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I’m a Professional Evangelist. This Book Reawakened My First Love.

After reading Rebecca Manley Pippert’s follow-up to “Out of the Saltshaker,” I’ve never been more excited to talk about Jesus.

As a preacher and evangelist, I like to say that the application for any sermon—no matter the Bible passage—should be: “Tell your friends about Jesus.” It’s a joke, of course. Because that’s a lazy application—one guaranteed to get guilty looks from the congregation.

But why are we so bad at telling our friends about Jesus? In part, because in today’s post-Christian Western world, we’re told to keep our beliefs to ourselves. Our faith is supposed to be private, not public. In this environment, talking about Jesus is seen as judgmental, intolerant, and oppressive.

Last year, an article in Christianity Today carried a revealing headline: “Half of Millennial Christians Say It’s Wrong to Evangelize.” Evidently, evangelism is hated by significant numbers of both Christians and non-Christians! Who would have thought that a mutual dislike for evangelism would unite us all?

And yet, a desire to share the gospel with friends runs—or at least should run—through the DNA of every Christian. So how can we start talking about Jesus again?

This is the question at the heart of Rebecca Manley Pippert’s latest book , Stay Salt. Pippert, of course, is best known for her classic book on evangelism, Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life. First published in 1979, Out of the Saltshaker was written to equip believers for evangelism in a culture that was drifting in post-Christian directions. Four decades later, those forces have only accelerated, but Pippert hasn’t lost any confidence that the gospel message can break through walls of hostility and indifference, even in the context of everyday conversations. As the subtitle ...

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Source: I’m a Professional Evangelist. This Book Reawakened My First Love.

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Supreme Court Dismisses State Ban on Public Funding for Religious Schools

Update: Could a Montana school choice case be the end of Blaine amendments?

Update (June 30): Montana violated the First Amendment when it barred religious schools from a state scholarship program, the US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, in a case school choice advocates hope will open the door for more education voucher programs.

The state’s “no aid provision,” categorically banning any type of aid to religious schools, represents an overly sweeping effort at church-state separation that results in religious discrimination against religious schools and adherents, wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the 5–4 Espinoza vs. Montana Department of Revenue decision.

“The prohibition before us today burdens not only religious schools but also the families whose children attend or hope to attend them,” the opinion read. “They are ‘member[s] of the community too,’ and their exclusion from the scholarship program here is ‘odious to our Constitution’ and ‘cannot stand.’”

Roberts said that states do not need to subsidize private education, but if they do, they cannot disqualify some private schools just for being religious.

“For many families, Espinoza not only provides the potential for expanded opportunities for them to educate their children, including the choice of religious education, but also the right to decide what they believe is the most effective way to do so,” said Jeanne Allen, the founder of the Center for Education Reform.


When a Montana tax credit program for private school scholarships was accused of being discriminatory because religious schools were not eligible, the state eliminated the program outright rather than fight the case.

But now, the state has ended up at the US Supreme Court anyway, with ...

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[Cfamily]Israel Orders Christian TV Channel to Stop Broadcasting
« Reply #1690 on: July 03, 2020, 01:00:23 AM »
Israel Orders Christian TV Channel to Stop Broadcasting

GOD TV argues application for new Shelanu channel in Hebrew was forthright, decries decision as political.

Israeli regulators on Sunday announced they ordered a US-based evangelical broadcaster taken off the air, saying the channel hid its missionary agenda when it applied for a license.

In his decision, Asher Biton, chairman of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, said he had informed GOD TV on Thursday last week that it had seven days to stop broadcasting its new Shelanu channel.

“The channel appeals to Jews with Christian content,” he wrote. “Its original request,” he said, stated that it was a “station targeting the Christian population.”

The decision was first reported by the Haaretz daily.

And today, Shelanu announced that its satellite provider, HOT, has dropped the channel altogether—likely due to Israeli pressure.

“In a free and democratic society such as Israel, we would have received approval for our new license, and if not, we would have won in court,” stated Ron Cantor, Shelanu’s Israeli spokesman, in a press release. “The only thing that could have stopped our channel from being aired was if HOT broke our relationship.”

If there is no public apology and clarification, Shelanu plans to sue Biton.

The channel said its existing license “stated unequivocally” that it would broadcast its content in Hebrew to the Israeli public. Most Christians in the Holy Land speak Arabic.

