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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020  (Read 650 times)

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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2020, 12:30:29 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/january/pro-life-abortion-regret-study-post-abortive-ministry.html






Abortion Regret Isn’t a Myth, Despite New Study




What women may refuse to disclose to researchers at a clinic, they’re confessing in Bible studies decades later.


Pro-life advocates and ministry leaders are challenging the results of a new study that found that most women do not suffer emotionally after an abortion, and that over time, they are less likely to express regret.

Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco followed 667 women across 30 clinics after they received an elective abortion, finding that the majority had either positive feelings or no emotion at all toward their decision both a week later (71%) and five years later (84%), according to a study released last week in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Corinne Rocca, one of the study’s authors and a professor at UC San Francisco, said that the study proves that the idea that woman will develop negative emotions after an abortion is a “myth” and a “red herring.” Rocca has also participated in multiple research studies and written several articles for the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood.

While pro-choice advocates have used the findings to suggest that the idea of “abortion regret” is merely a scare tactic from pro-lifers, critics say the sample for the survey doesn’t justify the debunking its authors have touted in the media.

Writing for the National Review, researcher Michael J. New noted that women who volunteer to respond to questions following an abortion are more likely to be the ones who feel positively about it, and therefore the findings do not represent the full spectrum of women who have had abortions. New—a professor at the Catholic University of America and a scholar with the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute—noted that of all the women asked to participate, less than 40 percent agreed, and roughly 30 percent of the 667 who participated had stopped responding by the end of the five-year study.

Plus, Christians working in post-abortive ministry have seen abortion regret stir up in women long after the five-year span of the research.

“The majority of women we see are usually 15, 20, 30, 40 years removed,” said Carrie Bond, former national training director for Surrendering the Secret. Counselors and staff like Bond are particularly likely to encounter those who have grown to regret their abortions, or to discover that they had been holding back the emotional weight of the decision.

Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood staffer who went on to become a pro-life advocate, shared a similar observation on Twitter: “Here’s real talk. Trauma doesn’t usually present until 10-15 years post-traumatic event. Those women have NO idea how they will feel about their abortions many years later.”

Bond said most women are culturally conditioned to either hide their abortion or celebrate it. “Those are your two choices,” she said. “Be silent, or say ‘It hasn’t affected me!’” Some may not even realize that some of the negative symptoms they experience in the years following their abortion—nightmares, or an eating disorder, for example—may have been triggered by their experience.

Bond also questioned the researchers’ conclusion that the lack of emotion is positive. Far from a good thing, she said that can be actually evidence of trauma. One of the most common symptoms of post-abortion stress she sees in women is emotional numbness. One study conducted in the early nineties by pro-life researchers found that 92 percent of women experience some level of “emotional deadening” up to 10 years after their procedure. (That study surveyed 260 women who had actively sought post-abortion counseling.)

While post-abortive ministries, by their nature, are likely to draw in women who are experiencing regret and seeking a place for healing—their work is not miniscule. As Julie Roys wrote for CT in 2015:

In the past 20 years, abortion recovery groups have multiplied in churches nationwide. Surrendering the Secret has trained about 2,500 leaders in churches and crisis pregnancy centers. Another leading recovery ministry, Rachel’s Vineyard, hosts about 1,000 retreats annually in 48 states and 57 other countries. Yet, these statistics pale in comparison to the number of post-abortive women in the church (not to mention the men who carry regret over their wives’ or girlfriends’ abortions).

The Silent No More Campaign, a project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life, has hosted 6,469 women and men sharing their abortion testimonies. “I Regret My Abortion” is a slogan on its campaign protest signs.

Abortion rates have been falling for the past few years, reaching an “historic low” of 625,000 in 2016, the latest year data from the Centers for Disease Control are available. Statistically, 625,000 abortions means there were 12 abortions for every 1,000 women of child-bearing age in the US that year. That number may be higher, given that reporting abortion numbers to the CDC is voluntary for states. Still, it adds to a staggering total. Researchers from varying ideological backgrounds estimate roughly 60 million abortions have been performed in the United States since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in January 1973.

In the UCSF study, researchers approached possible participants at abortion clinic sites. But that potentially left out a subset of women: those who obtain medication abortions. In some states, women can get prescriptions for the abortion medication protocol via a video consultation with a doctor or nurse practitioner and never have to step foot into a clinic.

