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introduction:
Tolerance is the buzz word ricocheting around politically correct circles over the past few years. What that really means is that all political, philosophical and theologically correct viewpoints must be tolerated, and any other viewpoints must be mercilessly squelched. The bottom line of this whole rhetoric is that the Christian viewpoint is hateful and must be silenced.

 

Pew Research Center

Federal criminal prosecutions fall to lowest level in nearly two decades

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎4:58:58 PM | John GramlichGo to full article
Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against 77,152 defendants in fiscal year 2016. That’s a decline of 25% since fiscal 2011.
 

About one-in-seven Americans don’t think men should be able to take any paternity leave

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎12:56:26 PM | Juliana Menasce HorowitzGo to full article
By comparison, just 3% say women shouldn’t be able to take any type of maternity leave.
 

Applications for U.S. visa lottery more than doubled since 2007

 
‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎8:37:19 PM | Phillip ConnorGo to full article
For fiscal year 2017, about 19 million people applied for the U.S. diversity visa program, otherwise known as the visa lottery.
 

Access to paid family leave varies widely across employers, industries

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎7:30:07 PM | Drew DeSilverGo to full article
Americans generally support paid family and medical leave, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, but relatively few workers have access to it. Access to paid leave varies considerably by industry, type of employer and employer's size.
 

Shareable facts on how Americans view and experience family and medical leave

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎6:21:34 PM | Pew Research CenterGo to full article
 
 

Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave, but Differ Over Specific Policies

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎6:13:50 PM | Pew Research CenterGo to full article
Most Americans say workers should receive paid leave, but the level of support varies across different situations. Experiences with leave vary by income and gender.
 

Key takeaways on Americans’ views of and experiences with family and medical leave

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎6:04:09 PM | Renee SteplerGo to full article
Many Americans support paid family and medical leave, and most supporters say employers should cover the costs.
 

Many lower-income Republicans see ensuring health coverage for all as a government responsibility

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎5:30:15 PM | Samantha SmithGo to full article
Lower-income Republicans are somewhat more likely than higher-income Republicans to support the Affordable Care Act, and many say ensuring health care coverage for all is a government responsibility.
 

Cybersecurity Knowledge Quiz

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎7:42:03 PM | Pew Research CenterGo to full article
A majority of online adults can identify a strong password and know the risks of using public Wi-Fi. Yet, many struggle with more technical cybersecurity concepts.
 

What the Public Knows About Cybersecurity

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎7:41:51 PM | Pew Research CenterGo to full article
A majority of internet users can answer fewer than half the questions correctly on a difficult knowledge quiz about cybersecurity issues and concepts.
 

How much does science knowledge influence people’s views on climate change and energy issues?

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎5:07:05 PM | Cary FunkGo to full article
People’s level of science knowledge helps to a degree to explain their beliefs about climate and energy issues, but it depends on their partisanship.
 

Digital divide persists even as lower-income Americans make gains in tech adoption

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎12:54:56 PM | Monica AndersonGo to full article
While many aspects of the digital divide have narrowed over time, the digital lives of lower- and higher-income Americans remain markedly different.
 

Majority of states have all-Christian congressional delegations

 
‎Tuesday, ‎March ‎21, ‎2017, ‏‎1:12:10 PM | Aleksandra SandstromGo to full article
The vast majority of the nation’s federal lawmakers (91%) describe themselves as Christians, compared with 71% of U.S. adults who say the same.
 

Despite gains, women remain underrepresented among U.S. political and business leaders

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎7:30:11 PM | Anna BrownGo to full article
One hundred years after Jeannette Rankin became the first female member of the U.S. Congress, women remain underrepresented in political and business leadership.
 

A wider partisan and ideological gap between younger, older generations

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎6:00:17 PM | Shiva ManiamGo to full article
The generation gap in American politics is dividing two younger age groups, Millennials and Generation X, from the two older groups, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.
 

What backgrounds do U.S. Supreme Court justices have?

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎12:57:25 PM | Kristen BialikGo to full article
When President Donald Trump nominated federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia, he chose a candidate whose professional background is very much in line with previous and current justices.
 

The fading of the green: Fewer Americans identify as Irish

 
‎Friday, ‎March ‎17, ‎2017, ‏‎4:15:43 PM | Drew DeSilverGo to full article
The ranks of Americans who trace their ancestry back to Ireland – long one of the most prominent subgroups in American society – are slowly declining.
 

China outpaces India in internet access, smartphone ownership

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎5:00:38 PM | Jacob PoushterGo to full article
India and China have long had a competitive relationship and have emerged as major economic powers. But in the digital space, China has a clear advantage.
 

Immigrants don’t make up a majority of workers in any U.S. industry

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎3:00:07 PM | Drew DeSilverGo to full article
Immigrants made up 17.2% of the total U.S. workforce in 2014, or about 27 million workers. Private households were the biggest immigrant-employing "industry," followed by textile, apparel and leather manufacturers and the farm sector.
 

Many smartphone owners don’t take steps to secure their devices

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎15, ‎2017, ‏‎3:29:46 PM | Monica AndersonGo to full article
More than a quarter of owners say they don't use a screen lock or other security features to access their phone, but most are taking at least some steps for security.

 

 
Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project
 
 

CNN: Bible and rocks thrown through doors of Colorado mosque

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎9:38:25 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

Reuters: ‘Religious left’ emerging as U.S. political force in Trump era

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎9:38:04 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

BBC News: Taiwan top court hears landmark gay marriage case

 
‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎9:41:36 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

Religion News Service: Religion emerges in secular French politics as presidential campaign heats up

 
‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎9:39:05 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

AP: Judge in Virginia declines to block travel ban

 
‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎9:36:15 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

The Guardian: UK Muslim leaders condemn ‘cowardly’ London attack

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎9:41:58 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

AP: Nebraska lawmakers pass bill to repeal religious garb ban

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎9:41:07 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

Politico: Friedman confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Israel

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎9:40:28 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

LA Times: Pakistan holds its first census in 19 years, but not everyone is ready to be counted

 
‎Tuesday, ‎March ‎21, ‎2017, ‏‎9:21:57 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

Reuters: Prague’s Old-New Synagogue gets first new Torahs since World War Two

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎9:20:21 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

Religion News Service: Southern Baptist leaders stand by Moore after his apologies

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎9:19:53 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

AP: US Muslims and Jews strengthen bonds amid acts of bigotry

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎9:16:47 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

The Guardian: Documents support fears of Muslim surveillance by Obama-era program

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎11:14:18 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

Reuters: Emirates, Etihad boarding as usual after second Trump travel ban blocked

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎11:13:41 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

The Guardian: New Zealand river granted same legal rights as human being

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎11:12:15 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

AP: Pakistan wants Facebook, Twitter to help it combat blasphemy

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎11:11:51 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

BuzzFeed News: Top Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka denied d report that he belongs to a Nazi-allied group

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎11:10:55 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article
 
 

NPR: With both communities concerned, Latino Muslims learn about their rights

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎11:09:05 PM | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life ProjectGo to full article

 

 

 

After 40 Girls Die in Orphanage Fire, Guatemala Asks Evangelicals for Advice

 
‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎29 minutes ago | Sarah Eekhoff ZylstraGo to full article

Tragedy becomes impetus for reforms sought by Christian experts.

