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  • Oh, the Places We’ll Stay
    by Ashley Hales on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    In a world that promises liberation from the limits of place, we are called to be rooted disciples. My favorite house we owned started out a salmon-pink bank-owned foreclosure on the corner of 800 East and 900 South in Salt Lake City, Utah. When we sold that house to move to the California suburbs six years later, my husband had refinished floors, built me bookcases along the stairs, knocked down a wall to make a bedroom, and we’d painted nearly every wall in the house (the salmon pink was changed to a lovely gray). We knew the floorboards that creaked, the steepness of the stairs, and the quirks particular to a 100-year-old home in the city. The home was more than an address; it was part of who we were and had become. But it wasn’t just the home. It was the address that meant something. Every address in the Salt Lake valley proceeds from the LDS temple. Our home at the corner of 800 East 900 South was nearly eight blocks east and nine blocks south of the temple. Our homes splayed out along the valley in a grid, where you always knew where you were in relation to the temple—and it was easy to find where you needed to go. While Salt Lake City grew in racial, cultural, and religious pluralism, our addresses told a different story. We all—Mormon, Christian, atheist, none, secular humanist—had to coexist in a system and geography formed around the LDS faith. Places shape us. The geography of a place affects how we live and what we’re oriented around. While we may not have an address that overtly acknowledges a place’s cultural or religious center, our places nevertheless revolve around ideas, values, and institutions. Places form us. It would be easy to wax poetic about place (from the goodness of farm-to-table local cuisine to neighborhood little libraries), yet ignore how many of us ...Continue reading... […]

  • Oops! 10 Funny Distractions Pastors Faced While Preaching on Sunday
    by Ed Stetzer on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    No one ever said the life of a pastor was boring. A month ago, I was preaching at College Church in Wheaton, IL. They gave me 30 minutes to speak and I always try to finish on time, as a means of serving my hosts well. I usually preach longer than 30 minutes, so I took my iPhone, set the countdown timer for 30 minutes, so I could be in the prayer by the time it hit 30. And that’s what I did. At 29:50, I started praying to close. The only problem is that the iPhone countdown timer has a very loud alarm when it hits zero. So, when I was just 10 seconds into my prayer, it went off. College Church is too dignified for me to stop, so—while still praying—I reached over and turned off my phone. I kept praying until I was finished and hoped no one looked up and thought it was someone else’s phone. Thankfully though, I’m not the only one to have something distract me like that from the pulpit. I took to Twitter to ask some pastors and bible teachers what sorts of distractions they’ve experienced while preaching or teaching and received an overwhelming number of responses. I’ve narrowed the list down to the top 20 stories and list the first 10 here in no particular order. Believe me, after you read these, you’ll know it was impossible to pick just a few standouts. 1 – A 5-year-old sitting in the congregation was playing with an iPad during the sermon. Somehow, my voice triggered SIRI and she responded aloud saying, “I do not understand what you are saying.” 2 – One time, I tried to preach while sick with a stomach bug. The sound guy fell asleep and I walked off the stage, passed out, and puked into a live mic. When I woke up, the personnel chair and the deacon chair were scrubbing the floor around me. 3 – My young ...Continue reading... […]

  • Are Guns Inherently Evil?
    by Matthew Arbo on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin envision a future without firearms. Should believers rally to their cause? Someone, somewhere in America will be the victim of gun violence today. Mass shootings have become part of our routine national experience. What should be done with guns? That, essentially, is the question animating a new book from Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin, Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence. Claiborne and Martin argue that that guns should be destroyed and refashioned. Their argument runs like this: Guns are violent, violence is antithetical to peace, and because Christians must be committed to peace, they should oppose guns. No Christian who cares about peace is energized for violence. Many readers will be familiar with Claiborne’s previous books on Christian nonviolence. He has been admirably consistent: Christians who take the teachings of Jesus seriously must forsake violence and pursue what makes for peace. In Claiborne’s case, this has meant a recurring emphasis on aiding the poor, sheltering the homeless, and advocacy against capital punishment. Martin, for his part, is the founder and director of RAWtools, Inc., a nonprofit that turns guns into gardening tools. Together, they want to beat guns, figuratively and literally. Surprising Statistics Beating Guns offers a useful historical overview of gun markets in the US and an instructive statistical analysis of American gun violence. The book is at its strongest when accounting for the scale of firearm ownership and use in the United States. Many of Claiborne and Martin’s findings are indeed quite alarming. Most people are aware, for example, that Americans own more guns and experience more gun violence than any other nation in the world. But did you know that Americans own half of all firearms globally, even though the ...Continue reading... […]

