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What Jordan’s Evangelicals Think of Templeton Winner King Abdullah’s Interfaith Acclaim

The ruler was awarded the prestigious $1.4 million prize for modeling Islamic tolerance internationally. Here’s how Protestants in his home country gauge his leadership. 

For his lifelong commitment to religious peace, King Abdullah II of Jordan recently became the second Muslim ever to win the prestigious, $1.4 million Templeton Prize. And Jordan’s Christian minority is celebrating with him.

“I believe in our king,” said Imad Shehadeh, president of the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary, following Wednesday’s announcement. “He is a kind, wise, loving, humble, and effective leader.”

Established in 1973, the Templeton Prize is awarded for exceptional contributions to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” First given to Mother Teresa, previous winners range from Billy Graham to the Dalai Lama. More recently, Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga and Jean Vanier of L’Arche have won the prize.

But this year, Abdullah was honored as a ruler who has done more to promote inter-Islamic and interfaith harmony than any other living political leader, Templeton said.

Islam is the official religion of Jordan, and the constitution guarantees freedom of religion for minorities such as the roughly 2 percent of the population that’s Christian (mostly Greek Orthodox). The Protestant community has commended their king’s efforts for religious unity, though some wish his commitment went even further.

Since assuming the throne in 1999, the 56-year-old son of the beloved King Hussein has rallied scholars against declaring apostasy against fellow Muslims. In 2006, he sponsored the Common Word initiative, inviting Christians worldwide to join Muslims in their joint commandments to love God and love their neighbor. Abdullah is responsible for launching World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010, generally acknowledged as the first and only UN declaration ...

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[Cfamily]#StuffChurchpeopleSay: The Funniest Sermon Responses
« Reply #945 on: July 10, 2018, 01:00:16 AM »
#StuffChurchpeopleSay: The Funniest Sermon Responses

Let's get a laugh or two, or even a raised eyebrow, from our fellow well-intentioned congregants.

EAP @eadampeek: “You told too many circumcision jokes, so we are leaving the church. If we wanted to hear a comedy routine, we would have just watched a Will Ferrell movie.”

Jeremiah Clements @JremiahClements: “Early in my first pastorate I had a guy stop me after service to introduce himself: “You know how Paul said he had a thorn in the flesh?” I nodded & he continued, “I’m yours.”

Liam Thatcher @liamthatcher: “I couldn’t focus for the entire talk coz you were wearing new glasses”

Brett Landry @BrettLandry: “That was, like, a really good TED Talk about Jesus!” (Excited guest who’d never been to church before)”

Scott Slayton @scottslayton: “Your preaching has gotten worse since your baby was born. It’s like you’re not as passionate about God as you were before.”

Jason Spears @Jason_Spears: “Coming from my other church and my former pastor to here listening to you is like going from filet mignon to ground beef hamburger meat.” … “Unfortunately, in my youthful insecurity, the next week I handed her a small bottle of A1 steak sauce and encouraged her to go back if she saw fit.”

Christopher Cahall @chriscahall: “Would you like me to tell you how many times you said “um”?”

Hershaelyork @hershaelyork: “I preached in Grenada, MS, and a guy came up to me afterward, shook my hand and said, “Spurgeon! Charles Spurgeon.” I was flattered, but thought he was overstating things a bit and I told him so and he said, “No, that’s my name. I’m Charles Spurgeon.”

Kris Freeman @PastorKris: “That was an amazing message. Too bad no one ...

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Source: #StuffChurchpeopleSay: The Funniest Sermon Responses

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Renewing Your Church: Church Revitalization as a Humbling Experience

God works through people and churches who depend on him.

I accepted my first pastorate in 2004 at First Baptist Church in Castroville, TX as a 25-year-old recent seminary graduate. I had not given much thought to leading revitalization throughout my studies, but I found myself leading a church that was still in the process of healing from previous hurt.

They were suffering dysfunction, and decline.

As a new pastor, I did what I thought was best, and that was to thrust myself fully into pastoring by working hard, not being above any task, and doing whatever I thought needed to be done. In many ways, I thought I was being noble, but in reality I was trying to pastor in my own strength and was keeping others from serving.

The result was that I was on the cusp of burnout, and I was disillusioned that revitalization was not happening the way I wanted and in the time I expected. This was humbling because my approach to life and work had provided a degree of success and recognition during college and seminary, but was not working in the church. Then, God graciously brought people into my life who guided me to healthier ways of leading and challenged me to grow in certain areas.