Earlier this month, a fire at an orphanage outside of Guatemala’s capital caught international attention. Forty children died of carbon monoxide poisoning and burns; the tragic event drew worldwide condemnation.

But the aftermath of the fire has given hope to those who work with the Central American country’s orphans. As the government turns to evangelicals for help, it seems the tragedy may spark the breakthrough many have been praying for.

In some ways, the tragic blaze—set intentionally by children locked in the overcrowded facility—was not unexpected by evangelical experts. In 2006, Orphan Outreach founder Mike Douris told the Guatemalan government that the orphanage’s design wasn’t a good idea.

The government went ahead and built it anyway—another link in a chain of wrong moves. For decades, Guatemala has had some of the worst child welfare practices on the planet.

In 2015, the country had the second-highest rate of child murders in the world. Of the crimes against children that get reported—including murder, rape, kidnapping—most go unpunished (88%). An estimated 2 in 5 children are malnourished. Among indigenous children, that rises to 4 in 5. Tales of overcrowding, abuse, and malnutrition leak out of orphanages like the one near the nation’s capital, Guatemala City, where dozens died in the recent fire.

The infamous orphanage, the Virgen de la Asunción, was built for 400 children but housed about 750. Inside, orphans were physically and sexually abused by staff and by other children. There were complaints about water leaks and poor food quality. Only 3 of the 64 security cameras in the building were working.

The conditions resemble fellow public orphanages, ...

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What's Love Got to Do with It? Love, Marriage, and the Gospel

 
‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎29 minutes ago | Ed StetzerGo to full article

Dr. David Van Dyke joins Drs Cohick and Stetzer for the latest Theology for Life podcast.

What is love, and how is it reflected in our lives? How do we have a love stance that is based in action instead of emotion? What is our culture teaching our kids today about love and objectification?

What about marriage and the role of love? According to Van Dyke, love is connected to God and goes deeper than our emotions. We must always be asking, “What’s bigger than ourselves in all of this?”

How can we help our kids see something different about love than what our culture is teaching us? Van Dyke said first we must model what love is to others and how we handle perceived threats and how we move past those.

What does it look like to be angry and still love, or to be wounded and love despite it? According to Van Dyke, some of the strongest bonds of love are built in the repair stage, after we’ve experienced strong emotion.

For many in the Church, we idolize marriage. How is the Church to handle marriage today, and our views of it? How do churches need to uphold the sacredness of marriage, and what repairs need to be done?

What about hope? Van Dyke said that he loves hearing the hope in middle schoolers because as they experience chaos, they are primed for change. They are open to change, which can lead to doing relationships in new ways.

Dr. David Van Dyke is Director if the Marriage and Family Therapy Program and Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Wheaton College.

Lynn Cohick is Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

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In 'American Gods', the Deities of Myth Meet the Modern World

 
‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎29 minutes ago | Kenneth R. MorefieldGo to full article

The pilot for the upcoming Starz series raises provocative questions about worship and divinity.

Neil Gaiman begins his novel American Gods with an epigraph from Richard Dorson’s “A Theory for American Folklore.” In it, Dorson asks what happens to demonic beings of one culture when its people immigrate to another. The novel’s central conceit—that certain characters are personifications of the gods of myth—is never overtly stated in the pilot of Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s adaptation for Starz. It doesn’t have to be, though; the premise should be clear enough from the title, the leading dialogue, and a preface in which Viking ancestors bring their invisible god to the shores of a new world (and leave him there).

After the preface, the pilot follows the opening of Gaiman’s novel pretty faithfully. Protagonist Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is released from prison, only to find that the life he was planning on returning to has been cruelly and permanently altered. With no roots and little purpose, he accepts an offer of employment from the shadowy Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). Pretty soon, he is fighting a self-identified leprechaun in a bar and being kidnapped by a jealous and suspicious youth in a stretch limo who appears to be in some sort of turf war with Wednesday.

Meanwhile, over in Hollywood, where they worship sex, the equally mysterious Bilquis asks a man to “worship” her during sex. When he complies, she devours him. That scene is prolonged—and graphic. The sex and violence, while not as pervasive as in Game of Thrones, is going to be a tough hurdle for some Christian viewers to clear. So, too, might be some underlying assumptions about whether the Christian religion differs from other religions that tell stories about gods. (Although not ...

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The 'Feminine' Trait Every Christian Needs to Learn

 
‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎29 minutes ago | Lynn H. CohickGo to full article

The virture of endurance was a 'female' attribute in New Testament times.

On June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, a white supremacist gunned down nine African American Christians as they participated in a Wednesday night Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Americans were outraged at such heartless and vile racism, but something else gained national attention: The church members forgave the murderer. In fact, such forgiveness is so countercultural that many in the media sought to explain it away by saying that the African American church was fearful of reprisals or was ingratiating themselves to the majority white culture. Fortunately, a few reporters accurately identified the “supernatural” source of such forgiveness—the gospel of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ.

The media missed another crucial, countercultural aspect of the gospel: resurrection hope expressed by endurance. One week after the shooting, believers were back at Wednesday night Bible study, and they have continued ever since. The gospel message of Christ’s loving forgiveness has transformed these believers, and the promise of eternal, resurrection life has given them enduring hope. Forgiveness and endurance shape their values according to God’s kingdom ethics. As Joe Riley, mayor of Charleston, pronounced at the funeral of one church member, “Myra [Thompson] will always be here in the memory of this church. She was a martyr in the continuing fight of human dignity.”

During the season of Lent, Christians around the world focus especially on Jesus’s death on the cross and think about repentance and forgiveness. They recall Paul’s words in Romans that they are co-heirs with Christ, “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that ...

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Church-Planting Shifts, Part Four: Supporting Planters

 
‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎29 minutes ago | Ed StetzerGo to full article

Church planting may require supporting church planters, not church plants.

Read Part One, The Launch, Part Two, From Nominal to Secular, and Part Three, Preparing Our People for Witness.

As I have discussed in this series on church-planting shifts, we must acknowledge that Christianity in the West will be competing more with a secular worldview than it has in the past, when Christendom reigned.

The question among missiologists and pastors today arises around the issues of timing: When will this reality exert significant pressure on the present church planting approach, thus requiring immediate change to the predominant approachreaching nominal Christians?

Below I look at some possible implications this evident shift may have for the support structures of most church planting initiatives.

With the rising tide of secularism and the ultimate decline of Christian nominalism, we may need to rethink our denominational/traditional church planting support mechanisms. There’s no doubt that nominalism has provided us with a ready base to plant and launch churches. We could plant faster with a Christian base and nominal Christians to reach.

But that is changing.

This, in turn, has led to a fiscal reality that the way we fund church planting must line up with the new and emerging philosophies of church planting.

As we look to the future, we’re going to find it more challenging to fund church plants the traditional way, primarily because the sending context will be vastly dissimilar to our current context. That’s already true in places like Boston or Madison, WI, but it is becoming more evident in Columbus as well.

In order for churches to be planted in a more secular society, we need different skills as church planters and we need to take more time to establish credible and significant roots ...