  • Will Southern Baptists’ Political Truce Last Through 2020?
    by Kate Shellnutt on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    After a polarizing presidential election in 2016, evangelicals rethink their discourse and engagement. Unlike its tense annual meetings over the last few years, when partisan allegiances shook up the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), leaders at this week’s gathering offered broad encouragement to transcend political divides, while the messengers rallied together to condemn sexual abuse. The abuse issue has offered Southern Baptists a common enemy, in contrast to some of the infighting that has surrounded President Donald Trump’s election and presidency. Last year, the messengers debated over the decision to invite Vice President Mike Pence to speak, and the year before, controversy mounted over Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president (ERLC) Russell Moore’s position against Trump during the 2016 campaign. The 2019 SBC annual meeting was themed “Gospel Above All,” a line borrowed from president J. D. Greear about keeping secondary issues—including politics—from dividing them. “Political affiliations have a way of obscuring the gospel,” he told the 8,000-person crowd at an arena in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, during his presidential address. “You’re going to have to make a choice this election whether the gospel above all is a priority at your church or politics is.” Some Southern Baptists viewed Greear’s approach, whether they liked it or not, as a sign of a political shift for the conservative denomination. (The SBC has hosted at its annual meeting the president and/or vice president from the past three Republican administrations, but not the Democratic ones. A motion came up last year to bar elected officials from speaking other than local leaders in the host city.) It’s a “new day in the SBC when a president makes a statement ...Continue reading... […]

  • What This Charleston Massacre Documentary Wants to Tell Us About Forgiveness
    by Josh M. Shepherd on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    A close look at the deadly church shooting, “Emanuel” reveals ruthless sin, scandalous mercy, and divides that persist. “Only five of us were left after the massacre,” said Polly Sheppard. In 2015, Sheppard was in the prayer circle at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church when a 21-year-old white supremacist started shooting. The nation’s deadliest racially motivated mass shooting at a place of worship took the lives of nine Christians she had worshiped alongside with for years: senior pastor Clementa Pinckney and congregants Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and her best friend Myra Thompson. Four years to the day of the massacre, Emanuel, a documentary recounting their story, will open in over 1,000 theaters nationwide on Monday. Members of all nine victims’ families participated in interviews, along with survivors such as Sheppard, local reporters, the Charleston mayor, and the Charleston police chief. The film examines societal effects of racism—for this particular historic church and in the American South at large—before transitioning to the massacre and the victims’ loved ones’ subsequent acts of forgiveness. “This film is not just about racism—it’s about grace,” said director Brian Ivie, who worked on Emanuel for three years. “It’s a story of a group of people who decided they were going to bear the full weight of the wrong and still wish good upon the wrongdoer. That is the highest form of love possible, a love that Jesus Christ perfected.” Emanuel opens at a time when stories of people of color drifting away from evangelical churches due to increasing politicization of the gospel have made national news. “It’s a hard movie to watch, ...Continue reading... […]

