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[Cfamily]Our January/February Issue: Fighting FOMO
« Reply #752 on: December 26, 2017, 12:01:04 AM »

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Our January/February Issue: Fighting FOMO

How fear of missing out fuels our overextended lives, and why the South Pole holds clues to the solution.

Even for a five-year-old, my son has big emotions. He and my wife were chatting in our hallway recently. She stepped into another room—just a few feet away—to change our two-year-old daughter’s clothes. “But I don’t want to be alone!” our son yelled, as if an unbridgeable chasm had opened between him and the girls he could still nearly touch.

His exaggerated protest had little to do with loneliness. He was really saying, “I don’t want to be a non-player in this scene. I don’t want to be insignificant.”

We are all my son.

Our much-discussed crisis of distraction today is, put differently, a crisis of solitude. We don’t want to disconnect, even though indulging screen time instead of stillness is taking a toll on our mental health. We know that, in contrast, measured idleness is good for us and can actually catalyze creative breakthrough. And entire shelves of Christian books adjure us about how God transforms our lives through solitude.

Yet we (read: “I”) summon all manner of reasonable excuses for shirking solitude. Career demands. Family needs. Ministry opportunities. Beneath all these, however, lies a deeper problem: fear of insignificance. Solitude forces us into positions of uselessness, at least temporarily. Sequestered in the wilderness or in a room away from my smartphone, I feel unimportant, unable to do anything for anyone. I am unseen.

There are echoes of Richard Foster here, but thinkers from Pascal to Nietzsche have also noted the pervasive effects of the fear-distraction nexus. Consider, for example, its role in perpetuating America’s urban-rural divide. The buzz of elite cities has a way of charging study, work, and even play with ...

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Source: Our January/February Issue: Fighting FOMO

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[Cfamily]Is Filling That ‘God-Shaped Hole’ God’s Plan for Our Lives?
« Reply #753 on: December 27, 2017, 12:01:05 AM »
Is Filling That ‘God-Shaped Hole’ God’s Plan for Our Lives?

Maybe we’re not supposed to be satisfied.

The Rolling Stones were right—about all of us. We really can’t get no satisfaction.

When Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wrote the song that would become their first No. 1 hit in the United States, many in the church were scandalized by the candor in “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Yet the song hinted at a surprisingly biblical theme: The places we often seek satisfaction (notably for The Rolling Stones, sex and consumerism) fail to satisfy.

Imagine a guitar riff behind the expressions of disenchantment in Ecclesiastes, and they sound pretty scandalous too. Nearly all of us are looking for satisfaction in some way. And most of us still have a natural inclination to look in two places: our own appetites and consumerism.

We try to satisfy our appetites for love, power, food and drink, sex and other forms of pleasure, sleep, and more. And when we feel unsatisfied in some way, it’s natural to turn to these appetites and think, “If I just had more. . . .” Consumerism not only feeds on our natural appetites but also warps and inflates them for the sake of profit. A constant stream of enticements creates urgency over things we don’t need. So when we want to feel more satisfied, it’s no surprise we often think like consumers and focus on something to acquire: “If I just had that. . . .”

With either approach, we are doomed to repeat the wretched enlightenment of our predecessors, to discover that our best attempts to satisfy ourselves leave us with a gnawing hunger.

Even though we Christians can be caught up in following our own appetites and the whims of consumerism, most of us accept the idea that they will not lead us to true satisfaction. So we take what seems ...

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Source: Is Filling That ‘God-Shaped Hole’ God’s Plan for Our Lives?

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[Cfamily]Live First, Lead Second
« Reply #754 on: December 28, 2017, 12:01:04 AM »
Live First, Lead Second

Pastors have a significant impact on the evangelistic temperature of their church.

This article originally appeared in Outreach Magazine.

You can’t lead what you don’t live.

As pastors and leaders, a good part of what we teach others should come straight from Scripture. We look to biblical models and mandates to be the launching point to teach those in our churches how to live well as followers of Jesus.

Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. If our lives don’t reflect what we teach and the calls to action we offer, then our ability to lead well is severed from the start. Really, it’s a variation of the old adage we teach our children: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Do as I do and as I say.

