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The California Fires Are Purifying My Priorities
« Reply #688 on: October 20, 2017, 01:00:42 AM »

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The California Fires Are Purifying My Priorities

The threat of disaster forces me to reckon with salvation—mine and others.


For a week now, I’ve been tracking live online maps of Northern California. The blue dot representing our house is in the “fire watch” zone. We are not in immediate danger but close enough to know many people who are—and close enough that I’ve been fielding messages all week: “I saw the fires on TV. Are you safe?”


A few weeks ago, I was starting a mental list of potential Christmas luxuries. Now I’m making a list of the most important “grab bag” necessities, which is exposing a much deeper set of priorities.


If we had ten minutes to evacuate, the “essential” list is surprisingly short: our kids. The dog. The folder with our passports, birth certificates, and green cards. Our wallets. Phones and chargers. Maybe our wedding photos. But the rest is replaceable.


The looming threat of fire—or any other disaster—distills down our core values not just in practical ways but also in spiritual ways, too. As thousands face devastating displacement and loss, Jesus’ words to clothe, visit, care for, and feed others in need (Matt. 25:35–36) sound out a clarion call to action. My family and I are thinking deeply over how to donate and give well in this crisis.


But there are other words from Jesus that strike an even deeper chord as I hear story after story of devastation.


In Luke 13, Jesus was asked to comment on a local tragedy: Pilate had killed Galilean Jews and mixed their blood with sacrifices—a horrific, bloody offense. Jesus’ response was stunning. He told them not to draw any conclusions about whether the Galileans were worse sinners simply because they’d suffered. That tragedy and others like it weren’t indicative ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/MzSSqw-p6Nk/california-fires-purifying-my-priorities-natural-disaster.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/79348.jpg?w=460
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/17/us/california-today-reporting-on-wildfires-felt-like-a-country-at-war.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/topics/n/natural-disasters/
http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/october/california-fires-purifying-my-priorities-natural-disaster.html
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Today’s Church Needs the ‘Timeless Spirit’ of Pietism
« Reply #689 on: October 21, 2017, 01:00:55 AM »
Today’s Church Needs the ‘Timeless Spirit’ of Pietism

Why a centuries-old reform movement might hold the key to transforming our world, one renewed heart at a time.


Given reports of declining religious affiliation and rising social tension, it’s no surprise that 2017 has offered up a catalog of books charting the future of the Western church. How can we not only survive this cultural moment but thrive as well?


In the spring, Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option tackled the question by channeling the wisdom of Saint Benedict, who established monastic life in the wake of Rome’s collapse. Evangelicals’ response was mixed, in part because Dreher’s vision carries high-church and magisterial assumptions that many evangelicals do not share.


Enter The Pietist Option, a new book by Christopher Gehrz (a historian) and Mark Pattie III (a pastor). Like Dreher, Gehrz and Pattie look to the past to figure out how to navigate the present. But unlike The Benedict Option, The Pietist Optionwill feel very familiar to evangelicals, even those who have never heard of Pietism before.


We often use the term pietism as linguistic shorthand for any inward-focused spirituality that is anti-rational or holier-than-thou. Gehrz and Pattie argue that historic Pietism is better understood as a set of instincts about the Christian life: that true knowledge of God cannot come apart from relationship with him; that the church has a divine call to pursue unity; that Christianity is both simpler and more demanding than we realize; and that the Resurrection calls us to hope.


First emerging as a reform movement within the Lutheran Church of the late 1600s, Pietism quickly spread to other churches, eventually influencing the Puritan, Baptist, Methodist, and Brethren traditions. Despite its reach, Pietism doesn’t leave a clear structural trail. “Suspicious of faith becoming too institutional ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/qxhtgrXZUFk/todays-church-needs-timeless-spirit-of-pietism.html
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CFamily

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Interview: Stephen Mansfield: Why So Many Conservative Christians Wanted a ‘Pagan Brawler’ in the White House

And how their choice of Trump has affected the church since last year’s election.


Election 2016 ended a year ago, but its effects on American culture, including the American church, persist. Many are still asking how Donald Trump became president, and what part evangelical Christians played in making that happen. Stephen Mansfield, author of bestselling books about the religious faith of recent American presidents, believes that faith matters in the story of President Trump as well. Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him describes Trump’s remarkable partnership with conservative evangelicals. Blogger Samuel D. James spoke with Mansfield about what the events of last year mean for Christians and how a divided American church can heal.


Is it fair to consider Donald Trump a prosperity-gospel Christian?


He’s definitely drawn to the side of Christianity that preaches personal power, prosperity, and success in this world. Part of that preconditioning comes from his years hearing sermons from Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote The Power of Positive Thinking. Peale privately believed in “born again” Christianity, but Trump fed from the stream in Peale’s thought that was essentially secular motivational philosophy. Trump sees himself as a religious man and sees his own success as the result of living out certain religious principles—just not the ones at the heart of the gospel.


