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Am I Humble Enough to Learn from Millennials?

By Nicole Sheets, guest writer Learning from my elders is easy. Learning from those younger than me—not so much. I was at a garden party last summer with my new baby. A group of twentysomethings smiled at her between bites of flatbread pizza and fruity, boozy popsicles. One of them admitted that the baby was cute, but asked: Doesn’t having a baby cramp your style? I told him I was really glad that someone was cramping my style, that I was starting to be afraid no one would ever cramp my style, that I’ve had so much time with my style! It’s one of the big benefits of being an old new mom. If turning 30 meant saying goodbye to my young youth, then 40 is saying goodbye to my youth, period. It’s accepting that some of my wildest fantasies involve eight consecutive hours of sleep, or sitting down in a chair with a magazine, or trying out a new kale soup recipe. As I try to figure out this new stage of life, I find myself more and more irritated by the ideas and habits of younger people. But to my surprise, I’m also discovering how much I have to learn from them. I teach English …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Christian

An Invitation To Our First Billy Graham Center Vision Gathering

By Ed Stetzer We are building a Center that is rock solid on a vision to build One Body of Christ that shows & shares Jesus well in our broken and hurting world. Join us August 25 in Jackson, MS, to learn more! Just a little over a month ago I became the new Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College. When I accepted this role, I knew the team at the Center was already doing some great work. So my primary goal here became two-fold: (1) to build on the legacy and work we have done in order to (2) create a Center where partnerships and coalitions are formed and sustained on a level that create deep change across dividing lines and leads us towards a new level of unity around our calling of showing & sharing the love of Jesus in a broken and hurting world. You will be hearing that a lot from us in the days to come: ‘showing & sharing.’ The proclamation of the gospel can never be divided from the demonstration of the gospel. Sometimes one rises in urgency over the other, but when laid side by side, the two can never be …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Does Your Church Talk About Prison?

By Morgan Lee The disparities in America’s criminal justice system find an echo in which churches do, and don’t, discuss the issue. In a study of 1,000 mainline and evangelical pastors conducted by LifeWay Research this year, only 26 percent said they had addressed the country’s incarceration rates in the past six months. Four out of five pastors (83%) said they had visited a correctional facility, and about three out of four pastors whose churches averaged 250 or more attendees reported that individual members were ministering to those in correctional facilities (80%), the families of the incarcerated (73%), and those coming home (78%). But these same churches were far less likely to have formal programs: Just over half (53%) said a team from their church worked in correctional facilities. About 1 in 4 churches had a formal ministry to families of incarcerated people (24%) and people leaving correctional facilities (22%). Responses varied dramatically by race. One third of African American pastors (32%) reported mentioning mass incarceration in the last month, compared with only 7 percent of whites. White pastors were most likely to say that they had never addressed it in a sermon (41%). That’s partially because of their audience: About one third of African American pastors …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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I Saw Jesus in Detention

By Sarah Quezada, guest writer We’re all so busy debating immigration policy that we’ve forgotten something essential. A few months ago in the early morning, I joined a group from my Atlanta-based church on a two-and-a-half-hour drive down I-85 South to the Stewart Detention Center, one of the largest immigration detention centers in the country. Some of the immigrants detained in the facility had requested visitors, and so our church responded. I tried to imagine—who would be so lonely as to ask a stranger to meet with him? Someone living in a very isolated place. Stewart is located in Lumpkin, Georgia, a rural town near the border of Alabama. Many of the center’s residents have been transferred from other states—some as far away as California—and as a result are cut off from family, legal representation, and support networks. When our congregation asked about the purpose of our trip to Stewart, we relied on Christ’s invitation in Matthew 25:36: “I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Of course, this wasn’t prison exactly. It was immigration detention. Maybe that’s why, when we arrived, I was unprepared for the distinctly prison-like look of the facility. Shrouded in barbed wire, Stewart was built as a medium-security prison. Its almost …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Clinton, Trump, or Neither? 3 Views on the 2016 Presidential Election

