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[Cfamily]Why Millions Watched this Church Christmas Video
« Reply #408 on: December 20, 2016, 07:04:59 AM »

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Why Millions Watched this Church Christmas Video

The underage narrators get the story right. Almost.

For to us a child is born, and he will be called “the best baby I’ve ever seen!”

A three-minute clip of kids narrating the story of Christmas in their own words went viral on Facebook this month, with more than 40 million views and 36,000 comments.

The video came from a Kentucky megachurch, where church staff interviewed kids from the congregation about Jesus’ birth then dressed up to reenact their responses.

“Of all the stories in the Bible, the story of the birth of Christ is the most widely accepted and known,” said Hanna Wahlbrink, creative director at the non-denominational Southland Christian Church. “Combined with how hilarious the kids are, it’s that story that people want to hear told.”

They prompted children to imagine scenes of the famous biblical narrative. What was Mary doing when the angel came to her? “She was doing laundry,” surmised one respondent. What about the gifts for the baby Jesus? Answers ranged from a stuffed hippo “like one I have at home” to Air Jordans.

The 2015 clip spread after the church’s Christmas Eve service last year and recently took off again after getting featured on the Today show site.

Hundreds of fellow churches, youth groups, and ministries have contacted Southland about using the video in their own services and outreach. But that’s not all.

“We get comments all the time saying, ‘I’m not even religious, and this warmed my heart,’ and we love that,” said Wahlbrink, who plays Mary in the video. “The simple message of Christ, through the mouths of kids, is reaching people in a way we never expected.”

Just as Jesus invited the children to come to him (Matt. 19:14) ...

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Theology for Life: Launching a New Weekly Podcast I Am Co-Hosting with Wheaton Professor Lynn Cohick

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As a missiologist, the study of theology (of God and His missio Dei) is critical for the way I understand the world and our place in it. In fact, in an article I wrote a few years ago, I reflected on the importance of theology for a missiologist:


Foundational to missiology is knowing the God who is on mission. According to the Bible, God "desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4) and we are assured that people from "every tribe and language and people and nation" will be present in heaven (Rev 5:9). As a missiologist, I am driven by this gospel mission. Moreover, God's redemption extends beyond the personal to the cosmic. In the end, God will give us a new heavens and a new earth (Isa 65:17; Rev 21:2). Why does this matter?


God's mission is one of restoring humanity to all levels of being. In other words, God will not only restore man's relationship to himself, but also to his relationship with others, and with creation. While affirming the goodness of God's creation, we must also affirm that it is broken. Our interaction with culture should point others towards the restoration that is offered in Christ.


In other words, the missiologist must think about salvation and mission in a biblical way with a holistic way. Understanding the purposes of the creator God allows us to gain deeper insight into the longings of men and women as beings created in the His image. Missiology is practical theology at its best.

So when my friend Lynn Cohick and I started talking about doing a podcast about theology, it felt like a natural fit for me as someone who wants to see all things applied in everyday life. Lynn serves as Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, ...

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Source: Theology for Life: Launching a New Weekly Podcast I Am Co-Hosting with Wheaton Professor Lynn Cohick

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[Cfamily]News: Who's Ministering in Mosul? Persecuted Christians from Burma
« Reply #410 on: December 22, 2016, 07:34:48 AM »
News: Who's Ministering in Mosul? Persecuted Christians from Burma

As ISIS flees, some of the first frontline Christians already know how to follow Jesus in a war zone.

As Iraqi coalition forces claw their way into Mosul, the retreating ISIS fighters have booby trapped streets, sent suicide bombers against the liberating army, and used civilians as human shields.

The civilians left in their wake are hungry, thirsty, terrified, and exhausted.

One of the first humanitarian groups to aid Iraq’s once second-largest city, moving in even as ISIS moves out, has been a group of persecuted Christians from Burma (also known as Myanmar).

Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a Christian group originally formed to bring humanitarian aid to the Burmese minorities displaced by ongoing persecution from their military government. Led by David Eubank, a former US Army Ranger officer, the group supplies medical assistance, food, and shelter to combat areas. It also documents human rights abuses.

Members of FBR began working in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria two years ago. The Burmese nationals and American volunteers have provided medical care, food, and water to Iraqis that were fleeing ISIS or recently liberated. They have evacuated and treated the wounded in an Iraqi supply truck ambushed by ISIS, prayed with a man whose family was killed by friendly fire, and provided programming for school children in northern Syria and northern Iraq.