“Therefore it is not at all clear what was wrong beyond political considerations,” it said.

According to a copy of its original application and approval, obtained by CT, Shelanu identified itself as “a Christian religion channel broadcasting Christian content … for the audience of Israeli viewers ... [in] Hebrew and English.”

Nowhere did ...

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Source: Israel Orders Christian TV Channel to Stop Broadcasting

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[Cfamily]5 Pandemic Lessons from Eurasia’s Evangelical Churches
« Reply #1691 on: July 04, 2020, 01:01:10 AM »
5 Pandemic Lessons from Eurasia’s Evangelical Churches

How congregations in the former Soviet Union are responding to the coronavirus challenge can help the global church think better about buildings, young professionals, and persecution.

For many Western Christians, Eurasia is uncharted territory, and no less so amid this pandemic. In the midst of troubling COVID-19 tallies from the US and Europe, little is heard about what is happening in this strategically important region, situated with Europe to its west, China to its southeast, and the Muslim world to its south.

Yet the way local evangelical churches are responding to coronavirus challenges speaks volumes about their way of life and ministry, as well as their future missions potential.

National church leaders testify that the situation in Russia—with more than 640,000 confirmed cases, the third-worst reported outbreak in the world after the US and Brazil—and other Eurasian nations is alarming. Health systems, economies, transportation, and security systems are on the verge of collapse. Mass testing for COVID-19 is not happening. Governments deny access to reliable information. And all the while the war in Ukraine continues, and restrictions on religious freedom and human rights increase in Russia, Belarus, and Central Asia.

The former Soviet Union is a gray zone where hybrid systems have emerged which imitate the developed world while using talk of democracy, free markets, rule of law, independent media, freedom, and human rights to mask their absence. Given these circumstances, evangelical churches are under constant pressure both from government authorities and wider society, which are dominated by either aggressive Orthodoxy, Islamism, or a secular Soviet mindset.

However, the challenge of the pandemic has lit a spark which casts light on the little-noticed but active and essential role of evangelical churches in this gray zone. Based on my extensive conversations with local leaders, here ...

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Source: 5 Pandemic Lessons from Eurasia’s Evangelical Churches

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[Cfamily]Interview: The Gospel Takes Center Stage in ‘Hamilton’
« Reply #1692 on: July 05, 2020, 01:00:30 AM »
Interview: The Gospel Takes Center Stage in ‘Hamilton’

As the hit Broadway musical makes its screen debut in a time of social unrest, its themes of hope and redemption resound all the louder.

If not for the outbreak of COVID-19, the wildly successful Broadway musical Hamilton would embark on its fourth tour this fall. Instead—to the delight of fans and penny-pinching show-goers—a planned film version, featuring the original cast members, will begin streaming this week on Disney+, over a year ahead of its original theater release date. What was once available only with access to an urban center and extra cash is now coming to a screen near you.

Hamilton’s screen debut is also noteworthy in that it comes at a time of elevated social unrest in America. Many people are anxious or angry about racial injustice, police brutality, and hyper-polarized politics. For pastor and church planter Kevin Cloud, the show—with its moral vision and artistic innovations—offers an invaluable lens on both our current moment and our Christian responsibilities within it. Cloud, the author of God and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton and the Broadway Musical He Inspired, leads workshops on faith and creativity around the country, drawing on his book. Writer Sarah Arthur corresponded with Cloud about using Hamilton to explore the intersection of faith, the arts, and social change.

Why has this story about a distant historical figure struck such a chord?

I don’t think anyone could’ve imagined how this musical would catapult Alexander Hamilton from a forgotten Founding Father into a cultural icon. A number of different dynamics have worked together, creating a deep resonance within our culture.

First and foremost, Hamilton is an extraordinary work of art. It won 11 Tony Awards in 2016, including best musical, and a Pulitzer Prize for drama. I agree with Michelle Obama, who ...

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Source: Interview: The Gospel Takes Center Stage in ‘Hamilton’

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[Cfamily]One-on-One with John Richards on Race and Justice
« Reply #1693 on: July 06, 2020, 01:00:32 AM »
One-on-One with John Richards on Race and Justice

My interview with John C. Richards Jr. on how we are doing with race and justice today.

Ed: Tell us a bit about what you are up to in fighting for racial justice.

