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[Cfamily]When Coffee Isn't Enough: Reflecting on Relationships & Gospel Witness
« Reply #480 on: February 27, 2017, 07:04:43 PM »

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When Coffee Isn't Enough: Reflecting on Relationships & Gospel Witness

The most valuable resource we can offer is the Gospel.

We all hear those inspiring stories of people who have paid for the meal of the person behind them in the drive-thru lane. Or people who have dropped $20 bills into the buckets of all those they pass by on the street. Or those who have purchased a hot drink for the person standing out in the cold. Our hearts warm as we hear of these and we are inspired to action.

At the risk of offending some, let me be honest: what you think is warm and fuzzy may in fact be the opposite to someone else. I was reminded of this last week when I met Heather. Heather is a homeless woman who just left her abusive boyfriend and is looking for money for a down payment on an apartment so she no longer has to be homeless. She suffers from spinal pain and can’t work, but has income from social security and disability.

The moment I saw Heather standing alone on the street, I made a bee-line for her. We talked and prayed and I told her of the love of God.

And as we talked, a woman came by and handed Heather a cup of coffee and walked away. Heather looked down at it and then eagerly re-engaged our conversation.

Missiologist Donald K. Smith once said that all communication is cross-cultural. David Hesselgrave has also written on the importance of contextualization, worldview, communications, and the like, as have many others. When we seek to serve others, we put their needs before ours. We deliberately work to understand what would best serve them. We seek ways to love and care for them so they feel valued and valuable.

The Golden Rule, for all of its brilliance, is often times a hindrance to true gospel witness and real relationships. Let me share a silly, but powerful proverb to make my point:

The restaurant had a sign that said, "We treat others ...

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Evangelical Critics: Franklin Graham’s Evangelism Won’t Work in Vancouver

Canadian pastors debate whether Trump baggage will hurt local outreach efforts.

Compared to Franklin Graham’s evangelistic rallies in far-off countries, his upcoming event in Vancouver is relatively close to home. But the diverse, mostly secular Canadian city is culturally a world away from the Bible Belt.

That’s partly why a group of fellow evangelicals has joined local Christian leaders asking him not to speak at the Festival of Hope, a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association event scheduled to take place next week in the Vancouver Canucks’ arena.

For months, a group of Vancouver pastors have raised concerns about Graham’s “contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric,” particularly his characterizations of the LGBT community, Muslims, and immigrants.

Context matters for evangelism, and they worry that a figure who has made such controversial remarks won’t be a good fit to share the Good News with the more progressive people of Vancouver. Especially not right now.

“Given that the express goal of this event is evangelism, with the commitment of new believers to Christ, we do not believe that Rev. Graham … should be the exemplar that impresses itself on these new believers,” wrote four evangelical pastors and a Catholic leader who were invited to endorse the March 3–5 event, but opposed Graham’s place as keynote speaker.

The latest statement against Graham’s appearance was released Friday afternoon and signed by leaders representing 60 percent of Vancouver’s Christians. Pastors from Baptist, Reformed, Foursquare, Vineyard, and nondenominational churches signed the letter, along with representatives from Catholic and mainline churches.

“Hopefully it will differentiate the mainstream Christian vision from ...

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Died: H. Wilbert Norton, Who Taught Christian Colleges to Care About Missions

Congo missionary and TEDS, Wheaton, and RTS educator organized first Urbana conference.

H. Wilbert Norton, whose lifelong leadership brought a missions focus to Christian higher education, died last Monday, less than a week after celebrating his 102nd birthday.

Norton served at more than a half-dozen Christian schools prior to his retirement in 2003, expanded theological education in Africa as an Evangelical Free Church missionary, and helped organize InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s earliest student mission conference.

“Norton’s widespread impact as a church and denominational leader, educator, and missionary has left an amazing legacy,” said Trinity International University president David S. Dockery, who gave the sermon at his funeral Saturday. “We offer thanks to God for [his] life and influence.”

