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The Big Conversation: A Q&A with Justin Brierley on Engaging Intellectual Thinkers around Issues of Faith

By modeling good conversations about faith between people on both sides of the debate, we can hopefully improve the discourse globally.

Ed: So what exactly is The Big Conversation?

Justin: The Big Conversation is a 6-episode video debate series in which I sit down with some of the biggest intellectual thinkers from the atheist and Christian world to debate some of life’s biggest questions.

It began with the Canadian psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson in conversation with atheist psychologist Susan Blackmore. Peterson has risen to enormous prominence in recent months and is attracting many young men with his approach to finding meaning in life. They had a very lively debate on the question “Do we need God to make sense of life?”

Blackmore said ‘no’ and Peterson said ‘yes’.

Ed: Is Jordan Peterson a Christian then?

Justin: Good question! I actually spent the first and last part of the program asking that question of him.

He has consistently refused to be pinned down on his personal religious convictions. When I pressed him on it, he described himself as a “religious man” who was “conditioned in every cell as a consequence of the Judeo-Christian worldview.” The closest I could get to whether he really believed in God was that he lives his life “as though God exists,” saying, “The fundamental hallmark of belief is how you act, not what you say about what you think.”

However, he stands strongly against the new atheists who claim that religion is a force for evil. In fact, he came out strongly defending Christianity as the worldview that has shaped the values and freedoms we hold dear in Western civilization. When Susan Blackmore pressed him that certain secular Scandinavian countries are doing fine without religion, he reminded her that such post-Christian nations in the West ...

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Source: The Big Conversation: A Q&A with Justin Brierley on Engaging Intellectual Thinkers around Issues of Faith

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Turkey Keeps American Pastor Behind Bars—At Least for Three More Months

Andrew Brunson has spent most of the last two years in prison based on wild—or absent—accusations.

After nearly two years in a Turkish prison, hopes for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson have been deferred. A Turkish court ordered 50-year-old pastor to remain behind bars until at least his next hearing on October 12.

On Wednesday, the court heard testimony from members of Brunson’s church who made “vague, unsubstantiated accusations” against Brunson, reported World Watch Monitor. When the judge asked how Brunson would respond to the testimony of the prosecution’s witnesses, he said, “My faith teaches me to forgive, so I forgive those who testified against me.”

Bill Campbell, a North Carolina pastor whose church belongs to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the same denomination as Brunson’s church, was among several supporters of the pastor who attended the trial.

“As usual, there was much spurious testimony against Andrew,” Campbell told EPConnection after the trial. “Andrew’s testimony was absolutely powerful. He presented the gospel with confidence and defended himself with boldness.”

Notably, the court heard a defense witness for the first time, although the witness Brunson initially requested to testify was not permitted to do so.

Many of Brunson’s supporters had been cautiously optimistic about his release—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and US President Donald Trump had been photographed smiling and fist-bumping each other at last week’s NATO summit in Brussels. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had also met with Erdo?an in Ankara the last week of June, though the focus of the meeting was to discuss US sanctions.

On Twitter, Freedom House’s Nate Schenkkan called the Turkish court’s ...

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Source: Turkey Keeps American Pastor Behind Bars—At Least for Three More Months

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Iranian Christian Refugees Are Still Stranded in Austria. But Are Things About to Change?

Dozens of Christians and other religious minorities from Iran have been on a resettlement roller coaster. It just took a new turn.

Around 100 Iranian refugees who were invited to resettle in the United States and then denied entry after a year of waiting in Vienna have two reasons to hope.

After being rejected from America, the migrants have applied for asylum in Austria and four have already been approved. This latest development occurred after many had already exhausted their savings and been divided from their families—the denials separated two women from their fiancés and cut parents off from their children.

Earlier this year, Austrian member of parliament Gudrun Kugler learned of the refugees’ plight and invited the group to meet with her.

“With tears in their eyes, these people were telling me how much they wanted to start to work and live meaningful lives,” Kugler said. "One young woman told me that she had not been to a school in two years. She could not sleep, and she was self-medicating. This uncertainty was very difficult for them.”

Kugler, who believes helping the community is part of following her call as a Christian, reached out to a number of NGOs to help the migrants find health insurance, enroll in German classes, and take advantage of job training options.

