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Lent, Unplugged
« Reply #488 on: March 07, 2017, 07:02:15 PM »

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Lent, Unplugged

In a time of digital consumption, here’s how the church can lead the way on healthy media fasting.


With 6.4 billion digital devices connected to the Internet at the end of 2016 and 20 billion expected to be online by 2020, consensus is growing that tech’s best feature may be its off switch.


This week we entered Lent—a time for abstaining from the things that disconnect us from the divine, from God, from that which gives us life. For 40 days, we set aside distractions and vices in order to practice self-denial, focus on repentance, seek clarity in prayer, and pursue intimacy with God and others.


For many, the smartphone has become the ultimate vice. We are living in a never-off culture, where the speed and gloss of our screens often makes the connection to those far away seem more interesting and urgent than the people and experiences right in front of us. It's happening to teens at prom, parents on soccer fields, and CEOs in boardrooms. Our energy, creativity, and time—perhaps the best of us—are being spent committed to screens.


As Christians, we’re not exempt from this vice.


In a Lenten reflection in The New York Times, Catholic María de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda writes, “The question for me is not whether there’s a point to giving things up during Lent, but whether I should ever stop fasting from all that numbs, dulls, and deadens me to life, all of life, as it is today—the good and the bad. Fasting makes me willing to try.”


This weekend we are invited to fast. The National Day of Unplugging and its guiding project, the Sabbath Manifesto, invites us to join their eighth observance from sundown Friday, March 3 to sundown Saturday, March 4. Sabbath Manifesto’s aim is not just to promote one day of unplugging from technology, but a lifestyle change, explains ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/XCw7PINa_5g/lent-unplugged.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/75842.jpg?w=460
http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3165317
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/03/28/what-is-the-purpose-of-lent-2/lent-is-not-about-suffering-but-the-faithful-reaction
http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/march/lent-unplugged.html
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CFamily

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Why a Christian Approach to Fighting Homelessness Pays Off
« Reply #489 on: March 08, 2017, 07:09:08 PM »
Why a Christian Approach to Fighting Homelessness Pays Off

Study: Ministries saved taxpayers $119 million in 11 cities by offering both housing and healing.


When it comes to America’s homeless, Christian organizations set out to do more than offer a hot meal and safe place to stay. They believe that in order to best serve their needy neighbors, they must get to know them.


“Instead of being a kitchen cook, you’d be out at the tables with the people,” said Jim Reese, president and CEO of Atlanta Mission, which serves 1,000 homeless men, women, and children a day in its shelters, programs, and transitional homes. “How do you change lives? It comes from creating a relationship with them and building trust.”


Though religious nonprofits in some locales have faced escalating restrictions on homeless outreach in recent years, their efforts are working. Researchers discovered that faith-based organizations’ relational approach leads to a deeper understanding of the complexity of homelessness and better outcomes for their clients and cities.


Ministries provide 60 percent of emergency shelter spots available in 11 major American cities, and the more faith-based shelters operating, the smaller its homeless population, according to a Baylor University study published last month.


In the 11 locations studied (Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Omaha, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, and Seattle), faith-based nonprofits were particularly effective at reducing the homeless population, and saved taxpayers an estimated $119 million with their care and training.


“While government programs and public policy address homelessness directly as the problem, the faith community often sees it as symptomatic of more complex personal and societal conditions stemming from relational poverty and family fragmentation,” the study concluded, ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/cck3ftBy-Ac/christian-approach-fighting-homelessness-pays-off-baylor.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/75882.jpg?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/september/homeless-ministry-restrictions.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2012/june/churches-accuse-philadelphia-of-discriminating-against.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2012/september/skid-row-feedings-of-homeless-should-end-argue-la-clergy.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2012/may/can-homeless-shelter-qualify-as-church.html
http://nationalhomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Food-Sharing2014.pdf
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/february/feeding-of-homeless-in-seattle-will-continue.html
http://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=176953
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/march/christian-approach-fighting-homelessness-pays-off-baylor.html
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Farewell, Jesus Junk? Christian Retail Finds a Deeper Purpose
« Reply #490 on: March 09, 2017, 07:16:14 PM »
Farewell, Jesus Junk? Christian Retail Finds a Deeper Purpose

With the closing of Family Christian, stores focus on curation and community involvement.