And as ISIS leaves parts of Mosul, FBR is close behind, providing supplies, medical assistance, children’s programming, and the first store in the southeastern part of the city.

CT spoke with Eubank, whose answers are brief because he was in Mosul outskirts, and FBR operations coordinator Hosannah Valentine about why Burmese Christians have traded their own conflict zone for another.

CT: FBR is set up to help oppressed people in Burma/Myanmar. How did you decide to add ...

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[Cfamily]10 Books You Should Read to Your Kids This Christmas
« Reply #411 on: December 23, 2016, 07:19:56 AM »
10 Books You Should Read to Your Kids This Christmas

I celebrate the season by reading stories to my kids. Here are our favorites.

For every child filled with eager anticipation about Christmas, I suspect there’s a mother wondering how she’ll manage all the extras that accompany the month of December. As a mom with three kids, I’ve discovered a way of entering into the season that doesn’t involve a trip to the grocery store, an afternoon of marathon baking, or craft projects that require sequins, fabric, or hot glue (I’m a little tired just typing that). You can even do it lying down or in your favorite chair.

It’s reading.

Years ago, our family started accumulating a small collection of the many Christmas books written for children. Each year, a child would receive one new book as a Christmas gift, and throughout December we would read our way through the growing collection. These books—which do a masterful job of showing instead of merely telling the gospel truths of Advent and Christmas—have delighted me as much as they have my children. As we near the end of Advent and approach the 12 days of Christmas, here are 10 favorites for you to read and enjoy:

The Story of Holly and Ivy

by Rumer Godden (illustrated by Barbara Cooney)

A six-year-old orphan girl goes looking for a home, a doll in a toyshop wishes to be loved, and a childless couple longs for a family. Godden’s book is a captivating story about the ache of emptiness, the desire to belong, and the triumph of good over darkness and futility. I’ve read it to my daughters year after year, and it’s so enchanting that I’ve discovered them pulling it off the shelf to read even during summer months.

Song of the Stars

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The author of the bestselling Jesus Storybook Bible, Lloyd-Jones has a knack for making words sing ...

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Source: 10 Books You Should Read to Your Kids This Christmas

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[Cfamily]Free Pastor Andrew: Christians Rally for Missionary Jailed in Turkey
« Reply #412 on: December 24, 2016, 07:23:23 AM »
Free Pastor Andrew: Christians Rally for Missionary Jailed in Turkey

American pastor caught up in terrorism sweep by Muslim-majority country he served for more than 20 years.

Christian advocates in the United States have launched a global campaign to release Andrew Brunson, an American pastor jailed on erroneous allegations amid a crackdown on evangelicals in Turkey.

The North Carolina native led a congregation in the majority-Muslim nation for 23 years before being detained in early October and sent to prison in early December. In recent months, several fellow expatriate pastors have been deported.

“As we approach Christmas—a season of hope and promise—we know that people around the world will stand with Pastor Andrew—will be Pastor Andrew’s voice—supporting his fight for freedom, and will join us in urging Turkey to release him immediately,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), now representing Brunson’s family.

More than 100,000 have signed the ACLJ petition calling for his release. (The organization previously campaigned for years for the release of Saeed Abedini from Iran.)

The pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church on the west coast of Turkey was imprisoned based on allegations of ties to the Gülen movement, whose followers are blamed by the Turkish government of attempting a coup on July 15.

Since the failed coup, Turkey has gone after several groups in an attempt to prosecute those who support the Gülen movement. The Christian group Middle Eastern Concern reports that more than 40,000 people, including opposition party politicians, military personnel, journalists, and teachers, have been arrested since July.

Turkey has accused multiple pastors of being “a threat to national security.” Last month, Ryan Keating, a ministry leader and doctoral student living in Turkey with his family ...

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[Cfamily]Stay the Course: My Interview with Wilfredo de Jesus on His Recent Book
« Reply #413 on: December 25, 2016, 07:00:34 AM »
Stay the Course: My Interview with Wilfredo de Jesus on His Recent Book

"Pastor Choco" pastors one of the fastest growing churches in Chicago.

Ed:You write in the book that Christ is the True North. It keeps us on track with God and His purposes for us. What advice can you give to help us stay the course when culture is drifting?

Pastor Choco: Let me share a story. I was recently on a two-hour flight from Chicago to Dallas. As I was walked off the airplane after landing, the cockpit opened and I saw the pilot. I asked him, “Can you tell me how many times you guys had to punch all these buttons in the past two hours?”