Norton launched missions programs at: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he also served as president; Wheaton College Graduate School, where he also served as dean; and Reformed Theological Seminary, where he taught in Jackson, Mississippi, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Norton’s warm heart for sharing the gospel and visionary leadership for global missions has an enduring legacy in the world today through the many lives he touched and the many thriving institutions … that he worked to start or helped to grow,” stated Philip Ryken, Wheaton’s president.

Part of the first masters-level cohort at Columbia Bible College in the late 1930s, the Chicago native and Wheaton alumnus served as one of the first leaders of the Student Foreign Missions Fellowship—an evangelical counterpart to the Student Volunteer Movement, which had shifted more theologically liberal.

The organization became a part of the early InterVarsity Christian Fellowship ...

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Theology for Life (Ep. 13): The Intersection of Acting & The Christian Faith

Actor and director Mark Lewis is Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton College.

What is it that people are looking for in theater or entertainment as it relates to theology? Professor Mark Lewis talks in this episode of Theology for Life about why story is part of our narrative and why we are all ‘actors’ in different ways. Something that acting does is that it allows us to be more in touch with how and what we are communicating and if we are being authentic to who we are in Christ.

Ed, Lynn, and Mark discuss where the movie industry going, and what Christians should be watching and surrounding ourselves with. All of us have different tolerances, Lewis says, but we do need to be aware that Hollywood is mirroring our culture and trying to sell us something. We must ask if, after we have watched something, have we drawn further or closer to God?

Lewis reflects on what actors must consider about the play and the part, and how his life was impacted by certain roles.

An actor spends his or her life examining his or her own life in order to build a bridge to someone else’s life, says Lewis. We must understand things around us to qualify us to be authentic. There are certain qualities we must have—empathy, compassion, authenticity. The world doesn’t need another actor, Lewis says. What the world is dying for is truth-tellers and the arts are a good place to begin to tell the truth.

Mark Lewis is Associate Professor of Communication and Director of the Theater Programs at Wheaton College. He previously worked as an actor in New York City for 15 years.

Lynn Cohick is Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, ...

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Q&A with Trevin Wax, Publisher of the Newly Revised Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Holman Christian Standard Bible is updated and revised.

Ed: As a publisher of Bibles, what trends are you seeing about Bible reading practices?

Trevin: Our research shows that people often own several Bibles, respect the Bible as a sacred text, and want to read it, but tend to not open it up with great frequency.

Ed: Why are people not reading the Bible more?

Trevin: The top reason people give is they say they are too busy and don’t have time. Of course, that’s a matter of priorities, and not something that I can impact directly as a Bible publisher! But closely behind that reason—people feel frustrated because the Bible is difficult to understand. The Christian Standard Bible translation team took this to heart as they worked on the latest update.

Ed: What is the background of the Christian Standard Bible? How is it unique?

Trevin: The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The CSB includes updated translation and word choices in order to optimize both fidelity to the original languages and clarity for a modern audience.

The CSB is as literal a translation of the ancient source texts as possible, but, in the many places throughout scripture where a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, it uses a more dynamic translation. In all cases, the intent is to convey the original meaning of God’s word as faithfully and as clearly as possible.

Ed: Who are the translators of the CSB, the denominations they represent, and why were they selected?

Trevin: The original HCSB translation committee includes more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations who translated the HCSB from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages.

In keeping with that trans-denominational focus, the revision ...

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Source: Q&A with Trevin Wax, Publisher of the Newly Revised Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

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[Cfamily]Lent Is Here to Throw Us Off Again
« Reply #485 on: March 04, 2017, 07:06:39 PM »
Lent Is Here to Throw Us Off Again

Finding healing in repetition, community, and art. 

[Our job as Christians is] to have constantly before our eyes in the room we most frequent some work of the best attainable art. This will teach us to refuse evil and choose the good. – George MacDonald

Now is the time to loosen, cast away

The useless weight of everything but love. – Malcolm Guite

I both love and dread Lent.

I dread it because it asks a great deal of me. It invites me to give up things that I enjoy, things whose absence I might feel acutely, in some cases painfully. It does so not, as the casual Christian might suppose, as a way to inconvenience me or, more brightly, to enable me to live a more healthy, fruitful, faithful life (which, here and there, it does, and thank God for that).

