Author Topic: Christian family - family and home topics  (Read 437691 times)

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[Cfamily]What Trees Teach Us about Life, Death, and Resurrection
« Reply #1016 on: September 21, 2018, 01:00:07 AM »

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What Trees Teach Us about Life, Death, and Resurrection

Other than God and people, they’re the most mentioned living thing in the Bible.

I’ve always loved trees. I love their look, their shade, the sound of wind in their leaves, and the taste of every fruit they produce. As a grade-schooler, I first planted trees with my father and grandfather. I’ve been planting them ever since. Once, as I was training to become a doctor, my wife and I tree-lined the whole street where we lived. But a dozen years ago, when I offered to plant trees at our church, one of the pastors told me I had the theology of a tree-hugger. This was not meant as a compliment.

The church was a conservative one. It believed that Scripture is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. That’s why we went there. As one member explained to me, “Once you get onto that slippery slope of liberalism, who knows where you’ll end up.”

My first reaction to the pastor’s comment was, “Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe God doesn’t care about trees.”

Back then, our whole family was new to Christianity. My daughter hadn’t yet married a pastor. My son wasn’t a missionary pediatrician in Africa, and I’d yet to write books on applied theology or preach at more than a thousand colleges and churches around the world. What did I know about the theology of trees?

But ever since I encountered the gospel for the first time in my 40s, the Bible has been my compass. So when I was called a tree-hugger, I turned to Scripture to get my bearings.

God Loves Trees

Other than people and God, trees are the most mentioned living thing in the Bible. There are trees in the first chapter of Genesis (v. 11–12), in the first psalm (Ps. 1:3), and on the last page of Revelation (22:2). As if to underscore all these trees, the Bible refers to wisdom as a tree (Prov. 3:18). ...

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[Cfamily]When God Makes Sunbeams Collide with Waterfall Spray
« Reply #1017 on: September 22, 2018, 01:00:08 AM »
When God Makes Sunbeams Collide with Waterfall Spray

Rainbows signify something more than a post-Flood peace offering.

There is more to a rainbow than meets the eye. In one sense, I mean that literally: The human eye cannot see the colors at either end of the spectrum, despite the pictures you see in children’s Bibles. But in another sense, I mean it symbolically. The rainbow carries a number of meanings in Christian thought to which many of us are blind. I count at least five.

Rainbows mean beauty. This is true for everyone, whether or not they have ever heard of Noah. Few things in creation compare to the beauty of sunbeams colliding with waterfall spray, as refracted shards of color scatter in all directions. When Ezekiel is trying to describe the indescribable—“the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (1:28)—he draws on the most splendid images in creation, like an expanse of glittering crystal (1:22) or a sapphire throne (1:26). But his portrait culminates in the dazzling brightness of “a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day” (1:28). Rainbows testify to the abundant beauty of the God who makes them.

Their gorgeous appearance results from the fact that they display unity in diversity. In a rainbow, one color (white) is shown to be many (red, indigo, yellow, and the rest), and many come together into one. That fusion of color is one way of looking at the ecclesiology of Revelation: The people of God are pictured as warriors, witnesses, worshipers, and wedding guests wearing white, yet also as a multicolored, multiethnic multitude, a city adorned by precious stones of all colors, from jasper to sapphire, emerald to amethyst. (This point is obscured today, because we use the word white to refer to people who patently aren’t. Nobody called themselves white until the 17th century, ...

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Reflecting on the Rewards and Risks of Going on the StartUp Business Podcast, Part 1

'Fascinating' and 'terrifying' are the words that come to mind when I think about my experience of being recorded for days on end.

I recently had the pleasure of being shadowed by an ambitious young journalist named Eric, and his omnipresent microphone. He works for Gimlet Media and produces “StartUp,” a secular podcast with over one million listeners. When Eric decided to focus on church planting in the show’s latest season, I mysteriously and unexpectedly became the subject of the show, along with my wife and the people of Restoration Church—the church I pastor.

As the season aired, I waited silently, hoping that there would be no pressing reason to write or say anything in response. However, I received emails and messages from listeners daily (and unfortunately read the Reddit threads about the show) so I am now overdue to give a thoughtful response.

I thought the season was excellent.