One of her partner organizations, the Nazarene Fund, offered rent support and aid for medical and psychological care and legal services. In addition, it reached out to the US government to learn why the group had been denied entry after their initial acceptance. Since then, the US State Department has asked that the group to resubmit their requests for asylum.

Another reason for hope: Earlier this month, a US district court judge for the Northern District of California sided with the refugees, challenging the US government’s blanket denial ...

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Source: Iranian Christian Refugees Are Still Stranded in Austria. But Are Things About to Change?

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One-on-One with Peter Greer and Chris Horst on ‘Rooting for Rivals’

As churches and nonprofits, we can accomplish far more together than we ever could alone.

Ed: What inspired you to write Rooting for Rivals?

Peter and Chris: A few years ago, a foundation executive in Tennessee shared with us that in just one year, three different agencies approached him for funding to translate the Bible into the same language for the same people group. The impact was going to be a third of what it could have been if each organization had focused on a different language!

This type of redundancy and lack of cooperation is widespread in our churches, charities, and nonprofits. Rather than seeing fellow organizations as partners in the kingdom, we’re prone to see them as our competitors.

We long to see a different posture and approach, where followers of Christ seek first the kingdom of God. We wrote Rooting for Rivals to understand what inhibits collaboration and more importantly, to celebrate examples of organizations that model outrageous generosity and openhandedness. Ultimately, we want to collectively pursue a calling higher than any one organization’s agenda.

Ed: What are the hallmarks of openhanded, generous leaders?

Peter and Chris: Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to talk with countless individuals and organizations modeling a rooting-for-rivals approach. Though their schedules were full, they always seemed to make time to listen fully, invest deeply, and share openly. It was as if they had a calling and passion that superseded their organization—that helping us was in some way part of their mission.

At the core, what set these generous, openhanded leaders apart was how they answered these two questions:

First, do we believe in a world of scarcity or abundance? If we believe in a world of scarcity, we see someone else’s success as less for us. But ...

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Source: One-on-One with Peter Greer and Chris Horst on ‘Rooting for Rivals’

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[Cfamily]God’s Battle for Your Bank Account
« Reply #964 on: July 29, 2018, 01:00:14 AM »
God’s Battle for Your Bank Account

Why idolatry is an economic issue and what to do about it.

The tomatoes caught me off guard. Sitting in a small Anglican church in Kenya, I was prepared for the invitation to put some money in the offering plate. I was not prepared for tomatoes.

But that’s what the members of that farming village brought. Tomatoes, avocadoes, maybe even a chicken or two, all brought up and placed on the altar. They brought the literal firstfruits of their small fields, the work of their hands given back to God in gratitude for his blessing on farm and farmer alike.

Perhaps a Christian approach to economic life begins on an altar covered with tomatoes, with worship that orients all of who we are toward the God who so loved the world that he gave. Indeed, worship is an economic issue. We are made in the image of a generous King, wired to reflect his generosity to the rest of creation.

Follow the Money

If worship is an economic issue, so is idolatry. When we read about the Israelites worshiping Baal in 1 Kings 18, for instance, we often imagine that some the Israelites simply fell in love with Baal statues. Perhaps a compelling Baal evangelist showed up and presented the 4 Spiritual Laws of Baal Worship. Maybe a traveling Baal apologist presented some compelling arguments in a public debate.

But the primary attraction to Baal worship certainly wasn’t a pretty statue or a theological argument. It was an economic promise. The nations around Israel called Baal the “Rider on the Clouds” who could bring the rain and make all your economic problems go away. Little wonder, then, that when King Ahab chose to marry a woman from Baal territory, the farmers in Israel built a house for this new god and welcomed him to the neighborhood (1 Kings 16:31).

Of course, most Israelites didn’t totally ...

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Source: God’s Battle for Your Bank Account

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[Cfamily]Turkey Lets Andrew Brunson Leave Prison
« Reply #965 on: July 30, 2018, 01:00:16 AM »
Turkey Lets Andrew Brunson Leave Prison

American pastor remains under house arrest until October. But good news comes day after his plight was shared at US religious freedom ministerial.