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From Kuyper to Keller: Why Princeton’s Prize Controversy Is So Ironic

 
‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎29 minutes ago | Richard J. MouwGo to full article

A former winner explains how the seminary honor that once brought the Reformed community together is now splitting it.

A large number of the 300 who attended the 1998 Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary were “Kuyperians.”

On the 100th anniversary of Abraham Kuyper’s delivering those lectures in 1898, the seminary chose to commemorate the occasion by inviting Yale University’s Nicholas Wolterstorff— a longtime advocate for Kuyper’s thought—to offer that year’s Stone lecture.

It was also the occasion for presenting the inaugural Kuyper Prize—funded by the philanthropists Rimmer and Ruth DeVries, themselves avid Kuyperians—to the Dutch historian and Kuyper biographer George Puchinger.

The Kuyper Prize is much in the news right now. Having designated Tim Keller as this year’s recipient, Princeton leaders announced last week that they are reversing that decision. Princeton’s president acted in response to protests from students regarding Keller’s lack of support for both the ordination of women and LGBTQ causes.

Modeling a marvelous graciousness, Keller has agreed to keep the commitment to give the lead-off lecture for this year’s Kuyper conference, even though there will be no award ceremony.

When those yearly Kuyper events began at Princeton in 1998, many of us in the Kuyperian movement—both in the United States and abroad—were thrilled that this great seminary was not only honoring our hero but also acknowledging that the stream of Calvinist thought he represented continues to be a vital presence within the broad Reformed community.

The news about reversing the decision to honor Keller has spread rapidly within our movement in the past few days, typically with expressions of consternation and feelings of betrayal.

While many of us disagree ...

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This Unpaid Pensions Case Could Crush Christian Hospitals

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎10:25:16 AM | Kate ShellnuttGo to full article

Supreme Court will decide if religious organizations qualify for IRS church exemption.

Today the US Supreme Court heard a trio of lawsuits on pension plans at Christian hospital systems. So far, the panel of justices seems torn over whether religiously affiliated employers fall under federal requirements for pension benefits.

Churches are exempt from the US Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). But the current cases challenge whether such standards apply to employers that are merely affiliated with churches: hospitals, schools, and daycares, for example.

Employees who filed the suits argue that the hospitals should comply and, in some cases, pay billions to make up for benefits their workers have missed out on.

The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling on the issue, which Religion Clause picked as the No. 4 church-state development of 2016, will impact dozens of similar cases as well as the budgets of a significant slice of America’s healthcare system. (For example, the American Civil Liberties Union found that last year, Catholic hospitals alone provided 1 in 6 patient beds available.)

The hospitals involved in the litigation include Dignity Health, which operates Catholic hospitals and employs 60,000 people in 20 states; Advocate, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ and employs 33,000 people in Illinois; and Saint Peter’s Health Care System, which is affiliated with the Catholic Church and located in New Jersey, according to Bloomberg News.

The Internal Revenue Service has allowed the Christian hospitals—and hundreds of other religious affiliated institutions—to claim ERISA exemptions. Because of decades of federal approval, the institutions believed they were “proceeding in good faith with the assurance of ...

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The BGCE Gospel Life Podcast (Ep. 7)

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎10:25:16 AM | Ed StetzerGo to full article

Start each week with this encouragement to show and share the love of Jesus.

Episode Seven | What Would It Mean for Us to Humanize Each Person We Meet?

Laurie Nichols, Director of Communications at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, talks about what it would look like for our gospel witness if we started to see each person we meet as different and uniquely made by God. A cookie-cutter approach to evangelism is usually not the most effective way to reach people for Jesus, so what approach is?

Episode Six | Does God Really Give Us Gospel Moments?

Kerilee Van Schooten, Church Evangelism Research and Ministries Coordinator at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, shares how our confidence in the grace of God grows, our fears of sharing the gospel diminish. She talks about why awkwardness may not be a bad thing and that in fact God may use those moments in the lives of many around us.

Episode Five | In What Specific Ways Can the Good News Be Good News?

Michael Hakmin Lee, Research Fellow at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, shares how the gospel can actually be good news in a world that is broken and hurting. Michael asks practical questions and asks us to reflect on how we handle the those questions and how we can press into them in order for the gospel to go forth.

Episode Four | How Does an Introvert Do Evangelism?

Karen Swanson, Director of the Institute for Prison Ministries at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, shares, from an introvert’s point of view, what it’s like to be a witness for Christ in the world. With nearly half of the population being introverted, how can we best utilize all our gifts to show & share the love of Jesus in our broken and hurting world? Karen has some tips.

Episode Three | Is There a One-Size-Fits-All Evangelism?

Christina Walker, Associate Director ...

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How to Escape America’s Anger Problem

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎10:25:16 AM | Caryn RivadeneiraGo to full article

In this rancorous post-election season, some women are turning to tried-and-true solutions.

Last year, the BBC asked a question that many of us are still asking: “Why Are Americans So Angry?” According to a CNN/ORC poll from a year ago, “69 percent of Americans are either ‘very angry’ or ‘somewhat angry’ about ‘the way things are going’ in the US.” At the time, Republicans were the most angry, but more than two-thirds of us were angry about the economy, immigration, “Washington, and America’s ‘place in the world.’” 2017 has only fueled the fire for voters on both sides, and many of us are still getting red-faced about these and many other issues, as evidenced by the recent events at Middlebury and other free-speech squabbles.

While it’s easy to blame Trump for the rise in anger, his presidency is a reflection of our rising anger and not the cause of it. Moreover, there are larger forces at work, beyond economic and political ones. In a recent article for the Atlantic Monthly, Peter Beinart writes that a rising secularism is “making America’s partisan clashes more brutal.” He goes on to say, “As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.” Although he concedes that “establishing causation is difficult,” the absence of faith in some people’s lives has arguably impacted their disposition toward those with whom they disagree.

For those of us who still faithfully participate in church communities around the country, we still face the same problem of anger and partisan rancor that marks the American ...

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Launch of the Chicagoland Church Planting Alliance

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎10:25:16 AM | John C. Richards, Jr.Go to full article

The Moody Church hosted the inaugural meeting.

Church planting can be hard, lonely work. Church planters often plod along, encouraging their flock without a peer network with which to share triumphs and frustrations.

As discussed here on The Exchange, one of the key issues facing church planters is maintaining spiritual, physical, and mental health. Many church planters are natural networkers, but very few major cities have church-planting alliances created specifically for this purpose.

The Chicagoland area is no exception. As we started to explore ways in which the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism (BGCE) could convene thought leaders in and around Chicago, our team discerned a need to bring together church planters in the Chicagoland area to do just that.

Several weeks ago, 70+ church planters from around the Chicagoland area braved a lakefront storm to meet at the historic Moody Church in Chicago. The first meeting of the Chicago Church Planting Alliance (CCPA) convened church planters from around the Chicagoland area—a metropolis that boasts a population of nine million plus. Over the years, church planters have worked tirelessly to reach Chicagoland with the gospel. The CCPA was created to raise awareness for the need for church planting, to share best practices, and to encourage church planters in the Chicagoland area.

Speakers for the first meeting included Ed Stetzer, Erwin Lutzer, David Washington, Gary Rohrmayer, and other church planting thought leaders.

