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How to Love Your Ideological Enemy
« Reply #528 on: May 21, 2017, 07:10:16 PM »

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How to Love Your Ideological Enemy

If hospitality is a model for discipleship, then we need both open doors and clear boundaries.


#AmplifyWomen is a two-month-long series running on CT Women, designed to generate a new conversation about women’s leadership and discipleship. Last week we heard from Sharon Hodde Miller on how sharing your platform with others is an act of stewardship, and this week, Karen Swallow Prior invites us to practice “hospitable orthodoxy” in divisive times.


I often receive messages from people who hold to historic church teachings but are increasingly uncertain about how to share these beliefs openly in a cultural climate that’s increasingly hostile to them. One woman, for example, wrote that she wants to “maintain the message of Christ's love and grace mingled with the truth that is so important not to withhold” but finds it hard to do so among diverse friends. Another shared that she hesitates more and more to speak out for fear of being seen as “negative and hateful.”


Truth be told, I feel these struggles myself on most days. It is not easy, for example, to tell someone I love dearly that I cannot attend his wedding because my love for him compels me not to pretend marriage is something other than what God created it to be. Nor is it easy in a world so defined by a gnostic dichotomy between spiritual and physical to insist that the Incarnation and the Resurrection—God becoming man and dwelling among us, dying on the cross and rising from the dead—are facts as true as the law of gravity.


Yet, the Bible exhorts Christians to speak “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We are obligated to emulate the example of Jesus, who balanced in beautiful harmony the demands of both love and truth. Those of us concerned with not abandoning truth as we speak in love find ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/6_pAIeQbkUA/how-to-love-your-ideological-enemy.html
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http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/may/how-to-liberate-ourselves-from-perils-of-platform.html
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The World’s Biggest Trafficking Problem Remains in the Background
« Reply #529 on: May 22, 2017, 07:04:07 PM »
The World’s Biggest Trafficking Problem Remains in the Background

How Christians in Cambodia are drawing attention to labor trafficking and the quiet power of prevention.


At a shelter in Cambodia, 16-year-old girl points to the scar where she tried to slit her wrist with a broken plate.


Two years before, she left her province when offered a job as a cleaning lady in South Korea. Instead, she was sold into marriage in Beijing, where her new husband kept her locked up and demanded she give him a child.


“It was like hell,” she tells CT through a translator. “I just wanted to die.”


When she got pregnant soon after, the teen bride escaped at her first doctor’s appointment and contacted her friends 2,000 miles away, who called a hotline to arrange her rescue and repatriation. She and her 11-month-old daughter live in a home operated by Agape International Ministries, among dorm-style bunk beds with about 50 other girls.


In 2015, consulate officials brought 85 trafficked brides back from China, as cross-border labor trafficking of all kinds surged throughout the region. Recent economic partnerships have opened up connections between Cambodia and its neighbors—Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar—making it the easiest time in decades to get in and out. “There were new opportunities,” said Helen Sworn, founder of the anti-trafficking coalition Chab Dai, “but new risks for exploitation.”


Child brides, domestic servitude, and other employment scams fall into the broad category of labor trafficking. It happens on a massive scale around Cambodia; some recent studies estimate a quarter million Cambodians are victims of modern-day slavery.


Yet, “it’s one of the quieter human trafficking problems,” said Barry Jessen, manager for Samaritan’s Purse’s safe migration program in Cambodia. “Sex trafficking is much easier ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/9OaY78N0n4w/worlds-biggest-trafficking-problem-labor-cambodia.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/76977.jpg?w=460
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/feb/01/weddings-from-hell-cambodian-brides-trafficked-china
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/june/worlds-biggest-trafficking-problem-labor-cambodia.html
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Five Things You Should Know About Reinhold Niebuhr
« Reply #530 on: May 23, 2017, 07:09:43 PM »
Five Things You Should Know About Reinhold Niebuhr

From Carter to Comey, the legacy of "Washington's Favorite Theologian" endures.


Nearly 50 years since his death, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr still routinely makes headlines. A high-profile documentary, An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, debuted earlier this year. Recently deposed FBI director James Comey “almost certainly” used his name for his private Twitter account. Ten years ago,  TheAtlantic declared “Everybody Loves Reinhold”; last month, Religion & Politics called him “Washington’s Favorite Theologian.” He commands respect from left (Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama) and right (John McCain, David Brooks). So what’s the attraction?


Here are five aspects of Niebuhr’s work that help explain his enduring relevance.