The Guttmacher Institute reports that medication abortions are on the rise, accounting for more than a third of all abortions recorded in 2017. The most commonly-used medication abortion protocol is only prescribed in the first trimester and includes two drugs: the first blocks the embryo from receiving vital progesterone. The second, taken 24 to 48 hours later, induces labor.

The medications are currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and in some states must be administered by a licensed doctor or other medical professional, but pro-choice groups are pushing against such regulations.

Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, worries that medication abortions have the potential to cause more trauma than an in-clinic procedure, as women may feel more responsibility over the abortion when they have to take the medication themselves. He also said a medication abortion presents the possibility that a woman will see her deceased baby after the medication runs its course.

Bond at Surrendering the Secret said she’s counseled many women who had that exact experience. She agrees the trauma from medication abortions may be even more acute than that experienced after a surgical procedure. “You’re not told the truth, and then left alone to suffer through the trauma: intense cramping, hemorrhaging, delivery of baby,” she said

The UCSF study also reported that 95 percent of the women they spoke to said they were confident that abortion was the right decision for them. But Bond said even women who express strong confidence at the time of their decision (or even shortly afterward) are still at great risk for post-abortion stress. Expressed confidence at the abortion clinic may in fact be denial, she said, and that could fade later.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2020, 03:02:19 am »


https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/older-church-members-not-welcome-boomers-gen-x.html






Your Church Needs Boomers





How a hyper-focus on “attracting the young” can sideline the aging faithful.


We rarely hear it put as bluntly as did the small congregation of Grove United Methodist Church, where some members recently claimed “age discrimination” over a service being cancelled, but there are many churches sending a similar message: “If you are an older adult, we don’t want you here.”

As a part of denominational efforts to reboot the Cottage Grove, Minnesota, church, leaders are asking the 25 or so people who gather each week in the Grove building to leave their building and worship at the nearby sister congregation while a team plants a new church at their campus. According to a St. Paul Pioneer Press report, these mostly older members have been directed to wait 15–18 months after its launch before asking new leadership if they can “migrate back.”

While a single news story can’t fully capture the history of the relationship between the lay-led congregation and the denomination, nor the nuances of recent discussions over revitalization (church leaders clarified their approach in a follow-up by the Washington Post),the situation highlights a phenomenon with which many older adults are all too familiar.

During more than a decade writing about spiritual formation in the second half of life, I’ve heard a painful litany of stories from those who’ve been ignored, marginalized, patronized, or treated as rusting obstacles blocking the path to the holy grail of church growth.

Older member hear the message they’re not valued in a variety of ways: a worship team comprised of members under 40, a range of programming designed for younger attenders, or a lack of pastoral care when they’re in the trenches of long-term illness or caring for aging parents. Those who’ve been burned or burned out by congregational politics tend to fade away from congregational life, and many have told me that no one ever bothered to find out why.

A few years ago, I did an informal survey of nearly 100 pastors and church leaders and heard mixed perspectives on the older members in their congregations. While some expressed gratitude for their wisdom, experience, stability, and ongoing financial support, others were frustrated. They said the older demographic appeared to resist change while decreasing regular involvement in the life of the local church.

Sadly, few leaders brought up how older members faced different challenges as they moved into the second half of their lives. Spiritual practices and church involvement are necessarily impacted by increased caregiving responsibilities, workplace demands, fatigue from church politics, disconnection from programming focused on attracting young families, and loss and grief.

As we hear from studies and think pieces alike, the young are leaving many congregations. But so are Gen Xers and Boomers, who claim they no longer feel welcome at the churches they helped to build in their youth. Barna Research found that the majority of those who “love Jesus but not the church” are actually over 40. Nearly half (44%) of unchurched Christians are Boomers, and another third (35%) come from Gen X.

While it is a good desire to want to draw younger families to a church, the desire is not a healthy one if it doesn’t also include a desire for a diversity of ages and life stages that reflects the reality of what it means to belong to the multi-generational family of God. I fear the relentless focus on youth in our culture—from advertisers to church planters—has warped our vision of the value of age embedded in other cultures around the world and throughout history.