A secular podcast about business startups endeavored to cover the otherwise unseen world of church planting. I knew what to expect. I knew they would imperfectly explain what a church is and how it functions, and I knew they would emphasize the business underbelly of churches, to many people’s discomfort.

Also, months of recording were compressed and edited into less than three hours of content. To be clear, I love Eric Mennel and the whole team at Gimlet. With that said, I want to reflect on my experience with the podcast through three articles.

First, I’d like to talk about the rewards of this experience, followed by a discussion of the risks of entering into this process. Last, I’ll offer some final thoughts on church planting.

The Rewards

Fascinating and terrifying are the words that come to mind when I think about my experience of being recorded for days on end. Fascinated that someone is interested in the details of my life ...

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[Cfamily]Evangelicals Argue Against US Reducing Refugees to 30,000
« Reply #1019 on: September 25, 2018, 01:00:07 AM »
Evangelicals Argue Against US Reducing Refugees to 30,000

Trump administration says Christians in Iraq face genocide; only 18 have been allowed to resettle in America this year.

A maximum of 30,000 refugees will be allowed to resettle in the United States next fiscal year. The new ceiling imposed by the Trump administration marks a dramatic decrease from this fiscal year’s 45,000-person cap, which had also been a significant reduction.

For three decades before that, the US resettlement ceiling hadn’t dropped below 70,000.

The policy shift was announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday; evangelical and Catholic advocates for refugees were quick to push back.

“This repeated reduction in the number of refugees allowed into the US is incredibly troubling,” said World Relief CEO Tim Breene following Pompeo’s announcement. “Not only is it a continuation of a series of unprecedented attacks on our American values and on the humanitarian nature of the refugee resettlement program, but it falls far short of helping the large number of vulnerable people around the world.”

Joe S. Vásquez, chair of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, called the decrease “deeply disturbing” and said it “leaves many human lives in danger.”

“To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation,” he said.

Pompeo, who initially argued to keep the number stable at 45,000, defended the administration’s change, asserting it was actually a positive reflection of American values.

“Our proposal of resettling up to 30,000 refugees under a new ceiling reflects the United States’s longstanding record as the most generous nation in the world for protection-based immigration and assistance,” he said.

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[Cfamily]Should Hymns Keep the Theology of Their Writers?
« Reply #1020 on: September 26, 2018, 01:00:07 AM »
Should Hymns Keep the Theology of Their Writers?

Experts weighed in.

John Piper needed “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” to match a sermon, so he wrote two new Reformed verses. Many of writer Thomas Chisholm’s fellow Methodists, who “sing their theology,” couldn’t sing along.

Answers are arranged on a spectrum from “yes” answers at the top to “no” answers at the bottom.

“Many gentlemen have done my brother and me . . . the honor to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome so to do, provided they print them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them; for they really are not able . . . to mend either the sense or the verse.”

John Wesley, songwriter and evangelist, in Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists (1780)

“Hymns are theological statements. John and Charles Wesley convey Methodist ethos in and through hymns. Methodism embeds its theology in song: lyrical theology. To that end, and particularly for Methodism, hymns are not theologically neutral but carry theological distinctiveness.”

Swee Hong Lim, sacred music program director, University of Toronto’s Emmanuel College

“Taking a hymn in a new theological direction is far from novel in church history. (Calvinist George Whitefield altered Charles Wesley’s text “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and made it a smidgen less Wesleyan.) Was Piper wrong to transpose Chisholm’s hymn to a Reformed key? No. Is it always permissible? No. Is it always profitable? No. Is it always faithful? One can certainly hope so.”

David Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture, Fuller Seminary

“It is more urgent for composers to be less concerned with the particulars of our ...

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Why Christians Need to Support Women’s Rights and Religious Freedom in the Muslim World

There is a correlation between these two liberties that must be uncovered.

Although women’s rights and religious freedom are not commonly associated with one another in the world of the 1.6 billion Muslims, there is a correlation that must be uncovered.

According to Women and Religious Freedom by Nazila Ghanea, inherent in religious freedom is the right to believe or not believe as one’s conscience leads, and live out one’s beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear.

