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[Cfamily]A ‘Sober Curious’ Quarantine Broke My Perfectionism
« Reply #1696 on: July 09, 2020, 01:00:29 AM »

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A ‘Sober Curious’ Quarantine Broke My Perfectionism

While researching young adult ministry, I discovered the younger generation had something to teach me about my approach to alcohol.

She couldn’t have been younger than 65. Fit, trim, close-cropped silver hair, loading her third case of wine into her Costco cart. The man next to her laughed and said, “You’re going to ride this out in style, eh?”

She smiled. It was just days before Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued stay-at-home orders.

It seems that she was not alone. Health officials issued warnings about drinking during quarantine, citing the 55 percent increase in alcohol sales in the week ending on March 21. Other reports indicate that online alcohol sales jumped more than 243 percent during the pandemic. Coronavirus-induced drinking memes swept across the internet, showcasing a nation’s coping mechanism for times of crisis.

But the pandemic has also coincided with a growing number of Americans rethinking their relationship with alcohol. Though far less meme-worthy, the “sober curious” movement has taken off recently, prompting people to make intentional choices about what, why, and how often they drink.

Named after the book Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington, it’s gaining popularity among young millennials and older Gen Zers who are looking for a healthier lifestyle. There are now “nonalcoholic spirits” that are soaring in sales, thousands joining groups to promote “sobriety as a lifestyle,” and even bars that offer a wide range of mocktails or cater specifically to people who are sober curious or in recovery.

No longer is sobriety seen as just the last resort for people whose lives are falling apart. Many in the sober curious set would not label themselves as traditional alcoholics, but they do wonder if their drinking is a problem and recognize the benefits of ditching the booze. ...

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[Cfamily]Jesus Proclaims His Purpose
« Reply #1697 on: July 10, 2020, 01:01:34 AM »
Jesus Proclaims His Purpose

Although we may long for and relish Jesus’ miracles, we must always long for Jesus and his real purpose more.

As a child, did you ever have your intentions questioned by your parents? Did you spontaneously proclaim your love and appreciation for them only to have them look at you suspiciously and respond, “What do you want?” Despite your genuine intentions (that time), they misunderstood your purpose.

Jesus knew the purpose of his ministry, but the people around him often misunderstood it. Both the people of Capernaum and Jesus’ own disciples got caught up in Jesus’ rising fame and miraculous healings and were unable to see Jesus’ purpose behind it all (Mark 1:21-34).

But before we judge the disciples for missing the point, let us pause to consider our own lives. How often does our purpose of sharing Christ’s love through the gospel get lost in our longings and distractions?

Jesus’ miracles were not to be an end in and of themselves. Jesus performed miracles partially because of his genuine love for the individual who received the healing, but his miracles also served as a sign of God’s kingdom coming and driving back the power of Satan and death. Thus, miracles assisted Jesus in his purpose to preach good news to the nations that he is the Son of God and he came to bring salvation to humankind (Mark 1:35-38).

Jesus’ healings point to the fact that he is the One to heal our broken relationship with God—he is our Messiah, come to free us from our sin and heal us of our broken condition.

Jesus’ purpose was clear

If we stop on the road and stare at a road sign that says, “One mile to Chicago this way,” but never continue the journey, we will miss the greater beauty and joy of experiencing Chicago itself.

It is not bad to get excited about a road sign and what it ...

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[Cfamily]What the Ministerial Exception Will Mean for Religious Employers
« Reply #1698 on: July 11, 2020, 01:00:38 AM »
What the Ministerial Exception Will Mean for Religious Employers

For Christians who despaired over recent Supreme Court rulings, the Our Lady of Guadalupe decision has a lot to offer.

The Supreme Court defended religious liberty on Wednesday, bolstering and broadening the so-called “ministerial exception.” In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that the Constitution protects the freedom of religious organizations to hire and fire employees who play a vital role in fulfilling their religious mission. The decision, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, reaffirms important religious liberty principles and offers valuable guidance to religious organizations concerned about the strength of the protections of the First Amendment.