You describe how meeting with religious leaders during the campaign gave Trump something of an “education” he didn’t know he needed. Were his stances on religious liberty, abortion, and socially conservative issues a product of political ambitions?


A good illustration is his approach to the Johnson Amendment, which prevents pastors from endorsing ...

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Source: Interview: Stephen Mansfield: Why So Many Conservative Christians Wanted a ‘Pagan Brawler’ in the White House

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/UUnHfb5BmyA/trump-stephen-mansfield-why-so-many-conservative-christians.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/79380.jpg?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/november/trump-stephen-mansfield-why-so-many-conservative-christians.html
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CFamily

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The Rural Church: A Special House of Prayer
« Reply #691 on: October 23, 2017, 01:00:59 AM »
The Rural Church: A Special House of Prayer

An excerpt from "God’s Country."


I like to fancy myself a rural contemplative, which is to say that I like to walk around town trying to pay attention to Jesus. I sing when I take out the trash. I recite Scripture when I hoe weeds. I liturgize when I mow the lawn.


This is my attempt at the contemplative life, a life of praising God amid the ordinary, of attending to God right where I am and in whatever I’m doing. It’s what Brother Lawrence was getting at when he talked about “the practice of the presence of God.”


Prayer is the special grace of the rural church. I’m convinced that rural ministry is contemplative ministry, rooted in constant prayer that pays attention to Jesus. Perhaps one of the most important gifts that rural pastors and leaders can offer the church is modeling a life with a contemplative heartbeat.


Jesus took the disciples to a rural place to pray, but their prayer in the countryside wasn’t a retreat. It wasn’t about finding inner peace. Their prayer was struggle. It’s like the labors of Jacob, who stayed behind, on the far side of the river, to wrestle with God (Gen. 32:24–32). It’s why the ancient desert monk Agatho said, “We need to pray till our dying breath. That is the great struggle.”


Leaders in the early monastic movement envisioned their monasteries as special houses of prayer sustaining the global church. They left the city and tucked themselves away in rocky nooks and crannies in the desert of Egypt. They didn’t head for the sticks for fear of city life. They went out into the desert not as a flight but as a vocation—to pray on behalf of the city. They had a calling, and they took it with profound seriousness. What if the rural church were to claim ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/PiU4mA-KCHs/rural-church-special-house-of-prayer.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/79378.jpg?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/november/rural-church-special-house-of-prayer.html
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The Truth about Suicide
« Reply #692 on: October 24, 2017, 01:00:59 AM »
The Truth about Suicide

More and more Americans are taking their own lives. How the church can step up.


In 2015, more than 44,000 Americans died by suicide—one death every 12 minutes, as the Department of Health and Human Services put it. The overall suicide rate has grown by nearly 30 percent over the past 15 years, prompting some to call it a new public health crisis.


Al Hsu knows this reality personally. Nine months after the InterVaristy Press senior editor got married, he received a phone call from his mother. “Daddy killed himself,” she told him. When he heard the news, Hsu and his wife already had plans to visit his parents. His 58-year-old father was in rough condition after a stroke had left him partially debilitated and gravely depressed. The aftermath of his father’s death sparked Hsu to reflect and research, the results of which found their way into Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One’s Search for Comfort, Answers, and Hope (InterVarsity Press), first published in 2002 and re-released this year.


Hsu spoke with assistant editor Morgan Lee about the inner conflict of grieving a suicide, the best and worst ways his community responded to his pain, and whether ending one’s own life condemns a Christian to hell.


What is it like to lose someone you love to suicide?


Counselors call this kind of grief a complicated grief or a complicated bereavement because grievers are actually dealing with two realities: grief and trauma. The grief of losing a loved one is normal and expected, but with suicide comes trauma. In processing a suicide, there is no easy path to peace and the grief journey cycles through all sorts of different feelings and emotions.


So it’s important to realize that this grief will strike you in many different ways.


Right. For grievers, there are any number of emotions that ...

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Source: The Truth about Suicide

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/lJ-TDltypwA/suicide-americans-taking-their-own-lives-church-al-hsu.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/79420.jpg?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/november/suicide-americans-taking-their-own-lives-church-al-hsu.html
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What to Make of Karl Barth’s Steadfast Adultery
« Reply #693 on: October 25, 2017, 01:01:00 AM »
What to Make of Karl Barth’s Steadfast Adultery

Do the recent revelations discredit his theology?


I knew that Karl Barth, arguably the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century, had a decades-long affair with his personal assistant, Charlotte von Kirschbaum. But I didn’t know some of the details. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and the details were deeply disappointing.


