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Split the Cedars of Lebanon: Evangelicals Balance Prayer, Protest, and Politics in Ongoing Uprising

With a prayer tent going up in Beirut square, participants see a “spiritual dimension” to anti-corruption demonstrations.


At first, it was two high school girls.


The education minister in Lebanon had just canceled classes nationwide due to an explosion of popular anger at proposed taxes. Public squares in Beirut and other cities swelled with demonstrations. The two students asked Steve White, principal of the Lebanese Evangelical School (LES), if he would join them and protest too.


White, a Lebanese citizen since 2013, became principal in 2000, succeeding his English father who’d held the post since 1968. Founded by a British missionary in 1860, LES preaches the gospel clearly and is one of the top schools in Lebanon. But it bucks the sectarian trend of community enclaves as 85 percent of its students are Muslim—most coming from the Shiite community. Discussion about religion and politics is forbidden.


The protests began October 17. At the height of student interest, White arranged four school buses for a unique civic education. Though he knows his students well, he couldn’t tell their breakdown by sect: Sunni, Shia, or Christian.


Which fit perfectly with the protests.


“I got excited because it was not religious,” said White. “It was nonsectarian: all of Lebanon together, no flags, no parties, they were cursing everybody.”


White did not approve of the cursing. But he did of the “everybody.” The slogan adopted by protesters: “All of them means all of them.” It targeted the leaders of Lebanon’s multiple religion-based political parties, accusing them all of corruption.


Transparency International ranked Lebanon No. 138 out of 180 in its 2018 corruption perception index, listed from clean to corrupt.


Traditionally viewed as the guardians of each sect’s interests, Lebanese political ...

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[Cfamily]What Kanye West’s Sunday Service Taught Me About Grace
« Reply #1457 on: November 14, 2019, 01:18:07 PM »
What Kanye West’s Sunday Service Taught Me About Grace

When I visited Kanye's Sunday Service, I was met by contradiction, a mix of characters, and a spiritual lesson.


It’s Sunday morning and I’m on my way to worship service—a normal part of my weekend routine except for the fact that it’s 4 a.m., I’m embarking on a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Sacramento to Southern California, and the service will be led by Kanye West.


Coinciding with the release of his much-anticipated ninth studio album, Jesus is King, West released $10 tickets for his “Sunday Service” at The Forum, a 17,500-seat stadium in Inglewood that formerly hosted the Los Angeles Lakers. I bought tickets on a whim and convinced my friend Vince, who is also a bit impulsive, to attend the show with me. Groggy and a little delusional, we laugh about what a bad idea this is (we also plan to make the drive home immediately after the show).


We listen to the new album on repeat as we drive, dissecting each bar and rating his tracks as I quietly hope that the performance will paint a clearer picture of West’s new status as an unlikely evangelical darling. But when we arrive at the venue, the tangle of contradictions only seems to grow.


By the time we arrive, the typical pre-concert rituals are already underway, but against the backdrop of the album’s strong religious message and iconography the scene is disorienting. Masses wait in line to snag limited edition Yeezy merchandise—one crewneck with pictures of a medieval dark-skinned Jesus runs for $250—a woman poses provocatively in front of a banner that read “Jesus is King,” and the unmistakable scent of California kush punctuates the air.


“He’s tapping into an urban market,” says Susie Seiko, an LA musician and longtime West fan. Seiko, who frequents multiple churches in the area including ...

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[Cfamily]The Motivation of Transformation
« Reply #1458 on: November 15, 2019, 01:06:19 PM »
The Motivation of Transformation

Personal transformation had powerful missionary implications.? ? 


Before and after pictures are compelling. In a glimpse they communicate that something—often someone’s life—has changed.


Lost in all of the talk about evangelism and mission is the fact that, far too often, it’s been a long time since many people have actually seen God’s Spirit transform someone’s life. Yes, they’ve likely heard the stories.


They are familiar with the pastor’s clever tales about salvation and life transformation, but these stories are often about people and places they’ve never met and haven’t seen first-hand. Some of these individuals can recount their own personal story of transformation, but even these stories have accumulated dust over the years.


Many in the church haven’t had a front-row seat to observe God orchestrate powerful acts of deliverance and change.


Over time, a lack of visible transformation fosters a certain predictable apathy. We know that God can save. We know that he does bring freedom from sin. We’re aware of the hope found in Jesus.


Yet, like a certain diet or exercise regimen, mere affirmation of potency does nothing if not matched by actual practice. We may know in theory, that something, or someone, is transformative, but we all need personal examples of that change to continue to inspire our actions.


