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[Cfamily]For Veterans Day: The Top Reasons Soldiers Turn to Scripture
« Reply #712 on: November 15, 2017, 12:00:59 AM »

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For Veterans Day: The Top Reasons Soldiers Turn to Scripture

Two-thirds of military believe Bible contains everything needed to live a meaningful life.

The Bible plays an important role in American’s armed forces—even for military personnel who aren’t particularly religious.

Some service members who don’t typically read Scripture will still turn to it during difficult times in their military careers, according to research released this week by Barna Group and the American Bible Society.

Researchers found that 37 percent of non-Bible readers in the military read the Good Book when they are looking for comfort, 30 percent read it during a deployment, and 17 percent read it when they are separated from family.

Several ministries focus particularly on providing Bible resources to active duty personnel and their families, knowing they are prone to seek out spiritual support and direction.

“They come from all walks of life, with the same problems we all face, most of them looking to fill a void,” said Michael Kelly, a chaplain at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. “It is at this moment that they reach out and we place a book in their hands: the New Testament, provided by Gideons.”

The Gideons International, which has partnered with military chaplains to provide free Bibles since the start of World War II, distributes 1.7 million of its pocket-sized, digital-camo-printed “service testaments” a year.

The American Bible Society’s armed service ministry reports that it has delivered 60 million Bible resources to the military over its history, including materials made especially for veterans facing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are offered through Veterans Affairs (VA) medical chaplains.

Overall, two-thirds of military personnel believe “the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful ...

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[Cfamily]After Texas Shooting, Christians Unite to Pray Against Persecution
« Reply #713 on: November 16, 2017, 12:00:58 AM »
After Texas Shooting, Christians Unite to Pray Against Persecution

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church renews its call for solidarity.

Last Sunday, as Christians in churches across the United States observed the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), dozens were gunned down in a sanctuary in small-town Texas.

For this year’s prayer observances on November 5 and November 12, the massacre in Sutherland Springs further draws Christians to unite as one body and grieve the violence that plagues churches across the globe.

“On days like this, when the suffering comes close to home, it’s so important to remember that these victims—and those who suffer all around the world every day because of their faith—are our brothers and sisters,” wrote Brian Orme, of Open Doors USA. “Not some nameless victims, but our family. And we need to stand together in unity.”

Open Doors reported record levels of Christian persecution in its 2017 World Watch List, with North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Iraq ranking the worst.

In Africa, persecution surged in Mali, and Christian killings grew by 62 percent in Nigeria, where Boko Haram has earned the designation of the world’s deadliest terror group. The number of Christians killed for their faith has doubled in recent years, with more martyrs recorded in Nigeria than any other country. World Watch Monitor reported about 2,500 killed there in 2014, and the country topped the violence list again in 2016.

Just this week, nine believers were fatally shot by Fulani herdsmen in central Nigeria, the latest in a string of deadly attacks targeting Christians in farming communities.

Days before, gang members in the Niger Delta freed three kidnapped British missionaries after one hostage had died. David and Shirley Donovan, of the medical missions ...

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[Cfamily]I’m Not Called to Keep My Kids from Danger
« Reply #714 on: November 17, 2017, 12:01:07 AM »
I’m Not Called to Keep My Kids from Danger

I can’t keep my kids safe. But I can prepare them for a life of faithfulness.

Fifteen years ago, my husband and I did the riskiest thing we could imagine and took a job in the Horn of Africa. People often responded by asking, “Are you bringing the kids?” We had two-year-old twins at the time.

Six years before we made this life-changing decision to move, we heard John Piper preach a sermon on Hebrews 13:12–14 and how Jesus suffers “outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood” (NRSV). The writer of Hebrews calls Christians to “go to him outside the camp.”

Piper boiled it down to one particular refrain that served as a powerful catalyst for our family. “Must it not mean for many of us: Leave the camp! Leave the camp!” he said. “Leave the comfortable Bethlehem camp. Leave the comfortable Minneapolis camp. Leave the comfortable, secure job and join Jesus on the Calvary road moving toward need, not comfort.”

