Author Topic: Christian family - family and home topics  (Read 439453 times)

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[Cfamily]Colombia Drops Terrorism Case Against American Missionary
« Reply #696 on: October 30, 2017, 12:01:43 AM »

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Colombia Drops Terrorism Case Against American Missionary

Months after peace treaty with FARC rebels, Russell Stendal no longer stands accused of collaboration.

Colombia made peace with its primary rebel group last December. But one of its well-known missionaries still stood accused of plotting terrorism with them.

Until last month, when a Bogota judge finally threw out the charge of rebellion levied against Russell Stendal in 2015. The American missionary was accused of collaborating with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the guerrilla group that warred against the Colombian government until signing a controversial peace treaty late last year.

Stendal, 61, is the son of linguists with Wycliffe Bible Translators who moved their family to Colombia in 1964, when he was about 8 years old.

When Stendal was in his late 20s, he was kidnapped by the FARC and spent more than four months living among them, mostly with a rope slip-knotted around his neck. Before an anonymous donor paid $55,000 for his ransom, he shared the gospel with his captors several times.

He went on to preach the gospel to all sides of the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running conflict.

The American embassy warned him not to return to Colombia, but he did anyway. Stendal founded the Colombia for Christ ministry, and regularly traveled through conflict areas distributing Bibles, Christian books, and solar-powered radios fix-tuned to his stations that broadcast the gospel throughout Colombia.

The September dismissal of the case against Stendal by Bogota’s Circuit Criminal Court No. 15 ends what his attorney described as a long, drawn-out series of legal maneuverings following his February 2015 arrest. The ruling cannot be appealed.

The judge in the initial hearing, held one day after police detained Stendal under a secret warrant, threw out the charge. But chief sectional prosecutor Angel Manuel Castillo ...

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[Cfamily]Why I Continue to Call God ‘Father’
« Reply #697 on: October 31, 2017, 12:01:01 AM »
Why I Continue to Call God ‘Father’

I’m sympathetic to the arguments for female pronouns. But the linguistic alternatives leave behind a profound truth.

I have only ever had a good father. Timothy Beaty is gentle, wise, affectionate, and regularly expresses pride for his children. We laugh at the same lines in Seinfeld; he taught me how to identify bird calls. To this day, I hold to the irrational belief that there is no better man than him walking the face of the earth.

Because I have a good biological father, it has been easy to believe that I have a good heavenly Father. Earthly things, though imperfect, reveal the deeper truth about heavenly things. The typology has worked out for me. I do not take this for granted.

For many, the word “father” only brings up painful memories or simply a blank face where a familiar one should be. I think of a friend whose dad left when she was 10. He calls her every couple years but is not present in her life. Another friend’s father is kind enough but checked out, abusing drugs and alcohol. The sins of the fathers so often create a spiritual hurdle to believing in a good Father.

The reality of painful father relationships is not to be written off casually. Nor is the broader argument that Christianity historically has over-identified God with masculinity and marginalized women’s voices. These are some of the reasons that theologians and lay leaders of the past century have upheld feminine language for God, calling God “she” or avoiding gendered language for God altogether.

I’m very sympathetic to these arguments. But I’m also not ready to stop calling God “Father.”

One of the most popular reimaginings of God as feminine is found in The Shack, William Paul Young’s best-selling 2007 novel. Young casts God the Father as a woman named Papa. The protagonist grew up with an abusive ...

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[Cfamily]A Call to Faith in Action: Mass Incarceration & The Church's Response
« Reply #698 on: November 01, 2017, 12:00:57 AM »
A Call to Faith in Action: Mass Incarceration & The Church's Response

IPM, CACE, and FPE hosted the GC2 Summit on Mass Incarceration

On Wednesday, the Institute for Prison Ministries (IPM) of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College hosted the GC2 Summit on Mass Incarceration. This event was co-sponsored by Wheaton College’s Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE) and Center for Faith, Politics, and Economics (FPE).

