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[Cfamily]In the Face of Sexual Temptation, Repression Is a Sure-Fire Failure
« Reply #1384 on: September 05, 2019, 07:39:35 AM »

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In the Face of Sexual Temptation, Repression Is a Sure-Fire Failure

How do we solve the problem of desire? Christian asceticism offers an alternative way.

My first relationship to desire was to give in to it. As a teenager in the early aughts, I believed that life was found by identifying my desires and rushing toward their satisfaction. I played this out in academics and especially in sexuality. My life beat to the pulse of Ariana Grande’s chant, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.” The right response to desire was indulgence.

Unbeknownst to me as a nonChristian, the purity movement was running in parallel. Those who experienced that movement from the inside have spent recent months breaking down its excesses and missteps. Their conclusion (and mine) is that repression and avoidance are unbiblical responses to desire, no more Christian, perhaps, than my teenage, atheistic abandonment to it.

In the midst of these reoccurring public square discussions, the tension between libertinism on one side and repression on the other leaves most of us yearning for the reasonable via media, the middle way between failed extremes. In that space, is there a scripturally sound theology of desire?

Yes. I want to suggest that Christian asceticism, ancient though it is, offers a way forward. It uniquely treats God as the end, not the means, of desire.

It also circumvents the shortcomings of repression and avoidance. Here, I’m not talking about biblically wise avoidance. It is stupid and unsafe to put ourselves in places where we know we will be strongly tempted to lust or sin. Temptation, while not sin, is not safe for us; Jesus commands us to pray that we would be kept from it. Similarly, Paul’s admonition to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18) can’t mean any less than this.

Instead, I want to point out that repression and avoidance have ...

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[Cfamily]Mexican Pastor and Priest Murdered at Their Churches
« Reply #1385 on: September 06, 2019, 07:12:00 AM »
Mexican Pastor and Priest Murdered at Their Churches

Cartel violence and threats escalated in August, and a Christian leader who ran a refugee shelter remains kidnapped.

A Roman Catholic priest and an evangelical pastor in Mexico were killed this month, and another pastor was kidnapped, according to published reports.

José Martín Guzmán Vega was killed on August 22 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, in northeast Mexico, according to the Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM). The priest of the Cristo Rey parish in the San Adelaida area of Matamoros was stabbed several times at about 10 p.m. inside his parish building, according to CCM, citing neighbors who heard cries within. He was 55.

His death brings to 27 the number of priests killed in Mexico since 2012, according to CCM. The state attorney general’s Investigative Police officers were still looking for a motive and the assailant(s) at this writing. In recent years drug rings have targeted both Protestant and Catholic leaders for their opposition to trafficking in illegal substances.

“So far this year, various incidents against priests and other clergy have been recorded, such as the case of a priest wounded by gunfire in Cuernavaca, Morelos [state], and the death threats against various priests in various areas of Veracruz,” CCM reported.

On the other side of the country, in southwest Mexico’s Oaxaca state, pastor Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was shot to death in Tlalixtac de Cabrera on August 18, shortly after leading a worship service at his Fraternidad Cristiana (Christian Brotherhood) church, according to local news reports. Authorities were reportedly still investigating a motive for the gunman approaching the Protestant pastor and shooting him in his car outside the church site.

Church members reportedly managed to apprehend the suspect and turn him over to police. Pastor Cruz Canseco died ...

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[Cfamily]Two Years After Church Shooting, Sutherland Springs Pastor Runs for Office
« Reply #1386 on: September 07, 2019, 07:24:26 AM »
Two Years After Church Shooting, Sutherland Springs Pastor Runs for Office

The Texas Republican believes addressing the root causes of violence—like a disregard for life—will do more than gun control.

After Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s congregation in Sutherland Springs, Texas, suffered the deadliest church shooting in US history two years ago, he considered running for public office to “bring sense back” into a political arena that seemed to prize partisan talking points over caring for hurting victims. But it wasn’t “the Lord’s timing,” so Pomeroy relegated the idea to the back of his mind.

He was stirred again, however, when a gunman killed 22 people at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart last month and another slew nine at a Dayton, Ohio, bar the same weekend. To Pomeroy, politicians once more seemed to prioritize “hot-button election points” over “laying a foundation of healing and of grace.”

“My heart was broken” for the victims, Pomeroy told Christianity Today in an interview.

Within a month, he had entered the 2020 race for a state senate seat in Texas’ 21st district. His top campaign issue stems from his concern for mass shootings but does not center on gun restrictions. Instead, he hopes to address what he sees as the character deficiencies and low regard for human life that spawn violence.