Yesterday, Andrew Brunson’s daughter described Turkey’s two-year persecution of the American pastor to delegates at the US State Department’s first-ever religious freedom ministerial.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of my father and what an example of Christ’s love he continues to be to the world as he is wrongly imprisoned for his faith,” said Jacqueline Funari, who is “still waiting for my father-daughter dance” because Brunson’s long imprisonment caused him to miss her wedding.

Today, a Turkish court ruled that Brunson should be moved from Kiriklar prison to house arrest at his home in Turkey. The good news, though partial, drew a standing ovation from the ministerial delegates.

A leader of the Turkish Protestant Church confirmed the news to World Watch Monitor. The same source confirmed that Brunson’s wife is on her way to the prison to meet her husband, and to ensure the prosecutor’s order to release him into house arrest is quickly delivered to the prison.

Aykan Erdemir, a former member of Turkey’s parliament and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, confirmed that Brunson will remain in pre-trial detention until the next hearing, scheduled for October 12.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents Brunson’s family, also confirmed Brunson’s release to his Turkish home.

“This is a critical first step that we believe will result in the freedom of Pastor Brunson so he can return to the United States and be reunited with his family,” stated Jay Sekulow, ACLJ chief counsel. “[President Donald Trump] has played a critical role in securing the freedom of Pastor Brunson. We have worked ...

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Source: Turkey Lets Andrew Brunson Leave Prison

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Interview: Revoice’s Founder Answers the LGBT Conference’s Critics

Orientation is not necessarily sexual, Nate Collins says.

The Revoice Conference, which begins tomorrow, has generated a great deal of conversation among theologically conservative Christians. The gathering, according to its website, is about “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.” Much of the controversy has swirled around terms used by proponents to describe who the conference is for and what its goals are.

Christianity Today editor in chief Mark Galli asked Revoice founder Nate Collins about the dispute. Collins is former instructor of New Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a leader at the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender. He is also author of All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality (Zondervan, 2017).

What exactly is Revoice?

Revoice is an organization putting on a conference, and the idea behind the conference is to provide a place for conservative LGBT Christians, people who are non-straight and perhaps experienced gender dysphoria of some kind, to gather and to be supported and loved in their attempt to live a long and costly obedience. We all believe that the Bible teaches a traditional, historic understanding of sexuality in marriage, and so we are not attempting in any way to redefine any of those doctrines. We’re trying to live within the bounds of historic Christian teaching about sexuality and gender. But we find difficulty doing that for a lot of reasons.

What are the most common misconceptions of Revoice?

Several people try and make the claim that we’re on a slippery ...

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Source: Interview: Revoice’s Founder Answers the LGBT Conference’s Critics

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[Cfamily]Singles: A Vital Part of Our Churches, Part 1
« Reply #967 on: August 01, 2018, 01:00:17 AM »
Singles: A Vital Part of Our Churches, Part 1

Singles make up half of our churches, so we best learn to treat all people—married or single—equally.

Let me just get this out there at the outset: For many, being single in the church can sometimes feel very awkward. I have heard a number of singles tell me stories that have made me cringe—stories of how the leadership and the marrieds in the church spoke or acted in ways that were silly at best and dishonoring at worst. Let’s all face it: Singles make up half of our churches, so we best learn to treat all people—married or single—equally.

In fact, the singles in our churches are quite significant, and are, in fact, integral to our mission.

Changing patterns of marriage and singleness

More and more, Americans are staying single by choice. A Pew Research Center study released in 2017 found that 42% American adults are living without a spouse or a partner. That number is up 3% since ten years ago in 2007, when it was 39%. The biggest change was adults under 35. Today, 61% of adults under 35 are single. That’s five points up compared to where it was a decade ago, at 56%. Singles make up a significant portion of our population.

Singles are not an accessory or an appendage in the life of the church.

Knowing that will shape how you engage them. Many married people tend to think of single people as incomplete married people – married people often assume singles will find somebody else, the two will be made one, and then they’ll be complete. The reality is that’s a very different view than the church has held historically and biblically.

Some examples from church history

If you go back over the centuries of the history of the church, it’s actually consistently single people who were thought of and looked to as some of the most influential Christian leaders. Many of the church fathers ...

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Source: Singles: A Vital Part of Our Churches, Part 1

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