As the author of the recently released Karl Barth: A Biography for Evangelicals, I was anxious to read the latest revelations about the relationship. I had briefly discussed it in the book, noting the pain it caused his wife, Nelly, especially when Barth not only admitted to his wife his love for Charlotte but also insisted that Charlotte move into the family home to help him with his workload. Based on the work of Barth scholar George Hunsinger, I tried to set the relationship in the context: A younger Barth had fallen in love with a woman his father forbade him from marrying; his marriage to Nelly was in some sense arranged. So Barth was an emotionally lonely man. But I concluded that even if it was merely emotional adultery:



 

Husbands of much lesser stature have recognized that when such a relationship sabotages the very integrity of one’s marriage and becomes a burden to the family, it may suggest a duty to sacrifice one’s desires for the sake of one’s vows.



Then I read “Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum” by Christiane Tietz in Theology Today, which discusses recently released personal letters Barth wrote to von Kirschbaum from 1925–1935. I was stunned. It wasn’t merely that Barth had committed adultery or that a great theologian was shown to be not so great in his personal life. As church history shows time and again, sin is no respecter of persons, no matter how great.


No, ...

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Source: What to Make of Karl Barth’s Steadfast Adultery

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/RP_ITtI4Mdw/what-to-make-of-karl-barths-steadfast-adultery.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/79435.jpg?w=460
https://www.amazon.com/Karl-Barth-Introductory-Biography-Evangelicals/dp/0802869394?tag=christtoday-20
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/october-web-only/what-to-make-of-karl-barths-steadfast-adultery.html
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Origin of Spiritual Gifts Profiles
« Reply #694 on: October 26, 2017, 01:00:57 AM »
Origin of Spiritual Gifts Profiles

Fascinating research on the systematic theology of spiritual gifts


A while ago, I received an email from Ed Stetzer asking if I knew when spiritual gifts inventories first became prevalent. I gave him a quick reflection based on what I remembered at that time, but his question created a curiosity that sent me on a longer investigation. While this is certainly not the final word on the question, it may serve as a beginning point for other researchers. Here is what I have discovered.


Brief History


The doctrine of spiritual gifts, as we think of it today, is of relatively recent interest. Historically, while the Bible contains doctrines, they were not handed to the church in a systematic form. Rather, over its two thousand plus years of history, the church progressively discovered and developed doctrines.


While Christians have practiced spiritual gifts from the beginning of the apostolic era, there was not much written about them during the first 600 years of church history. Biblical teaching from those early church years shows that the existence of spiritual gifts was recognized. However, the statements made about them in that period are brief.


During the one thousand years of the Medieval Period (590-1517), the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts was essentially ignored. Doctrines like the atonement received the major study, which primarily resulted in preparation for what became known as the Protestant Reformation.


As the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648) took hold, Martin Luther and John Calvin vigorously defended the doctrine of the deity of the Holy Spirit. Both commented on the existence of spiritual gifts, particularly as they wrote commentaries on the classic spiritual gifts passages found in Romans and 1 Corinthians. Yet the reformers’ reaction against the doctrines ...

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Source: Origin of Spiritual Gifts Profiles

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/MfRRU0jxK4M/origin-of-spiritual-gifts-profiles.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/79443.png?w=460
http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/october/origin-of-spiritual-gifts-profiles.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=MfRRU0jxK4M:sGh_d0jWPyU:yIl2AUoC8zA
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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=MfRRU0jxK4M:sGh_d0jWPyU:gIN9vFwOqvQ
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=MfRRU0jxK4M:sGh_d0jWPyU:gIN9vFwOqvQ
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http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo
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When I Lost a Daughter, My Children Lost a Sister
« Reply #695 on: October 27, 2017, 01:01:06 AM »
When I Lost a Daughter, My Children Lost a Sister

Helping kids heal after sibling loss.


When my seven-year-old adopted daughter, Ruth, died without warning in her sleep from complications related to cerebral palsy, I was devastated. Not only had I lost my smart, funny, beloved daughter, my surviving children had lost their sister. Their grief compounded my own, and I worried about how Ruth’s death would affect them long-term—particularly as Ruth had died in bed with her same-age sister.


A recent article in The New York Times highlighted the enduring effects of childhood sibling loss. In the article, Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University of Medicine, discussed how families that lose a child often struggle with social deprivation and poor health. Even a decade after losing a child, parents (especially mothers) face an increased mortality rate. But such loss may be hardest on children, Carroll said, with preteens exhibiting higher levels of depression and anxiety and adolescents being more likely to show attention problems and anger.


Unthinkable as it may be, between 5 and 8 percent of American kids will experience the death of a brother or sister during their childhood. In addition to the emotional and psychological impact, sibling loss actually raises a surviving sibling’s risk of early mortality. A study by JAMA Pediatrics, which focused on children in Denmark and Sweden, found that those who’d experienced the death of a sibling before age 18 were more than 70 percent more likely to die during the course of the nearly four decade study than those who had not lost a sibling. (The elevated risk was highest in the first year following a sibling’s death, in part due to genetics as many children died of the same disease as a sibling.)


“Health care professionals ...

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