Even in the week since Pomeroy announced his plans to enter the race, another mass shooting has taken place in the Lone Star State.

Inspired by conversations with friends and reading the biblical prophet Ezekiel’s divine call in Ezekiel 2, Pomeroy, a Republican, feels running is a matter of “obedience” for him “win, lose, or draw.”

“I think God was molding me” to be “what he called me to be in the midst of our tragedy,” he said. “He’s been molding me even through the tragedy possibly to come and ...

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LifeWay’s Stores Are Closing. But Its Christian Books Will Be in More Stores Than Ever.

Independent retailers are signing up to be authorized dealers for the chain’s bestsellers from Beth Moore, David Platt, Priscilla Shirer, and more.

Less than six months after LifeWay Christian Resources announced it was closing all 170 stores, the company has come up with a plan to put its products in more brick-and-mortar outlets than ever before.

LifeWay has launched an “authorized dealer program” that allows independent Christian retailers to sell its popular Bible studies.

LifeWay-brand Bible studies by Beth Moore, David Platt, Priscilla Shirer, and others were previously available only in LifeWay outlets. They will now be sold in special, branded sections of more than 290 stores.

The publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention expects to have 350 authorized dealers by October, with 15 to 20 new stores signing up for the program every week.

David Humphrey, director of trade sales, said the authorized dealer program puts LifeWay in all the markets where it previously operated stores, as well as 90 new ones.

“The way the Lord has provided for us, it’s like he’s given us increased favor,” Humphrey told CT. “We have five authorized dealers in Nebraska, and we’ve never had a store in Nebraska before. We have partners in the far Northeast and the far Northwest where we’ve never been able to reach before.”

LifeWay’s 170 stores were located in 30 states. The 290 authorized dealers are in 44 states, to date, and Humphrey said he hopes there will ultimately be a LifeWay-branded shelf “in driving distance for everybody in the United States.”

Back in March, Greg Squires, president of the market research firm Parable Group, told CT that LifeWay’s decision to close stores would mean that “hundreds of independent Christian bookstores have an expanded role and increased responsibility to serve ...

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[Cfamily]Chasing Donkeys: How Ministry Can Feel in Rural Contexts
« Reply #1388 on: September 09, 2019, 01:15:02 PM »
Chasing Donkeys: How Ministry Can Feel in Rural Contexts

1 Samuel 9 offers pastors—especially rural pastors—encouragement through seemingly fruitless seasons.

Disclaimer: I’ve never chased donkeys. I have been in a situation where I’ve feared donkeys running me over—that was in Santorini, Greece, which is another story for another article. So, what’s the correlation between rural ministry and chasing donkeys?

The concept of chasing donkeys comes from 1 Samuel 9. From the account in 1 Samuel 9 and 10, I believe there are some lessons we can learn and apply to church leaders and pastors in any contexts—especially rural ones.

Do What I’m Called to Do

The backstory to 1 Samuel 9 is that Israel had demanded a king. Having expressed his disapproval and disappointment for what Israel did, Samuel nevertheless sent everyone home while he allowed the Lord to sort through the resumes.

The narrative then shifts to a wealthy man, Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. Kish had a son, Saul, who was extremely impressive. No one measured up to Saul. One day, some of Kish’s donkeys had enough and broke loose. Guess who Kish wanted to send to track them down and bring them back? Saul!

Remember Saul’s description? He was extremely impressive. No one was like Saul. I could imagine if I was Saul, I would whine and complain about me having to go. If Kish were my dad, I would have responded, “Send the servant. Send my younger brother. Don’t send me! Chasing donkeys is beneath me.” But Saul didn’t respond that way. He simply heard the call of his father and went.

It’s a fact that well over the majority of churches in America run less than 100 members. Yet, we live in a culture (and Christian subculture) that celebrates big. While there is nothing wrong with having a large and growing ministry, I do believe—to a degree—our Christian ...

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[Cfamily]In Search of a Better Land: A World on the Move and a Church on Mission
« Reply #1389 on: September 10, 2019, 01:31:46 PM »
In Search of a Better Land: A World on the Move and a Church on Mission

Three takeaways from my time with the North America Diaspora Strategy Group.

Ever since Adam and Eve got the boot out of the Garden of Eden, humanity has—whether we realize it or not—been on the move in search of a better land.

Today, migration is one of the great global trends that reminds us that we are all migrants. Mohsin Hamid, writing in National Geographic, expresses, “All of us are descended from migrants. . . . None of us is a native of the place we call home.”