We read these stories in the journey of Israel to the promised land.


Time and again, each of the 12 tribes are mentioned, the various land allocations described, and the people accounted for. God’s deliverance wasn’t for a vague powerful group, but real-life people who experienced the power of God in a personal way.


When Moses testifies that the Israelites were cared for the in the wilderness, that they were ...

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[Cfamily]One-on-One with Bryan Jarrett on Resourcing Rural America, Part 1
« Reply #1459 on: November 16, 2019, 01:11:50 PM »
One-on-One with Bryan Jarrett on Resourcing Rural America, Part 1

We've not looked at rural as a mission field. We haven't seen it through missiological lenses.


Ed: Talk to me about the Water Tower Network. Where does the name come from?


Bryan: It was born out of our passion to serve rural churches and the identifying trade in most small towns is the water tower. We decided to do rural pastors training, form cohorts of pastors and start the network so we bought a ranch and this has become our training ground.


Ed: Talk to me about your cohorts. What do you do if you're in a cohort?


Bryan: Pastors come in to Dallas every 60 days. They come in on a Monday night and we just connect relationally and have fun. A lot of these guys are in assignments where they struggle financially, so we try to take them to do things they would never splurge on. We want to let them know they're not alone. Tuesday is resourcing when we are focused on things that they need help with the most—budgeting, legal advice, preaching help.


Sometimes they can join us in person, and sometimes they attend via Skype. We give thousands of dollars worth of resources to them throughout the year—things like computer support and equipment, tech support, etc.


The first time we are together, we assess their needs and then we let the needs of each cohort be tailored so that we spend that year investing in what they need the most.


Ed: You're in a part of Texas that's slowly being eaten by Dallas, so it's not rural anymore. So where did this passion come from?


Bryan: I grew up in a rural church and my cousins and I were in a family church in a rural area. There was probably a gap between me as a little kid and the next person who was about 60 years old. In some ways, I resented it. So growing up, my heart turned from God. I didn't feel like I connected with church or understood the gospel fully.


So ...

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[Cfamily]One-on-One with Bryan Jarrett on Resourcing Rural America, Part 2
« Reply #1460 on: November 17, 2019, 01:07:15 PM »
One-on-One with Bryan Jarrett on Resourcing Rural America, Part 2

Pastor Bryan Jarrett and his team have created a safe space for children who have been victims of sexual exploitation.


Ed: Tell me about your camp and your program for children.


Bryan: I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. For years, when I first started ministry almost 30 years ago, I did a lot of youth ministry and as I began to heal, I began to feel the freedom to talk about it. I say this all the time: rodents and roaches play in the dark, and when the lights come on, they all go find a place to hide.


There was freedom for me in being able to talk about it. As I shared my story, I realized that thousands of kids across this country were connecting with my story, and then I started looking into the numbers of people who admit to being sexually abused. This doesn't count all those who are not saying anything about it.


This has been a dream in our hearts for years. We actually started a camp with Royal Family Kids' Camp, which is a nationwide organization that helps local churches engage children who have been abused and neglected. I didn't start out to engage kids in the foster system, but identifying children who have dealt with sexual abuse is hard outside of the foster system.


A lot of the kids in the foster system are there because of some level of abuse, much of it sexual abuse. We founded Lonesome Dove Ranch in 2015 to serve the needs of children who have been exploited and sexually abused. It was born out of my own pain.


Ed: Tell me about how the camp runs. How many kids come in and out? Where do they come from?


Bryan: When we first began, we started by making inroads to organizations that serve the orphan. We set ourselves up at the camp for the worst-case scenarios. Our clinical counselors, are all Christian and counsel from a biblical and gospel-centered framework.


That's one thing we let the state know. Here in ...

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[Cfamily]The ‘Self-Actualizing’ Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard
« Reply #1461 on: November 18, 2019, 01:03:08 PM »
The ‘Self-Actualizing’ Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard

How the Danish philosopher takes an idea that’s congenial to modern ears and turns it upside down.


Protestants don’t have saints. Or at least we claim we don’t. But if we consulted our eyes, fingers, and hearts, they would tell us otherwise. Perhaps we don’t own up to having saints because we worry it might impugn our identity, which is often anchored in the notion that we are those who resist and protest the ways of our elder brothers and sisters in Rome. But no matter what our minds tell us, our eyes, fingers, and hearts tell the truth. We are closet saint-admirers.


Which writer do you read when you are existentially famished? Whose thoughts do you continually find yourself pondering while putting away the dishes? Whose words do you break down and repeat with thrill and delight? Whose life inspires you? Who makes you want to be a better human being? That’s your saint. One of mine is the Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard.


