Thursday, 31 August 2017

Proverbs 22:6

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

from
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=NIV&search=Proverbs%2022:6

Prayer Vigil Buried by Sierra Leone Mudslide That Killed 1,000

Freetown churches grapple with tragedy in capital city.

Christians in Sierra Leone are still reeling and recovering from the worst flooding their West African nation has faced in recent memory, after a mudslide covered homes and churches on the outskirts of the capital city two weeks ago.

More than 150 Christians lost their lives and hundreds more have been wounded or displaced in the disaster; the total death toll has surpassed 1,000. This week, bodies swept away by the floods washed up as far away as Guinea, 90 miles up the coast from Freetown.

While most in the mountainside town of Regent were sleeping when the mudslide hit, Power of Praise Ministry was holding an all-night prayer vigil. Pastor David S. Dumbuya, his wife, and his children died. One survivor told the Daily Telegraph that he lost 13 of his relatives who attended the event.

“Everybody died. It covered the whole church,” said Saidu Kanu, World Hope International’s country director in Sierra Leone.

Further downhill, the floods landed on the western and central parts of the capital, where the majority of Freetown’s Baptist churches are located, according to the Baptist World Alliance.

Samuel Conteh, a leader with the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone, reported that Bethany Baptist Church lost 60 members, making it one of the hardest-hit congregations reported so far. (Regent, alongside Mount Sugar Loaf, also happens to be home to the first Baptist church in Africa, founded in 1792 by a formerly enslaved African American who migrated there.)

Several other churches, including fellow Baptist and Pentecostal churches, have death tolls in the dozens, according to Jonathan Titus-Williams, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone. Many more believers lost their homes in the disaster. ...

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Wish You'd Done More to Help Houston with This Hurricane? Give Now, But Here's How to Get Ready for the Next One

The world has a growing need for well-informed, thoughtful engagement with natural disaster relief work.

This morning in USATODAY, I wrote on the role of faith-based organizations in disaster relief. I explained,

Government is essential in the rescue stage — they have the equipment and means to move that equipment. The Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are hard at work right now. Yet, their work alone is insufficient to rebuild the homes and lives of people impacted by natural disasters each year. In fact, over the past decades, we have seen a growing acknowledgement (from government, no less) of the reliable role of faith-based organizations.

The fact is, right now as we move into the relief mode, it is faith-based groups that will lead the way, as the immediatel rescue efforts soon subside.

You will see them on the ground, often in yellow hats. Unfortunately, it is too late for you to join them if you’ve not already been trained.

Lots of Disasters

This may serve as a surprise to some of us, but records are indicating that between 1995 and 2015, a shocking 6,457 weather-related disasters occurred. These disasters left 4.1 billion people injured and claimed 606,000 lives.

Many of us don’t realize the serious toll that natural disasters take on our world each year. People are losing family members, being displaced from their homes and robbed of their personal possessions on a regular basis. Unfortunately, studies continue to indicate that the frequency with which these storms occur isn’t going down any time soon.

The nation—and the world—have watched this week as Hurricane Harvey continues to pour buckets of rain down on the state of Texas. As relief efforts and volunteer workers are pouring into the state, many might not have known how to help or what resources to contribute. ...

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from
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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Thoughts on Discipleship from a Marine Conservationist

Why changing hearts is hard and how Christ overcomes that.

When I left university, I was a budding conservationist armed with good intentions, theoretical head knowledge, and an enthusiasm to change the world. I then entered a real world where human hearts were not so easy to sway. After firsthand experience in a variety of contexts, I was left wondering how to negotiate that space between understanding facts and inspiring a sacrificial love which is powerful enough to change our ways. It is not a simple step, but our Christian faith can help this conversation, and possibly the whole planet, in a big way.

