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[Cfamily]Righteous Anger: Egypt’s Christians Respond to ISIS
« Reply #544 on: June 06, 2017, 07:05:06 PM »

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Righteous Anger: Egypt’s Christians Respond to ISIS

With 100 massacred in five months, leaving vengeance to the Lord is getting harder for Copts.

They couldn’t even wash their dead.

Thirty Coptic Christians were gunned down by ISIS, ambushed in a church bus on a weekend outing to a popular monastery in the Egyptian desert. Their families gathered to receive their loved ones in a local hospital, but were met with a mixture of ill-equipped facilities and overwhelmed staff. They even had to fetch their own water.

As if another reason was necessary, Coptic anger turned the funeral march into a protest.

“With our souls and blood we will redeem you, oh Cross!” they shouted. Some seemed to take aim at Islam. “There is no god but God,” they chanted, before changing the second half of the Muslim creed, “and the Messiah, he is God.”

Other chants took no aim at all, thrashing wildly in anger. “We will avenge them, or die like them.”

Many observers say such anger plays right into the hands of ISIS, which is keen to turn Egypt against itself.

Six weeks earlier, after twin suicide bombings on Palm Sunday, Bishop Boula of the Coptic Orthodox diocese of Tanta found himself in a similar situation. Hospitals did not have enough refrigeration units to keep the 25 bodies of those martyred at St. George Church. Crowds were gathering, and anger was surging.

Quickly, he made the decision to bury them together in the church crypt reserved for bishops. Honoring the dead with their leaders of ages past, he then marshaled the youth to provide order and security for the semi-spontaneous funeral service.

“It cooled the fire of all the people,” he later recounted on satellite TV. St. George was renamed to include “the righteous martyrs of Tanta,” with a shrine erected outside the crypt.

It was perhaps the most practical of Coptic ...

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Evangelism in Leadership: Is It Really as Simple as 5 Simple Steps?

We cannot lead what we do not live.

Pastors today are facing several challenges that make it tough to lead their churches into evangelism. With a trend towards tolerance, evangelism and ‘trying to convert’ others is often a major turn off in broader American and Western culture. Within the Church, compassion and justice ministries have become more affirmed and applauded, and so it’s often easier to focus our outreach efforts in those areas.

Additionally, many younger evangelicals don't necessarily want to identify as evangelical and would rather focus on the inclusion of others than on the message that rejecting Jesus leads to exclusion from the presence of God.

With these cultural odds stacked against us, how do we keep ourselves from becoming defeated in sharing our faith? More than that, how do we become effective in leading others in the area of evangelism? Here are five simple steps that will help us lead our churches into fulfilling the call to make disciples.

Commit to being a witness, even if you’re not an evangelist.

The truth is that not everyone is an evangelist. In fact, many pastors are not gifted in evangelism, but that doesn’t mean we don’t tell others about what God has done for us through Jesus. Although Jesus gives His disciples different spiritual gifts, He commissions all of us to be His witnesses and testify to what He has done (Acts 1:8, Matthew 4:19, John 20:21).

Later in scripture, Paul exhorts Timothy to do the work of an evangelist, even though that probably wasn’t his primary gifting (2 Timothy 4:5). In order to shift the tide of evangelism in our churches, we must first take greater ownership of it ourselves.

Model personal evangelism that your people can imitate.

Too many pastors have limited ...

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[Cfamily]Weekend Edition - June 3, 2017—Most Read Posts and Church Signs!
« Reply #546 on: June 08, 2017, 07:04:14 PM »
Weekend Edition - June 3, 2017—Most Read Posts and Church Signs!

Most Read Posts from January 1 to May 31 (Plus Church Signs!)

