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True Tolerance Opens the Door for All to Share Their Beliefs, Including Christians

Sometimes culture makes it difficult, but there are aspects of culture that are quite conducive to evangelism.

In part one, I talked about some of the headwinds hindering evangelism— things slowing or making sharing the faith more difficult.

Now, we’re going to focus on the good news; specifically, we’re going to examine the tailwinds accelerating people’s openness towards sharing (and in some cases receiving) the gospel.

Ironically, I think one of the great tailwinds, if engaged properly, is tolerance. The beauty of tolerance is that, extended properly, it’s meant for everybody—and that includes Christians.

The truth now is that biblical convictions about the uniqueness of Christ, sexuality, human sinfulness, and other things are now minority views.

The decline of nominal Christianity has opened up the door for the ‘nones’—those who aren’t committed to one faith or another—to grow. Increasingly, nominals are becoming nones.

This trend has brought about a shift in cultural consensus on many matters related to faith, and if current trends continue—which is what trends tend to do—evangelical ideals and morals will only be given less and less representation.

But, tolerance (functioning properly) can help people to hear different views.

Of course, that’s not how tolerance is applied right now— it is often used to shut down speech one might find offensive. However, we can (and must) explain that in a truly tolerant world, people can believe things that don’t align perfectly with commonly held, widely accepted values and still have the right to practice their faith freely.

Christians Share Their Faith

For Christians, part of the exercising of our faith includes sharing it with other people. Actually, according to the Bebbington Quadrilateral, it is one ...

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[Cfamily]Why I Always Pray at the End of the Day
« Reply #1241 on: April 23, 2019, 01:00:13 AM »
Why I Always Pray at the End of the Day

We didn't accomplish everything we should have. God reminds us we didn't need to.

One of my pastor friends told me he gets genuinely sad every evening because there’s always so much more he wants to do with the day. I suspect we’re all something like this. The evening brings me face to face with the reality of my limited life. There’s so much we wanted to do or at least that we felt we should do.

We’re frustrated because we had no time for free time. Or we’re embarrassed because we squandered it all on free time.

The evening, then, can be a time of severe self-judgment. I often find myself lying in bed and facing the reality that I spent the whole day trying to justify my existence on earth. The scary reality hangs from the ceiling like a bulb that won’t turn off. Does any of it matter?

That’s a worrisome thought, and because of it, I want to tune everything out. And many of us do. A drink sounds nice; two sound better. Sex sounds good; porn is easier. A conversation would help, but binging on TV will let me tune out. Catching up on reading would be restful; Twitter has some notifications that are probably more urgent. Lauren and I should spend some time talking; talking is hard, and there’s a podcast of a sermon that everyone said we should listen to.

The exhaustion of the day places us into a twilight where it isn’t easy to make the right decisions. Because our bodies and our minds and our souls are all bound up together, we have trouble making choices. The business world calls it “decision fatigue.” The evening is a time of vulnerability. We haven’t spent the day so much as the day has spent us. When our exhaustion gives way to our addictions, we’re exposed for who we really are.

This is where an evening prayer can make one last ...

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[Cfamily]I Marked People for Death. Jesus Marked Me for Life.
« Reply #1242 on: April 24, 2019, 01:00:12 AM »
I Marked People for Death. Jesus Marked Me for Life.

How a Latino gang leader found salvation in prison.

In prison, I was a shot caller.

Shot callers have an elevated rank in the gang world. They are the power-brokers who determine who gets hurt (or killed) and who doesn’t. They command respect.

I started down this path as a teenager in South-Central Los Angeles, as a leader in the Rockwood Street Locos. I led the way when we invaded homes, broke into cars, ransacked convenience stores, and stabbed rival gang members. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the streets were bloody. Most of the time, it was kill or be killed.

Eventually, the LAPD caught up with me. I was sentenced to nearly 13 years for second-degree murder—along with 52 counts of armed robbery. I actually breathed a sigh of relief that those were the only charges the cops could pin on me.

Life Was Very Cheap

While awaiting transfer to New Folsom State Prison—a Level IV maximum security prison near Sacramento, California—I was housed with 120 murderers and violent criminals inside Pitchess Detention Center, north of Los Angeles.