In outreach, the same principle applies. We can tell our people to show and share the love of Jesus until the cows come home, pointing to the life of Jesus and others around us as examples, but until we live it, we are but clanging cymbals.

I like to tell the truth, and truth be told, one of the key components to getting our congregations on fire for outreach and evangelism is modeling personal outreach. As a pastor, I’ve always tried to do this. You also may have heard the example of Bill Hybel’s sailboat. The reason he mentions his sailboat quite a bit is because it is a place where he’s done a lot of his evangelism.

Now I don’t have a sailboat, and likely you don’t either, but what we all need is a similar example to share. What is your sailboat—the place where you are having the critical conversations with non-Christians?

For me, it’s my neighborhood. At the last church I served at in Tennessee, I had the opportunity to map out my neighbors on paper in order to share the gospel with them one by one. Over the course of three years, I shared the ...

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Source: Live First, Lead Second

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The World’s Biggest Christmas Tree Hasn’t Helped Sri Lankan Christians

Attacks on minority faiths keep increasing in the majority-Buddhist island nation.

The South Asian island nation of Sri Lanka earned its place in the Guinness Book of World Records last year with the world’s tallest artificial Christmas tree, reaching a height of 72.1 meters, or about 237 feet.

The record-setting display was built by Arjuna Ranatunga Social Services, an effort led by legendary Sri Lankan cricket captain and politician Arjuna Ranatunga.

Located at Galle Face Green, a park in the capital city of Columbo, the artificial tree was erected as a steel and wire frame, draped with plastic netting, and decorated with 6 million LED bulbs; more than a million red, green, gold, and silver pine cones; and a star top spanning 6 meters (20 feet).

Though government official Mahinda Nanayakkara is a Buddhist—like more than 70 percent of the population in Sri Lanka—he was the one to present the idea of the tree to Ranatunga almost four years before it became a reality in 2016.

The Roman Catholic Church initially criticized the $80,000 project, with Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith calling it a “sheer waste of money.” (Sponsors mostly covered the cost.) The cardinal ultimately offered his support after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe intervened.

Hundreds of workers volunteered to assemble the giant tree—an effort to promote religious harmony, peace, and unity in a country long divided on religious and ethnic lines.

But one year after the news of the tallest artificial Christmas tree made it around the world, religious harmony on the island has not improved. According to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), religious freedom violations have grown.

“After the new government came in 2015, we thought incidents will decrease. But to our surprise, they ...

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Source: The World’s Biggest Christmas Tree Hasn’t Helped Sri Lankan Christians

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CT Women’s Top 10 Articles of 2017: Kay Warren, Joni Eareckson Tada, and More

Readers rank the best posts of the year.

This last year, CT Women writers responded to big stories—from natural disasters (Hurricane Harvey) to political storms (Donald Trump) to insidious racial divisions. We covered the #MeToo movement and the Women’s March, launched an eight-part series on women’s ministry (including a much-debated piece on authority in the age of the internet), and ran essays on the perennial issues—sex, marriage, singleness—that persistently challenge us.

As we look back over the year, here are our readers’ favorite posts (measured in page views):

1. Kay Warren: ‘We Were in Marital Hell’

In our most-read article of the year (more than 450,000 page views), Kay Warren shares with surprising candor about how she and Rick survived the massive pressures of early and middle marriage and beat the odds that “divorce would be the outcome of their ill-advised union”:

I don’t approach this subject from the Hallmark-card version of marriage but from the blood, sweat, and tears of the trenches where our marriage was forged and is sustained. I know what it’s like to choose to build our relationship; to seek marriage counseling again and again; to allow our small group and our family into the struggle; to determine one more time to say, “Let’s start over” and “Please forgive me, I was wrong” and “I forgive you.”

2. Beth Moore: There’s No Place Like Houston

After Hurricane Harvey hit the coast of Texas and catalyzed one of the worst humanitarian disasters in American history, Beth Moore wrote a powerful personal reflection on the city she calls home:

I’ve never known more Jesus-serving, Jesus-loving, people-loving, people-serving folks on ...