And certainly Scripture presents a counter-cultural message about the beauty and value of age and experience that flies in the face of the lopsided craving to build a church focused on young families. Throughout the Bible, we who love God are commanded to proclaim his salvation from one generation to the next. There is a reason that Mary’s response to the angelic news that she would be bearing a Son who’d save the world included these words: “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). She understood well that the household of faith was designed by God to be intergenerational.

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“God’s household is the very definition of the church. We’re not like a household or family. We are one,” wrote pastor Lee Eclov in Feels Like Home: How Rediscovering the Church As Family Changes Everything.

Older members may hear they’re valued members of this family as they’re invited to serve in meaningful ways, honored as mentors and friends, offered programming that speaks to their life stages and maturity level, and welcomed onto multi-age worship teams—and even a few park play dates with younger families. In a culture fractured and divided, a congregation that functions as an intergenerational family is radically and beautifully countercultural.

While I understand that an aging church building with a long-empty nursery may not seem to be the ideal vehicle to pass on the faith from one generation to the next, nor is a congregation without any gray-haired members.

Michelle Van Loon is the author of six books including Becoming Sage: Cultivating Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality at Midlife (Moody Publishers), which releases April 7.




Speaking Out is Christianity Today’s guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the magazine.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2020, 03:16:50 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/january/prayer-survey-london-uk-prayfor-hashtags-premier-comres.html






London Leads UK in Prayer. But Only 1 in 10 Brits Prayed for Brexit.







But few Brits pray for Brexit or #PrayFor hashtag campaigns.


The Bible repeatedly instructs on the value of regular prayer. “Pray continually,” Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray “in every situation,” he advises the church in Philippi. And to the church in Colossi he says, “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2).

The message is largely lost in Great Britain, however, where nearly three in five adults (57%) now say they never pray, up from 49 percent in 2017.

According to a new Savanta ComRes survey sponsored by Premier Christian News, 12 percent of British adults say they pray at least once a day. In contrast, a Pew Research Center survey last year found that 49 percent of Americans say they pray every day.

“It’s not particularly surprising to see less and less people are choosing to pray regularly,” said Marcus Jones, head of Premier Christian News. “What is interesting is despite many having big concerns about the future of our country and our world, people aren’t choosing to respond in prayer.”

Global phenomena like secularization, immigration, and technological development are overhauling the church in the UK. CT reported in 2016 that for every London-based Anglican church that closed its doors since 2010, more than three Pentecostal churches launched. Likewise, while many British churches are struggling to retain members, churches with strong bases of African and Asian immigrant believers are going strong.

As the demography of faith changes, prayer trends are changing too.

For instance, whereas in the United States, urban centers are often thought to be the heart of rising secularism, prayer is more prominent in Great Britain’s cities. And Londoners are significantly more likely to pray regularly than British adults generally (38% vs. 23%).

More than 1 in 5 London residents (21%) pray at least once every day. On average, only 1 in 10 Brits prays that often. In Scotland, only 14 percent of adults say they pray with any regularity.

The uptick of prayer in London may point to growing Pentecostal and immigrant-operated churches there, but is also reflective of the fact that a large share of British Muslims live in the capital.

Muslims are Britain’s most prayerful faith community, with 4 in 5 saying they pray regularly. Hindus are close behind, with three-quarters saying the same. Among all non-Christians, half pray. (Non-Christians now comprise 1 in 4 Brits who pray regularly.)

Rates are weaker for British Christians: only 38 percent say they pray regularly. However, among churchgoing Christians, 72 percent say they pray at least three or four times per week.

Meanwhile, 1 in 3 Brits who identify as Christians say they never pray.

People of color (or BAME) comprise a larger share of British adults who pray regularly (1 in 4) than of all British adults (1 in 10).

While Muslim Brits pray more readily than their Christian countrymen, what causes them to pray varies. For instance, while 80 percent of British Muslims say they pray at least once a day, national and international events were not usually the catalyst.

Premier Christian News, a new website from Premier Christian Communications (which operates a group of Christian media channels), features faith-related news stories made unique because each concludes with a short prayer of response. The prayers operate as prompts—and a tracking mechanism—for prayer in a nation where Christians are less frequently falling on their knees to speak with God.