  • Praying for Patients Is Common, But Comes With Legal Risk
    by Griffin Paul Jackson on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Most healthcare workers want to offer spiritual care if the sick are open to it—but doing so cost a Pentecostal nurse in the UK her job. A British nurse named Sarah Kuteh was fired from the hospital where she had worked for nearly a decade because she spoke with patients about her faith, passed out Bibles, and sang hymns on the job. Last month, a UK court rejected Kuteh’s most recent appeal. “The Respondent employer did not have a blanket ban on religious speech at the workplace,” according to the court of appeals ruling. “What was considered to be inappropriate was for the Claimant [Kuteh] to initiate discussions about religion and for her to disobey a lawful instruction given to her by management.” Kuteh is the latest in a string of cases of Christian medical workers in the UK who faced punishment for sharing their faith at work. Her lawyers at the Christian Legal Centre are considering further action as questions continue to come up around the appropriate place for religious expression in healthcare—particularly when a sizable number of patients indicate they welcome spiritual care from their providers. The uproar around Kuteh initially broke in June 2016, when a cancer patient complained about what he characterized as her “very bizarre” behavior. The patient said Kuteh “told him that the only way he could get to the Lord was through Jesus,” and that she would give him a Bible if he didn’t have one. Court documents also allege that Kuteh, a Pentecostal Christian, encouraged the patient to sing along as she sang Psalm 23 and that she held his hand tightly as she prayed an “intense” prayer that went “on and on.” On a hospital form, the patient had checked “open-minded” when asked about his religious beliefs. But in describing Kuteh’s actions to the court, ...Continue reading... […]

  • Four Principles for a Powerful Prayer Life
    by Ronnie Floyd on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    If you will learn to spend one hour a day with God, there is no telling what God may choose to do with you. One of the most defining moments in my life occurred late one evening in a restaurant. I was having dinner with my friend and his father, a pastor whom I admired deeply. As I listened to this man share his wisdom with us, I was even more encouraged to go deeper with God. Before we left the restaurant, I was eager to ask him how to be a godly minister, so I asked him something like, “Sir, if there is one thing we need to know as young preachers, what is it?” His penetrating eyes looked into mine, and he said, “Ronnie, if you will learn to spend one hour a day with God, there is no telling what God may choose to do with you.” I didn’t have any better sense than to take him at his word. Since that day in 1975, I have honored his challenge to me — and it has changed my life. What is prayer, you may be asking? Prayer is a relationship, a fellowship that occurs between you and God. Prayer is the vehicle that takes you into the privilege of experiencing fellowship with God. How do you talk to God in a genuine and transparent way? While everybody may have their own way of communicating with God, here are four principles that have helped me in my prayer life and can help you as well. 1 – Confession As I write this, the topic of confession has been getting a lot of media attention. Last year, the #MeToo movement exposed many individuals who had engaged in abusive behavior toward others. The movement was so successful that many of those involved put out statements of confession for past instances of abhorrent behavior against others. While this movement received much attention and confession for wrongs toward others, as it should have, it is even more important that we understand the need for confession ...Continue reading... […]

  • Pro-Lifers Aren’t Hypocrites
    by Tish Harrison Warren on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    The concerted effort to end abortion is much more diverse and holistic than it gets credit for. In any debate about abortion, someone will eventually say that pro-lifers only care about babies until birth or only care about children in the womb, not outside of it. The pro-choice advocacy group NARAL even uses this ubiquitous cliché in an ongoing public campaign that encourages supporters to share memes spotlighting “pro-life hypocrisy.” However, to make the claim of “pro-life hypocrisy,” one must intentionally ignore vast swaths of the pro-life movement. There are millions of people globally who advocate for the unborn and also support women, children, and those in poverty. They include the religious and non-religious, gay and straight people, people of all races and ethnicities, and, yes, both men and women (in basically equal numbers). The accusation of “pro-life hypocrisy” centers one group of conservative, pro-life voices and dismisses a multiplicity of others. This cliché distorts our picture of the pro-life movement and is often used to dismiss the larger moral argument that a person in utero is a human being who deserves legal protection. Its invocation allows pro-choice advocates to hold their opponents to abstracted standards of radicalism in order to sidestep substantive debate. As I survey the pro-life landscape, I see many American pro-life organizations and institutions that seek to bless women and children outside the womb. To name but a few, Feminists for Life is dedicated to “systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion—primarily lack of practical resources and support—through holistic, woman-centered solutions.” The New Wave Feminists, who made headlines last year after being removed as formal sponsors ...Continue reading... […]