10. Searching for Gorsuch: For Many Evangelicals "It's the Supreme Court, Stupid”

9. Exposing the Truth about Honor and Shame

8. Marriage, Divorce, and the Church: What do the stats say, and can marriage be happy?

7. What is the Gospel? A Look at 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

6. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone: My Review

5. Differences in the Gospels, A Closer Look

4. What Does it Mean to Have an Abundant Life? Some Thoughts on Prosperity

3. Hank Hanegraaff's Switch to Eastern Orthodoxy, Why People Make Such Changes, and Four Ways Evangelicals Might Respond

2. Facts Are Our Friends: Why Sharing Fake News Makes Us Look Stupid and Harms Our Witness

1. Dear Fellow Christians: It's Time to Speak Up for Refugees

Thanks to friends of the blog for this week’s church signs. As always, you can tweet your church signs to @EdStetzer (and/or @stetzerblog).

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TBN's Jan Crouch Found Liable for Covering Up Granddaughter's Alleged Rape

Jury awards $2 million in damages in civil lawsuit.

A California jury has found that the late Jan Crouch, the founder and popular face of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), is partly to blame for mishandling an incident when her teenage granddaughter was allegedly molested and raped at a telethon in 2006.

Carra Crouch, now 24, was awarded $2 million in damages in a civil case against her grandmother over the emotional pain from when she says she was sexually assaulted by a TBN employee. (Carra Crouch has opted to speak publicly about her allegations, but no one has been charged with the crime.)

In Orange County Superior Court on Monday, Jan Crouch—who died last year—was deemed liable for 45 percent of her granddaughter’s trauma. Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, which runs TBN, was ordered to pay $900,000 of the damages. Carra’s mother and the perpetrator were decided to be responsible for the rest of the damages, but they were not named in the suit, so they won’t be required to pay, her lawyer said.

According to a lawsuit filed in 2012, Carra Crouch was 13 when a 30-year-old Trinity employee forced himself on her in an Atlanta hotel, where she had accompanied her grandmother to attend a Praise-A-Thon fundraiser. When Carra told “Momma Jan” what happened, the ordained minister did not report the case to police—going against her obligation as a mandatory reporter under California law—and also blamed the teen for being alone with the man.

In the lawsuit, Carra Crouch said her grandmother got angry and asked her, “Why would you have that man in your room? Why would you let this happen?”

“The jury ultimately determined that Jan’s response—by blaming and castigating Carra, by saying words beyond ...

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Leading by Biblical Preaching: An Example from Christ Fellowship-Miami

Pastors, lead from the pulpit, not the board room.

The articles in this series on biblical preaching have been so helpful! Many thanks to the writers. Here, I want to share my story, which reveals the power of biblical preaching to lead even if you’re not a great leader.

I am not a strong leader by nature, and early on at Christ Fellowship, mean-spirited people inside our church began to control me. They were on a mission to stop me from leading our church and were willing to do whatever it took to stop me. At the same time, pastors and denominational leaders from Miami were telling me, “Miami is unreachable!”

I realized I was up against a daunting challenge both from inside and outside the church. To say all this frightened me is an understatement! However, biblical preaching tore down the strongholds inside and outside, and biblical preaching poised our church to become a force for God in Miami.

When I first arrived in Miami over 20 years ago, I was excited about reaching our city for Christ. Miami is 97% lost or unchurched. As the leader, I would need to position Christ Fellowship to become a movement of God that could push back the gates of hell and advance the Gospel.

However, resistance within our church quickly rose up against my leadership. In fact, I soon discovered the church of which I had become pastor (then First Baptist Church) was led and controlled by committees. The people on these committees made it clear that I would not be the leader of the church. They were also experts at leveraging “Roberts Rules of Order” and the constitution and bylaws to imprison me from leading the church. But here’s the strategy that changed everything:

1. The most strategic place from which to lead the church is the pulpit.See Nehemiah 8: “And ...

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[Cfamily]Why Even Pessimists Can Embrace Hope
« Reply #549 on: June 12, 2017, 01:01:11 AM »
Why Even Pessimists Can Embrace Hope

A social psychologist explains why fear and hope often work as a team.

Patty Bruininks, chair of the psychology department at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, has studied hope for years. The word is stretched on a banner across a bookcase in her office. It’s printed on a sign by her window. “Where there’s tea, there’s hope” proclaims a nearby mug. The more she studies hope—and explores what sets it apart from other “positive anticipatory states” like optimism—the more she discovers its complexity. Of the various human emotions, hope is distinct, a “funny beast,” Bruininks calls it, and a “very cognitive emotion.”