At the start of this year, author Jared C. Wilson tweeted a list of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s 100 best-selling books of 2016. Among the titles in the top 20: three versions of Sarah Young’s controversial Jesus Calling, two kids joke books, two adult coloring books, titles by HGTV stars and athletes, and, of course, the latest from Joel Osteen.


Wilson called the rankings “proof American evangelicalism traffics mainly in superficiality, sentimentalism, and superstition.” Hundreds of fellow evangelicals chimed in to speculate about the list and point fingers at the church, the shoppers, and the stores selling these titles—as well as offer suggestions for better books out there.


When America’s biggest Christian chain, Family Christian Stores, announced last month that it would be shutting its doors, a small number of Christian bookstore cynics brought up similar critiques over the shallower content its stores promoted alongside Bibles and Christian classics. The speculated silver lining: Did Family Christian’s closure mean consumers were turning away from the celebrity books, inspirational titles, and “Jesus junk”?


Compared to America’s other major Christian retailer—LifeWay Christian Resources—Family Christian was more relaxed in its offerings and carried some items its Southern Baptist counterpart did not. Its harshest critics, including a blogger at World Net Daily, blamed its downfall on the “heretical books and other materials” on Family Christian’s shelves. On a similar note, satire site TheBabylon Bee posted the headline: “Recent Shortage Of Heaven-And-Back Trips Puts Family Christian Stores Out Of Business.” ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/n5bHhgbRDyg/farewell-jesus-junk-christian-retail-finds-deeper-purpose.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/75963.jpg?w=460
https://twitter.com/jaredcwilson/status/816428047238922240
http://christianbookexpo.com/bestseller/all.php?id=BO16
https://world.wng.org/2017/03/topping_the_top_50
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/february/all-family-christian-stores-closing-fcs-liquidation.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/march-web-only/farewell-jesus-junk-christian-retail-finds-deeper-purpose.html
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http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/n5bHhgbRDyg
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CFamily

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(Im)Possible: One-on-One with Lon Allison about His New Book on Evangelism
« Reply #491 on: March 10, 2017, 07:05:16 PM »
(Im)Possible: One-on-One with Lon Allison about His New Book on Evangelism

Chicagoland pastor encourages believers to Prayer-Care-Share.


Ed: Lon, why did you write (Im)Possible?


Lon: I wanted all God’s people to know that they can share their faith as a way of life and enjoy it! It doesn’t have to be a ‘must do,’ but can become a ‘want to.’ The truth is, we were made for this. It’s in our spiritual DNA. I just want to help people release what’s in them because the Spirit who lives in them is a witness for Christ.


Ed: What stops people from a witness life?


Lon: There are several things that stop people, but the biggest one is a four-letter word—FEAR. I understand that. I’ve been doing evangelism for 46 years. My training is in this field; I teach it at both a Masters and Doctoral level, and I’m still afraid. Why? The bottom line is Satan.


When I realized that fear of witnessing was as much a temptation as any other temptation, a light went off for me. All the concerns like fear of rejection, persecution, embarrassment, etc. are inflamed by the tempter making them bigger than they should be.


But what do I do about it? Expect fear, ask God for courage, and witness anyway. Whenever I do, both His love for the lost and my joy and sense of purpose when I share far exceed any fear that assailed me in the beginning. My wife, Marie, likens witness to riding a roller coaster. The initial fear as the cars are drawn up the high track is soon replaced by exhilaration. She calls it “scary-fun.”


Ed: You define evangelism or witness in an intriguing way. What is it?


