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[Cfamily]John Ortberg Resigns from Menlo Church
« Reply #1720 on: August 02, 2020, 01:00:23 AM »

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John Ortberg Resigns from Menlo Church

Elders cite "pain and broken trust" as the church launches a new investigation of son's volunteer work with children.

John Ortberg, popular Christian author and speaker, has resigned as pastor of Menlo Church, a megachurch congregation outside of San Francisco. His resignation is effective Sunday, August 2.

“I have considered my 17 years as pastor here to be the greatest joy I’ve had in ministry,” Ortberg said in a statement. “But this has been a difficult time for parents, volunteers, staff, and others, and I believe that the unity needed for Menlo to flourish will be best served by my leaving.”

In November, Ortberg was placed on leave after Menlo Church elders learned he allowed a volunteer who had admitted being attracted to children to work with kids at the church and in the community.

Ortberg had first learned of the volunteer’s admission in July 2018. He did not inform other church leaders or the youth sports team that the volunteer coached. Church leaders did not learn of his actions until Daniel Lavery, Ortberg’s son, sent an email blowing the whistle.

The elder Ortberg returned to the pulpit this spring after the elders hired a lawyer to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

But controversy at the church flared up again after Lavery revealed the volunteer in question was his younger brother and the pastor’s youngest son, a fact that had been withheld from the congregation. Lavery, former friends of the Ortberg family, and other critics of the decision have called for the pastor to step down.

Questions were also raised about the inquiry into possible misconduct, as the lawyer the church hired did not speak to parents or to any children or youth who the volunteer had worked with.

No allegations of misconduct on the part of Ortberg’s youngest son have been made.

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[Cfamily]3 Keys to Raising Women Leaders
« Reply #1721 on: August 03, 2020, 01:01:55 AM »
3 Keys to Raising Women Leaders

We need to proactively plan to raise up women leaders, to call out their gifts, and to give them an opportunity.

Raising up women leaders should matter to all of us, but it requires an oft-lacking intentionality.

Women make up more than half the church, and God has gifted both men and women for his glory and for his purposes. People from different theological traditions will have different pathways for ministry, but none exclude the opportunity for some level or place of leadership.

Believing something is different than doing it, however. We need to proactively plan to raise up women leaders, to call out their gifts, and to give them an opportunity.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Years ago, I worked at a place where my wife Donna would later express felt like the movie “Stepford Wives,” where all the women had to fit the same mold. There was only one way to be a godly woman, and not much space for leadership development.

Donna said, "That's not who I am."

I said, "That's not who I want you to be either."

A gifted woman leader with whom I later served experienced similar challenges. "It seems the only way I'm allowed to use my gifts is in a narrowly confined set of expectations,” she observed. “They don't seem to be driven by Scripture, but seem to be more driven by a kind of subculture." Looking at many of the settings she had been in, she was right.

How, then, do we raise up women leaders and allow them to lead? I once had a peer who was great at developing leaders, both men and women. But one relational aspect of this was that he loved sports and would play with a group of other leaders in the morning before work.

Those leaders were all men. It was a good thing, not a bad thing, but it raised a question from my team.

One day, two of the women leaders on my team came to me and ...

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California Court Reissues Rape Charges Against Leader of Mexico’s Largest Church

Update: After a procedural technicality, the criminal case against the head of La Luz del Mundo continues.

California has once again charged the leader of a Mexican megachurch with child rape and human trafficking, months after a court dismissed the previous allegations because of prosecution errors.

Naasón Joaquín García, the self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz del Mundo, was charged on Wednesday with three dozen felony counts.

Also charged were Susana Medina Oaxaca and Alondra Ocampo.

Prosecutors contend the three committed sex crimes and also produced child pornography involving five women and girls who were church group members. The crimes took place between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County, authorities said.

García is the spiritual leader of La Luz del Mundo, which is Spanish for “The Light Of The World,” an evangelical congregation based in Guadalajara, Mexico.

García and Ocampo already were being held in custody in Los Angeles County while prosecutors decided whether to refile charges. He was rebooked on $50 million bail and Ocampo was booked on $25 million bail, while Oaxaca remained free on bail, according to the California attorney general’s office.

