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[Cfamily]Keeping Satan’s Fingerprints Off of Your Marriage
« Reply #1152 on: January 30, 2019, 12:00:11 AM »

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Keeping Satan’s Fingerprints Off of Your Marriage

Why husbands and wives need to suit up for spiritual war.

It was pitch black as I rode in the back of a safari vehicle, the headlights trying their best to cast a beam down the rocky path through the African bush. In the driver’s seat, a soft-spoken missionary was opening up about difficulties in his marriage: “Sometimes I’d be talking with my wife from another room, and she would burst out in tears. When I came around the corner and asked her face-to-face why she was upset, she said she had heard me say something deeply insulting. The problem was the words she had heard weren’t even close to the words I’d said. After it happened several times, we realized something demonic was going on.” As I listened, a question dawned on me that I’d never entertained before: Do demons actively work to destroy marriages?

We read in the Gospels that Jesus spent much of his ministry fending off evil spirits, and in the Epistles we find sober warnings about the prowling lion seeking to devour us. Despite this, Tim Muehlhoff identifies with many modern Christians in his latest book, Defending Your Marriage: The Reality of Spiritual Battle, when he admits, “To be honest, spiritual battle is simply not on my radar.” In Ephesians 5 and 6, the apostle Paul calls Christians to suit up for spiritual war just after explaining God’s beautiful design for marriage. In Defending Your Marriage, Muehlhoff seeks to do the same.

Satan’s Jealousy

Muehlhoff begins with a biblical exploration of Satan. Mixing Scriptural data with a bit of plausible speculation, he presents an interesting case that Satan’s hatred of mankind is primarily fueled by jealousy. God uniquely bestowed his grace on humanity by fashioning them in his own image and giving them ...

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[Cfamily]Releasing Resources: Diaspora & Dollars
« Reply #1153 on: January 31, 2019, 12:00:17 AM »
Releasing Resources: Diaspora & Dollars

Affirmed and motivated, the diaspora Christians can be major contributors in supporting the global mission enterprise.

“That is impossible. We have limited resources.”

These are words I hear quite frequently in response to the challenge for national churches of low to middle-income countries to accelerate their participation in global missions.

It is unfortunate that many vibrant churches feel limited by funding, when it need not be so. The fact is, there exists a flow of resources found in one of their greatest exports – ordinary people – migrant workers. So abundant is this resource that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) highlights the role of remittances.

Additionally,according to IOM, migrants contributed 6.7 trillion U.S. dollars to the global GDP in 2015—a share of 9.4% of the total global GDP that year.” It just needs to be released and mobilized.

In April 2018, the World Bank reported figures from 2017 with top remittance recipients being India ($69 billion), China ($64 billion), the Philippines ($33 billion), Mexico ($31 billion), Nigeria ($22 billion), and Egypt ($20 billion).

In October 2018, IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) released the Global Migration Indicators Report 2018, summarizing key global migration trends based on the latest statistics. It reported that in 2015 there were 150.3 million migrant workers scanned and documented, and that in 2017, “$466 billion remittances were sent to low and middle – countries in 2017. This [being] more than three times the size of official development assistance.”

While diaspora workers work and live in their receiving countries, spending and paying taxes towards stimulating host economies, they send dollars home to aid families and communities, including religious institutions.

We must dispel the ...

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[Cfamily]Why Christians Won’t Work Together
« Reply #1154 on: February 01, 2019, 12:00:11 AM »
Why Christians Won’t Work Together

In the majority of locales across North America, one will often find collegiality among pastors, but rarely solidarity.

Does church planting foster healthy relationships between pastors and a collaborative spirit between local churches for a shared kingdom mission?

Not often.

At one time, the motive for church planting revolved around a desire to impact a new community with the good news of Jesus. A church in the city recognized that regions lacked access to the gospel, so rather than asking people to commute 30 minutes, they determined to plant a healthy, autonomous church in this new locale.

But the motivations for church planting aren’t always so pure.

Common today is a spiritually disguised mantra that in essence says, “Our church is way better than yours.” Church planting is not immune from this hubris. Church plants can emerge from dissatisfied leaders determined to launch an upgraded experience that will fix the liabilities of frumpy and unfashionable sacred assemblies.