One of the areas of growth was that God led me to step out in faith by providing a vision of the church getting out of debt with the goal of the church calling a youth pastor once the church got out of debt. At the time, the church still had around 15 years on the note, so we set the goal for five years to get out of debt and call a youth pastor. Because the church had limited resources, the goal of five years seemed impossible to me.

But the church had the faith to trust God.

As soon as we stepped out in faith, God began to provide for us in ways I could never have imagined. For example, a predominately African-American ...

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Source: Renewing Your Church: Church Revitalization as a Humbling Experience

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[Cfamily]12 Podcasts for Your Summer Listening List
« Reply #947 on: July 12, 2018, 01:00:17 AM »
12 Podcasts for Your Summer Listening List

A dozen women weigh in with their favorite podcasts on practicing the Sabbath, the science of pianos, and other topics worth talking about this summer.

Maybe you’ve missed it, but Christianity Today produces a podcast. I’m the co-host of Quick to Listen, a weekly current-events program that pushes back against the breathless and instant opinions that often flatten the complexity of our world. By contrast, our show elevates the voices of those who have spent years studying and living through some of the most intractable problems of our time.

A recent favorite of mine? Our discussion of the persistent violence against the Nigerian church. In “Nigerian Christians Are Exhausted From the Terror. Will They Fight Back?” my co-host Mark Galli and I explored the conflict with local Christian leader Gideon Para-Mallam and heard firsthand the joy and pain of leading the church in the midst of bloodshed. He lit up our tiny recording studio with his passion, and his animated analysis reminded me why podcasts are such a powerful form of learning.

As a podcast creator and fan, I’m convinced that one of the medium’s gifts is the diversity of perspectives, topics, and genres. With that in mind, I asked a dozen women to write about their favorite program, preferably one off the mainstream track. If you’re on the prowl for a new podcast, look no further. Here are 12 recommendations that will entertain you (and your children), spark your faith, and engage your brain.

Each entry lists the podcast program followed by a featured episode. Happy listening!

1. Communicator Academy: “Dealing with Ministry Envy

With nearly 20 books and more than two decades of speaking, podcasting, and entrepreneurial experience between them, Kathi Lipp and Michele Cushatt share their collective expertise on industry “dos and don’ts” and build up ...

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Source: 12 Podcasts for Your Summer Listening List

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[Cfamily]Four Ways to Put Preferences in Their Proper Place, Part 2
« Reply #948 on: July 13, 2018, 01:00:24 AM »
Four Ways to Put Preferences in Their Proper Place, Part 2

Giving up your preferences and reminding your congregation to do the same is not an easy road, but it is worth it for the sake of the gospel.

Third, exegete the culture.

If you are going to take the steps to walk through what it looks like to engage a culture wisely, then you need to exegete the culture. Exegeting a culture helps keep your preferences at bay. You need to step back and consider, “What is the culture we’re trying to engage, and how can we engage it?”

Think about the context of your church and what expressions of biblical practices will most appropriately engage your cultural context. For example, how would the people you are trying to reach in your community best engage in worship that is both filled with Spirit and truth? This is not always going to be comfortable, because the contextualized preferences are not always going to align with what your preferences are. That’s okay because Scripture reminds us to sacrifice for others and to hold onto our vision.

Of course, some will object to this, but generally not if they’ve been on a mission trip. They have probably already seen what such applications look like.

Exegeting your culture means loving and learning about the community around you, deferring your preferences to see others come to Christ and be changed by the power of the gospel.

Finally, be a model for preference deferral.

It can be a lot easier to tell everybody else to defer their preferences rather than giving up your own. But to lead well, we need to lead by example. We must be willing to sacrifice our favorite worship style or style of dress so that our churches will be most effective for the gospel. Instead of asking yourself, “What do I prefer?” ask yourself “What’s on mission?”

Too often, pastors create churches with their own style preferences. Instead, root yourself in Scripture. ...

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Source: Four Ways to Put Preferences in Their Proper Place, Part 2

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Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Is Brett Kavanaugh, Another Religious Liberty Defender

GOP establishment darling and Court of Appeals judge nominated to fill outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s critical seat.

President Donald Trump has nominated appeal court judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who after three decades of service, will retire at the end of this month.

“Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” said Trump on Tuesday night.

The president praised Kavanaugh as a “judge’s judge,” “a true thought leader among his peers,” “a brilliant jurist,” and “universally regarded as one of the sharpest legal minds of our times.”

“Mr. President, I am grateful to you. I am humbled by your confidence in me,” said Kavanaugh, after the President’s introduction.

“A judge must be independent, must interpret the law, not make the law,” said Kavanaugh. “...A judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history, tradition, and precedent.”

Kavanaugh, 53, has a long history of genuine legal experience and support from establishment Republicans. Should he be confirmed, his presence will tilt the court further to the right, as he is considerably more conservative than the more centrist, swing-vote conservative Kennedy.

Having issued nearly 300 opinions during his tenure on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh boasted considerably more bench experience than any of the other prospective nominees—Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman.

Christian conservatives had little but praise for Trump’s nomination.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore said that he was confident that Kavanaugh would be a “strong ...

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Source: Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Is Brett Kavanaugh, Another Religious Liberty Defender

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Brett Kavanaugh Is a Good Supreme Court Pick and the Reason Many Voted for Trump

A more conservative court is good for America in many ways.

I am glad that President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Of course, once you say such a thing, half the country flies into a rage.

Last night, I tweeted, “I am glad @RealDonaldTrump will be nominating the next Supreme Court Justice, rather than @HillaryClinton. I'll be writing more on this tomorrow, but the implications for life and religious liberty are the reason that many evangelicals supported President Trump.”

But, both of the things I said are true.

The first is that I’m glad that a Supreme Court justice has been nominated who will, I hope, move the court away from its recent social activism. And, it’s true that many evangelicals voted as they did because of the Supreme Court.

The Court matters.

I’ve written many times about my concern about President Trump and how evangelicals have responded to him. You can find some of my pieces here, here and here. In the end, however, I know that many will be outraged by my tweet—not because of my nuanced words, but because of their own concerns about Trump.

But, President Trump is not appointing himself to the bench. He is nominating a respected jurist. If that respect is unearned, we will see during the confirmation hearing. But, for many, any conservative would be unacceptable.

However, if the election had gone the other way and Hillary Clinton was president, you would now have a generational majority that would not be sympathetic to concerns for religious liberty, issues related to life or abortion, or on many other topics of concern.

Why many evangelicals voted as they did.

As I previously wrote in an article for evangelicals, “It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!,” playing off of a comment from James Carville, ...

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Source: Brett Kavanaugh Is a Good Supreme Court Pick and the Reason Many Voted for Trump

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[Cfamily]Pilgrim’s Progress: How Restlessness Leads Us to Jesus
« Reply #951 on: July 16, 2018, 01:00:14 AM »
Pilgrim’s Progress: How Restlessness Leads Us to Jesus

Exile is part of the Christian experience. But our wandering is not without a destination.

I’ve lived a tumbleweed life: I’ve had 16 addresses, been employed at 10 full-time jobs, eight part-time jobs, and a bushel basketful of freelance gigs. I’ve belonged to 20 churches and visited too many to count as I’ve searched for an ecclesial family that I know will be home only until it’s time to relocate once again.

You might say wandering is in my blood. My Jewish forebears learned many generations ago that being anchored in a community was a luxury reserved for others. We learned to ply a life from the rickety throwaway homes at the ragged edges of other cultures, always aware that at any moment, it might be time to leave or else be killed. Without realizing why, I learned early on to keep a stash of battered moving boxes on hand because you never know when it might be time to use them.

I’m not alone. Every one of us carries a restlessness that runs as deep as the marrow of our born-again bones. Although our consumer culture often tells us the cure is to buy a new mattress, a new car, or a new tube of toothpaste, we know that the experience of exile is common to humankind. No matter where we live, we find ourselves far from home. As author Jen Pollock Michel notes, “Home represents humanity’s most visceral ache—and our oldest desire.”

As believers, this ancient desire is at the heart of our wandering. We are people who live in a state of exile, sent from Eden to make our way through a world shaped by sweat and sorrow. There is hopeful news, however: Exile is not a terminal point or a destination. Rather, it’s meant to transform us into pilgrims.

The experience of exile comes in many forms. Although Americans are a people on the move— 11 percent of ...

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Source: Pilgrim’s Progress: How Restlessness Leads Us to Jesus

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