Pastor Lutzer, who served as pastor of The Moody Church for thirty-six years, was asked to speak to attendees on finishing well in ministry. Lutzer shared six lessons from Moses’ life and experience to help planters think through what finishing well in ministry looks like.

Gary Rohrmayer shared several ...

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The LAUNCH Survey: Helpful and Hindering Factors for Launching into Long-Term Missions

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎9:57:41 AM | Megan R. Brown and John W. McVayGo to full article

Sending agency surveyed 299 long-term missionaries.

A few years ago the founder of our training program said, “We have a lot of people who come to us with a desire to serve God internationally, but not all end up overseas. How can we help people get to the mission field? What things are helpful? What things hinder? How can we help address these issues?” These simple questions led to a search for how to appropriately steward the gifts and resources of people God has called and support them all the way into long-term missions. Out of these simple questions, the LAUNCH Survey was born.

There is no question that retention of missionaries once they reach the field is an essential issue when considering stewardship of missions mobilization. Thanks to the work of others, the missions community has studies on how to effectively retain missionaries on the field (Blocher 2005).

However, little has been published to understand the factors that help and hinder those who aspire to become long-term missionaries in the first place. The LAUNCH Survey aimed to investigate factors long-term missionaries attribute as being helpful or hindering to beginning their journey of working alongside Christ to fulfill the Great Commission.

Additionally, the survey considered whether or not generational differences exist about which factors were most helpful and which were not. The results include the most frequent positive factors leading to service, interesting generational differences that can impact future mobilization, and more questions than answers for which hindrances most get in the way of reaching the field.

Design

The LAUNCH Survey was created following a preliminary open-ended survey of twenty respondents. From the qualitative answers of the preliminary survey, potential factors were ...

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There's No Crying on Social Media!

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎9:57:41 AM | Andrew RootGo to full article

Young adults are desperate not to let peers see any signs of weakness or failure.

A cursory search of academic dissertations reveals a new interest in the origins of insults and curse words. For instance, I learned recently that the insult “phony”—as in “She acted like she was into EDM [electronic dance music], but then we found out she was a phony”—entered our lexicon with the arrival of the telephone. People started phoning other people randomly, pretending to be someone they weren’t. These were the original “phonies.”

New technologies always give rise to new cultural anxieties. As John M. Culkin said in summary of Marshall McLuhan’s work, “We shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us.” If the modern news media had existed in the early 20th century, TV anchors would have breathlessly warned parents about the threat of phonies coming after their children. Websites would have compiled listicles with “eight signs your son is a phony.” And journalists would have dialed up leading psychologists to ask for tips on talking to college students about phony-ism.

Nowadays, it’s social media that has us worried, as stories of cyberbullying and “sexting” surface with alarming frequency. Parents, educators, church leaders, and even young people themselves want to know what Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—not to mention the smartphones that make them omnipresent—are doing to us. We all have feelings and theories on the ill effects of social media, but these are only anecdotal. Surprisingly little direct study has been attempted.

Onto this turf steps sociologist Donna Freitas with her book The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost (Oxford University ...

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Sharing the Gospel with People Who Aren't Thinking about Death or Eternity

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎9:57:41 AM | Eddie ColeGo to full article

How do we witness to people who don't think about heaven and aren't fearful of hell?

“That could’ve been me.”

We hate to be selfish and think about ourselves at a time like this, but we can’t help it when someone we know who is close to our own age dies. Death is unavoidable, and when it hits close to home, we can’t help but briefly wonder, What if?

The truth is, however, Americans are thinking about death and what happens afterwards less and less frequently, and this is especially true among young adults.

According to a somewhat dated (but likely still accurate) study done between 2006 and 2008 by Lifeway Research and reported on in Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches That Reach Them, 55% of young adults either never think about death or if they do, it’s only once a year. It’s just not on the radar for them.

Should this make a difference in how we try to share the gospel today?

There are several implications, but one thing is certain: many of us probably need to rethink our approach to evangelism because we are likely talking to people who don’t think about heaven and aren’t fearful of hell.

Factually, death is as present and inescapable as it ever has been, but it’s also an irrelevant topic to many, so we ought to approach it wisely. This at least implies to us that asking spiritually diagnostic questions about the eternal state of someone’s soul within the first 15 minutes of a conversation may not be the best idea.

Asking people if they know where they will spend eternity and why they believe what they do is as important as the topic of death itself and Christians should help people think about this.

However, as a rule for daily life in America today, pastors and leaders ought to spend more time helping the people we lead to ...

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Engaging Churches in Caring for Incarcerated Persons and Their Families

 
‎Saturday, ‎March ‎25, ‎2017, ‏‎8:35:49 AM | Harold Dean TrulearGo to full article

Correctional ministry leader calls churches to care for the incarcerated as they do the sick.

What if churches treated prisoners with the same care and support that they treat those in their congregation who are sick? What if churches invested in the redemption of incarcerated persons with the same regularity and resources as they do the healing and restoration of those who are sick?

Both persons receive mention by Jesus in Matthew 25. Yet while entire congregations mobilize around the sick, ministry with and among incarcerated persons remains the domain of a select few volunteers. What if we could mobilize entire congregations around incarcerated persons and the families left behind?

Healing Communities USA trains and supports congregations around the country in this important work. The staggering numbers of persons in the criminal justice system makes it virtually impossible that an individual church does not have a family impacted by crime and incarceration. By creating a congregational culture of healing and restoration, a church can reduce the stigma around incarceration and help families come to grips with the ways in which they are directly impacted, and turn to the church for help.

One church in our network experienced this capacity for redemption in a powerful way. After hosting a Saturday training in the Healing Communities model, the next morning’s sermon dealt with the connection between the church and the incarcerated, acknowledging that:

  1. To stigmatize the incarcerated across the board would be to stigmatize biblical characters like Joseph, Jeremiah, Paul, and others who were imprisoned, and people like Moses, David, and Peter, whose acts of violence would have resulted in harsh sentences in today’s jurisprudence.
  2. Our belief that all people are created in the image of God brings hope for redemption and restoration.

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4 Things Beth Moore Taught Me About Writing

 
‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎9:16:32 AM | Joy Beth SmithGo to full article

What the biggest name in women’s Bible studies wants the next generation to know.

By nearly every measure, Beth Moore is a powerhouse in our evangelical world. She’s prolific and popular, with dozens of books and Bible studies earning her spots on bestseller lists. She’s spoken at hundreds of conferences and hosts a weekly TV show.

She’s Beth Moore.

When someone has that level of success (not to mention her perfect Texas hair), we’re bound to wonder if she could really be as wise and wonderful as she seems. So I was skeptical but hopeful as I stepped into the sold-out writers conference, Lit, hosted by her Living Proof Ministries a few weeks ago.

The 59-year-old author launched the new event as a way to reach a group she saw being underutilized in the church and in need of encouragement: women in their 20s and 30s who are writers, teachers, and speakers. She gathered a dozen women who she has mentored through that stage to help instruct the 800 women in attendance. I was one of them, and here’s what I learned.