For instance, at the end of an article reporting that Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry reached out to offer “pastoral care” to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who recently announced a separation—or #Megxit—from the royal family, is a prayer that thanks God for the royal family and says, “We pray for Harry and Meghan as they make this change. We pray for guidance and wisdom for them both as they take up new things and lay some things down. Amen.”

After a story about the recent execution of Nigerian pastor Lawan Andimi is a prayer that reads, “Please protect your people in states where they are being brutally murdered,” and also prays for Andimi’s family and church, and for his murderers to become believers.

Readers are encouraged to indicate that they are praying along, and they can see the number of others who have clicked a button declaring their prayer participation. (As of Friday evening, 189 indicated they were praying for the royal family and 126 said they were praying for Andimi.)

“We believe prayer changes things,” said Jones. “We are delighted to be able to equip Christians to pray into the issues affecting our country and our world.”

Jones said since the new website launched, thousands had committed to offer prayers for Brexit, the royal family, and the Australian wildfires.

“We believe these prayers will bring about positive change in our world,” said Jones.

Among major world events from the last year, the fires in Australia were prayed for by the most British adults (21%). Slightly fewer (18%) were spurred to prayer after the London Bridge attack. Only 1 in 10 prayed about conflict between the United States and Iran, or about the Sri Lanka Easter bombings, or about Brexit.

While major tragedies and crises often warrant social media #PrayFor campaigns like #PrayForParis and #PrayForBrazil—a nationwide ComRes prayer poll sponsored by Tearfund in 2017 found that among Brits who pray, more than half (55%) are most likely to do so during a crisis—only 1 in 7 Brits told Premier’s pollsters they have ever prayed as a result of such a hashtag.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2020, 07:20:00 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/january/kobe-bryant-reflections-on-fatherhood-passion-and-immortali.html







Kobe Bryant: Reflections on Fatherhood, Passion, and Immortality



Three things about Kobe’s life and legacy ring true, and are informative—especially for believers.


Some moments embed themselves in your memory. Most people can remember where they were during 9/11—the dreadful day thousands of American lives were lost in several terrorist attacks.

Yesterday was one of those moments for me.

Besides my family, my life tends to orbit around three Bs: the Bible, books, and basketball. I love NBA basketball—at times, much to my wife’s chagrin. As our ministry team closed our worship services yesterday, one of our members delivered me the news: “Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter accident.”

My stomach dropped. I had more questions than answers.

As the tragic story unfolded, I learned that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people also lost their lives in the accident. I felt numb all day. I didn’t know what to feel.

When the numbness subsided, one thought plagued my mind. What is it about the tragic, untimely death of iconic men and women that causes a collective lament from people from various religious, ethnic, and social backgrounds?

Three things about Kobe’s life and legacy ring true. And I think they are informative—especially for believers.

The Changing Narrative on Black Fatherhood

As a father, my heart hurt that Bryant could no longer continue to nourish and develop his growing relationship with his daughter.

While I did not care for Kobe Bryant as a player, I admired him in his retirement as a father. His active involvement in his daughters’ lives and his presence after missing special moments because of a rigorous NBA schedule was refreshing.

Our country is rife with mischaracterizations about black fatherhood. Kobe had joined the litany of NBA Black father ambassadors to help shape and change the false narrative of fatherlessness in Black and Brown communities.

We lost the opportunity for Bryant’s story as a father to play out. But we are also reminded of ordinary, everyday, working Black fathers who put the same effort and love into their children’s lives.

It is no secret that we live in racialized times. Don’t get trapped in talking point tales that undermine image-bearing men and women. As believers, let us make sure we continue to believe the best about others and not perpetuate stereotypical views that alienate brothers and sisters in the faith.

The Importance of Passion and Drive

As a Christian, I prayed earnestly that those involved had heard and believed the gospel and that my passion for gospel proclamation would never wane.

Bryant was one of the hardest working players in his sport. And it paid off for him. His passion for the game of basketball led him to study it more than any other player in modern history. He didn’t want others to remember him as a disinterested member of the NBA, but as an ambassador.

He also served as an ambassador for the women’s game—helping the basketball community acknowledge and honor the work women put in on and off the court. Down to his last game, that passion never waned—he scored 60 points in his final game.