Lon: To witness is to cooperate with God and others to bring a person at least one step closer to God.


Ed: Unpack that for me.


Lon: First of all, God is the evangelist. His prevenient grace is at work in a person’s life before we ever ...

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http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/march/impossible-one-on-one-with-lon-allison-about-his-new-book-o.html
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CFamily

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Making Connections with Scattered People
« Reply #492 on: March 11, 2017, 07:00:10 PM »
Making Connections with Scattered People

How can we reach the immigrants in our community?


I regularly frequent the coffee shop in my neighbourhood. True, I can have a cup of coffee at home. Why then do I head out to the coffee shop on a near daily basis?


The neighbourhood cafe is a place of connection. It is a communal place where people pause from their busy days to share a space. Oftentimes, at the coffee shop strangers will strike up conversations. Sometimes, strangers will become friends.


As I write this post, I have already said “good morning” to some other morning regulars of our neighbourhood café—a couple of middle-aged South Asians and a table of South Americans. “Good to see you again. How is life?”


It may seem easy to connect with the “scattered people,” but I have often heard the question, “How can we reach the immigrants in our community?”


To clarify, migrants are ‘scattered people’; some are voluntarily, while many are involuntarily. For this post, I refer to international or global migrants or ‘externally-displaced’ people; however, every community has internally-displaced people who must also be reached. Immigrants are specifically people who have arrived in a country from another country.


So what do we have to do to reach people in our community? Allow me to propose three initial steps:



     
  1. Ask God for open eyes, an open heart, and open arms. Obvious? It is unfortunate that this step is often overlooked, but it is the most important. How can we propose to reach others with the love of Jesus Christ if we have not been inspired to do so? We will need to seek the heart of Jesus before moving on to the next steps.

  2.  
  3. Throw out the stereotypes, particularly in this time with the news highlighting the plight of millions of asylum seekers (refugees). Appreciate the lives beyond the stereotypes. We may meet visible minorities in our community who look different, come to the conclusion that they are immigrants, and proceed to communicate with faulty preconceived notions of their backgrounds. A couple of years ago, my surgeon was a recent immigrant from Armenia. His assistant was a PhD student from Iran. They were educated and influential. In my city, I have met many immigrants from all parts of the globe—India, China, and Somalia, Ireland, Serbia, and Poland. Many immigrants are needy and some come from developing regions. Others are highly educated and may be quite sophisticated and wealthy. Immigrants come from varied backgrounds with a myriad of experiences that cannot be condensed into easy generalizations.

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/QKLO9LAXG_E/making-connections-with-scattered-people.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/75923.png?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/march/making-connections-with-scattered-people.html
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Why We’re Still Reading ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ 80 Years Later
« Reply #493 on: March 12, 2017, 07:01:35 PM »
Why We’re Still Reading ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ 80 Years Later

How Oswald Chambers unwittingly became one of the most popular devotional writers of all time.


When My Utmost for His Highest first appeared in the United States, in 1935, few could have predicted that the little book of daily readings would become a defining text of American evangelicalism. Its author was an obscure Scottish preacher who had died young—nearly 20 years earlier (this year marks the 100th anniversary of his death)—and who was mostly unknown and unpublished on American soil.


Yet Utmost swiftly won a following among American evangelicals—and not just any following. Among the book’s earliest readers were Billy Graham, Bill Bright, and Henrietta Mears. Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, started early group meetings by reading from the book. The association with prominent Evangelical figures would continue through the decades: Jerry Falwell is remembered as a devotee, and George W. Bush has spoken often of his love of the book.


But it isn’t just the famous names that account for Utmost’s lasting popularity. That honor belongs primarily to the millions of readers who have incorporated the book into their daily time of devotion. Giving copies to their family members and friends, they have passed Utmost down through the generations, establishing it as a trusted spiritual guide.