Bruininks is part of an interdisciplinary project funded by a grant by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to study hope in the face of climate change. She also recently participated in the Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford program with a research project aiming to bridge earthly and spiritual hope. Drawing on N. T. Wright’s idea of “collaborative eschatology,” Bruininks examines the tension between the certainty of our hope in Christ and the uncertainty of how exactly God’s plan will unfold.

She spoke recently with CT about her research.

You write that “fear and hope do not appear to be two sides of a coin but rather can occur together.” Do you encounter other common misconceptions about hope?

Whenever I talk about my research, when I explain the differences between optimism, hopefulness, and hoping, people say, “Oh, yeah, I totally get that.” People get it because they use these words all the time. This is knowledge that everyone has that they just haven’t really thought about before.

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[Cfamily]Middle-Aged Women Face a Crisis of Discipleship
« Reply #550 on: June 13, 2017, 01:01:09 AM »
Middle-Aged Women Face a Crisis of Discipleship

Are churches missing out on discipling those in midlife?

Last week in our #AmplifyWomen series, Helen Lee addressed the need for diversity in discipleship. This week, Michelle Van Loon turns our attention to the gap in discipleship for middle-aged and retired women.

Four years ago, I asked readers of my blog over age 40 to respond to my informal survey about their relationship with the local church. After querying survey respondents to gather some basic demographic data, I asked them if they were more, less, or just as involved today in their local church as they’d been a decade earlier. Then I asked why.

I anticipated getting 50 responses, but instead I received more than 500. Two-thirds of those respondents were women. Slightly more than half reported they’d maintained or increased their church involvement, but nearly that many reported they’d downshifted their involvement or exited the institutional church entirely. “My church seems to focus on involvement in programs and projects that have little lasting spiritual impact in the lives of those served,” one told me, echoing the concerns of others. Another response was typical of those I received from people no longer able to serve because of health problems or caregiving responsibilities. “After 18 years of membership and service in the same church, my husband became ill and disabled and I became his caregiver,” she said. “We are unable to actively serve the church any longer, so we are ignored.”

George Barna presents sobering data reflecting the quiet exodus from the church among boomers and gen x-ers. The data indicates it isn’t just millennials leaving the church but sizeable numbers of those at midlife and beyond. In their recent book Church Refugees, sociologists ...

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Tragic Church Bus Crash Ends Student Mission Trip Before It Can Start

Accident kills teen girl from Alabama megachurch who felt God’s call to Botswana.

On the way to the Atlanta airport for a student mission trip to Africa, an Alabama church bus flipped in a crash with two other vehicles, killing a teen girl and injuring dozens more.

The bus carried 38 passengers, mostly 11th and 12th-grade students, from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama, about three and a half hours away. The group, including a second bus from the church, was on their way to a flight bound for Botswana. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

The Alabama Baptistidentified the victim as Sarah Harmening, 17. Her parents described her as having a tangible love for the Lord and being “so excited” for the trip. “She earned all the money to go and share Christ with children of Botswana,” said her mother, Karen Harmening.

The Harmenings shared their daughter’s final journal entry from the trip, where she reflects on God’s call on her life:


I was just sitting here on the bus feeling a little sad. I guess because I’m going to be gone so long, and I was a little uncomfortable. But I decided to read my Bible. I prayed, and opened up to 1 Peter 5 and 2 Peter 1 … I was just reminded of why I am here, and that God has called me here and has done this for a reason. I know he is going to do incredible things.

Sarah had texted her sister the day before another Bible verse from 1 Peter, adding, “Life is not about us, it's about God who is eternal, and I want to dedicate the one moment I'm here completely and entirely to him."

In total, 24 passengers were hospitalized for their injuries, including a few in critical condition, according to local media reports.

Mount Zion posted requests for prayer for the students in the accident ...

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Source: Tragic Church Bus Crash Ends Student Mission Trip Before It Can Start

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