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[Cfamily]Two Marvelous Truths Help Me Say No to Sexual Sin
« Reply #744 on: December 17, 2017, 12:01:05 AM »

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Two Marvelous Truths Help Me Say No to Sexual Sin

As a same-sex-attracted woman married to a man, I was struggling to ward off temptation on my own power. Then God showed me I didn’t have to.

Author’s Note: In October of this year I had the privilege of publicly sharing my story of coming to Christ from a background of same-sex attraction and atheism. The response to that story was deeply personal for many. A great number of readers—some straight, most not—wrote to ask me about what my married life looked like now. Specifically, how did I live with an attraction to women that had not been taken away, while following Christ and married to a man? This piece is an attempt to show how God has met me in this. But more importantly, I hope it can be an encouragement to you—that God desires and is able to meet you as well, whatever your persistent temptations may be.

The driving clamor of my heart was the most physical sign of my despair, attended by tears. But it was the emotional weight that truly bore me down. The sickening feeling of complete impotence, the mania of a trapped animal. I had committed no sin—wait, had I not? Was that right?—yet I seemed on a collision course with the sure destruction of my ministry, my marriage, my sense of self in Christ, and my relationship with him.

That this was happening after years of obedience increased the dread. Would I never be safe or free? In my early years in Christ, sexual disobedience had been a frequent, painful tripping point. But slowly, my muscle of obedience grew stronger.

I wonder now if that was less spiritual victory than victories of my will. Each time I chose sin after coming to Christ, the pleasure was adulterated with pain. The embarrassment of failure and the crush of relational strain between myself and God blighted my Christian life, like stubborn weeds. The ugliness of this had a strong deterrent effect over time.

This ...

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[Cfamily]The Sanctification Gap
« Reply #745 on: December 18, 2017, 12:00:22 AM »
The Sanctification Gap

The call to die is really a call to experience life the way we were meant to.

There is a gap of action and desire in Christian holiness today. The Christian is called to follow Jesus, become more like Him, and die to self. Most Christians know that God is calling them to live a life of holiness and submission to Christ, yet few actually act on these desires. This is what we call the “sanctification gap.”

Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35, ESV). The dichotomy of losing life to find it, denying self to find our true selves, and following Jesus to find our true purpose is at the crux of the Christian experience. It’s a beautiful opportunity to experience life and spirituality outside of ourselves and, as I say in the article: “The death of self and submission to Christ is not a sad end to an otherwise great life, it’s a huge gasp of air after living underwater.”

Sadly, many Christians see the Christian experience as the opposite of a breath of fresh air: a confining list of rules, regulations, and heaping levels of guilt and shame when failure comes. Churches have been complicit in this idea, either watering down the necessity of sanctification or creating incredible burdens that no one can bear. We need to understand the Gospel to help us come to solutions.

To help us think through this, Influence Magazine asked me to write an article that outlines some of the problems inherent in this gap and what to do about it.

In the article, I quote some helpful statistics to get our minds around the holiness gap:

39% indicate that they “confess . . . sins and wrongdoings ...

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Source: The Sanctification Gap

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[Cfamily]I'm an Evangelical Ecumenist? What Does That Even Mean?
« Reply #746 on: December 19, 2017, 12:00:24 AM »
I'm an Evangelical Ecumenist? What Does That Even Mean?

Working with other believers on common issues

I consider myself an Evangelical ecumenist. Big ‘E’ for Evangelical, little ‘e’ for ecumenist, because I don’t follow the classic approach to ecumenism.

To put it another way, I don’t believe in searching for the lowest common theological denominator in a general statement like “Jesus is Lord.” Actually, Jesus is much more than that. For example, he is “the Son of God,” “the One born of a virgin,” he suffered, died, was buried, and rose again, ascended into heaven, and is coming to judge the living and dead. He is the head of the church, which has pastor/elders and deacons, calls people into covenant membership, and baptizes believers.

That’s too specific for many big ‘E’ Ecumenists.

But I am more of an ecumenist than are many Evangelicals. I’ve spoken at the national meetings of 50 different denominations and I train pastors, evangelists, lay leaders, professionals, and church planters from all different denominations.