In an opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court held that the ministerial exception barred two fifth-grade teachers at Catholic schools in Southern California from bringing employment discrimination claims against their schools. The court reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit, which held that the teachers fell outside the ministerial exception because they lacked religious training and credentials, and did not hold themselves out as faith leaders.

Rejecting the lower court’s formalistic approach, the Supreme Court stated that religious titles and training were neither necessary nor sufficient for determining whether a particular employee falls within the ministerial exception. “What matters,” Alito wrote, “is what an employee does.”

Wednesday’s ruling built upon the unanimous 2012 decision in which the Supreme Court first recognized the ministerial exception. In that case, which CT called the biggest religion case in 20 years, the court held that the First Amendment barred an ordained teacher from suing her employer, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran School, for alleged disability discrimination.

The 2012 decision relied ...

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[Cfamily]‘Mother to Son’ Amplifies the Voices of Black Mothers
« Reply #1699 on: July 12, 2020, 01:00:21 AM »
‘Mother to Son’ Amplifies the Voices of Black Mothers

Jasmine Holmes spotlights the realities black families face.

As he breathed his last obstructed breaths, George Floyd called to the mother who died before him, “Momma! Momma!” Black mothers, in our communal tradition, hear Floyd calling to us, too. George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown not only could have been our sons, but they were our sons. When we hear the news of their deaths, our chests tighten and our tears flow. We are praying with everything in us that our son or husband or nephew isn’t the next name printed on police brutality protest signs.

Black Christian mothers in this moment need comfort, support, and direction. We struggle against our hearts hardening. We know that it is difficult for our white Christian family to completely understand our fear and pain, but we need our brothers and sisters to hear us.

Through her recent book Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope, writer and speaker Jasmine Holmes amplifies the voice of black Christian mothers by highlighting her own concerns and advice for her toddler-aged son Wynn. She offers the church a window to see what black boys face as they grow into men in America. By giving voice to the underrepresented perspectives of their mothers, Holmes offers the church a way forward toward racial unity and understanding.

Black mothers have often felt minimized or excluded from opportunities in white Christian spaces to share our unique struggles and cultivate understanding in the body of Christ. This reality is true even when motherhood is the focus. National groups like MOPS and Moms in Prayer have scant black leadership. There are no black women on the MOPS executive team and only one black woman on their board of directors. Except for international leadership ...

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[Cfamily]Time for a New Normal
« Reply #1700 on: July 13, 2020, 01:00:33 AM »
Time for a New Normal

Returning to normal after such a historic moment would be nothing short of missing one of the greatest opportunities of our lifetime.

As states have begun varied and nuanced approaches to reopening businesses, parks, and more, we find ourselves asking more and more "How do we move forward?" I'm concerned about life after the pandemic, but my concern is in a direction that may surprise you.

Many say they are concerned that after the pandemic the church will never be the same again. Some wonder, for instance, if the day of the large church is over. The thing that resonates with me is the statement that the church will "never be the same again."

I'm more concerned the church will be the same again. Let me explain. For 2,000 years, we've had epidemics or pandemics. What's happened in and during and after the pandemics hasn't drastically changed the structure of church for most of the previous 2,000 years.

We built cathedrals and gathered in them. Then the Black Death came. After the Black Death, we gathered in cathedrals again. Don't assume the church was unaware that gathering together accelerated the spread of sickness. They might not have known about flattening the curve, but they knew that gathering together exposed them to more illness.

I'm less concerned that the church will be forever changed and more concerned that we will snap right back into the status quo. Why? Because the best predictor of future behavior is the immediate past.

History doesn't always repeat itself, but it tends to rhyme. We must not go back to normal. Instead, we must take the best of what we are seeing now and continue those things. Let me share three things that I hope we will keep moving forward.

First, that God’s people would be deployed.

God's people are deployed at a higher level, a more faithful level, and a more fruitful ...

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[Cfamily]The Long Obedience of Racial Justice
« Reply #1701 on: July 14, 2020, 01:00:36 AM »
The Long Obedience of Racial Justice

To bear the image of God is a declaration of dignity that challenges power.

“This is not Charlottesville” was the refrain that I heard many times. Our neighbors sought to assure us of this. We had moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, just days after white supremacists’ Unite the Right Rallies shattered the town’s charm. As blatant outside emissaries of racial hatred, they were vehemently opposed by people of faith and of goodwill.