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Source: CT Women’s Top 10 Articles of 2017: Kay Warren, Joni Eareckson Tada, and More

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[Cfamily]Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2017
« Reply #757 on: December 31, 2017, 12:01:01 AM »
Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2017

A glimpse at the important excavation work revealed this year.

Each year, on an almost daily basis, archaeological discoveries help us better understand the Bible and affirm its details about people, events, and culture.

Below are the top excavation findings reported in 2017 which have increased our knowledge of the biblical world and the early history of Christianity.

10) Pagan center discovered at Hippos/Sussita

A theater and bath house complex discovered at Hippos/Sussita, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, was part of a pagan cult site. As part of the Decapolis—the pagan Roman cities mentioned in the gospels—Hippos/Sussita was not a focus of Jesus’ ministry, but many of its people were likely a part of his audiences (Matthew 4:25). The existence of this cultic center was first suggested by the discovery of a mask of the Roman god Pan in 2015.

9) Byzantine church mosaics found

Mosaic inscriptions found in the remains of churches excavated at the site of Byzantine villages in the Galilee give new evidence for the spread of Christianity in the region after the religion’s formal adoption by the Byzantine Empire in A.D. 380. The mosaics date to the fourth and fifth centuries. One includes the mention of a woman who was a donor to the church construction—clear evidence for the prominent role of women in the history of the early church. Then just last week, the discovery of another was announced, drawing more attention to how Christianity spread.

8) Augustus temple altar at Caesarea

Recent excavations at Caesarea Maritima found the base of an altar that stood near the entrance of a temple dedicated to Augustus Caesar that was built by King Herod. The historian Josephus reported that the temple, built high to overlook the harbor, contained a gigantic statue of Augustus ...

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Source: Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2017

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[Cfamily]One-on-One with Krish Kandiah on Stranger Grace and Stranger Danger
« Reply #758 on: January 01, 2018, 12:01:06 AM »
One-on-One with Krish Kandiah on Stranger Grace and Stranger Danger

God is strange, unpredictable, and inscrutable

Ed Stetzer: What do you mean when you say “God is stranger”?

Krish Kandiah: Well, for a start, God is stranger than we give him credit for. The Bible is full of awkward parts where God behaves in unpredictable or strange ways—although mostly I think we tend to ignore those bits.

Think about God turning up in disguise at Abraham’s tent or bargaining with him over the fate of Sodom. God—again in the form of a stranger—wrestles with Jacob and somehow both loses the fight and permanently disables him. God allows Naomi to suffer famine, displacement, widowhood, and the death of both her sons without so much as word of heavenly comfort.

What is going on in all these Bible stories? God is strange, unpredictable, and inscrutable, but perhaps we need to give attention to these darker, provocative parts of the Bible to help us to discover something we all want—a deeper understanding of who God is.

Ed: But your book makes another more urgent claim about how we treat the God who is a stranger.

Krish: Yes, it’s not just to Abraham, Jacob, and others in the Old Testament that God turns up in the guise of a stranger. In the New Testament Jesus does the same. Think about that apparently ill-informed wanderer who doesn’t know what’s been going on in Jerusalem.

On the Emmaus road it is only after the desperately disappointed disciples beg the stranger with an extraordinary grasp of Scripture into their house to break bread with them that their eyes are opened to who he is.

Time and again, it is in hospitality to the stranger that people are given a life-changing encounter with God. In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus goes as far as saying that how we respond to the hungry, ...

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Source: One-on-One with Krish Kandiah on Stranger Grace and Stranger Danger

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[Cfamily]The Top Testimonies of 2017
« Reply #759 on: January 02, 2018, 12:00:59 AM »
The Top Testimonies of 2017

Here are the Christian conversion stories that CT readers shared most.

CT devotes a premium slot in each print magazine—the back page—to a compelling story of Christian conversion. Dozens have shared their tales of how God brought them to himself.

In case you missed any, here are CT’s 2017 testimonies, ranked in reverse order of which ones readers read most.

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Source: The Top Testimonies of 2017

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