At Pitchess, we segregated ourselves: blacks aligning with blacks, whites with whites, and Latinos with Latinos. Several dudes from two long-established gangs, 18th Street and Florencia 13, approached me about becoming a shot caller there.

One of my responsibilities was the control and distribution of shanks, the crude homemade knives used for stabbing another prisoner. I slept with all 13 of them under my mattress. When a riot went off, I made sure the right people got shanks. There were many violent upheavals at Pitchess, and inmates got stabbed and killed all the time. All it took was a wrong look at the wrong person, and you were done for. Life was very cheap.

After about six months, I was transferred to New ...

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Source: I Marked People for Death. Jesus Marked Me for Life.

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[Cfamily]Repenting of Identity Politics
« Reply #1243 on: April 25, 2019, 01:00:09 AM »
Repenting of Identity Politics

New Zealand revealed the tragic logical end of evils like Christian Nationalism.

The March massacre of 50 Muslims during worship in New Zealand was first and foremost a human tragedy, one felt deeply around the world. Unfortunately the massacre also signaled a political tragedy, displaying the logical end to a type of engagement increasingly defining the public square: identity politics.

As British columnist Brendan O’Neill put it, “Increasingly, it feels like the New Zealand atrocity is what happens when the politics of identity, the reduction of everyone to cultural or racial creatures whose relationship with other cultural and racial cultures must be monitored and managed, comes to be the only game in public life.”

The simplest definition of identity politics is summarized at Wikipedia: “a tendency of people sharing a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity to form exclusive political alliances, instead of engaging in traditional broad-based party politics, or promote their particular interests without regard for interests of a larger political group.” Adherents have no interest in broad-based politics because they believe that no other group can empathize sufficiently with them to truly understand their group. Only one born into the group identity, or who becomes “woke” through a kind of revelation, truly knows the score.

Without genuine understanding between groups, the only way to gain political influence is through the raw use of power. Political power for those who are patient. Violence for those who are not. But the bottom line is the same: It’s about and only about gaining power for the benefit of your group and at the expense of other groups. This is not to suggest that every current advocate of identity politics champions ...

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[Cfamily]Evangelism Is More Prayer Than Action for Protestant Churchgoers
« Reply #1244 on: April 26, 2019, 01:00:10 AM »
Evangelism Is More Prayer Than Action for Protestant Churchgoers

Survey finds more than half? of monthly worshipers? haven’t shared Jesus in the past six months.

Most Protestant churchgoers say they are eager to talk to others about Jesus, and are praying for opportunities to share their faith. But most say they have not had any evangelistic conversations in the past six months.

The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found excitement and eagerness about the idea of evangelism, but few Protestant churchgoers actually engaged in the practice on a regular basis.

More than half (55%) of those who attend church at least once a month say they have not shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months.

“Sharing the good news that Jesus paid for our sins through His death on the cross and rose again to bring us new life is the mission of the church,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, “but it does not appear to be the priority of churchgoers.”

Seeking evangelistic opportunities

A majority of churchgoers (56%) say they pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus at least once a week, with about 1 in 4 (23%) praying for such moments every day.

Another 1 in 4 (27%) say they rarely or never pray for those opportunities.

Those with a high school diploma or less are most likely to say they pray for those opportunities every day (31%).

Hispanics (36%) and African Americans (29%) are more likely to offer those prayers every day compared to whites (20%) or other ethnicities (17%).

Increased church attendance makes it more likely someone has offered evangelistic prayers.

Those who attend a worship service on average once a week (75%) are more likely than churchgoers who attend less frequently (69%) to pray evangelistically at least once a month.

Most churchgoers (56%) also say they are eager ...

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Source: Evangelism Is More Prayer Than Action for Protestant Churchgoers

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[Cfamily]Are Evangelicals More Altruistic than Other Groups?
« Reply #1245 on: April 27, 2019, 01:00:08 AM »
Are Evangelicals More Altruistic than Other Groups?

We have hard data about just how much altruism is practiced by Americans from all religious affiliations.

One of the hymns that always sticks me with was written by Catholic priest Peter Scholtes, entitled “They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love.” This song was almost always accompanied by the pastor exhorting us to not just speak the love of Christ, but also show the love of Christ in how we serve those around us.