An entrepreneurial spirit fleshed in this pseudo-missional disguise often swaggers a mile down the street and goes to market with a new brand, where “it’s ok to not be ok.”

Not to be outdone, another ecclesiastical sherpa, impatient by the pace of change at First Presbyterian, flanks the entrance to the city’s new community center with shiny new A-frame signs announcing a new church with a strange Latin name and a tagline, “This isn’t your grandparents church.”

And the market-share of the community’s religiously predisposed shifts from holy cathedrals to high school cafeterias. But is this a kingdom win?

What is a kingdom win?

Missionary thinking automatically recalibrates for increased evangelistic effectiveness, but the proposed remedies shouldn’t be aimed toward existing believers to create a sense of ...

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[Cfamily]The Bible’s Best Description of Salvation Is a Phrase We Rarely Use
« Reply #1155 on: February 02, 2019, 12:00:14 AM »
The Bible’s Best Description of Salvation Is a Phrase We Rarely Use

How Paul points the way to a fresh way of seeing faith.

Years ago during graduate studies at Regent College, I had a desperate talk with Eugene Peterson about how my PhD had turned the words of God into a great, big research project. I was trying to read my lifeless Bible, but I was interrupted 1,000 times by children needing to be fed, changed, read to, and more. I begged him to give me a spiritual discipline, some rope to haul me out of the hole I was in.

“Well, Julie,” he said, “is there anything you are doing in a disciplined manner already?”

I thought about my newborn daughter, Iona, and the hours that I spent nailed to our couch feeding her. She had reflux, and most of what went into her immediately came up again, which meant that I had to repeat the feed all over again. “Nursing Iona is the only thing I can count on,” I said. “She makes sure of that.”

He patted my hand, then, like a parent consoling a dissatisfied child who is not content with their lot in life. “Julie, that is your spiritual discipline. Now start paying attention to what you are already doing. Be present.”

In that moment and so many others like it, I was weakened by a very common and insidious temptation: I wanted to be for Christ instead of being in Christ. I saw my familial responsibilities as obstacles to a godly life when in fact they were the very place he wanted to meet me. Accordingly, I had to radically revise my view of obedience to include the simple act of abiding in Christ.

This idea of being “in Christ” is arguably one of the most potent—and perplexing—aspects of Paul’s letters.

Although we tend to speak of salvation as “Jesus in my heart” (a phrase used only one time in the Bible—Eph. 3:17) ...

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[Cfamily]Reaching International Students in Our Own Backyards
« Reply #1156 on: February 03, 2019, 12:00:11 AM »
Reaching International Students in Our Own Backyards

An interview with key evangelical leaders.

Ed: Tell us a little bit about the initiative.

Denis LaClare: The Every International Initiative is a collaborative effort from international student ministries around North America. We're coming together to provide a platform where anyone can come to the website and discover how to launch and lead an international student ministry where they are.

Ed: How does prayer fit into that?

Marc Papai: Prayer is essential to anything in God's kingdom. We think it's particularly strategic with this initiative with Every International. We are forming prayer circles around North America of students, staff, and church people to pray at least on a monthly basis for international student work in their local area and around the globe.

Ed: I don't think people always understand just how big the international student pool is. Why should this be on the radar of North American churches, or churches reading this around the world?

Beau Miller: According to the Institute of International Education, there are over one million international students in the United States. We have a pretty good estimate within the ISM (international student ministries) movement of how many of these students are hearing the gospel or being befriended by an evangelical Christian.

The bottom line is there's a tremendous gap between how many international students there are and how many international students we are reaching. Most of them are not being reached. We think Every International is a platform where we can engage the broader church—those outside of the ISM movement—to reach out to nearby internationals, not just students, but even immigrants or refugees.

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[Cfamily]Advocate for the Unborn by Caring for the Living
« Reply #1157 on: February 04, 2019, 12:00:11 AM »
Advocate for the Unborn by Caring for the Living

Caring for women and protecting babies don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Last Tuesday, the state of New York passed the Reproductive Health Act signing into law a bill that will allow women to receive an abortion up until the baby’s due date. It is, as of now, the most expansive law of its kind in the country but perhaps not for long—pro-abortion advocates are already gearing up for other states to follow New York’s lead.