What about our gospel passion and drive? Temporal trophies and legacy drove Bryant’s passion. Gospel work tells another story. Gospel work impacts eternal destinies.

Even for “veteran” Christians, it’s easy for the passion and drive to subside. It is easy to plod along in life without having shared our message of hope with those around us. My prayer is that Bryant’s misguided passion for NBA crowns leads us all to a renewed passion for our eternal crown (1 Cor. 9:25).

The Myth of Immortality

As a 41-year-old—the same age as Bryant—I was reminded of the words of the writer of the Psalmist: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

In many ways, Bryant appeared immortal. He won five NBA championships and multiple NBA MVP awards. Bryant is going to be an inductee in the basketball Hall of Fame this fall. A mere two years into a new entertainment venture, he won an Oscar Award.

The news of his death shocked the conscience because he oozed invincibility. Many of us scrolled and refreshed our social media timelines yesterday because we found it hard to believe the news. But we may have missed an important moment.

As we peered through the windows of social media, many of us neglected to turn our gaze to the mirror of introspection.

We believe in our immortality, too. Or at least we live that way. We don’t maximize the moments with our children the way we should. We procrastinate and put things off because “there’s always tomorrow.”

Why? Because thinking of our mortality makes us reshape our priorities. And reshaping our priorities brings us face-to-face with the reality that we are more selfish than we’d like to admit.

National tragedies lead to national conversations. But the most important conversation we all need to have in light of yesterday’s news is an internal one.

Have you looked in the mirror of your soul lately? If not, step away from the window for a moment, let the truth of your mortality wash over you, and allow God’s grace to number—and shape—the rest of your days.






John C. Richards, Jr. is a thought-leader, gifted teacher, and gifted writer/speaker. He currently serves as the Pastor of Assimilation at Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Leadership from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and previously served as Managing Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2020, 05:33:52 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/january/kobe-bryant-reflections-on-fatherhood-passion-and-immortali.html







Kobe Bryant: Reflections on Fatherhood, Passion, and Immortality



Three things about Kobe’s life and legacy ring true, and are informative—especially for believers.


Some moments embed themselves in your memory. Most people can remember where they were during 9/11—the dreadful day thousands of American lives were lost in several terrorist attacks.

Yesterday was one of those moments for me.

Besides my family, my life tends to orbit around three Bs: the Bible, books, and basketball. I love NBA basketball—at times, much to my wife’s chagrin. As our ministry team closed our worship services yesterday, one of our members delivered me the news: “Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter accident.”

My stomach dropped. I had more questions than answers.

As the tragic story unfolded, I learned that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people also lost their lives in the accident. I felt numb all day. I didn’t know what to feel.

When the numbness subsided, one thought plagued my mind. What is it about the tragic, untimely death of iconic men and women that causes a collective lament from people from various religious, ethnic, and social backgrounds?

Three things about Kobe’s life and legacy ring true. And I think they are informative—especially for believers.

The Changing Narrative on Black Fatherhood

As a father, my heart hurt that Bryant could no longer continue to nourish and develop his growing relationship with his daughter.

While I did not care for Kobe Bryant as a player, I admired him in his retirement as a father. His active involvement in his daughters’ lives and his presence after missing special moments because of a rigorous NBA schedule was refreshing.

Our country is rife with mischaracterizations about black fatherhood. Kobe had joined the litany of NBA Black father ambassadors to help shape and change the false narrative of fatherlessness in Black and Brown communities.

We lost the opportunity for Bryant’s story as a father to play out. But we are also reminded of ordinary, everyday, working Black fathers who put the same effort and love into their children’s lives.

It is no secret that we live in racialized times. Don’t get trapped in talking point tales that undermine image-bearing men and women. As believers, let us make sure we continue to believe the best about others and not perpetuate stereotypical views that alienate brothers and sisters in the faith.

The Importance of Passion and Drive

As a Christian, I prayed earnestly that those involved had heard and believed the gospel and that my passion for gospel proclamation would never wane.

Bryant was one of the hardest working players in his sport. And it paid off for him. His passion for the game of basketball led him to study it more than any other player in modern history. He didn’t want others to remember him as a disinterested member of the NBA, but as an ambassador.