Some don’t like my ecumenism. I was actually accused by one leader in my denomination of being an “Evangelical Ecumenist.” He explained I was “the most dangerous person” in the denomination because I was, well, an Evangelical ecumenist.

I like that.

I mean, the part about being dangerous.

Because that’s the kind of danger that Jesus calls us to— acting like the body of Christ.

When Together Is Better

What my ecumenism means is that I avoid saying that all Christians are the same and believe the same— and I believe they can still have the gospel. Yet, I work with others (even more broadly) on common issues, such as the sanctity of life and issues of justice.

What do the Anglican ...

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[Cfamily]Pakistani Christians Bury 11 After ISIS Attacks Methodist Church
« Reply #747 on: December 21, 2017, 12:00:59 AM »
Pakistani Christians Bury 11 After ISIS Attacks Methodist Church

Suicide bombers injure 50 at Advent service.

Pakistani Christian mourners buried their dead on Monday, only a week before the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Worshipers were lining up to take communion on Sunday morning when at least two men, armed and wearing suicide vests, attacked Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in western Pakistan’s provincial captial city Quetta. They left at least 11 dead and more than 50 injured, many in critical condition, unofficial local figures said.

“It was a pleasant morning,” said Sohail Yousuf. “We had sung songs, and children had presented a Christmas program. Pastor Simon Bashir had finished his sermon, and we were moving towards the altar when we started hearing gunfire outside the church.”

Yousef’s 13-year-old daughter Mehak lost her life; her 16-year-old sister Wasiqa is in critical condition after an operation in Quetta’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH).

A manager in an insurance company, Yousef migrated 16 years ago to Quetta from Punjab after his wife, a government schoolteacher, was posted there.

“We bolted all the doors and were praying that God would protect each of us,” he said. “Then a suicide bomber blew himself up at the main door. The explosion shattered the door and injured many inside. When some rushed outside, they were injured by gunfire as the terrorists were on the church lawn. But soon the situation was brought under control by the volunteer church security guards and police present there.”

Caritas executive director Sheezan William told World Watch Monitor that the first person killed was the church security guard George Masih, who tried to stop the men advancing toward the church.

“I came to know what was happening while the exchange of fire ...

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Source: Pakistani Christians Bury 11 After ISIS Attacks Methodist Church

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[Cfamily]To Defend Mideast Christians, Can Advocates Critique Islam?
« Reply #748 on: December 22, 2017, 12:01:01 AM »
To Defend Mideast Christians, Can Advocates Critique Islam?

Diaspora leaders in America disagree on how to improve religious freedom back home.

What’s the best way for Middle Eastern Christians in America to help fellow believers back home? A single misspelled email address inadvertently revealed the breadth of this dilemma for activists in the diaspora.

The mishap sparked a spat this summer between two prominent US Arab groups: the Arab American Institute (AAI), a polling and policy organization led by James Zogby, and Coptic Solidarity (CS), which champions the religious freedom of Egyptian Christians and other minorities.

Zogby, who has a Lebanese Maronite background, was a scheduled participant in CS’s annual Washington conference, which leaders often use to advise DC’s foreign policy establishment on Middle East issues.

But two days before the June 15 conference, Zogby unexpectedly withdrew.

Zogby explained in an article weeks later that he withdrew after receiving word that some controversial anti-Muslim “hate groups” would be at the conference and that the title of a panel in which he was participating had been revised to suggest that violence and impunity are endemic in Muslim and Egyptian culture.

“The best way to reinforce the message of the haters of Christians in Egypt is by giving them the ammunition that Copts in the US are working with Islamophobes in Washington,” Zogby told CT. “I felt it important to call out CS for what I strongly believe is a wrong-headed and potentially dangerous path.”

Stunned by Zogby’s withdrawal and his public criticism, CS wrote an angry response, accusing Zogby of a “dhimmi mentality,” a reference to the secondary status of non-Muslims in the historic caliphate.

“He intentionally tried to hijack our event and tarnish our reputation,” Lindsay Griffin, ...

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Source: To Defend Mideast Christians, Can Advocates Critique Islam?

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[Cfamily]Cover Story: Lord of the Night
« Reply #749 on: December 23, 2017, 12:01:03 AM »
Cover Story: Lord of the Night

In God there is no darkness, but in the darkness of the South Pole I found God everywhere.