This development comes at a peculiar time when the American populace has actually been becoming more and more pro-life in recent years. In fact, according to Gallup poll data, 56 percent of Americans in 1995 would have self-described as pro-choice; this number, by 2018, has decreased to 48 percent. Likewise, the number of Americans identifying themselves as pro-life has climbed an enormous fifteen percentage points over that same time frame.

Beyond that, a vast majority (75 percent) of Americans support significant abortion restrictions. Even 60 percent of Democrats support restricting abortion after a woman reaches three months of pregnancy.

While New York’s passing of this law does little to reflect the ideals of the American populace as whole, it nevertheless will have great effect on the lives of thousands of women and children throughout the state.

When laws like this change, people can and should voice their opposition. As we’ve seen over the course of the past week, many continue to rise in defense of the unborn children whose voices have been stifled and human worth called into question. In fact, several states have proposed the passing of ‘heartbeat bills’ making an abortion illegal after a heartbeat has been detected in the baby.

But while legal recourse can be effective, it’s not always possible. In cases when convincing ...

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[Cfamily]Next Steps for Ministry Leaders Following the GC2 Summit
« Reply #1158 on: February 05, 2019, 12:00:14 AM »
Next Steps for Ministry Leaders Following the GC2 Summit

Six next steps for ministry leaders who desire to humbly engage with questions surrounding sexual violence.

In Between Two Worlds, John Stott charges preachers to address controversial topics: “Christian people are crying out for guidance...Shall we abandon them to swim in these deep waters alone? This is the way of the coward.”

If the recent GC2 Summit Responding to Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Violence said anything, it was this: Church, we will no longer walk in the way of the coward. We will not abandon our people to navigate these waters alone.

Still, the church’s question in this season of lament is the same one the prophet Jeremiah asked of God in his: How?

How, God, can we right these wrongs? How can we do better?

As a woman in church leadership and a survivor of sexual assault, I’d like to suggest six next steps for ministry leaders who desire to humbly engage with these questions. These are by no means comprehensive—others will have crucial expertise and wisdom to offer.

Nonetheless, may these steps encourage us all as we seek to answer our hows.

1 – Learn from women—purposefully.

After hearing complaints about their male-dominated structures and strategies, the elders at Redeemer Fellowship in Kansas City spent time meeting with groups of female church members, asking questions like: What has been hurtful? Where have we overlooked you? What do you long for?

Sarah Davidson, one of the women involved, described the experience as safe and powerful: “The elders didn’t counsel or coddle. They humbly listened, affirmed, and apologized.”

As a result, the church strategically hired more female staff, launched a women’s ministry, changed female titles from “directors” to “ministers,” and invited women to lead on stage.

To Leaders: with a posture ...

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[Cfamily]Leave Your Righteous Indignation on the Field
« Reply #1159 on: February 06, 2019, 12:00:10 AM »
Leave Your Righteous Indignation on the Field

Aristotle taught that outrage can be a natural response, but Christ reminds us that it should be rare.

This weekend, Super Bowl LIII pits the New England Patriots, a team with the most successful coach of this generation and one of the best quarterbacks of all time, against the Los Angeles Rams, featuring the hottest young coach in football and a lineup that executes his cutting-edge offense.

The strength of both teams in this year’s Super Bowl matchup almost makes it easy to forget how so many of us felt during the NFC and AFC championships.

The Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, capitalizing on a set of extra-session rules that have always sparked controversy. The Rams won against the New Orleans Saints thanks in no small part to a missed pass interference penalty, stalling out a drive late in the game that could have led to a Saints touchdown or, at the very least, bled the clock in their favor.

That feeling that swelled during the playoffs—and still lingers among some as we await Sunday’s Pats-Rams showdown—is one those of us who watch sports know quite well: righteous indignation.

One of the principles emphasized in sports, from peewee leagues to the pros, is playing fair. All the skill and strength on display during a game doesn’t mean a thing without a sense of justice around the competition; we want teams to play by the rules and refs to make the right calls.

So when that doesn’t happen, especially in the tense final playoff games, we experience what Aristotle described as pain felt at the undeserved fortune of another. Aristotle, known as the father of virtue ethics, also addressed the reverse of righteous indignation, which comes when we feel pain at our own underserved misfortune, or pity. That was supposed to be us.

Righteous indignation keeps the Saints from being ...

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