He also served as an ambassador for the women’s game—helping the basketball community acknowledge and honor the work women put in on and off the court. Down to his last game, that passion never waned—he scored 60 points in his final game.

What about our gospel passion and drive? Temporal trophies and legacy drove Bryant’s passion. Gospel work tells another story. Gospel work impacts eternal destinies.

Even for “veteran” Christians, it’s easy for the passion and drive to subside. It is easy to plod along in life without having shared our message of hope with those around us. My prayer is that Bryant’s misguided passion for NBA crowns leads us all to a renewed passion for our eternal crown (1 Cor. 9:25).

The Myth of Immortality

As a 41-year-old—the same age as Bryant—I was reminded of the words of the writer of the Psalmist: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

In many ways, Bryant appeared immortal. He won five NBA championships and multiple NBA MVP awards. Bryant is going to be an inductee in the basketball Hall of Fame this fall. A mere two years into a new entertainment venture, he won an Oscar Award.

The news of his death shocked the conscience because he oozed invincibility. Many of us scrolled and refreshed our social media timelines yesterday because we found it hard to believe the news. But we may have missed an important moment.

As we peered through the windows of social media, many of us neglected to turn our gaze to the mirror of introspection.

We believe in our immortality, too. Or at least we live that way. We don’t maximize the moments with our children the way we should. We procrastinate and put things off because “there’s always tomorrow.”

Why? Because thinking of our mortality makes us reshape our priorities. And reshaping our priorities brings us face-to-face with the reality that we are more selfish than we’d like to admit.

National tragedies lead to national conversations. But the most important conversation we all need to have in light of yesterday’s news is an internal one.

Have you looked in the mirror of your soul lately? If not, step away from the window for a moment, let the truth of your mortality wash over you, and allow God’s grace to number—and shape—the rest of your days.






John C. Richards, Jr. is a thought-leader, gifted teacher, and gifted writer/speaker. He currently serves as the Pastor of Assimilation at Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Leadership from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and previously served as Managing Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.

It is sad indeed
1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2020, 06:40:47 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/january/fbi-kingdom-jesus-christ-childrens-joy-foundation-philippin.html






FBI Accuses Filipino Church of Human Trafficking, Sham Marriages for Fake Charity




Prosecutors say Kingdom of Jesus Christ’s “miracle workers” were trafficking victims. Philippines-based church says fundraising efforts for Children’s Joy Foundation were legitimate.


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine religious group on Thursday denied allegations by American law enforcement agents that it was involved in a scheme to trick followers into becoming fundraisers and arrange sham marriages to keep them in the US.

FBI agents raided the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church in Los Angeles on Wednesday in a human trafficking investigation that led to the arrests of three church leaders.

A spokesman for Apollo Quiboloy, the church founder and leader, said former members who had been disciplined for wrongdoing retaliated by breaking off from his church and fabricating information they fed to the FBI in a “grand conspiracy of lies.”

“Their aim, therefore, is to exact revenge, extortion commingled with a brazen but shameless desire to put [Quiboloy] and the [church] as a whole into a quagmire of shame, blatant humiliation, and defeat through trumped-up charges,” lawyer Israelito Torreon said in a statement issued to reporters in southern Philippines’ Davao city.

The church leader ordered an internal audit last year that prompted a trusted officer and other members to leave the group and struck an alliance with “forces” jealous of Quiboloy's rise, Torreon said without elaborating.

“We will face and disprove as utter lies the charges filed against the administrators” of the church in the US, he said.

Workers who managed to escape from the church told the FBI they had been sent across the US soliciting donations for the church’s charity and were beaten and psychologically abused if they didn’t make quotas, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges.

The immigrants essentially became full-time workers, sometimes referred to as “miracle workers,” in a crusade to raise money for the nonprofit Children’s Joy Foundation USA, which was supposed to benefit poor children in their homeland. But the complaint said most of the money raised was used to finance church operations and the lavish lifestyle of Quiboloy.

The church claims a membership of at least 6 million people and backed the 2016 candidacy of President Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend of Quiboloy. Duterte appeared in the group’s radio and TV program in Davao when he was mayor of the southern port city.

Quiboloy claims to be “the appointed son of God” and last year claimed he stopped a major earthquake from hitting the southern Philippines.