1. Each idea has a shelf life.

Moore compares the longevity of an idea to a train on tracks. The first stop is social media. Sometimes you’re riled up about something that demands an immediate response, so you fire off a tweet or Facebook post, and that’s that. But social media might fuel your passion, and the resulting discussion grows the idea into a blog post. If the idea still has more facets to explore, that blog post could develop into a sermon or session at a speaking engagement. Finally, when ideas continue to gain steam through social media, online articles, and teachings, they turn into longer-form projects like books or Bible studies.

Some ideas shouldn’t find their way past social media, few books could—or should—be distilled to a ...

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Healing Victims of Human Trafficking: A Long, Slow Road to Transformation

 
‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎9:16:32 AM | Simone HalpinGo to full article

When we give our lives to the service of others, THEY will change US.

If you’ve heard or know anything about human trafficking, then you’ve heard the term “modern-day slavery.” And that’s exactly what it is. There are more slaves in the world today than any other time in our history. We should be facing this social issue—this human issue—dead on, not stopping until human trafficking no longer exists. Men and women, boys and girls all over the globe are being forced into both labor and sex trafficking, and the life for someone coming out of this type of exploitation is devastating.

I first saw and experienced what human trafficking looks like on the streets of Chicago. It was 2011 when I participated in street outreach and met women and girls who were being forced to sell their bodies. It changed me forever, and led us to pursue opening a home for women who have been commercially sexually exploited. Five years later, Naomi’s House opened, and we welcomed our first resident in December 2016.

I’ve learned so much over the past five years. When I reflect on the journey, most of what I’ve learned has come from the survivors themselves, who have taught me that they are more than modern day slaves.

Clearing Up an Important Myth

Most women who are being sexually exploited are not being physically restrained. In fact, many survivor leaders warn anti-trafficking organizations not to use pictures of girls in handcuffs or chains to represent the women and girls who are stuck in this life. If we believe that sexually-exploited girls are always chained up, we’ll miss those who are being trafficked before our very eyes.

The exploitation of women and girls is everywhere, many times in plain sight. Nita Belles, author of In Our Backyard: A Christian ...

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Moral Relativism Is Dead

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎9:54:56 AM | Ted OlsenGo to full article

Why outrage culture is good news for the gospel.

Elvis. Tupac. The ivory-billed woodpecker. Sometimes it’s hard to let go and acknowledge when a celebrity or a species has left us. Christians find it particularly hard to come to terms with the passing of the “moral relativist.” Yes, there is the occasional reported sighting in the local university’s philosophy wing or at the late-night dorm room’s impromptu debate club. But compared to this creature’s former range and numbers, they’re all but extinct in the wild.

Many Christian preachers, apologists, evangelists, and writers have taken heed of the declining numbers, but decades of pitting “Christian worldview” against “moral relativism” left habits that are hard to break. You’ll still hear Christians assume that the reason for so much rampant immorality in our culture is because people reject objective right and wrong. Many still assume that discussions over morals are likely to end with, “Well, that’s your truth, but I have mine.” Make no mistake: Disputes over morality are as strong as they have ever been. But if we view these disputes through the lens of “moral relativism,” it’s not only our understanding of our culture that will suffer. Our evangelistic witness will also be severely blunted.

If anything, today we live in an era of constant moral indignation. This magazine has repeatedly observed and lamented the modern outrage culture, especially in its most performative social media outlets (see “Slow Down, You Hashtag Too Fast”). Recent CT cover stories looked at the American outrage culture’s similarities with global shame cultures (“The Return of Shame,” and its tendency toward ...

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Princeton Seminary Reforms Its Views on Honoring Tim Keller

 
‎Thursday, ‎March ‎23, ‎2017, ‏‎9:54:56 AM | Kate ShellnuttGo to full article

School rescinds a major theology prize amid complaints over women’s ordination.

The most popular Reformed preacher and author in America today is not eligible to receive Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual award in Reformed theology and public witness.

The mainline seminary reversed its decision to honor Tim Keller with a prize named for neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper following outcry over the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) pastor’s conservative positions.

Princeton president Craig Barnes announced the news in a letter released Wednesday morning.

Because the PCA conflicts with the seminary’s denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), on women and LGBT clergy, leaders agreed not to award Keller the prize and thus affirm his differing stance. However, the school has still scheduled the Redeemer Presbyterian pastor to speak on mission at an annual conference hosted by its Kuyper Center for Public Theology in April.

“In order to communicate that the invitation to speak at the upcoming conference does not imply an endorsement of the [PCA’s] views about ordination, we have agreed not to award the Kuyper Prize this year,” Barnes wrote.

Earlier this year, Princeton announced that the New York City pastor would receive its 2017 Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness. Its release called Keller “an innovative theologian and church leader” and a “catalyst for urban mission.”

In recent weeks, some Princeton alumni voiced concerns that, as a PCA pastor and complementarian, Keller’s beliefs conflict with the seminary’s embrace of “full inclusion for ordained leadership of the church.” A Christian Centurypost described his belief in male headship as “baptized abuse” and “toxic ...

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John Perkins: I Wish I Had Done More to Help Poor White People

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:28:27 AM | John PerkinsGo to full article

An excerpt from ‘Dream with Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win.’

When my family and a team from our ministry moved to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1972, we purchased several buildings, including a rundown house in one of the roughest and poorest neighborhoods in town. The old house was very big, and we called it the Samaritan Inn. The idea was for it to be a temporary place to stay for people who were visiting from out of town or didn’t have a place to live or were stuck because their car broke down. It wasn’t so much a shelter as it was a guesthouse.

We figured we would mostly reach out to black folks in the area, and we did. But the first people to come to the Samaritan Inn were a white, dirt-poor couple from out of town whose vehicle had broken down. They had no other place to go.

In New Hebron, Mississippi, I grew up around poor whites who felt they were better than blacks and expected us to move out of their way when they were walking down the street. They experienced all of the advantages of being white. They were oppressors, and common knowledge through the years was that in rural areas, poor whites sought to become sheriffs, cops, or guards in order to have some power over society. So we did not have a great relationship with them. At the time, I didn’t realize these whites had also been damaged and that oppressing blacks gave them a sense of worth—a twisted sense of value, no doubt, but in their eyes, value nonetheless.

When our poor white guests arrived at the Samaritan Inn, I was caught off guard. I wanted to treat them like many people want to treat the poor: I was going to buy and prepare them food and even wash their dishes. Such acts of kindness would have made me feel good but also might have made them feel as if they couldn’t think for themselves. ...

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Why We Need ‘Useless’ People

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:28:27 AMGo to full article

Babies with Down syndrome are aborted all over the world for being ‘a burden to society.’ Here’s how we can advocate for them.

My daughter Penny is in the fifth grade. She just went away for the weekend with her best friend and her family for the first time. She wears glasses. She feels nervous around dogs. She loves reading and spelling and recently asked her Prayer Buddy at church to pray for her about learning how to add fractions. She is responsible, smart, talented, and loving. She also has Down syndrome.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, a day to celebrate the approximately six million children and adults around the globe who have Down syndrome (also known as trisomy 21). Any website or book devoted to this topic lists a set of physical features, medical concerns, and potential disabilities common among people with Down syndrome, but it is hard for me to think in these generalities anymore. Rather, I am drawn to portraits of people with Down syndrome that demonstrate their distinctive traits. I love reading stories about their different interests, abilities, and friendships. And yet most people in our world still see Down syndrome as something both monolithic and negative—a condition to be eradicated rather than a group of individuals to be welcomed and loved.