By The Editors Ron Sider, James Dobson, and Sho Baraka make the best Christian case for each choice. As most readers know, a not-for-profit publishing company like Christianity Today has to remain not-for-prophet when it comes to (prophetically) endorsing a presidential candidate. That’s why in presidential elections of the past, CT magazine has opted to simply note the issues that divide the major candidates, or to feature profiles of candidates from the major parties. This year, we’re trying something completely different: advocacy pieces for each of the major party candidates from three evangelical leaders. Some might wonder if we are legitimizing one or the other candidate by doing so. Not quite: For better or worse, our political system and fellow Americans have legitimized them. They are the major parties’ nominees. But given the unique controversies surrounding each candidate, more Christians than ever are seriously entertaining the idea of voting for neither candidate—thus the third article in the package. Such election features are designed to help readers make “informed decisions.” (Also see our new election book, How to Pick a President.) We trust that this package will do just that. Yet given the complexities of this election, we’re sure our readers will need not just information …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The World Is Yearning for Beautiful Orthodoxy

By Mark Galli Goodness, truth, and beauty all come from the same Person. Rage is today’s ruling online emotion. So concluded a 2013 study of Chinese mini-blogging network Weibo—a platform that resembles Twitter and boasts twice as many users. Beihang University researchers examined 70 million Weibo “tweets” over a six-month period, sorting them by anger, joy, sadness, and disgust. Rage was the emotion most likely to spread across social media, with one angry post powerful and persuasive enough to negatively influence a follower of a follower of a follower. In other words, that angry tweet of yours has the potential of fomenting rage to the third degree! But it’s not just our smartphones sowing the seeds of all this discontent. Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California–Berkeley, was quoted in Scientific American as saying, “Mainstream media have made a fortune teaching people the wrong ways to talk to each other, offering up Jerry Springer, Crossfire, Bill O’Reilly. People understandably conclude rage is the political vernacular, that this is how public ideas are talked about.” Little wonder, then, that our collective anger spews forth at politicians who lie, at systems that discriminate, at businesses that exploit, at abortionists who murder, at pastors …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Despite Mike Pence, Most Evangelical Pastors Are Not Ready to Vote Trump

By Bob Smietana – Facts and Trends A plurality remain undecided, with pastors split over which candidate characteristic is most important. Political endorsements by pastors have been few and far between this election season. That may be because the most popular candidate among pastors is “I don’t know.” Despite vice presidential candidate Mike Pence’s mission to assuage evangelical doubts about Donald Trump, a plurality of evangelical senior pastors (44%) remained undecided last month about which candidate to vote for, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research. Meanwhile, almost 4 in 10 plan to vote for Trump (38%), while about 1 in 10 plans to vote for Hillary Clinton (9%). Four percent support Gary Johnson. Two percent do not plan to vote. In addition, most evangelical pastors see no need for Christians to vote only for a candidate who has a reasonable chance of winning. A majority also believe that Christians can vote their conscience and end up supporting different candidates. And only 3 evangelical pastors in 100 have endorsed a candidate from the pulpit. These are among the findings of a new survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors conducted August 22 to September 16. (Evangelical and mainline pastors were categorized based on self-identification.) Most pastors are ambivalent about the …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Latest Survey: Most Evangelicals Are Not Voting Trump

By Bob Smietana – Facts & Trends Measuring Americans by beliefs, not self-identity, makes a big difference in 2016 election polls. Americans with evangelical beliefs have a great deal in common. They trust in Jesus alone, evangelize their neighbors, and believe the Bible is the final authority in their lives. But when it comes to voting, race and political affiliation still divide evangelicals, according to a survey from LifeWay Research taken before the second presidential debate. Overall, the split between those with evangelical beliefs who support Donald Trump (45%) and those who support Hillary Clinton (31%) aren’t that far apart. The divide becomes clearer when respondents are split by race. White Americans with evangelical beliefs favor Trump (65%) over Clinton (10%). Those with evangelical beliefs who are African American, Hispanic American, or Asian American vote virtually the opposite, favoring Clinton (62%) over Trump (15%). Party affiliation is also a stronger predictor of voting preferences than faith. Three-quarters of Republicans with evangelical beliefs plan to vote for Trump. Though a smaller sample, 75 percent of Democrats with evangelical beliefs plan to vote for Clinton. LifeWay executive director Scott McConnell said the divides among evangelicals will remain regardless of twists and turns in the election season. “This group of Christians shares the same core beliefs, but they …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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I Found the Gospel in Communist Romania