Messages to their attorneys seeking comment weren’t immediately returned but García has previously denied wrongdoing.


April 9: A California appeals court ordered the dismissal of a criminal case Tuesday against a Mexican megachurch leader on charges of child rape and human trafficking on procedural grounds.

Naasón Joaquín García, the self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz del Mundo, has been in custody since June following his arrest on accusations involving three girls and one woman between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County. Additional allegations of the possession of child pornography ...

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Interview: N. T. Wright: The Pandemic Should Make Us Humble—and Relentlessly Practical

We can’t know for sure why it’s happening or how to stop it. But Scripture calls us to grieve with God’s Spirit and get to work serving others.

Between around-the-clock news reports, interviews with public health experts, and pundits hashing out the pros and cons of different disease-fighting strategies, we’re hardly at a loss for information and perspectives on COVID-19. Yet there are still many questions we struggle to answer with complete confidence: Why has this happened? What should we do in response? And where is God in all of this? In God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath, theologian and author N. T. Wright shows how Scripture speaks to our confusion and uncertainty. Andy Bannister, director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity in Scotland, spoke with Wright about his book.

Many Christians have already written books about the pandemic—everyone from John Lennox to John Piper, and even people with names other than John. What inspired you to contribute your own book?

Back in March, Time magazine asked me if I would do an article on the pandemic. It got a rather provocative headline: “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.” I wanted to say that this drives us toward the Romans 8 position, where the Spirit groans within us with groans beyond words (v. 26)—this is an extraordinary thing for Paul to say. And what it says to me is that we are supposed to be humble in the face of this, not to think we should know all the answers.

After the article appeared, I began to get feedback. People emailed me to ask, “How can you say that?” And I was informed about what people were saying on Twitter (I never look at Twitter myself). All the while, I kept hearing people use Scripture in a way that seemed less than fully adequate. The book is an ...

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[Cfamily]White Fragility: A Conversation on Race and Racism
« Reply #1724 on: August 06, 2020, 01:02:04 AM »
White Fragility: A Conversation on Race and Racism

Introducing a new series discussing ‘White Fragility’ with perspectives from various Christian leaders.

What comes to mind when you hear the term "White Fragility?"

The term is striking, unnerving to some degree. Maybe intimidating. What response does such a term stir? Anger, defensiveness, denial?

This is what inspired Robin DiAngelo, who wrote the book White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. She is a scholar who has studied diversity and racism for many years, but has more recently become influential in evangelical circles and that is part of why we are hosting this conversation.

White Fragility has to do with how quickly white people respond with anger and defensiveness in conversations about race. DiAngelo has found in years of diversity training and research that white people respond to these discussions with strikingly similar responses, like the white man who pounded his fist at one seminar, exclaiming out loud, "A white person can't get a job anymore!" (p. 1). Yet, he is completely oblivious to the fact that 38 of the 40 employees gathered were white. “Why,” DiAngelo asks, “is he being so careless about the impact of his anger? Why doesn’t he notice the effect this outburst is having on the people of color in the room?” (p. 1)

From the author's introduction--a perspective on history:

"The United States was founded on the principle that all people are created equal. Yet the nation began with the attempted genocide of Indigenous people and the theft of their land. American wealth was built on the labor of kidnapped and enslaved Africans and their descendants. Women were denied the right to vote until 1920, and black women were denied access ...

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[Cfamily]Christians Worry Hong Kong’s New Law Will Hamper Missions
« Reply #1725 on: August 07, 2020, 01:00:19 AM »
Christians Worry Hong Kong’s New Law Will Hamper Missions

Recent Chinese regulations on foreign interference extend into the diaspora and raise questions for longstanding ministries.

For Christians outside of China who have connections in Hong Kong, or for international ministries with offices there, a new Beijing-imposed security law prompts a raft of troubling questions and unknowns.

The law—which broadly criminalizes any act of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces in the Chinese Special Administrative Region—went into effect late on June 30. The first 10 people arrested included a 15-year-old girl and a man who unfurled a Hong Kong independence flag during a demonstration. An additional 360 protesters were also detained in the first 24 hours.