Historically, people with Down syndrome were pushed to the margins of our society through institutionalization. In more recent years, with the advent of prenatal screening tests that indicate the likelihood of trisomy 21 in fetuses, more and more women have chosen to pursue those tests and, in many cases, to terminate pregnancies accordingly. Although the number is tricky to calculate, in the United States, the rate of babies aborted with Down syndrome is around 50 percent and is likely to rise with the increased use of these prenatal tests.

A similar story can be told in developing ...

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Church-Planting Shifts, Part Three: Preparing Our People for Witness

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:28:27 AM | Ed StetzerGo to full article

How do we prepare the mission force for the mission field?

Read Part One, The Launch, and Part Two, From Nominal to Secular.

In the past few weeks, I have talked about some recent church-planting shifts that I have noticed, both through the lens of research and some though anecdotal observations.

The world today is still reasonably familiar for church planters; yet the scene is changing as secularism grows, presenting a new challenge to the mission and ministry of the churches. The truth is, we are seeing more ‘nominal’ Christian people self-identify as no faith (“nones”) instead of Christian. Since nominal Christians have been a key part of the church planting strategy for most Christians (see my last post on this topic), it’s a shift that’s both new and challenging.

If we are to succeed in this new (more secular) space, we need to do more than simply acknowledge this shift. Instead, we need to prepare for it, and this includes preparing our church people for the paradigmatic shift to come.

So how do we prepare the mission force for the new mission field?

It begins with teaching our people to engage in ways that they’re not now accustomed to engaging. This is easier said than done, but it is essential for new church plants and movements of Christianity in the years to come.

In today’s culture, it’s easy to compare church experiences and allow people to decide which church they would like to attend. Our job is to invite them to a good church. In the secular context, however, having any prior exposure to church life should not be taken for granted.

The shift here is from invitation to engagement.

It’s from an approach which says, “Would you like to come to my church? It’s a great church!” to “How can I answer ...

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God's Feminist Ideals

 
‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:28:27 AM | Wendy AlsupGo to full article

We're created to be image bearers and justice seekers.

Gloria Steinem famously said a feminist is “anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” Is God then a feminist by her definition? If feminism in its purest sense is the quest for justice and equal rights for women, then, yes, God was the first feminist. God created woman in his image and bestowed on her equal dignity with man. By a woman’s mere existence, God has bestowed on her dignity and privileges that transcend race, economic status, and physical ability.

But sin entered the world, and the inherent dignity of men and women has often gotten lost as corrupt people with power oppress others without it. In Christ, whether we hold power in our culture or not, God equips us once again to live as image bearers, living in light of our inherent dignity in him while treating others in the hope of their own.

God’s feminist ideals don’t correlate one to one with the world’s secular ones; in fact, it is nearly impossible to value women and put forth their needs and rights correctly without first valuing the God in whose image they were made. But understand that any rights we should demand for women worldwide arise from the fact that God created them with those rights and that only he can rightly limit them.

Where feminism goes one way, the church the other

During the 20th century, the first wave of feminism gave voice to women whom society had long marginalized. In 1920, women finally won the right to vote in the United States, due in large part to the efforts of Christians. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union led this movement, seeking to apply biblical principles of social justice to larger society. Based in part on their understanding of Jesus and the Bible, men ...

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Missionaries Dreamed Of This Muslim Moment. Trump’s Travel Ban May End It.

 
‎Tuesday, ‎March ‎21, ‎2017, ‏‎12:16:06 PM | Kate ShellnuttGo to full article

Why American evangelicals see Islam so differently.

While federal judges and lawyers argue over whether President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on travel amounts to a “Muslim ban,” evangelical experts on Muslim missions express concerns over how popular the proposal is in America’s pews.

The Pew Research Center has found that self-identified white evangelicals were twice as likely as Americans overall to support the policy (76% vs. 38%), which temporarily halts the refugee program and restricts entry from several Muslim-majority countries. They are also, according to PRRI, the only religious group in America that has grown more supportive of a “Muslim ban.”

As Muslim migrants flee unstable and violent homelands, the mission field that was once half a world away is making its way to more and more American communities.

Last year, the United States admitted about 39,000 Muslim refugees, a record high.

“This is the best case we’ve had in human history to share the love of Christ with Muslims,” according to David Cashin, intercultural studies professor at Columbia International University and an expert in Muslim-Christian relations.

But survey after survey indicates that white evangelicals are the least excited about their new neighbors. They show the highest levels of support for restrictions on Muslim immigration and the most skepticism toward Muslim Americans.

“Because of these attitudes,” Cashin said, “we could miss the opportunity.”

White evangelicals are also the least likely to know a Muslim, and their views often conflict with how Muslims in the US and abroad describe their beliefs.

“I think there is some fear on behalf of a lot of evangelicals,” said Michael Urton, associate director ...

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ERLC Defends Russell Moore, Who Apologizes for His Role in Trump Divide

 
‎Tuesday, ‎March ‎21, ‎2017, ‏‎12:16:06 PM | Kate ShellnuttGo to full article

SBC agency says Moore’s job requires ‘speaking prophetically both to our culture and to our Convention.’

Russell Moore was just doing his job, according to his agency’s governing board.

But the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) still offered his second attempt at an apology for “my own role” in the continued division among Southern Baptists in the wake of the 2016 election.

Today’s “seeking unity” statement released by the ERLC executive committee and Moore defends his conduct, including his controversial messaging around President Donald Trump.

The ERLC leaders praised Moore for speaking “with clarity and conviction” on ethical issues including “religious liberty, racial reconciliation, character in public office, and a Christian understanding of sexuality.” However, the committee acknowledged that fellow Christians “can disagree on delivery, tactics, and approach,” and decided that “many of the criticisms levied [sic] against Dr. Moore fall into these categories.”

A week ago, Moore met with denominational leader Frank Page over an investigation into numerous complaints regarding the ERLC. The criticism centers around Moore’s vocal opposition to Trump and his campaign, his characterization of the faith and motives of Trump’s Christian supporters, and whether such messaging (toward fellow Southern Baptists not DC lawmakers) extended beyond the proper role of the ERLC president.

Moore reiterated and clarified the apology he shared in December, but ultimately stood by his positions.

“I stand by those convictions, but I did not separate out categories of people well—such that I wounded some, including close friends,” said Moore. “I cannot go back and change time, and I cannot apologize ...

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Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot

 
‎Tuesday, ‎March ‎21, ‎2017, ‏‎12:16:06 PM | Kate ShellnuttGo to full article

Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have never held much clout in Russia, where the Orthodox Church dominates both the religious and political landscape. But a government lawsuit now threatens any future for their faith in public life.

The door-to-door evangelists have historically served as a bellwether for religious freedom for other minority groups. In Russia, that includes evangelicals, who remain ambivalent over whether to defend the rights of Witnesses as a fellow non-Orthodox faith.

Last week, the Justice Ministry submitted a Supreme Court case to label the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters an extremist group. This would allow Russia to enact a countrywide ban on its activity, dissolving its organization and criminalizing its worship. The court will convene to rule on the case in April.