Lent is decidedly uninterested in such pragmatic outcomes. It is interested instead in helping us to die a good death, with Jesus and with others who have bound themselves to the One whose death defines all deaths and defies death itself, and whose resurrected life determines the shape of the life that is truly life.

Each year, around the latter part of winter, Lent arrives. It nearly always surprises me. Here it is, once again, summoning me to change how I typically live. Predictably, I dread this summons every time. If there were an option to tack on a few extra days to the “ordinary time” that follows Christmastide, to forestall the arrival of Ash Wednesday, I would take it in a heartbeat.

For ten months out of the year, excepting the “little Lent” of Advent, I go about my life ordered by a range of habits, governing how I eat, drink, sleep, talk on the phone, check email, exercise, write books, make decisions, treat other people, mow the lawn, pay bills, pray, worry, and worship.

For the 40 ...

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[Cfamily]Compassion: Why We’re Leaving India, But Still Have Hope
« Reply #486 on: March 05, 2017, 07:32:56 PM »
Compassion: Why We’re Leaving India, But Still Have Hope

‘Frustrated’ CEO explains how shutdown of 589 centers serving 145,000 children will affect staff, sponsors, and churches.

In two weeks, Compassion International will be out of India.

The child development ministry confirmed today that after 48 years, its final day of operation will be March 15.

That means shutting the doors of 589 Indian-staffed development centers caring for more than 145,000 children, more than any other of the 25 countries where it works.

“I feel frustrated,” president and CEO Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado told CT.

That’s because Compassion has worked every angle to try to stay open in India since last February, when India’s Ministry of Home Affairs put it on a list of organizations needing prior approval before transferring funds into the country. Then the government refused to grant such approval.

The government’s move can be traced back to 2011, when it changed its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act so that it could regulate NGOs it disagrees with philosophically, Mellado said. The move was seen by many as another step toward Hindu nationalism since 2014.

Since then, attacks on Christians and Muslims have increased. India is now No. 15 on Open Doors’ list of countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian, up from No. 31 in 2013.

“In the middle of all this, we were pouring significant resources into local evangelical Christian churches,” Mellado said. “You can see where we would hit the radar screen.”

Compassion channels about $45 million into the country every year, more than any other charity. And unlike World Vision, which also helps children in India but breaks up its funding across different humanitarian entities, Compassion’s donations all went to local churches through two offices, making the amount stand out.

Increasingly desperate to be able ...

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[Cfamily]Christianity's Most Vivid Celebration Is a Meal
« Reply #487 on: March 06, 2017, 07:33:49 PM »
Christianity's Most Vivid Celebration Is a Meal

This inner-city pastor is inviting himself into his neighbor's homes.

Not every community is the same.

For the last 20 years, I have lived in a very connected neighborhood. This is the kind of place where people walk the streets, kids attend the same local school in walking distance, and people see each other at the laundromat, at the doctor, at the local supermarket, or at church. Neighbors greet each other with great ease.

In short, I live in a very welcoming, accessible community.

Twelve years ago when I became a pastor, it felt normal for people to meet me at “the office,” which is a way of referring to our church building, during the week. I have also met with people at coffee places or at neighborhood taquerias. These kinds of public places to connect abound throughout our community.

It’s interesting how slowly and unintentionally a trend began to take root in me. Maybe it was a growing inner sense to not push myself into others’ privacy too much. Perhaps it was a way for me to relieve people from the anxiety of having to make their homes ‘presentable’ for a pastoral visit. The fact is that slowly I almost completely quit visiting people in their homes.

Over a year ago, in full honesty and with a repentant heart, a group of us friends began to evaluate our growing coldness and ineffectiveness towards evangelism. Was there something we had lost? What were we missing?

Almost simultaneously, we began to reencounter Jesus’ attitude towards homes. Most of the time if Jesus was not walking with people, He was at someone’s house. He seldom resisted invitations (which gained him a reputation of glutton and ‘party animal’). Other times, he unashamedly invited Himself into people’s homes.

Its funny to imagine how a modern-day Zacchaeus ...

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Source: Christianity's Most Vivid Celebration Is a Meal

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