Growing Up with Utmost


Like many Evangelical children, I was raised to trust Utmost, and to read it as part of my daily “quiet time” with God. In the house in Dallas, Texas, where I spent my childhood, there were always copies of it lying around. This was thanks to my grandmother, who, upon seeing a five-for-two special one Sunday at the church bookstore, had taken the lot. When I was 15, she gave one of these copies to me.


My first impression of Utmost was that ...

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Source: Why We’re Still Reading ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ 80 Years Later

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5 Keys Every Pastor and Leader Needs In 2017
« Reply #494 on: March 13, 2017, 07:08:34 PM »
5 Keys Every Pastor and Leader Needs In 2017

Every leader should know how to lead a generation who looks before they leap.


Over almost 2 decades, I have seen a resurgence of hunger in the next generation for authentic leadership. They want to come into genuine relationship with Christ beyond tradition to experience for themselves the fullness of His love, His grace, and His power, but they need leadership to guide them. The more we lead them to meet Him face to face, the more they run to His feet. They want leadership that will do more than inspire them; they want leadership that will journey with them. This discipleship of leadership is built over time through the process of trust, humility, and accountability. And this process is as sacred as the influence to lead. More than ever, every leader and Pastor needs to know how to lead a generation who leads before they follow, questions before they answer, and leaps before they look. Here’s what I’ve learned that will help you.


1. Lead from the Source


For me, the most important part of leading is protecting my bandwidth through daily and weekly non-negotiable spiritual disciplines. Regardless of where I am in the country or the deadlines, phone calls, and meetings, the first part of every morning is spent in prayer and devotional reading of the One Year Bible. My quiet time with God is a non-negotiable for me as it’s in those quiet moments with God where He releases vision, imparts clarity, and confirms His word for my life and ministry. This invaluable time has allowed me to slow down my internal speedometer to maintain the constant aptitude to be both the Pastor with the heart for the people and the husband, father, and grandfather with the heart for my family. Next generation Latino leaders have watched their parents work with impeccable ethic, but have missed the power in pause. ...

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La esposa del pastor y el balance entre su ministerio y su salud
« Reply #495 on: March 14, 2017, 07:02:09 PM »
La esposa del pastor y el balance entre su ministerio y su salud

Ella es más rápida que una bala veloz, capaz de brincar edificios altos de un solo salto. Ella representa la verdad, la justicia y el “Camino Americano”. ¿La reconoces?


Como declara Proverbios 31:9: “Habla a favor de los que no pueden hablar por sí mismos; garantiza justicia para todos los abatidos. Sí, habla a favor de los pobres e indefensos, y asegúrate de que se les haga justicia”. Ella es la pareja de por vida de un hombre—su marido. Ella es el fundamento de su familia y el corazón de la iglesia. Esta mujer, intrigante y refinada, no es Superman. Esta mujer es la esposa del pastor.


La esposa del pastor tiene muchos papeles en su vida y con gran habilidad maneja cada papel como un plato giratorio en movimiento constante y sin perder el ritmo. Su esposo, familia, iglesia, trabajo y comunidad dependen de ella cada semana para satisfacer sus necesidades, consolar los corazones rotos, curar las rodillas heridas, orientar a los futuros líderes y hacer todo con una sonrisa y con la fuerza de una mujer biónica.


A medida que año tras año los deberes del pastor se vuelven más complejos y desafiantes, la participación de su esposa en el ministerio también puede llegar a estar fuera de balance en las otras áreas de su vida. Si la esposa del pastor no mantiene bajo control las cuatro áreas principales de su vida, puede fácilmente desanimarse, deprimirse y enfermarse.


Las esposas de los pastores deben mantener ciertos límites y protecciones para asegurar un equilibrio saludable del ministerio, así como el equilibrio en las cuatro áreas de su vida personal. Estas cuatro ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/o6HpM9ljoTA/la-esposa-del-pastor-y-el-balance-entre-su-ministerio-y-su-.html
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