“Considering that the religion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is professed by hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens, [liquidation] would be a disaster for rights and freedoms in our country,” said Yaroslav Sivulsky, a representative of the targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters, to Forum 18. The ban would impact about 175,000 followers in 2,000 congregations nationwide. “Without any exaggeration, it would put us back to the dark days of persecution for faith.”

Though both groups have been restricted and punished by Russia’s recent anti-missionary law, evangelicals can’t necessarily expect the same treatment.

“No one else is in a comparable position to that of the Jehovah’s Witness community,” Alexander Verkhovsky of the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis told Forum 18 last month.

Russian Protestants don’t consider themselves as extreme—or as annoying—as ...

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30 Day Infusions to Be Better Followers of Christ

 
‎Tuesday, ‎March ‎21, ‎2017, ‏‎12:16:06 PM | Kevin G. HarneyGo to full article

30 days and four essential practices

I have said it many times, “The local church can be like a black hole!” Don’t get me wrong. I love the local church, I am a pastor, and I believe that God’s people (both gathered and scattered) are the best hope for the gospel to impact lives and communities.

But the local church also has a massive gravitational pull that seems to draw believers inward toward each other rather than propel them out into the world with the love and message of Jesus. If Christians are going to have a transformative and lasting impact on the world, we must commit to a rigorous rhythm of infusing four critical elements into our hearts and lives. When we do this, we will be thrust out of the church and into the world.

Every Christian leader and influencer should seek to adopt a 30-day cycle of gathering with other believers and focusing on four essential practices. If we do this consistently and passionately, we will propel ourselves and others into the world with fresh expressions of love, articulations of grace, and revelations of Jesus Christ.

Inspiration

Share stories of evangelistic encounters. Celebrate people who have taken steps toward Jesus. Pray for each other. Remember what God has done in your life since you became a follower of Jesus. Spend time cheering each other on and challenging each other to be faithful, bold, and strategic in personal and church outreach.

Accountability

Ask each other how you are doing in your own walk with Jesus. Then talk about how much time you are spending with people who are still far from Jesus. Talk about the condition of your heart when it comes to evangelism and passion for the lost. Challenge each other to increase your outreach temperature and passion. Talk about the people you ...

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Missions Sunday: Hermeneutics for Healthy Churches, Part Two

 
‎Monday, ‎March ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:03:52 AM | Will BrooksGo to full article

Training in biblical interpretation should be an integral part of every missions strategy.

Read Hermeneutics for Healthy Churches, Part One.

FOURTH, training prepares missionaries for future service. While planting healthy churches among the target group is certainly the short-term goal of the missionary, the long-term goal is seeing those newly-planted churches send out their own missionaries to other people groups. Just like the missionary who brought the gospel to his or her people group, this newly-sent missionary will need to communicate the gospel, teach new believers, and lead the church he or she plants through the critical contextualization process. These are all tasks that require strong biblical interpretational skills.

Two years ago, I taught a New Testament exegesis course to a group of church leaders. Unbeknownst to me, one of the leaders in the group was preparing to spend six months sharing the gospel among a people group that is less than 0.5% Evangelical.

Seven months later, I returned to the same city to teach another course, and I had a chance to reconnect with that brother. He shared with me some of the challenges he faced and then told me that what best equipped him to communicate the gospel cross-culturally were the courses he’d taken on how to interpret scripture.

Training in biblical interpretation results in missionaries who are more effective at communicating and contextualizing the gospel message.

FIFTH, training in biblical interpretation enables the planting of healthy churches. No one wants his or her work to be done in vain. The Apostle Paul certainly didn’t. As a result of persecution, he was only able to stay in Thessalonica for a few weeks. In time, these new believers also faced persecution and Paul feared that some would turn away from the faith. He wrote in 1 Thessalonians ...

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The Diffusion and Influence of Contemporary Worship

 
‎Sunday, ‎March ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎9:33:34 AM | Michael LeeGo to full article

How does worship music style relate to congregational growth?

In the past half century, perhaps no other Christian ministry innovation has been more influential and polarizing than contemporary worship. It has been maligned, celebrated, blamed for church splits (especially during the “worship wars” of the 1990s), credited for congregational growth, accused of fostering shallow, religious consumerism, praised for catalyzing spiritual revitalization among individuals and movements, and so forth. Another example of its contemporary significance is how worship commonly delineates one Christian community from another. Arguing that the choice of worship style has become as defining marker of evangelical communities and functions as a veritable ichthus, Greg Scheer posits:

…denominational loyalty has all but eroded, replaced by music style. It used to be that a family would move to a new town and look for the nearest Baptist or Episcopal church, but now they look for the nearest ‘contemporary,’ ‘blended’ or ‘emerging’ church. And how do they know that the Methodist church down the road is an Evangelical boomer community? Because it advertises a ‘contemporary’ service (95).

In part one of this short series exploring research related to the diffusion and influence of the contemporary worship, I will point to some recent findings as it relates to current congregational practices and correlations to congregational growth.

But before we get to the research findings, we begin with the arduous task of defining what we mean by “contemporary worship” (let alone the confusion about what worship means!). In their forthcoming book, Lovin’ on Jesus, Lester Ruth and Swee Hong Lim provide a helpful and concise history of contemporary ...

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A Critical Care Surgeon Meets the Great Physician

 
‎Saturday, ‎March ‎18, ‎2017, ‏‎11:47:16 AM | Kathryn L. ButlerGo to full article

I felt distant from God until I witnessed a medical miracle.

My eyes darted to the tracing on the cardiac monitor. The gaps between my patient’s heartbeats lengthened. The plodding rhythm meant that blood, oozing from beneath his fractured skull, was crowding out his brain.

He was 22, and someone had bludgeoned him with a baseball bat in his sleep. His wife, lying beside him, died during the assault. His four-year-old son witnessed everything.

I thrived on the urgency of the emergency room—the chaos, the opportunities to reach people in dire moments. Yet as I placed my patient’s central venous line, I struggled to focus. I thought of his four-year-old son in footed pajamas, and the images of brutality he might never forget.

As I wrestled with these thoughts, paramedics rushed in with a 15-year-old boy dying from a gunshot wound. They were performing compressions to force oxygen-rich blood to his brain. In a blur of adrenaline, I grasped a scalpel and surgically explored his chest. I cupped his still heart and searched its borders with trembling fingers. When my hand plunged into a yawning hole, I caught my breath. The bullet had torn open his aorta. We could not save him.

As I fought tears, my trauma pager blared yet again. Another 15-year-old boy. Another gunshot wound. This time, the bullet had struck the boy’s head.

I tried to compose myself. The least I could do, I thought, was to mend his wound, clean him, and give his family a final glimpse of the boy they loved.

Midway through my work, the door opened. I raised my eyes in time to see his mother walk into the room. She froze, howled, and crumpled to the floor. I tugged the bloodied gloves from my hands, rushed from the room, and hid my face as I cried.

Cut Off from God

The next morning, as I finished my shift, ...

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'This Is Us' Captures the Drama of Unfolding Redemption

 
‎Saturday, ‎March ‎18, ‎2017, ‏‎11:47:16 AM | Amanda WorthamGo to full article

Even in its most tear-jerking moments, the runaway NBC hit affirms our eternal hope.