My introduction to practical marine conservation began in the tropical waters around Madagascar and the Maldives. Here I dived into the rich world of the coral reef and came to delight in the familiar characters—territorial fish protecting their anemone, eels poking their heads out from caves, and graceful turtles surfacing nearby to breathe. In this busy picture-postcard scene, the reef-building coral are quite easily overlooked. It can be difficult to appreciate the rock-like structures for what they are: animals supporting an ecosystem under extreme threat.

If you watch a reef for long enough, or have the pleasure of a night-time snorkel, you will see small flower-like animals emerging all over the coral's surface. Coral is not just a hard skeleton—it is a colony of animals called polyps. Each polyp lives within its own calcium carbonate cup, which it builds by drawing minerals from the seawater. The animals emerge under the protection of night and use their tentacles to snatch passing food from the water around them. This feeding behavior only supplies a fraction of what they need. The bulk of their fuel is collected during the daytime from a relationship with ...

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from
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/faVtWPpb9i0/thoughts-on-discipleship-from-conservationist.html

Iceland’s Only Baptist Pastor Doesn’t Want Down Syndrome Eliminated

Pro-life minority faces major challenge in ‘most godless country’ in Europe.

My family has spent a lot of time at LandspĂ­tali, the major hospital in the capital of Iceland.

For over a year, our 5-year-old son has been undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. Our youngest son, born this April, also spent two months at the hospital as doctors ran tests on him, finding a genetic mutation in his X chromosome that only two other people in the world have been diagnosed with.

Every day, as I walked into the intensive care unit at the hospital, I looked over a wall of pictures of young children and teenagers holding up photos of themselves as premature babies. They had been born after as little as 21 or 22 weeks of pregnancy. It was a monument to the lives that were saved.

Meanwhile, the cultural conversation in the rest of Iceland seemed so distant from what I saw in the hospital. There were talks of new legislation pushing to make abortion available as late as the 22nd week of pregnancy. And this month, the issue abortion in Iceland took the Internet by storm, with a CBS News report on how the country (population 340,000) is on the verge of eliminating Down syndrome.

What sounded like an impressive medical achievement was quickly revealed to be a spin on our heartbreaking reality. Only 2–3 children a year are born with Down syndrome since nearly 100 percent of mothers whose tests show a high likelihood of the condition end up choosing abortion.

Those of us who value life in the womb see Iceland is not eliminating Down syndrome, but terminating babies who have it (or could have it) before they are even born.

The Icelandic media, taking up the CBS story, have even shifted to use new language around abortion. They use a term suggested by a government think tank—Þungunarrof, which translates ...

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from
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/EgxMLIx5SSM/icelands-only-baptist-pastor-down-syndrome-abortion.html

Missional or Attractional? The Value of Embracing a Both/And Mentality

Every Christian should be missional and every church should be attractional.

Much has been said and written to help today’s churches become more missional. Organizations, parachurch communities, and conferences abound in trying to move the Church in this direction. This emphasis is certainly justified in light of how many Evangelical churches are not missional and are either in a state of plateau or decline.

Unfortunately, many churches are not trying in any measurable way to reach the people in their community who are unchurched. Too often, churches satisfy themselves with biblical teaching, music, fellowship groups, or any number of good things. They are intoxicated with a sense of church busy-ness and therefore have a sense that they are on mission. The problem is, these things too often become subtle substitutes for the mission of God. We have to be reminded that our mission is to advance His kingdom on a daily basis, being and making disciples who worship and follow Jesus.

My predecessor as Eastern District Superintendent for the EFCA, Dr. Steve Musser, did a great job speaking to the Eastern District churches about transitioning from being teaching centers to missional outposts. He led us to adopt the motto, “Churches without walls.” Some of our churches really benefited from his efforts, but all of our leaders were challenged to keep the mission in front of our churches. I inherited this value and intend to keep it as long as I’m in this role.

If you want to dive into some good reading about what it means for a church to be missional, you can go here and see some well-thought writing from credible evangelical writers and practitioners.

But in saying that we should be missional, does that mean we should completely discard the idea and value of anything attractional?