  • Una Disculpa al 99% de los Cristianos de Parte del 1%
    by Michael Oh on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Ustedes no existen para ayudar a los líderes de ministerios profesionales a cumplir la Gran Comisión. Nosotros existimos para ayudarlos a ustedes a hacerlo. Read in English | Ler em português Pero escucharán?” Estaba sentado mesa por medio con un amigo, Bill Pollard, cuyo rostro tenía una expresión de esperanza y cierta duda. Acababa de compartirle la visión del Movimiento de Lausana de convocar a más de 700 líderes cristianos de más de 100 países que pertenecen al ámbito laboral. A Bill le encantó la visión: movilizar a cristianos del ámbito laboral como instrumentos de Dios para llevar el impacto del reino a todas las esferas de la sociedad. Sin embargo, se preguntó si algunos líderes de iglesia tendrían dudas acerca de la efectividad de este tipo de ministerio a través de los denominados líderes “laicos”. Sus dudas son el reflejo de una larga historia de considerar al ministerio cristiano como la responsabilidad exclusiva de “profesionales”, como pastores y misioneros. Las personas como Bill han resistido esa noción, mostrando en cambio que el manto del ministerio pertenece a los hombros de cada cristiano. Bill fue CEO de ServiceMaster que, durante su dirección, fue reconocida por la revista Fortune como la compañía de servicios número uno entre las empresas Fortune 500 y por el Financial Times como una de las compañías más respetadas del mundo. Para Bill, el trabajo en ServiceMaster se trataba del servicio al Maestro. Como decía a menudo: “Ninguna compañía tiene valor eterno. Solo la iglesia lo tiene. Solo las personas lo tienen”. Bill me contó historias de personas de lugares tan lejanos como Tokio, Japón, cuyas vidas fueron ...Continue reading... […]

  • Um Pedido de Perdão do 1% de Cristãos aos Outros 99%
    by Michael Oh on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Você não existe para ajudar líderes profissionais de ministérios a cumprirem a grande comissão. Nós existimos para ajudar você a cumpri-la. Read in English | Leer en español Mas eles escutarão?" Eu sentei à mesa voltado ao meu amigo Bill Pollard, que estava com uma expressão facial esperançosa e levemente duvidosa. Eu acabara de compartilhar com ele sobre a visão do Movimento de Lausanne de reunirmos mais de 700 cristãos, líderes em seu local de trabalho, de mais de 100 países. Bill amou a visão: mobilizar os cristãos no local de trabalho para serem instrumentos de Deus para levarem o impacto do reino para cada esfera da sociedade. No entanto, ele estava na dúvida se alguns líderes de igrejas teriam perguntas sobre a efetividade deste tipo de ministério feito por ‘líderes leigos’. Seu questionamento reflete uma visão de longa data do ministério cristão como uma responsabilidade restrita aos “profissionais” como pastores e missionários. Pessoas como Bill desafiaram essa noção, mostrando que a manta do ministério deve ser levada nos ombros de cada cristão. Bill era CEO da empresa ServiceMaster, que, durante sua liderança, foi reconhecida pela revista Fortune como a empresa número 1 de serviços em sua lista Fortune 500 e foi reconhecida pela Financial Times como uma das empresas mais respeitadas no mundo. Para Bill, o trabalho na ServiceMaster era sobre servir ao Mestre. Como ele frequentemente dizia: "Nenhuma empresa tem valor eterno. Somente a igreja o tem. Somente as pessoas o têm." Bill compartilhou comigo histórias de pessoas que moravam tão longe quanto Tóquio, Japão, cujas vidas foram impactadas pelo amor ao ...Continue reading... […]