Caution, many spoilers ahead.

If you haven’t seen NBC’s smash hit show This Is Us, it’s likely that you’ve at least heard about it (and equally likely that the person who told you about it cried a little during the explanation). The emotionally-charged drama has captivated viewers nationwide, many of whom have reverted to the old-fashioned, pre-“binge-watching” habit of anticipating a new episode each week. America has fallen in love with This Is Us.

The show follows Jack Pearson, his wife, Rebecca, and their kids: Kevin, Kate, and adoptee Randall. In each episode, viewers see the beginnings of the Pearson family, learning about Jack and Rebecca’s early marriage and the kids’ childhoods. Simultaneously, viewers discover how the kids are handling life as young adults and what has happened to them and their parents 36 years after their births. The show has many strengths, but this subtle time-hopping element is one of its most charming features.

Last September’s pilot opened with the impending birth of the Pearsons’ triplets—an event that, I imagine, was part novelty, part nostalgia for many audience members. I doubt many viewers gave birth to triplets themselves in 1980, but those details feel irrelevant; if babies represent anything, it’s hope, and tripling the number of infants only raises the stakes of potential.

As Jack declares just before his babies are delivered, “I’m going to need everyone… to believe me when I say that only good things are going to happen today.” Whether or not you’ve brought a baby (or two, or three) into this world, there is a desperate resolve in his voice that rings true for all of us—for ...

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2013Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church becoming the first pope to do so since 1415.

 

 

Pope Hilarius (died 28 February 468) was Pope from 19 November 461 to his death in 468. He was canonized as a saint after his death.

 

 

 

 
1501Ballet of Chestnuts – a banquet held by Cesare Borgia in the Papal Palace where fifty prostitutes or courtesans are in attendance for the entertainment of the guests.

 

The Banquet of Chestnuts, known more properly as the Ballet of Chestnuts, refers to a fête in Rome, and particularly to a supper held in the Papal Palace by Cardinal Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI on 30 October 1501. An account of the banquet is preserved in a Latin diary by Protonotary Apostolic and Master of Ceremonies Johann Burchard (it is titled Liber Notarum), but its accuracy is disputed.

 

The banquet was given in Cesare's apartments in the Palazzo Apostolico. Fifty prostitutes or courtesans were in attendance for the entertainment of the banquet guests. Burchard describes the scene in his Diary:

 

On the evening of the last day of October, 1501, Cesare Borgia arranged a banquet in his chambers in the Vatican with "fifty honest prostitutes",called courtesans, who danced after dinner with the attendants and others who were present, at first in their garments, then naked. After dinner the candelabra with the burning candles were taken from the tables and placed on the floor, and chestnuts were strewn around, which the naked courtesans picked up, creeping on hands and knees between the chandeliers, while the Pope, Cesare, and his sister Lucretia looked on. Finally, prizes were announced for those who could perform the act most often with the courtesans, such as tunics of silk, shoes, barrets, and other things.

 

 

Madame de Pompadour

, by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, Louvre Museum, Paris

List of sexually active popes

 

 

DVD

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Christianity Today Magazine 

 

 

 

 

 

Homosexuality

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

 

All Your Queeries from Wikipedia

 

 

IN STOCK

 

Drawing upon over forty years of collecting, Chuck highlights in this study many of the precious nuggets that have become characteristic of his popular Bible studies around the world.

 

Price R179.00

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For the novice as well as the sophisticate, this DVD is full of surprises. It includes subtle discoveries lying just “beneath” the text -- hidden messages, encryptions, deliberate misspellings and other amendments to the text -- that present implications beyond the immediate context, demonstrating a skilful design that has its origin from outside our space and time. Drawing upon over forty years of collecting, Chuck highlights in this study many of the precious nuggets that have become characteristic of his popular Bible studies around the world.
It is guaranteed to stimulate, prove, and, hopefully, disturb. It will confound the sceptic and encourage the believer. It is a "must" for every thinking seeker of truth and serious inquirer of reality.

This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teaching

© Copyright 2013

Available in the following formats

DVD:

  • 1 Disc
  • 2 M4A Files
  • 1 PDF Notes File
  • Colour, Full screen 16:9, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, This DVD will be viewable in other countries WITH the proper DVD player and television set.
 

United Reformed Church approves gay marriage services

  • 9 July 2016
     
Same sex marriageGETTY IMAGES

The United Reformed Church has voted overwhelmingly to allow same-sex couples to marry in its buildings.

Members of the URC's ruling general assembly voted in favour at a meeting in Merseyside, although individual churches will not be forced to comply.

The URC becomes the largest Christian organisation in Britain to offer same-sex weddings in its churches.

The Church, which has about 60,000 members, is a Protestant Church with roots in Presbyterianism.

The assembly, meeting in Southport, voted to allow individual congregations to register churches as venues for same-sex marriage services immediately if they wish.

Church officials think the first weddings under the new powers will be able to take place from the autumn.

The couple hoping to marry in church

'Sensitive issue'

The Rev John Proctor, general secretary of the URC, said: "Today the URC has made an important decision - at which some will rejoice and with which others will be uncomfortable."

Churches within the denomination which did not wish to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies would not be compelled to do so, he said.

"This has been a sensitive issue for many in our churches.

"It has been important to take our time over the decision process, and to listen as carefully as we can to one another along the way."

Quakers, Unitarians, and some small denominations have already performed same-sex marriage ceremonies.

The Scottish Episcopal Church's general synod will vote for a final time next summer on allowing same-sex couples to marry in churches, after a large majority voted in favour earlier this year.

 

 

 

Price R 159.00

 

Has God abandoned Israel?

Has the Church “replaced” Israel?

What does the Bible say?

 

As we watch the world events, it is clear that Israel is following her prophetic scenario, and a new chapter is about to be written—and there may be a big surprise on our near horizon!

 

 

 

THE 4 MOST CHALLENGING

 

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Homosexuality

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

All Your Queeries from Wikipedia

 

 

 

Timothy/Titus/Philemon - DVD
Chuck Missler

Price: R 399.00
Media Type: DVD

Chuck Missler examines the 'pastoral epistles' of I & II Timothy, Titus and Philemon messages not just to pastors, but to all believers.

 

 

 

 1 & 2 Peter
 
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New
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REVELATION

 

 

 

 
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Woking's Ice Rink in a Church - ITV News

Video

 

ITV London Tonight's report from  on the synthetic ice rink installed in Woking United Reformed Church's sanctuary to raise money for The Children With Special Needs Foundation and Woking Hospice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DVD Series - R 799.00
 
8 X DVD Discs
 

 

WOE  WOE  WOE

 

 

WOE  WOE  WOE

 

 

 

 

 

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We've Been Told

 

 

 

Eric Clapton We've Been Told Jesus Is Coming Soon

Eric Patrick Clapton was born March 30th, 1945 in Surrey, England. After his father left his teenage mother, he was raised as his grandmother’s and her second husband’s son. Intrigued by the blues, he learned guitar in his teens. After being kicked out of the Kingston College of Art, he started building his name by performing with local bands.

 

 

 

 

 Papal Bull

 

 frosty@khouseafrica.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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