Ever since Kierkegaard’s writing was introduced to an American audience (through the translations of Walter Lowrie, David Swenson, and Howard and Edna Hong), we’ve seen a near-bottomless amount of scholarship focusing on Kierkegaard the Philosopher. And over the past decade or so, the theme of Kierkegaard as Theologian has received a good deal of attention.


With the release of Kierkegaard and Spirituality: Accountability as the Meaning of Human Existence—the newest volume in the “Kierkegaard as Christian Thinker” series from Eerdmans press—C. Stephen Evans has hopefully opened up a new chapter in Kierkegaard studies: Kierkegaard the Spiritual Director. Evans, who teaches philosophy at Baylor University, brings philosophical grit and pastoral sensitivity to this book, making it a work on spiritual formation with a spine. ...

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[Cfamily]Interview: The Faith Behind the Crown
« Reply #1462 on: November 19, 2019, 01:23:05 PM »
Interview: The Faith Behind the Crown

Queen Elizabeth’s belief is deep and sincere, says biographer Dudley Delffs, and Netflix gets it right.


When Season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown releases on November 17, viewers can expect plenty of changes as new actors tackle the lead roles and ferry the royal family through the tumultuous waters of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But they might also expect a reprisal of past scenes, including Queen Elizabeth kneeling beside her bed and praying. That practice “has been verified by numerous staff members throughout the years,” says author Dudley Delffs. “It really is part of the fabric of who she is and isn’t so much a matter of show.”


Delffs, who describes himself as a “lifelong Anglophile,” wrote The Faith of Queen Elizabeth: The Poise, Grace, and Quiet Strength Behind the Crown (Zondervan), which releases on December 3. Megan Fowler spoke with Delffs about the Queen’s faith and how The Crown gets it right.


You note that Elizabeth publicly asked her people to pray for her when she turned 21 and again when she was anticipating her coronation. This seems particularly striking, considering what a private person she was.


Elizabeth’s request for prayer from her subjects and from others has been a way to ground and demonstrate her faith and the fact that it is personal. She’s not just going through the motions, she does want their engagement and their support, and prayer is an incredible way to do that.


I think she’s keenly aware of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who had a very active, dynamic Christian faith and was very transparent about Bible reading, evangelism, and prayer. During the male monarchs, in between Victoria and Elizabeth, perhaps they were not as demonstrative or open about having a personal faith. That’s not to say that they didn’t ...

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Source: Interview: The Faith Behind the Crown

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http://www.1faith.co.uk/family-home-forum/?action=post

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One-on-One with Warren Smith on MinistryWatch, Accountability, and the Need for Christian Journalism

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”? That sentence also describes American journalism today.? 


Today I am glad to welcome Warren Smith to The Exchange. Warren is president of MinistryWatch. Here we talk about the ministry and why it is needed today.


Ed: What is MinistryWatch?


Warren: MinistryWatch is an independent advocate for donors to Christian charity. We’re 20 years old and maintain a database of financial statements and analysis of the 500 largest Christian ministries in the country. We use this analysis to rate ministries on a 1- to 5-scale based on financial efficiency.


So, for example, ministries that spend more on administrative and fundraising activities will see their ratings lowered. Ministries that have large endowments will also likely see their ratings affected negatively. The rating system rewards ministries that use donor money directly for ministry activities.


We also issue “Donor Alerts” when ministries engage in bad behavior, or when we think donors need to beware or ask additional questions. We do not issue donor alerts often, usually a couple of times a year to warn donors (and focus media attention) on bad actors or questionable activities.


An equally vital part of our work has been to raise the profile of lesser-known ministries doing great work. We call these ministries "Shining Lights," after Matthew 5:16, which encourages us to "let your light so shine before men that they would see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven."


Ed: I’ve used the ministry to look up certain charities. Can you explain to people who might not be familiar why that matters?


Warren: The financial analysis is unique to MinistryWatch. Ministries and other non-profits are required by law to disclose publicly certain financial information. However, most people are ...

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Source: One-on-One with Warren Smith on MinistryWatch, Accountability, and the Need for Christian Journalism

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/7FvWT1s-82E/one-on-one-with-warren-smith-on-ministrywatch.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/93007.png?w=460
https://ministrywatch.com/
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/november/one-on-one-with-warren-smith-on-ministrywatch.html
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http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/7FvWT1s-82E
http://www.1faith.co.uk/family-home-forum/?action=post

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