By Virginia Prodan And then I shared it with the man the government sent to kill me. Like most people, I was born with a hunger for truth and freedom. Unfortunately, I was born in Communist Romania under the brutal totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Ceausescu’s Romania was a land of lies, where simply questioning a government directive could lead to imprisonment, physical torture, and—in some cases—death. Needless to say, we lived in a constant state of anxiety and mistrust. Anyone could arbitrarily denounce a neighbor, classmate, or family member for making “anti-government” statements. The government even had spies planted in the churches. The best way to avoid trouble was to remain silent, question nothing, and try to blend in. For years, I watched my parents and relatives play the part of “good citizens” while privately whispering their contempt for the government. I wondered, Why do people always speak in whispers? Why are they so afraid to speak the truth? ‘Do you go to church?’ The more fear battered those around me into silence, the more obsessed I became with finding the truth. After graduation, I went to law school and became an attorney. But my job—assigned by the government—consisted of little more than rubber-stamping newly-created communist rules …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Diaspora Missions: Diaspora Churches as Equal Partners in Mission

By Stanley John Hispanic, Korean, Chinese, and Nigerian churches embody the vitality and vibrancy of Global Christianity. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the first united symposium of the Chinese Alliance churches in Canada. These churches are part of the Canadian Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) and offer services in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English languages. They represent nearly 100 churches which account for 20% of all C&MA churches in Canada. There, I met Pastor Solomon Chiang, a seasoned church planter who was pastoring in Taiwan and came to Canada for his theological studies. He then pastored a Chinese church in Parsippany, New Jersey, before moving to the greater Toronto area, where he planted three churches in the last two decades, all of them exceeding several hundred members. He focused his ministry on reaching the Mandarin-speaking new immigrants from mainland China. When asked of the reason why the churches are growing, he simply responds that the church demonstrates Christian love and that is the catalyst that draws people to Christ. On the States’ side, diaspora churches now account for more than 46% of the nearly 2,000 C&MA churches in the Unites States. Pew Forum’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study reports ethnic diversity among North American …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Lovekindness: A Post-Election Path for Christians in America

By Barry H. Corey Democracy sees the value of dialogue for the common good. Where do we go from here? It is November 9, and after an exhaustingly long, divisive election that has at times felt apocalyptic, America now has a new President-elect, Donald Trump. But while there has been resolution to the long-contested question of who will occupy the White House come February, the problems that gave rise to (and were exacerbated by) this horrific election will not be gone from America. We are a nation divided. And the wedges were driven deeper by the vitriol of this campaign. We state our intractable views on everything from race to religion to class to sexuality to culture to Colin Kaepernick. Facebook used to be a place where friends shared updates and photos. Now, it’s a forum for overheated ranting among strangers. Sadly, Christian communities have been complicit in this culture of divisiveness. Whether the topic is Trump, transgenderism, or refugees, on any given day the Christian Twitterverse is barely distinguishable from any other angry subculture. American Christians, like all Americans, are being conditioned by the rhetoric of division. It’s the air we breathe on 24-hour cable news, on social media, and in the click-bait articles that favor unnuanced and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Trumped: American Politics Turned Upside Down

By Ed Stetzer and Amy Whitfield Evangelicals made Trump’s candidacy; now they need to help remake his presidency. Tonight, maps were redrawn. Political realities were upended. America was redirected—and, for good or for ill, Evangelicals were a big part of that reality. White Evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the general election, after propelling his campaign in the primaries. Many Evangelicals didn’t follow the leaders that warned them away from Trump. These Evangelicals, and many Americans, were angry enough to vote for a stunningly unpopular candidate who promised change. It turns out that that basket was a lot bigger than many people expected. We knew that half of America would be outraged, but the surprise is which half. Now the world is outraged. And much anger is being directed at Evangelical Trump voters. Yet we need to remember that Trump voters are not Trump. I (Ed) shared this in an article, “Lord, I Thank Thee That I Am Not like Those Evangelical Trump Supporters,” back during the primaries. Trump’s supporters—like many Americans—are complicated. I don’t know them all, but I know some—including some members of my church. The ones I do know don’t hate immigrants (though they think illegal immigration is an economic …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Christian