Before ...

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from
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Thoughts on Discipleship from a Marine Conservationist

Why changing hearts is hard and how Christ overcomes that.

When I left university, I was a budding conservationist armed with good intentions, theoretical head knowledge, and an enthusiasm to change the world. I then entered a real world where human hearts were not so easy to sway. After firsthand experience in a variety of contexts, I was left wondering how to negotiate that space between understanding facts and inspiring a sacrificial love which is powerful enough to change our ways. It is not a simple step, but our Christian faith can help this conversation, and possibly the whole planet, in a big way.

My introduction to practical marine conservation began in the tropical waters around Madagascar and the Maldives. Here I dived into the rich world of the coral reef and came to delight in the familiar characters—territorial fish protecting their anemone, eels poking their heads out from caves, and graceful turtles surfacing nearby to breathe. In this busy picture-postcard scene, the reef-building coral are quite easily overlooked. It can be difficult to appreciate the rock-like structures for what they are: animals supporting an ecosystem under extreme threat.

If you watch a reef for long enough, or have the pleasure of a night-time snorkel, you will see small flower-like animals emerging all over the coral's surface. Coral is not just a hard skeleton—it is a colony of animals called polyps. Each polyp lives within its own calcium carbonate cup, which it builds by drawing minerals from the seawater. The animals emerge under the protection of night and use their tentacles to snatch passing food from the water around them. This feeding behavior only supplies a fraction of what they need. The bulk of their fuel is collected during the daytime from a relationship with ...

Continue reading...



from
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/1fqC3UTxZak/thoughts-on-discipleship-from-conservationist.html

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Ephesians 2:19

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,”

from
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=NIV&search=Ephesians%202:19

Origins of Life

My old blogging compadre, Smilodon’s Retreat, recently chipped in on some abiogenesis chat on a few threads I posted. He has kindly let me repost an old piece of his that should have some relevance. It can be found in original for here at his home at SIN. It’s a few years old but still […]

from
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2017/08/29/origins-of-life/

“He Is” by Ghost, A Satanic Parody on Preachers

For those not in the know, Ghost is a contemporary band in playing music in the vein of classic heavy metal and hard rock like Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. Their songs are almost exclusively about Satan. Also, their lead singer dresses up like a Satanic Pope. You may ask what more you need […]

from
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2017/08/29/ghost-satanic-parody-preachers/

Some Christians Hate Joel Osteen More Than They Love The Truth...And That's Wrong

Be silent until there is something to say.

So, I never thought I’d write a post defending Joel Osteen…

But, seriously, the floodgates of media unleashed against Joel Osteen tells me that we have a problem. The fact that many Christians have joined in shows me it is a Christian problem. It’s wrong.

It seems a lot of Christians hate Joel Osteen more than the truth.

I’d expect that from the world, but I did not expect it from the church.

So we are clear, Osteen and I are not on the same page spiritually. And I have serious problems with the prosperity gospel.

But do we have to join the deluge of hatred toward him for what is a questionable situation at best?

Apparently, Osteen had canceled church on Sunday and the church indicated (perhaps inarticulately) that the church was impassible. (They did not say it was flooded, though who needs to worry about facts when we hate someone, right?) The church directed their people, and presumably others, to take shelter with friends, family, or at the George Brown Convention Center.

As the waters rose in Houston, social media spread the word that Lakewood Church, housed in a 16,800 seat arena, was turning people away who were seeking shelter. Nope.

The torrent of tweets that I saw were mostly negative and, frankly, far too many Christians joined in. Some referred to Osteen’s mega-mansion. Others were derogatory toward the members of his church. Most comments railed about the irony of the rich turning away the poor drowning soul.

Fast forward twelve hours and the facts began to surface that the church itself was flooded in a few sections. And Lakewood responded that only three people came for shelter, and they had all been helped.

So, well, maybe we might see that facts are our friends.

And just because you hate ...

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