Freedom of religion or belief is an expansive right that includes the freedoms of thought, conscience, expression, association, and assembly. For the Muslim world, the Quran reads in Sura 2:256, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”

Individuals must not be forced to follow a literal interpretation of religious teachings and traditions. Faith under force is invalid and ingenuine. Therefore, it is never in the public’s interest to force belief on individuals, regardless of gender, and restrict their right to question, explore and fulfill their purpose.

In fact, the research shows that women can contribute to greater peace and prosperity of a society when they are free to choose to exercise their own free will and belief (see here).

The Muslim world is expansive and complex, and in growing numbers, Muslims value the ideals of religious freedom and pluralism, even though they may not discuss it openly.

According to Jennifer Bryson, former director of the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom,


Many Muslims are writing and speaking about religious freedom and Islam, not only in response to international human rights discourse, but, significantly and most of all, internally in their own intra-faith discussions about Islam and being Muslim.

When considering the growing movement of women’s rights around ...

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[Cfamily]Dumbed Down? Why Reading the Bible Is so Elusive—Yet so Vitally Important
« Reply #1022 on: September 28, 2018, 01:00:06 AM »
Dumbed Down? Why Reading the Bible Is so Elusive—Yet so Vitally Important

Three reasons we need to engage Scripture both intentionally and frequently

According to a study done by LifeWay Research, nine out of every ten households own a Bible. That’s a pretty considerable subsection of the American public. After reading this, I went home to see how many my family owns and found a total of eight sitting on one shelf alone; this doesn’t count the number of Bibles I have in my office at the Billy Graham Center.

I thought to myself, “That’s a lot of Bibles!”

Despite the fact that most Americans could likely walk around their homes and count more than a few Bibles dispersed throughout, only one in five Americans have actually read the Bible in its entirety and more than half of Americans (53%) have read merely a smattering of passages to none at all.

This begs the question: Why are people choosing not to engage with Scripture?

Bibles don’t just fill our homes; they fill our discourse. Many living among us have testified to the many ways that the Bible has changed their lives. Some public schools teach from it as an important, civilization-shaping piece of literature. In places where religious persecution runs rampant, many around the world have even died to protect it.

So, in short, it seems that it is not the case that people aren’t reading the Bible because they don’t know it exists. Could it be that they avoid reading it because they don’t like it?

The same LifeWay study shows us that for the most part, this is not the case either.

A very small subset of the population would describe it as harmful (7%) or bigoted (8%). Instead, far more think that think that the Bible is a good source of morals (52%). They would also say that despite the fact that it was written so long ago, its content is still helpful today (37%); some (36%) ...

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[Cfamily]I Grew Up with Black Household Help
« Reply #1023 on: September 29, 2018, 01:00:11 AM »
I Grew Up with Black Household Help

How I’m learning to name both the injustice and goodness of my childhood in the South.

When I was a girl, sometimes it rained so hard and long that our backyard flooded. Our house sat a few feet above sea level, a block away from the inlets of the North Carolina coast. When the rains came, there was always a chance that the drainpipes would overflow, spill across the roadways, and fill the bottom of the yard with enough water to reach our waists.

We had no fear. No thoughts of snakes or disease or objects dislodged by the current menacing our bare bodies with their sharp edges. We knew the Sunday school story of the Flood as one of triumph and hope—animals, a rainbow, salvation. We didn’t learn about the waters of judgment. We stripped down to our underwear to wade through the murky pool and never considered the destruction that primordial storm had left in its wake.

I now look back on my childhood and see a similar mix of innocence and ignorance.

In our part of town, the houses were spacious, even grand, with wraparound porches, wide-planked wooden floors, and pecan trees shading the backyards. We lived within walking distance of the local plantation. Across an old wooden bridge and a road through the woods stood an imposing three-story white manor house. Past the house, cottages lined the dirt road, with clothes hanging out to dry. We sometimes drove down that road on our way to the country club. I stared out the window of our minivan from behind tinted glass and saw African American tenants sitting in rocking chairs on the front porches. The air was hazy and thick with heat, like a shimmering wall between us.

A woman named Caroline took care of my three sisters and me a few days each week. She was short and had light brown skin, a round face, and sparkling eyes. She wore a white dress and white ...

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Source: I Grew Up with Black Household Help

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