You Are Plural

By Clayton Carlson Trillions of foreign creatures in and on our bodies shape our health, desires, and behavior. Here’s why they matter. Let us make humankind in our image,” said the triune God. And then he made us plural, too. “Male and female he created them,” but we are even more plural than that phrase indicates. Each of us is plural. We might picture our “self” as a single body. We know we’re a grand collection of cells, trillions of microscopic units that do everything from moving blood to processing nutrients into energy. But when we think about these cells, we take comfort that together they’re all one “me,” a huge organism sharing one DNA code that all started from one fertilized egg cell. True, we are that. But we are more: Each of us is a collection of communities, millions of millions of organisms working together, with very different DNA. We have about as many bacteria and other microbes in and on our bodies as we do human cells. For decades biologists estimated that we had about 10 times as many microbial cells as our own. But a new study found that the average man has about 39 trillion bacteria in his body and about …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Pastors, Your Sermons Do Matter If You Want To See People Come To Trust Jesus

By Paco Amador Every preacher at some point has experienced the painful vulnerability of baring their soul. For my wife and I, it’s a joy being Lucero’s pastor. A young, intelligent, and enjoyable mother of an exuberant boy, Lucero has recently abandoned herself fully into the arms of Jesus, a true testament of the gospel’s power to transform hearts from darkness to light. A few weeks ago she was telling me about her life before Jesus. “Tell me,” I asked, “what happened that finally made you trust your whole life into God’s hands?” (I never get enough of hearing the stories that flow in answer to that question.) Her response, however, took me aback. “It was you!” she promptly answered. Puzzled, I simply waited for her to continue. Surely, I must have heard wrong. I don’t recall ever having a deep conversation about spiritual matters with her before. She continued: Yeah. It was you. That Sunday you were preaching from Genesis about how when Jacob was returning to Canaan he had a choice to come back home with God or without God at the center of his life. Then you made a passionate call. You had tears in your eyes. You truly believed that this would …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Interview: Philip Yancey: Be Pioneers of Grace in a Post-Christian America

By Interview by Amy Julia Becker The author lays out a way to witness after churches have lost their cultural privilege. In his landmark 1997 book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancey challenged fellow evangelicals to act in a way that matches their language and beliefs about grace. He returns to this theme in his latest book, Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? (Zondervan), updating the call to grace-filled living within a culture whose Christian consensus has frayed. Author and Christianity Today blogger Amy Julia Becker spoke with Yancey about putting grace into action in contexts where Christianity no longer holds sway. Why did you choose to revisit the subject of grace? Sociologist and researcher Amy Sherman has said that Christians tend to have three models for interacting with society: fortification, accommodation, and domination. To put that in layman’s terms: We hunker down amongst ourselves, water down our witness, or beat down our opponents. For many reasons, those aren’t New Testament models. So what should we be? We need to create pioneer settlements that show the world a different, grace-based way of living. We have been spoiled in the United States because of our religious heritage. There was once a common Christian consensus. A few generations ago, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Our Bodies Were Made for You, O Lord

By Jenell Williams Paris We’ve been designed, right down to the DNA, to love and serve our maker. If Psalm 139 were published as a contemporary book, it might look a lot like Rob Moll’s What Your Body Knows About God: How We Are Designed to Connect, Serve and Thrive (InterVarsity Press). Channeling the psalmist’s wonder at having been “woven together in the depths of the earth,” Moll, a CT editor at large, wonders at the marvel of humanity: its dynamic blend of body, mind, soul, and spirit. Christians don’t worship God, serve their neighbors, and connect with other people merely because of external rules; such impulses are inscribed in our DNA. “Spirit and flesh, it turns out, are intimately intertwined,” writes Moll. “And understanding how things work—how our bodies are designed to commune with God—can enhance our faith and give us a fuller picture of God’s work in the world and in our lives.” It’s not easy to live as embodied creatures today (to say nothing of previous eras). All too often, human bodies are treated (by others, and even ourselves) as commodities or instruments of sexual satisfaction. They are bought and sold, mutilated by others, and hit with self-inflicted harms. Yet Moll reminds us how …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Ferguson, Church, and Continuing the Conversation