The first session began with a presentation by Dr. Nancy La Vigne, Director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC. Her topic was “What Is Mass Incarceration.” The second segment was an interview with Dr. Vince Bacote, Director of CACE. He addressed “Is This A Christian Obligation?” The next speaker was Joseph Williams, Executive Director of Correctional Ministries & Chaplains Association, who spoke on “Reintegration and Collateral Sanctions.”

Jon Kelly, a local pastor and Colson Scholar, shared his experience of incarceration and post-incarceration. He was followed by Dr. Dean Trulear, National Director of Healing Communities in Philadelphia, PA, who spoke on “The Role of the Church.” The first session ended with an interview with Pete Leonard, Founder and Roast Master of I Have a Bean, which employs formerly incarcerated individuals.

The second session began with Professor David Iglesias, Director of FPE. A former federal prosecutor, he spoke on “Politics and Mass Incarceration.” The next presenter was Dr. Karen Swanson, Director of IPM, who focused on a survey of Protestant pastors’ views on correctional ministry. The next segment was an interview with Miea Walker, Engagement Coordinator for the Second Chance Alliance of the North Carolina Justice Center. She encouraged attendees to develop a new mindset on the issues of mass incarceration ...

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[Cfamily]How to Move from Leading Someone to Christ to Discipling
« Reply #699 on: November 02, 2017, 12:00:55 AM »
How to Move from Leading Someone to Christ to Discipling

Start each week with this encouragement to show and share the love of Jesus.

Episode 38: How to Move from Leading Someone to Christ to Discipling

Jerry Root, evangelism professor and director of the Evangelism Initiative at the Billy Graham Center, talks about how to disciple those we’ve just led to faith. What kind of questions can we ask? What kind of practices can we help instill? Jerry gives examples of how he moves people deeper into their understanding of Jesus after they have accepted Christ, and why that can lead to future discipleship.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

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[Cfamily]Leverage Halloween to Love Your Neighbors
« Reply #700 on: November 03, 2017, 12:00:56 AM »
Leverage Halloween to Love Your Neighbors

Halloween gives Christians a unique opportunity to welcome our neighbors

I know several Christians who detest Halloween. A 2015 Lifeway Research study shows that 21% of American Christians avoid Halloween completely. I’ll be the first to admit that Halloween is not my favorite holiday; I’m both jumpy and squeamish, and to this day I cannot stand with my feet beside my bed for too long thanks to watching Stephen King’s Pet Semetary 20 years ago. But Halloween gives Christians a unique opportunity to creatively serve, love, and welcome our neighbors.

Acts 17:26 tells us that God has placed us specifically and strategically in our “places” (our neighborhoods) to know him, and to demonstrate his love, his generosity, and his care for the people around us. We are called to live our lives on ‘assignment’ and to take seriously the responsibility that we have to pray for our neighbors, engage in relationship with them, and speak the truth of the gospel to them.

Just because we’re on assignment doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. In fact, I would argue that fun and whimsy are a great way to tighten relational strings! Here are a few ‘do’s and don’ts’ to help us leverage Halloween as a way to connect with and invest in our neighbors.

DO pray for your neighbors

Our neighbors live beside us because God placed us in proximity with one another. We should take seriously the powerful opportunity that we have to go to battle in prayer on behalf of our neighbors, even if they never know we are doing it.

Pray for them as they walk up your driveway. Pray for them as they walk away. Pray for opportunities to develop lasting relationships with them. Ask God to reveal himself to your neighbors, to encourage them through their interactions with ...

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[Cfamily]Never on Pause
« Reply #701 on: November 04, 2017, 12:00:57 AM »
Never on Pause

In seasons of unpaid work or at-home care, your calling is still significant.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of “Change Makers,” our recent CT special issue focused on some of the ways women are influencing the church, their communities, and the world. In this special issue, we’ve included articles that explore trends in women’s discipleship, examine research on women and workplace leadership, highlight women who are making a difference, and grapple with the unique challenges female leaders face. Click here to download your own free digital copy of “Change Makers.”