He responded, “We probably touched them several thousands of times.” “Really?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” he responded. “If you don't continue coming back to the original plan, the route, the plane would end up in the ocean as a result of the headwinds and tailwinds. There is constant drifting, and have to continue to go back to these buttons to make sure we end up in Dallas."

I asked, "Can you give me a percentage that this plane was on target from Chicago to Dallas?" He answered, "Only 1% of the time. The other 99% we're making adjustments."

My advice to all of us is that we’ve got to keep coming back to the basics—the altar, the Bible, our daily devotions, Jesus. We’ve got to keep checking to make sure we’re not drifting with the culture. Every day, we must be check ourselves. If not, we'll drift into the ocean with this culture.

Ed:One of the questions people ask is, “What's the kingdom damage when believers give in and accept the change, when they fiercely oppose change, or when they withdraw because they can't stand the change?” What is your response to this kind of question?

Pastor Choco: I think there are four responses ...

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Source: Stay the Course: My Interview with Wilfredo de Jesus on His Recent Book

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[Cfamily]Is It Too Late for Russell Moore to Say Sorry?
« Reply #414 on: December 26, 2016, 07:03:34 AM »
Is It Too Late for Russell Moore to Say Sorry?

Southern Baptist leader's critiques of Trump and his supporters are having an impact beyond the election.

In the first presidential election since Russell Moore became the leading evangelical voice in Washington, America saw more of him than ever before.

With each TV news appearance and op-ed parsing the complicated evangelical vote in this year’s contentious election, fellow Southern Baptists took notice of Moore’s personal conviction against Donald Trump, his characterizations of Trump supporters, and the broader changes he’d implemented as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) over the previous three years.

It’s clear that Moore represents a significant shift for America’s largest Protestant denomination, and many welcome his leadership; more than 1,200 championed their support on Twitter with #IStandWithMoore this week amid media coverage of his SBC critics.

However, others question whether Moore’s outspokenness—particularly his critical remarks made toward fellow Southern Baptists and evangelicals at large who supported Trump—betrays the role he was appointed to.

This week, The Wall Street Journal (followed by NPR and Religion News Service) outlined the backlash Moore faces from within his denomination. Some leaders critical of Moore’s stance are considering withholding their megachurch’s or state convention’s support of the ERLC (through the denomination’s Cooperative Program fund). They believe Moore does not represent their political views, and fear he will not be able to advocate for them on Capitol Hill after so vocally lambasting Trump.

On Monday, Moore apologized for any sound bites during the campaign that may have overstated his criticism of Trump defenders. He wrote:

I witnessed a ...

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[Cfamily]How to Respond When People Say ‘No’ to Jesus (Part 1)
« Reply #415 on: December 27, 2016, 07:08:49 AM »
How to Respond When People Say ‘No’ to Jesus (Part 1)

InterVarsity evangelist offers words of encouragement

Getting up the nerve to share Jesus with others around us takes all the courage we can muster. We pray and ask God for wisdom, we review what we’ll say in our minds and perhaps a few Bible verses, and with palpitations in our chest, we begin to share Jesus.

For many Christians, it is the hardest thing they do. Sharing Jesus with others puts us at both God’s mercy as well as the mercy of those with whom we share. One of the most challenging things in this exercise of faith often comes when the person we are sharing with rejects the good news.

A ‘no’ to Jesus can feel like a failure to us; it can call into question whether or not God is with us, leading us, empowering us as we share Jesus. Additionally, for Christians, it is hard to imagine how people could say ‘no’ to such a great message and promise of forgiveness, love, and new life. What we do with a ‘no’ to Jesus is perhaps the most important exercise of faith in our witness.

Here are some words of encouragement and guidance on how to respond when people say no to Jesus.

#1. Realize Your Role

Jesus sends us out as His witnesses to faithfully and powerfully proclaim Him. He does not promise positive results. In fact, rejection ought to be expected as a normal part of faithful witness. We are successful in evangelism if we proclaim lovingly and truthfully the gospel.

Success in evangelism isn’t counted by people’s response. A ‘no’ or a ‘yes’ is not under our control. To be sure, we can learn to do a better job—to be more prophetic, more pastoral, more accurate, more persuasive, but in the end a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is under the control of the person hearing.

Our job is to ...

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Source: How to Respond When People Say ‘No’ to Jesus (Part 1)

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