By Rich Villodas, Guest Writer How can we continue the conversation on race in every season? A guest post by Rich Villodas In the wake of the no-indictment verdict in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, I noticed an avalanche of tweets, updates, and pictures from people articulating their anger, justification, theology, venom, ignorance, and sadness. In moments like these, in large part due to the ubiquitous nature of social media, everyone is given an opportunity to express ideologies pertaining to our nation’s sociopolitical and religious milieu. I appreciate the democratization of technology that we enjoy, especially via social media. But our anger, sadness, and wisdom tends to be short-lived. Our society suffers from what some have called a “continuous state of partial inattention.” Consequently, issues that arise hardly get the kind of slow, thoughtful, and contemplative attention that’s required for substantial change to occur in our personal lives, churches, and cities. In a few days or weeks, our anger and concern will subside. The dust will settle and we will be on our way to the next issue the media feeds us. But there is a better way. To begin to see new communities emerge that reflect Jesus’ reconciled kingdom reality, the conversation of race and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Walking By Faith

By Morgan Lee, guest writer A spiritual discipline learned step by step. In the popular memoir-turned-film, Wild, Cheryl Strayed takes off to hike the Pacific Coast Trail. The unflinchingly transparent narration conveys how her determined but naïve aspirations to embark on the trek evolve into a physical and mental capacity to finish it. She remarks on the sense of wonder catalyzed by walking: It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B. It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way. Strayed’s words suggest that our feet are vital for taking the world in, that we lose this sense of gradual wonder when we trade for the convenience of a …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: How Egypt's Government Is Trying to Get Christians to Follow Jesus

By Jayson Casper in Cairo Long-dormant pilgrimage route focuses on Jesus’ post-Christmas journey. The sound bomb exploded right behind the Egyptian Museum on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, throwing Ibrahim Morgan’s Swedish tour group into a temporary panic. Then they settled back down and finished their tea. This latest tactic in Egypt’s Islamist insurgency is meant to instill terror without harming civilians. It seeks to convey a message to citizen and tourist alike: Egypt is unstable. This has been the dominant narrative abroad regarding Egypt, thanks to three years of instability, four presidents, and two revolutions. However, some locals like Morgan disagree. “We know it is nonsense what the media says about Egypt,” Morgan said after the November 28 incident. “This group is here and they have had a great time.” The Swedes nodded in appreciation. But relatively speaking, they are among the few. Since hitting a highwater mark of 14.7 million visitors in 2010, Egypt’s tourism numbers declined by a third, devastating the economy. The sector represented more than one-tenth of Egypt’s GDP, and tens of thousands have lost their livelihood. Once stability—or its perception—returns, the numbers will likely rebound. The Giza pyramids, the temples of Luxor and Aswan, and the medieval mosques of Islamic Cairo will long attract international visitors. But in October, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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350 YWAM Missionaries Fear Forced Exit from United Kingdom After License Suspended

By Morgan Lee (UPDATED) Urgent request on visa problem notes: ‘YWAM has never been the type of organization which fits neatly into boxes.’ The England and Wales office of YWAM (Youth With A Mission) may lose more than 350 missionaries and their families by April in the wake of British immigration officials suspending the ministry’s visa sponsor status. “Whilst we recognize and support the legitimate right to concern over compliance to the rules, we do not feel that the issues raised in the letter from the UKVI justify such a draconian outcome as losing our license would produce,” wrote YWAM Harpenden in an “urgent request” sent Friday and highlighted by the Evangelical Alliance UK (EAUK). Following a September audit related to the UK’s attempt to reduce immigration numbers, UKVI officials found that YWAM had erred in two out of the seven areas audited. While the missions organization says it “immediately” submitted a corrective action plan to the government, the UKVI warned that YWAM could be downgraded, limited in its visa sponsorship capacity, or lose its license over the errors. On December 23, YWAM learned that its license had been suspended for 20 business days, for reasons unrelated to …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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