1. He thought big.

Niebuhr titled his 1938–40 Gifford Lectures (the most illustrious theology lecture series in the world) “The Nature and Destiny of Man.” On page 1 of the published volume 1, he wrote, “Man has always been his own most vexing problem. How shall he think of himself?” By page 2, he was pondering “the admitted evils of human history,” “the question of the value of human life,” and “whether life is worth living.” These are not questions limited to a single church, era, or school of biblical interpretation. The resources Niebuhr brought to bear on them were similarly broad, encompassing Hebrew and Christian Scriptures; ancient, medieval, and modern theology and philosophy; and the social sciences.


Positively, the grand scale of Niebuhr’s work meant that he could engage almost anyone. Who hasn’t wondered about the problem of evil or the value of human life? (Scribner’s was sufficiently convinced of the appeal of The Nature and ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/14P_6V6Mpss/reinhold-niebuhr-five-things-you-should-know.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/77000.jpg?w=460
http://americanconscience.com/
http://gizmodo.com/this-is-almost-certainly-james-comey-s-twitter-account-1793843641
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/11/everybody-loves-reinhold/306367/
http://religionandpolitics.org/2017/04/25/reinhold-niebuhr-washingtons-favorite-theologian/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gifford_Lectures
https://books.google.com/books?id=6leCJZJYXm8C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/may-web-only/reinhold-niebuhr-five-things-you-should-know.html
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Church-Planting Metrics: Measure What’s Important (Part One)
« Reply #531 on: May 24, 2017, 07:21:33 PM »
Church-Planting Metrics: Measure What’s Important (Part One)

Measure outcomes, not activities.


A few years ago I was part of a breakout group at a church planting roundtable where we discussed the question, “What is church?” The group was comprised of international and regional directors of church planting organizations. About fifteen minutes into the discussion it became apparent that very few of the leaders had a working definition of church that was common to their entire organization. Taken together, these leaders represented hundreds of church planters.


I began to wonder how church planters could be sent to the field without a clear concept of what they are commissioned to do. Would that be acceptable in any other setting? How successful would car manufacturers be if their leaders told factory workers, “Make cars!” and did not provide them with detailed specifications of what they were to build? Absurd! Yet it seemed like that was exactly what many church planting organizations had done.


When church planters don’t have a working definition of church, they are left with important questions they can’t answer:



     
  • How do they know when they’ve finished the job?

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  • How do they give credible progress reports to supporters when there is no clear definition of what they are progressing toward?

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  • How do they know that what they are doing today is getting them to the goal?

  •  
  • How do they decide where best to use their resources?

  •  
  • Furthermore, from an organizational perspective, if leaders have not defined the end goal clearly, can they truly know whether the day-to-day activities of their church planters are actually fulfilling the organization’s mission?


This article presents a method for developing a measurement instrument that can guide leaders to define the end goal (i.e., “church”) ...

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Source: Church-Planting Metrics: Measure What’s Important (Part One)

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/dIesJn-6AkY/church-planting-metrics-measure-whats-important-part-one.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/77012.jpg?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/may/church-planting-metrics-measure-whats-important-part-one.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=dIesJn-6AkY:OZGh-oGMZpo:yIl2AUoC8zA
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Preaching the Gospel with Words: Why There’s No Other Way
« Reply #532 on: May 25, 2017, 07:01:26 PM »
Preaching the Gospel with Words: Why There’s No Other Way

We marginalize evangelism when we say the good news is social action.


I’ve read many mission statements of churches and faith-based ministries during my four decades working with evangelist Luis Palau. Most of these statements declare that one of the reasons why the church or mission exists is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.


Yet we find ourselves now in a critical time for the Church in America and some parts of the world because some believe we can take the whole gospel to the whole world without the use of words. Romans 10:13-15 reminds us:



 

Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”



One of the marks of a Christ-follower is that we want everyone to know “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This is the essence of our evangelistic message. It is a message centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ.


Today’s evangelists have a vital role to play in calling the Church back to declaring with our words, and not just our deeds, this good news.


Recently, I’ve been impressed by how many times I have heard a church leader say, “I want people to know what I am for, not what I am against.” Why? Because we have a positive message that leads to changed lives and transformed communities. However, we have a tendency to get out of balance when it comes to lifting up Jesus in both word and deed.


We see it today in the number ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/3GaUyXpmsjE/preaching-gospel-with-words-why-theres-no-other-way.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/77016.png?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/may/preaching-gospel-with-words-why-theres-no-other-way.html
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Interview: Why the Modern World Is Making Us Miserable
« Reply #533 on: May 26, 2017, 07:07:17 PM »
Interview: Why the Modern World Is Making Us Miserable

Mark Sayers asks us to look to the Bible’s steadying influence in an era of cultural turmoil.