I’m no theologian, but I do know that Protestant Christians believe that salvation comes by the grace of God alone, but that if the love of Christ dwells within believers, then they must bear “good fruit.”

James succinctly states it: “Faith without works is dead.”

So, we should expect evangelical Christians to show their faith to those around them as a means of evangelism. Social science has a term for this concept as well, it’s called altruism. The term has a variety of meanings, but the one that is the most relevant to this discussion comes from psychologists who believe it is “acting out of concern for another’s well-being.”

It’s engaging in activity that will benefit others more than it benefits oneself. I think everyone agree that the world will be a lot better place if we all acted altruistically just a little bit more.

Fortunately, now we have some hard data about just how much altruism is practiced by Americans. The General Social Survey asked respondents about acting in selfless ways in a number of scenarios both in 2012 and 2014. Here are the eleven situations that were asked about on the GSS: gave blood, gave food or money to a homeless person, returned money after getting too much change, allowed a stranger to go ahead of you in line, volunteered for a nonprofit, gave money to a charity, offered a seat to a stranger, looked after ...

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[Cfamily]Half of Americans Say Evangelicals Are Discriminated Against
« Reply #1246 on: April 28, 2019, 01:00:08 AM »
Half of Americans Say Evangelicals Are Discriminated Against

Pew: Amid growing awareness of discrimination, anti-Semitism has spiked the most.

Though evangelical Protestants remain the largest faith group in the country, as clashes over their beliefs turn up in the public square, half the country has come to believe evangelicals face discrimination in the US.

A new report from the Pew Research Center reveals that Americans see discrimination on the rise or holding steady across demographic groups, with evangelical Christians and Jews experiencing a significant uptick over the past few years.

Fifty percent of US adults agree that evangelical Christians are subject to discrimination, up from 42 percent in 2016. One in five (18%) say that evangelicals—about a quarter of the population—face “a lot” of discrimination.

The number of Americans who say Jews face some level of discrimination in the United States has increased by 20 percentage points over the past three years. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) agree there is at least some discrimination against Jews, and a quarter (24%) say Jews experience “a lot” of discrimination, up from 13 percent just a few years ago.

It’s easy to see the reasons for the shift. Last October, a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 worshipers and became the deadliest anti-Semitic act in American history. The year before, anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent, marking the third consecutive year with a spike in attacks on Jews.

Evangelicals, meanwhile, have a more precarious place in the spotlight as their views on social issues like marriage and sexuality have grown less popular. Previous Pew surveys indicated white evangelicals’ public reputation has been on the decline since 2014, while other research has shown those with “anti-Christian hostility” are now in more prominent ...

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Source: Half of Americans Say Evangelicals Are Discriminated Against

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Why the Church Needs Single Parents, and Single Parents Need the Church

Families with one parent are part of God’s family. But how do we minister to their complex needs?

Single-parent families of all kinds are becoming increasingly common in the US. From 1880 to 1970, around 85 percent of children in the US lived with two parents, according to the Pew Research Center, but over the past 50 years, this traditional family arrangement has changed radically. In 2015, less than one-half of children in the US lived with two parents in their first marriage. In 2018, there were more than 16 million single parents in the US, and nearly half (40%) of births in the US were to unmarried women.

These growing numbers pose a challenge to the American church: How do we minister to the unique and complex needs of single-parent families?

Since single parents are most frequently divorced, it’s not surprising that theologians often define the typical single-parent family as a covenant failure that gives evidence of the Fall. But these families also give Christians a chance to reimagine the family in light of the New Testament, says Timothy Paul Jones, a professor of family ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“In the New Testament, the people of God are formed into a new, covenant family, adopted from every tribe and language and people group,” he said. “This doesn’t do away with the family formed in the covenant between a man and woman, but it resituates it in the context of a greater family, where we’re called to become a family for one another. We fill in the gaps. We become family for one another as the people of God.”

However, practicing these principles can be difficult. Single parents often have less education and lower incomes than the average American, and church attendance is declining fastest among Americans without college degrees, said Bradford ...

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Source: Why the Church Needs Single Parents, and Single Parents Need the Church

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