It was a Tuesday like most others: playground time with my young daughters. Who would have guessed that, amidst the gigging screams of my girls, I would find myself defending the deity of Christ in conversation with another mom who was a Black Hebrew Israelite? A deep theological debate—covering the Trinity, substitutionary atonement, and Pan-Africanism—hadn’t been on my radar as we headed to the playground. And yet, there I was, chatting with a relatively young mother of two in her attempt to proselytize.

The woman moved easily from polite conversation to a hard-hitting question: “Can you tell me how you worship?” I answered her with an explanation of the gospel. She weighed my words in silence until I mentioned Jesus as God. Her rebuttal was swift and pointed. She dismissed the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity as deceptive falsehoods. I gave this fellow mom the respect of my ear, while I looked for opportunities to turn the conversation toward the problem of sin, God’s righteous judgement, and our need of a sinless Savior.

My area of Washington, DC, often doesn’t fit the picture of a secularizing America. As increasing numbers of Americans ...

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[Cfamily]Pastors, Here’s a Novel Idea: Invite Newcomers to Lunch
« Reply #702 on: November 05, 2017, 12:00:59 AM »
Pastors, Here’s a Novel Idea: Invite Newcomers to Lunch

Include church members that are good at making people feel welcome

We’ve all heard the old adage about the revolving church door. People come in and, before we know what happened, they leave, never to return. But what if this didn’t have to be the case? How do we treat those visiting or relatively new to our churches in ways that make them know we are glad they came?

Although there are lots of ways to do this, I want to briefly look at one routine event: mealtimes. Meals are great ways to get to know people and extend hospitality.

Invite Newcomers to a Meal One-on-One

I know of a church of 300 that has a newcomers lunch every Sunday. Although this is a lot of work for maybe one or two families, it says to the congregation, “We value newcomers.” But what if your church is 100 people or less? And what if you have only seen one visiting family or individual every two weeks?

One good approach is to designate a leader in the church who will always invite newcomers out for a lunch (or dinner) with his or her family on the first or second Sunday that the newcomer visits. Even if the newcomer declines, it gives the leader the opportunity to lay the groundwork for inviting the newcomer later to a quarterly lunch.

Quarterly Lunches: Get Prepared

Beyond these one-on-one individual or family lunches, your church might do well to host quarterly newcomer lunches. Here, it is important to remember two things. First, invite a few people from your church who have the potential for greater involvement in the church and building friendships with the newcomers. Don’t just invite the overworked elder who doesn’t have space for any more commitments.

Remember, you are helping to build relationships. It doesn’t work to invite people who are too busy to build new friendships.

It ...

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[Cfamily]The Dark Side of Autonomy
« Reply #703 on: November 06, 2017, 12:00:57 AM »
The Dark Side of Autonomy

The scope of the mission of God is beyond the capacity of any singular local church

Children crave autonomy. Whether they are trying to get dressed in the morning, make something for lunch, or ride a bike around the block. There seems to be something in human nature that causes us to desire to do things for ourselves. For children, this process is normal and necessary. Human development necessitates that children learn to maneuver through life without depending on others to do for them what they can, and should, do alone.

Unfortunately, this push for independence doesn’t end with adolescence. The drive for autonomy often continues into adulthood and causes many to careen off the precipice toward the independence of radical isolation. We see ourselves as sovereign agents, not requiring external contributions. Autonomy has become so ubiquitous in the social psyche that it has morphed into a cultural norm to be lauded. To be human is to be autonomous; we must achieve unaided, without the help of anyone or anything. Or so we surmise.

In the end, the insecurities that drive our independent detachments usually become our undoing.

Autonomy and the Church

Evangelical churches in North America have seen rewards in co-opting autonomy, and translated this value into a hallmark of the local church. Confessionally, I count myself as one who agrees with this hallmark. Autonomy protects God’s church and honors the work of God among an individual local body.

In reaction to the menacing overreach of many hierarchical structures throughout history, numerous denominations emphasize the obligation of the local church to govern, lead, and correct herself. Such a structure rightly highlights the belief that God has given each local church a leadership who is accountable to God for teaching, correcting, and equipping God’s ...

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