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits upon two miles of glacial ice at the bottom of the world. It is one of the remotest places on the planet, more than 800 miles from the nearest human beings.

A small group of people gathers here to support scientific research done by the United States Antarctic Program. America has had a presence at the South Pole since 1956, and today scientists take advantage of its unique environment and geography to study things like astronomy, neutrinos, seismology, and the climate in ways impossible anywhere else. Researchers depend on more than a few support staff for their work. So during the summer, when the sun shines on the South Pole for days on end, the population can soar to over 150 people. It’s a teeming metropolis compared to the fewer than 50 who hunker down in the long, sunless winter months.

I’m one of them, commissioned as a missionary to the others.

There are no permanent residents of Antarctica. People here live and work temporarily on one of the almost 50 research stations—plus summer-only research camps—representing more than 30 countries (the United States boasts three permanent stations). The stations look like futuristic pods that might easily be imagined on the surface of the moon or Mars. Workers are hired for specific durations and eventually must leave.

I followed my wife’s dreams to the South Pole. A doctor, Sarah learned of the Antarctic program in college and it became a life goal to work here. I, too, grew fascinated with coming to Antarctica, though my training in Christian ministry did not exactly open many doors.

After a long journey involving many job applications and a gallbladder removal to physically qualify, I finally landed a position ...

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[Cfamily]Gleanings: January/February 2018
« Reply #750 on: December 24, 2017, 12:01:02 AM »
Gleanings: January/February 2018

US skips UN to aid Christians persecuted by ISIS

The Trump administration says the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will now give aid directly to persecuted Christians in the Middle East. “We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” announced Vice President Mike Pence. Instead, USAID will work with faith-based and private organizations. Religious freedom experts—including former representative Frank Wolf and Center for Religious Freedom director Nina Shea—welcomed the news, as did some Arab Christian leaders. However, others worry it may spark even more extremist anger.

Pregnancy centers’ speech gets day in court

The US Supreme Court will decide whether crisis pregnancy centers in California have to post notices with contact information for free or low-cost abortion providers and contraception. Pro-life groups argue the notices violate the First Amendment by forcing them to communicate a message that violates their beliefs. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Golden State’s 2015 law, said that informing clients of “family-planning services” does not constitute an endorsement. Similar local ordinances in Maryland, New York, and Texas have been thrown out in the past, while Hawaii has a similar law and Connecticut is considering one. The Supreme Court will assess the case on the basis of free speech, not religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia: Arab Christians watch prince’s game of thrones

Blamed by religious freedom experts for funding Islamist extremism with oil profits, Saudi Arabia has promised to reverse course. Four months ...

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Source: Gleanings: January/February 2018

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[Cfamily]The Case for a No-Filter Prayer Life
« Reply #751 on: December 25, 2017, 12:01:01 AM »
The Case for a No-Filter Prayer Life

Why we, as God's friends, can speak to him freely.

Sometimes I talk out loud when I’m sitting in the chair by my book table in the morning or when I’m driving alone in my car. If someone happens into the room, I feel a bit sheepish about these outward aspects of prayer. But I find that talking to God audibly helps me concentrate. It’s becoming a habit of friendship.

As it goes with any conversation between friends, the topics between Jesus and me meander from practical tasks to specific hopes and deeper questions. “Will you remind me to swing by the post office?” “I’m so grateful for Rhodes’s fourth-grade teacher this year.” “I feel alone today. Would you help me to know and believe that you are with me?”

I wonder if David spoke out loud when he first wrote his psalms? I’ve heard that the psalms were sung for many generations before they were ever recorded in written form. I’m thankful for written prayers and for hymns that give me words to speak my heart and teach me to pray. But the art of spontaneous, audible conversation with God feels like a distant practice. Is it far-fetched to consider God a friend who walks with us in this ordinary way?

I believe there’s a humbling glimpse of God’s desire for friendship with us in his generous invitation in Deuteronomy 6:6–7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Hymn writer Austin Miles cast this invitation for us in a slightly different way: “I come to the garden alone / While the dew is still on the roses. . . . And he walks with me, and he talks with ...

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Source: The Case for a No-Filter Prayer Life

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