The World Health Organization reports that more people are on the move now than ever before. In fact, there are an estimated one billion migrants in the world—1 in 7 people—763 million internal migrants and 258 million international migrants.

Migration can be both voluntary and involuntary. It can be the involuntary migration of a group of people due to political conflict, terrorism, war, or natural disaster, or the voluntary movement of people in search of better economic or political opportunities. In either case, people are on the move in search of a better land.

As the world is on the move, the church must be on mission. Believing this, Lausanne North America and the Billy Graham Center have launched a North America Diaspora Strategy Group led by Dr. Sadiri Joy Tira, Catalyst for Diasporas for Lausanne Movement.

Comprised of scholars, pastors, and practitioners, this group met a little over a week ago to outline their goals for the next two years for how they will help bring awareness and understanding to the church in North America as well as how they can help encourage, equip, and empower the church to engage diaspora peoples who enter our North American cities and communities.

Over the next six months, this group will be working on resources to share with the church in North America. But, while ...

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[Cfamily]This Sunday Is Southern Baptists’ New Namesake Holiday
« Reply #1390 on: September 11, 2019, 01:02:25 PM »
This Sunday Is Southern Baptists’ New Namesake Holiday

SBC leaders hope newly launched Baptism Sunday will help boost numbers.

Weather permitting, 10 members of a new Southern Baptist church on Cape Cod will be dipping in the ocean this weekend, but it won’t be for a typical swim

On “Baptism Sunday,” a newly designated day on the Southern Baptist Convention’s calendar, Harbor Church’s baptismal candidates—wearing T-shirts decorated with an anchor and the church's “Hope for the Journey” tagline over their beachwear—will be immersed by Pastor Josh Adams in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean as a sign of their obedience to God.

“Baptism is a beautiful outward expression of an inward decision that people have made,” said Adams, who started his church in Hyannis, Massachusetts, three years ago. “That opens up the door for hopefully those people sharing their testimony from then on—this is what God’s done in my life and how he’s made a difference.”

But fewer members of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination are availing themselves of the ritual of late. Reported baptisms among Southern Baptists have declined in eight of the last 10 years and dropped by more than 100,000 since 2009, according to the SBC’S Annual Church Profile.

With 76 percent of constituent churches contributing information—the annual profile counted 246,442 baptisms—its the lowest reported number since 1950. That compares to 349,737 in 2009. The highest-ever reported number of baptisms was 445,725 in 1972.

The falling numbers helped prompt the SBC Executive Committee to name Sept. 8 as “Baptism Sunday.”

In an August column in Baptist Press, SBC President J. D. Greear responded by urging Southern Baptist pastors to renew their focus on the rite that is, ...

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[Cfamily]The World Evangelical Alliance: Nurturing Unity in a Diverse World
« Reply #1391 on: September 12, 2019, 01:09:10 PM »
The World Evangelical Alliance: Nurturing Unity in a Diverse World

The World Evangelical Alliance was founded in 1842 on one simple, biblical idea.

In 1960, there were 90 million evangelicals. Today, there are over 600 million. During a span of a few decades, this sector of the Christian world has exploded.

In its growing community, a fellowship and organization has been at work, linking and building a remarkable network of indigenous evangelical alliances and fellowships in 130 countries. Formed in the mid 1800s, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is generally unknown, under the radar, and, more often than not, threadbare in its operation.

The WEA began in 1842 as 800 church leaders, representing 152 “bodies of Christians” from 11 countries, met for 13 days in London, attracted by one simple, biblical idea.

The Second Great Awakening (1791-1842) had flowered a heart for unity. Influenced by the spiritual awakening felt on both sides of the Atlantic, attendees sought fellowship that too often was constrained by denominational barriers. (Three years earlier, a meeting in London was advertised to discuss unity in the church. Although the building accommodated only 400 people, 11,000 tickets were handed out, much to the annoyance of those who couldn’t get in.)

These leaders were inheritors of William Wilberforce and his colleagues, who just years earlier had truncated the British global enterprise of slavery. The felt need for spiritual bonding was fused with a new kind of social consciousness: British members were adamant that the gospel speak to issues of social justice such as working conditions and child labor.

An odd place to meet

In this gathering, they chose to initiate a global network and fellowship, without central organization or funding, creating a global identity for Protestants who had a heart for biblical orthodoxy and desire for fellowship. ...

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Source: The World Evangelical Alliance: Nurturing Unity in a Diverse World

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