On the other hand, I recall a ride with an African American taxi driver who grew up in Charlottesville. He recalled, without venom or vengeance, countless episodes of racism. The cruelty he suffered and the consequent disparities of life are part of growing up black in Charlottesville.

This is Charlottesville. This is not Charlottesville. Both statements are true. Somehow sorrow and hope coexist. Race remains both a painful and perplexing reality throughout America. Our nation writhes under its trauma—past and present. Wounds already raw have been inflamed. The media diagnoses our current racial turmoil as malignant, but the Bible calls it far worse. Racism is rooted more deeply than in our nation’s history. It derives from human depravity and the deadly combination of prejudice and power.

Power and Image Inequality

Our identity as humans is based on being made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). More than a premise for discussion, to be made in God’s image is a declaration of dignity and a prophetic challenge to power. In antiquity, the notion of a god’s image was exploited for royal propaganda. About the Neo-Assyrian King Esarhaddon (7th century B.C.) we read: “A free man is as the shadow of God, the slave is as the shadow of the free man; but the king, he is like unto the very image of God.” Only the sole bearer of ...

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Persecuted Christians Resettled in US Drop Dramatically Under Trump

More Christian refugees were welcomed from 50 worst persecutors in 2016 than in President Trump's first three years combined, according to Open Doors and World Relief report.

The United States is on track to welcome the fewest refugees since its resettlement policy was formalized in 1980, by a substantial margin.

Capped at 18,000 people for 2020—the lowest ceiling on record—the US has resettled 7,600 refugees, with only three months left in the fiscal year.

According to a joint report released today by World Relief and Open Doors USA, persecuted minorities representing a variety of religions have been harmed by the decline in resettlement.

“Among those most disadvantaged have been Christian refugees from the countries where Christians face the most severe persecution in the world,” the report states.

So far in 2020, the US has resettled fewer than 950 Christians from the 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian, according to Open Doors’s annual World Watch List. At this rate, the US will receive 90-percent fewer Christian refugees this year than five years ago.

For example, the US is projected to resettle only 20 Syrian Christian refugees, 50 Iranian Christians, and 86 Iraqi believers this year, despite their countries ranking No. 11, No. 9, and No. 15 on the 2020 World Watch List.

Historically, the US has welcomed significant numbers of Christian refugees from countries where they are persecuted. For instance, in 2016 the US took in nearly 2,300 Christians from Iran and 2,000 from Iraq.

But the resettlement of Christians from the world’s top persecutors is now a fraction of what it was only a few years ago.

Christians aren’t the only ones suffering. Compared to 2015, US resettlement of Baha’i from Iran, Muslims from Burma, and Yezidi from Iraq has decreased by 98 percent, 95 percent, and 92 percent, respectively.

This marks ...

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Evangelical Leaders Ask ICE Not to ‘Mistreat the Foreigner’ With Student Visa Policy

UPDATE: New protocols for international students rescinded after university backlash.

Update (July 14): Campus ministry leaders are celebrating the Trump administration’s decision to reverse a new policy that would have forced some international students to leave the United States. The rule said people on student visas would have to take classes in person to maintain their status, even if courses moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The change was announced Tuesday by a federal judge in Boston, where Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had sued to challenge the policy.

“We at InterVarsity are very pleased that ICE dropped its plan to deport international college students who only use online courses,” said Tom Lin, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “In the coming week and months, InterVarsity and many faith-based organizations are working hard to help students navigate a chaotic and stressful time for us all; during this time, students and young people need more certainty and support, not less.”


Leaders of 12 Christian organizations urged the Trump administration to rescind a policy requiring international students to leave the US or transfer if their colleges hold classes entirely online this fall, saying it “falls short of American ideals.”

In a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, shared with the Associated Press, the leaders wrote on Friday that the policy “robs our country of the significant contribution” international students make to their colleges on both a personal and economic level. It “lacks compassion” and “violates tenets of our faith to ‘not mistreat the foreigner’ (Lev. 19:33) but to love these neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:34, ...

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