John: I'm from Brunswick, Georgia. My hometown is there, born and raised there 18 years, spent 18 years of my life in Brunswick. This is where the Ahmaud Arbery murder happened in February. Folks from my hometown reached out to me and wanted to talk about what they could do to get the case on the national radar. The McMichaels had been not arrested for at least 60 days around that time. A lot of folks locally were asking a lot of questions.

In my background as a lawyer, I gave them some peaceful action steps. I am an advocate of nonviolent demonstration. One of the things that you can do is advocate for victims when they don't have voices. One of the things I asked them to do was call local authorities to get it on the national radar.

Thirty days later, it became a national story. A lot of people saw the video. That's when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation came in—when local authorities did not arrest them.

As soon as they came to the scene, the third gentlemen had the video and showed it to them. Even based on that evidence, they refused to make an arrest. I've been involved in that since March when we were trying to get this on the national radar. I think one of my good friends put it well when he said, "Brunswick, Georgia was the match and Minneapolis was the gasoline," and we're all seeing that social fire burn right now.

Ed: Why are you concerned about white pastors not speaking up on some of these issues?

John: Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes in the faith in terms of him making and effecting real change. During his time, there was a dichotomy in the black community. You either had the Martin Luther ...

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Source: One-on-One with John Richards on Race and Justice

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How a Reformed Facebook Group’s Private Comments Turned Into a Public Dispute

The social media saga involving Aimee Byrd and Genevan Commons calls for discipline, justice, and restoration beyond “cancel culture.”

In an era when swift social media reactions and public repudiations offer an instantaneous form of rebuke and discipline, what role does the church have in holding its leaders and members accountable for online speech?

Aimee Byrd has found herself at the center of this question. The author of Why Can’t We Be Friends?, Byrd has come under fire from some within her Reformed theological tradition for her latest book, Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

The fight has largely played out on blogs and in private online discussions, but also has Byrd and her critics each calling for Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) sessions (church elders) to take action.

Two weeks ago, screenshots from a private Facebook group called Genevan Commons were posted on an anonymous website that describes itself as an “archive of reviling, cyberbullying, harassment, sexism, and racism among church officers and laypeople.”

Byrd’s supporters have challenged the harsh comments within the Facebook group’s threads, including remarks that address her motives, appearance, and relationship with her husband. They’ve asked whether the leaders responsible will be held accountable for the remarks.

“We are greatly concerned that officers of the church, who have sworn to be accountable to ‘their brethren in the Lord’ would attempt to hide behind a group that pledges itself to secrecy, as if ‘locker room talk’ could somehow be exempted from the accountability of the church on the basis of an alleged right to privacy,” read a statement signed by several dozen OPC pastors and elders.

Byrd was well known for blogging as “The Housewife Theologian” at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals ...

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Source: How a Reformed Facebook Group’s Private Comments Turned Into a Public Dispute

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[Cfamily]Teaching Remotely Is Hard. Studying Jesus Can Help.
« Reply #1695 on: July 08, 2020, 01:00:32 AM »
Teaching Remotely Is Hard. Studying Jesus Can Help.

Four practical ways teachers can keep impacting their students as they teach through a screen.

For millions of Americans, the school year has already ended—good news for Zoom-weary students, parents, and educators alike. But even as families are figuring out how to entertain their children all summer long, teachers will have to regroup and figure out what distance learning might look like at the start of the school year. After all, choosing when to reopen schools isn’t a simple process. While some governors have said that schools will reopen this fall, last month, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the US Senate that remote learning is likely to continue into the next school year. While the CDC provided recommendations for reopening schools, there is doubt from both parents and members of Congress alike. As an educator and parent, I share these concerns.

Although we’re in the middle of the summer, teachers must begin to prepare for delivering academic instruction. While teachers can look to their districts and colleagues for resources and support, educators of faith have an additional source of wisdom: Jesus.

Yes, much of Jesus’ teaching came in person. Though he sometimes addressed people from hundreds of feet away—from a boat while they stayed on land, for example—many of the stories found in the gospels portray a person who enjoyed being close to others. Yet despite the incarnational nature of Christ’s ministry, there were moments when Christ ministered through lessons and healing at a distance.

Here are four Christ-inspired techniques critical for Christian teachers, and all educators, to add to their teaching toolbelt for the fall:

1. Identify ways to be a blessing for students at a distance.

Jesus never let his physical ...

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Source: Teaching Remotely Is Hard. Studying Jesus Can Help.

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