In a recent essay titled “Risk Your Kids for the Kingdom?,” Piper asks a related question that my husband and I asked ourselves when we decided to move to North Africa: “What is the greatest good you can do for your children?” We believed strongly that “moving toward need” was one of the greatest goods we could do for them.

Yes, of course, we were bringing the kids.

By choosing to take our kids outside the camp, however, we also chose a life of risk. The camp referenced in Hebrews 13 is located inside the city gates where everything is familiar, safe, and comfortable. Outside the camp, where Jesus went, was a place of shame, death, abandonment, and pain.

For us, moving “outside the camp” meant contending with guns, limited government, lack of healthcare, and low-quality ...

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[Cfamily]Assimilation & Our Churches: Do We Do It Well?
« Reply #715 on: November 18, 2017, 12:01:06 AM »
Assimilation & Our Churches: Do We Do It Well?

Collect, Connect, Convene

For those in church leadership, the issue of assimilation typically comes with questions of effectiveness and strategy. Truth be told, there is no one-size-fits-all plan for assimilation in every church.

That said, let me share a few of my thoughts. I’ll start with an analogy that, although not perfect, is nonetheless helpful to make a point.

Assimilation, I would argue, is a bit like staffing a nursery. You never know who is going to show up. And you barely know who will offer to help. And so you take a Sunday draft and everything goes OK. The babies may not be the happiest separated from their parents but, in the end, everybody got taken care of and there were no major problems. Yet internally you feel it is always an area of struggle.

Assimilation can be like this.

The No-Plan Approach

My first comparison between a nursery and the assimilation plan is the no-plan approach. This is quite dangerous for the baby. And it also might drop an adult who shows up for the first time. The only difference between the nursery and the assimilation is that the parents are ultimately responsible for the baby. And guess who is responsible for the newcomer? History calls the church the “Mother Kirche.” This is not because going to church makes you a child of God. Instead, the church is the place where people are trained up to know God. They are looked after and are parented in a responsible way.

The Mini-Plan Approach

The no-plan approach moves to a mini-plan approach when you have a way to gather names. Somebody visits. Someone is a guest. Someone came to something and you gather that. Perhaps you have registers to pass down the aisle, or you have people fill out cards. If we do these kinds of things on a regular basis, we ...

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[Cfamily]The Game of Thrones Christians Should Be Watching
« Reply #716 on: November 19, 2017, 12:00:59 AM »
The Game of Thrones Christians Should Be Watching

Arab believers assess crown prince’s pledge to modernize Saudi Arabia’s Islam.

Before the crown prince of Saudi Arabia stunned the world with his sudden arrest of dozens of fellow princes and millionaires on corruption charges, he stunned many Christians with his stated desire to moderate its version of Islam, commonly dubbed Wahhabism.

Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 as an alliance between Bedouin warriors of the al-Saud tribe and strict Salafi Muslim scholars following Mohamed ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Discovering oil six years later, it also became one of the Muslim world’s wealthiest nations. The combination has led many religious freedom advocates to blame Saudi petrodollars for funding a worldwide rise in Islamist extremism.

But last month, Mohammad bin Salman said his conservative Muslim country would return to “what we were before: a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.”

Extremist ideas would be destroyed, the crown prince proclaimed, blaming Iran for sparking Saudi Arabia’s notoriously tight religious control. He pledges now to reverse this and stamp out extremism.

“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia,” bin Salman said. “What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries; one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it.”

But many aspects of Saudi Arabia’s closely regulated enforcement of Abd al-Wahhab’s version of Sunni Islam were in place long before Shiite Iran’s revolution.

Many analysts—including Christians—are skeptical of the scapegoating. In terms of faith, Saudi leaders have long applied the deathbed instructions of Muhammad that ...

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[Cfamily]Reliving the Reformation, As It Happened
« Reply #717 on: November 20, 2017, 12:01:05 AM »
Reliving the Reformation, As It Happened

Craig Harline portrays the suspense-filled early years of Martin Luther’s movement, when the outcome was anything but certain.