Mark Sayers hears it all the time: Between the election of Donald Trump, Britain’s exit from the European Union, clashes over transgender bathroom use, and the horrors of ISIS, doesn’t it feel like the world has gone mad? In Strange Days: Life in the Spirit in a Time of Upheaval (Moody), the Australian author and pastor applies a biblical lens to the craziness that surrounds us. Hunter Baker, professor of political science at Union University, asked Sayers how Christians can keep their bearings and live kingdom-oriented lives when the world makes no sense.


Why do you suspect that the modern world is making us miserable?


When it comes to ease and comfort, the infrastructure of the modern world is unsurpassed. However, the recent epidemic of mental health challenges is telling us that something else is going on. There’s an interesting phenomenon called the Immigrant Paradox: People migrating from the majority world to the West often experience an initial improvement in health and well-being. Yet, as they become fully assimilated into Western culture, the gains are reversed. It seems there is something about the perks of modernity, and the skewed expectations they create, that throws us off balance.


What do you mean when you say that a secular society has never existed?


God made us as religious creatures. We cannot not worship; the only question is who—or what—we worship. Thus the whole of human life is lived in a religious key. Part of the reason for our increasingly fractious and extreme political culture is this religious impulse. The post–World War II political order attempted to avoid the extremes of left and right. But this is struggling to hold, as many push with religious fervor for the ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/MPa8znf0NTQ/how-bible-helps-us-live-well-in-world-gone-mad.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/76999.jpg?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/june/how-bible-helps-us-live-well-in-world-gone-mad.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=MPa8znf0NTQ:WLTaBlkYHOU:yIl2AUoC8zA
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Eugene Peterson: The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Dead-End Street
« Reply #534 on: May 27, 2017, 07:04:04 PM »
Eugene Peterson: The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Dead-End Street

How Ecclesiastes shows a better way to joyful living than chasing pleasure


When God spoke to Job “out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1, RSV throughout), he told him that when he, God, “laid the foundation of the earth”—that is, created everything that exists—“the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (vv. 4, 7). Which is to say, if we throw our minds back into the past as far as we can imagine, what we find is joy: the stars of God and the sons of God singing and shouting joyfully.


Then go the other direction—as far in the future as we can imagine, into heaven—and we find a similarly joyful pleasure. In Revelation, all creation is gathered around God’s throne, and songs of joy are lifted up by great multitudes in exuberant chorus. In the midst of the assembled joy, 24 elders, representing the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles of the church—venerable and dignified figures who represent symbolically the centuries of discipleship and faith in a grand finale—take off their crowns and throw them into the air, pitching them before God’s throne (Rev. 4:1–11). The picture is one of hilarity, almost of frivolity. Think of West Pointers throwing their white hats into the air in the jubilation of graduation or of football players filling the air with their helmets in the triumph of victory.


The story of our faith, our very existence, begins and ends with joy. And between the beginning and the conclusion there is joy: “a river whose streams make glad the city of God” (Ps. 46:4). Jesus said it plainly: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). And Paul wrote to the Philippians how much he knew about ...

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Source: Eugene Peterson: The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Dead-End Street

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Do We Treat Sunday the Way the Earliest Christians Did?
« Reply #535 on: May 28, 2017, 07:06:40 PM »
Do We Treat Sunday the Way the Earliest Christians Did?

Historian Justo González charts how observance of the Lord’s Day has changed over time.


I never miss the opportunity to read Justo González. The eminent Cuban American church historian has long provided a wealth of insight into the development of Christian doctrine as it has spread across the globe.


At first, I was puzzled by the title of his latest book, A Brief History of Sunday: From the New Testament to the New Creation (Eerdmans). Could 150 pages really do justice to such a massive subject? Yet the book, though small in size, packs a substantial punch, correcting a number of misconceptions long held by historians and theologians alike.


The second half of the book covers expected topics, like how the British Puritans approached the Sabbath, and how secularization has influenced Sabbath observance in modern times. But in the first half, González makes a provocative claim: that the argument for naming Sunday the Sabbath day might not be as obvious as we suppose. “Many may be surprised,” he writes, “to learn that connecting Sunday with the fourth commandment [‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy’] finds very little warrant in the early church, and that calling Sunday ‘the Sabbath’ is a relatively new phenomenon.”


The first Jewish Christians gathered after sunset on Saturday in order to break bread. With the incorporation of Gentiles, however, meetings were moved to after midnight or prior to the sunrise the next morning, since these Gentiles had work responsibilities. Moreover, for Gentiles, the week started at midnight of the seventh day anyway. But González finds that no theological reason seems to have compelled the change. As he observes, “there are very few passages that might seem to claim that the Christian Lord’s ...

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Source: Do We Treat Sunday the Way the Earliest Christians Did?

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