Egypt makes room for new churches. “Long live the crescent and the cross!” shouted Egypt’s parliament in joy. All 39 Christian members joined the two-thirds majority to vote to end a 160-year practice instituted by the Ottomans requiring Christians to get permission from the country’s leader before building churches. The long-awaited reform was promised by the 2014 constitution after the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi. The new law shifts authority into the hands of the governor, who must issue a decision within four months of an application and give detailed reasons for refusals. The law also established a process to retroactively license hundreds of churches erected without a presidential permit. “It is a good step,” said Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, who helped negotiate the draft law with government officials. “If we wanted an agreement to include everything and please everyone, it would have taken 100 years. “This is the best we can get right now.” But even as they celebrated, Christians debated if they failed to fully seize a unique opportunity to pursue equal citizenship. Some wanted a unified law for both churches and mosques. Others noted the presence of loopholes that may …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Fighting with My Husband and the Work of Shalom

By Tish Harrison Warren Do I proclaim radical love for the world even as I neglect to care for those closest to me? Jonathan stopped by at midday to pick something up at the house, and we had a fight. I would call it an argument, but that sounds too reasonable, like we were coolly debating opposing sides of an issue. Logical. Rational. Collected. The stuff to make marriage therapists proud. This was hardly that. Because most often what we’re arguing about—in this case a decision about our daughter’s schooling—isn’t really what we’re arguing about. What we are actually arguing about is our fears, anxieties, identities, and hopes. We were really arguing about how we love our daughter and feel a chasm—a terrifying chasm—between our responsibility for her and our ability to bear it well. We were grieving the reality of our limitedness and our inability to rescue our daughter from suffering in our broken world—and even in our broken family. And we were arguing about the sharpness in our voices, and who interrupts whom, and how often, and about a passing comment he made yesterday and a look I gave this morning. These are the patterns in family life that make it hard to be patient and gentle …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Hospitable Gospel

By Dr. Jerry Root Jesus modeled hospitality in the Gospels and commanded it in Acts There is no greater news than this: “The God of the Universe knows you and loves you, and all of your sins and wrong doing. He forgives at His expense in Christ.” In fact, Scripture says, “God proves His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” This is truly good news full of hope and promise. It is only fitting that those who share this good news with others should exhibit acts of kindness while speaking words of grace. Hospitality, and the utilizing of personal resources, should characterize the life of a Christian. In Matthew 10:42 we read, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Sometimes, the smallest act of human kindness produces the greatest effects, and opens doors for the gospel. Giving a cup of cold water on a hot day may open a door to share the love of God with another person. Have you ever offered your mail man an opportunity to use your bathroom while …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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What Do White Evangelicals Owe People of Color in Trump’s America They Helped Create?

By Ed Stetzer We carry each other’s burdens now so we can cry out with one voice for eternity. In 2010, visual artist Gene Schmidt embarked on a journey using Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, as his canvas. Schmidt used panels of scrap wood to recreate 1 Corinthians 13 and laid it out against buildings and along sidewalks throughout the city. His work of art is now displayed throughout Wheaton College’s campus. Every day, as I walk into the Billy Graham Center, I see a section of these scrap pieces. Here is the portion I see: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Without love we have nothing as the Body of Christ. The past 48 hours I’ve done interviews with reporters asking, “Where do we go from here? Where does the Church go from here?” I’ve gotten tweets and emails and seen endless posts that have one common thread, which I believe is critical for us if we are truly to walk together as one in the coming days. This thread is the need for authentic repentance and reconciliation. A Deep Divide What was once perhaps in the background …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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