In this 500th anniversary year of the beginning of the Reformation, publications about the movement, and especially about its prime initiator Martin Luther, abound. Some books will treat him as an iconic figure whose bold declarations shaped Protestantism from its beginnings. Others may present the enormous impact the Reformation had on European history and culture, with Luther as the imposing force that got it all going. No one can deny that the Augustinian friar from Wittenberg University has exercised profound influence in the five centuries that have followed his 95 Theses. But it is altogether too easy to lose Luther the human being as we look back from historical distance. He can become a monumental figure, a bronze statue standing boldly against the background of our contemporary world.

Thankfully, that is not the Luther readers will find in Craig Harline’s book A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation. Harline set out to write a treatment of Luther that would be accessible to the general reader, not primarily the fellow academic reveling in the intricacies of scholarly argument. For those who know the relevant primary and secondary sources, it is clear that Harline has done his research: He moves deftly among competing scholarly views and manifests thorough familiarity with the original sources. But he does so without the heavy weight of ponderous footnoting and citation. What he offers here is a winsome introduction to Luther as the movement that would eventually become the Protestant Reformation gets going with him.

But Harline writes in a way that does not assume the ultimate outcome. He writes “in the moment,” taking pains to present Luther as he moved, lurched ...

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[Cfamily]American Family Values Increasingly Focus on Finances
« Reply #718 on: November 21, 2017, 12:00:59 AM »
American Family Values Increasingly Focus on Finances

Study of Trump and Clinton voters finds the economy spilling more into home life.

When asked to name the biggest challenges faced by American families, adults have become more likely to think of financial issues and less likely to bring up social ones—expanding the traditional notion of “family values” to include factors like stress over work and the state of the economy.

This growing affiliation between family and finances, reported in the 2017 American Family Survey, reflects President Donald Trump’s own messaging around family values, which emphasizes hard work and economic security.

Yet the new research, entitled “Marriage and Family in the Age of Trump,” found that evangelicals and conservatives largely remain concerned about cultural issues like single-parent homes, sexual permissiveness, and declining religious affiliation over economic ones impacting their families.

Over the past two years, the proportion of Americans sharing those cultural concerns has decreased by 17 percentage points, while Americans focusing on economic factors has increased by 11 percentage points.

“More people believe that the most serious problems facing marriages and families are economic, and fewer believe that the challenges are primarily cultural,” according to researchers at The Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University and Deseret News, which fielded the survey.

More than three-quarters of Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton ranked financial concerns among the most important challenges for American families, compared to less than half of Trump voters and just 43 percent of evangelicals. On the other hand, nearly 70 percent of Trump voters and 72 percent of evangelicals cited cultural issues, while less than 40 percent of Clinton voters ...

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Zimbabwe Can Be Born Again: Church Leaders Explain Mugabe-Military Crisis

As politicians and media debate coup, evangelicals see ‘opportunity for the birth of a new nation.’

This week, church leaders in Zimbabwe called for prayer—and a transitional government—after 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the military.

“We see the current situation not just as a crisis in which we are helpless,” wrote eight evangelical, Catholic, charismatic, and ecumenical Protestant leaders. “We see the current arrangement as an opportunity for the birth of a new nation.”

Political tensions began last month, flaring up between Mugabe’s two potential successors: his vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa and his wife Grace. The next presidential election is in 2018.

Mugabe took Grace’s side, firing Mnangagwa for “disloyalty.” But then the army took Mnangagwa’s side, placing Mugabe under house arrest and arresting the leaders of Grace’s faction.

The takeover has been peaceful so far, perhaps because Mugabe’s tight-fisted, often cruel 37-year reign was anything but democratic. The country loses at least $1 billion to corruption annually.

One of those calling for Mugabe to step down has been Evan Mawarire, an evangelical pastor who has been arrested twice for his viral online protest of Mugabe’s corruption.

This week, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe joined other church leaders in releasing a joint statement explaining how the current crisis is actually a kairos (opportunity). CT has reproduced their letter in full below:

1. The Moment of TruthMany Zimbabweans are confused and anxious about what has transpired and continues to unfold in our nation. While the changes have been rapid in the last few days, the real deterioration has been visible for everyone to see for a long time, especially during the public ...

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Source: Zimbabwe Can Be Born Again: Church Leaders Explain Mugabe-Military Crisis

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