Written in secret by Chinese officials and only made public after it had been passed, the law reclassifies what were previously considered minor infractions as serious crimes, punishable by a life sentence. Damaging public transport facilities, for example, a tactic frequently used by pro-democracy activists in the past year, is now considered an act of terrorism. The law also circumvents Hong Kong’s well-established judicial processes, allowing for warrantless wire-tapping, extradition to the mainland, and closed criminal proceedings.

But Hong Kong residents are not the only ones who should be wary. Buried within the law’s 7,000 words is one statement that seems to extend the reach of the decree far outside of China’s borders: “The law applies to persons who do not have permanent resident status in Hong Kong and commit crimes under this law outside Hong Kong,” reads Article 38.

In other words, anyone in the world could be held accountable for acts of subversion against the Chinese government.

As extraordinary as this provision may sound, it is not unusual for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ...

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[Cfamily]16 Beirut Ministries Respond to Lebanon Explosion
« Reply #1726 on: August 08, 2020, 01:00:10 AM »
16 Beirut Ministries Respond to Lebanon Explosion

(UPDATED) Evangelical leaders describe the damage, how Christians are helping, and the need for a hope beyond politics.

[Updated August 6 with details from more ministries]

One hour later at work, and Sarah Chetti might have been one of thousands in a Beirut hospital.

Director of the INSAAF migrant worker ministry in Lebanon, Chetti’s colleagues described shards of broken glass flying through the air, and the metal frames of doors ripped from their hinges.

It was a similar experience for the one staff member inside the Youth for Christ youth center not far from the blast. To avoid the “colossal damage,” he ducked to the floor. Re-welding was necessary just to lock up the next day.

Peter Ford was fortunate. Working quietly in his faculty office at the Near East School of Theology near downtown Beirut, the first small reverberations stirred his curiosity to investigate the problem.

Moments later, the huge blast blew in his window and spewed the glass across his desk.

Miraculously, the dozen evangelical churches and ministries in Lebanon contacted by CT reported no deaths and few serious injuries caused by the massive explosion. The official national tally is now over 100 dead, with over 5,000 injured.

If they had, there would be nowhere for the bodies to go.

Habib Badr of the historic National Evangelical Church was forced to conduct the burial of two elderly members (whose deaths were unrelated to the explosion) as Beirut’s hospitals and morgues were all full.

Two Filipinos, however, were killed in the blast. And amid the ongoing economic suffering of Lebanon, several migrant domestic workers have been abandoned by families no longer able to pay for their services.

“They are distraught, worried, and scared,” said Chetti. “Problems are piling up one after the other. I’m reaching ...

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[Cfamily]The Old Testament Calls Out Cancel Culture
« Reply #1727 on: August 09, 2020, 01:00:11 AM »
The Old Testament Calls Out Cancel Culture

The Bible features flawed characters called to do the will of the Lord.

Marcionism is a heresy, but I understand why Marcion did it.

Disgusted with the evil that plagues our world and struggling with confounding portrayals of God in Scripture, the second-century theologian sliced up the Bible to his liking by excluding all the Old Testament and even some of the New. I can’t follow Marcion in his editing project, but I certainly get the tension that prompted it: The Old Testament is a difficult book full of difficult stories and difficult people. In many ways, it would be easier to safely scuttle its strange and grim passages out of the canon.

I suspect Marcion’s end product possessed a clarity the unabridged version frankly lacks. But I also suspect it would leave Christians far less equipped to grapple with the moral ambiguity we cannot edit out of our society’s past—or its present.

This has been a summer of iconoclasm. Protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers have picked up the purgatorial impulse of previous demonstrations against police brutality and racial inequality. Protestors demanded the removal of—or, in many cases, simply vandalized—Confederate statues and flags. Then the scrutiny broadened. A mere three years ago, President Donald Trump was roundly mocked for his musing that progressive iconoclasts eventually would come after George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. This year they did exactly that. Monuments of other historical figures (including Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ulysses S. Grant) were torn down, voted down, or became the subject of contentious debates.

These conflicts are not easy to resolve. What do we make of someone like Jefferson? Should he be honored or deplored? He wrote about the inherent ...

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