The Los Angeles leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church was arrested on immigration fraud charges along with a worker who seized victims’ passports and another who handled finances, the US attorney’s office said.

Between 2014 and the middle of last year, $20 million was sent back to the church in the Philippines, the FBI said.

“Most of these funds appear to derive from street-level solicitation,” according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Anne Wetzel. “Little to no money solicited appears to benefit impoverished or in-need children.”

Guia Cabactulan, 59, the top church official in the US, was arrested in Van Nuys with Marissa Duenas, 41, who allegedly handled fraudulent immigration documents, prosecutors said. Amanda Estopare, 48, who allegedly enforced fundraising quotas, was arrested in Virginia.

Cabactulan and Duenas are expected to make initial court appearances Thursday in US District Court in Santa Ana, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the US attorney in Los Angeles. Estopare was ordered held after a hearing in Norfolk, Virginia, and expected back in court Monday.

Investigators documented 82 sham marriages over 20 years between top fundraisers and church members who were US citizens.

Torreon said church members “give their offerings voluntarily out of their faith and understanding of the biblical teaching concerning religious offerings, as well as their desire to raise money for specific projects, endeavors, and ministry of the kingdom.”

In addition to raiding the church’s Van Nuys compound, agents were searching other Los Angeles-area locations and at two places in Hawaii linked to the church.

Two years ago, a leader of a Hawaii branch of the church was arrested smuggling cash onto a private plane in Honolulu bound for the Philippines with Quiboloy on board, according to court records.





Associated Press journalist Brian Melley in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2020, 06:44:03 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/martin-luther-coronavirus-wuhan-chinese-new-year-christians.html






Is It Faithful to Flee an Epidemic? What Martin Luther Teaches Us About Coronavirus






The German reformer’s pastoral reflection on the plague can guide both medical students like me and Christians in China—and everywhere the Wuhan virus has spread.


From its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the current coronavirus outbreak is stoking fear and disrupting travel and business across the globe. More than 150 people have died from the virus in China alone, and more than 8,000 are infected across 20 countries—exceeding the SARS epidemic in 2003.

Citizens in Wuhan, a major central city comparable to Chicago, are under lockdown by the government and public activities have come to a standstill, including annual celebrations for Chinese New Year (which began on January 25). Chinese Christians, in Wuhan and China at large, have faced difficult decisions about whether to join the millions of Chinese who return home to visit family (as is customary during the lunar holiday season), to flee from the mainland, or even to gather for regular Sunday services.

But are followers of Jesus right to flee an epidemic when people are suffering and dying?

In the 16th century, German Christians asked theologian Martin Luther for a response to this very question.

In 1527, less than 200 years after the Black Death killed about half the population of Europe, the plague re-emerged in Luther’s own town of Wittenberg and neighboring cities. In his letter “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,” the famous reformer weighs the responsibilities of ordinary citizens during contagion. His advice serves as a practical guide for Christians confronting infectious disease outbreaks today.

First, Luther argued that anyone who stands in a relationship of service to another has a vocational commitment not to flee. Those in ministry, he wrote, “must remain steadfast before the peril of death.” The sick and dying need a good shepherd who will strengthen and comfort them and administer the sacraments—lest they be denied the Eucharist before their passing. Public officials, including mayors and judges, are to stay and maintain civic order. Public servants, including city-sponsored physicians and police officers, must continue their professional duties. Even parents and guardians have vocational duties toward their children.

Luther did not limit tending the sick to health care professionals. In a time when Wuhan faces a shortage of hospital beds and personnel, his counsel is especially relevant. The city, one of China’s largest with a population of about 11 million, is in the process of rapidly constructing two new hospitals to accommodate growing crowds of coronavirus patients. Lay citizens, without any medical training, may find themselves in a position of providing care to the sick. Luther challenges Christians to see opportunities to tend to the sick as tending to Christ himself (Matt. 25:41–46). Out of love for God emerges the practice of love for neighbor.

But Luther does not encourage his readers to expose themselves recklessly to danger. His letter constantly straddles two competing goods: honoring the sanctity of one’s own life, and honoring the sanctity of those in need. Luther makes it clear that God gives humans a tendency toward self-protection and trusts that they will take care of their bodies (Eph. 5:29; 1 Cor. 12:21–26). He defends public health measures such as quarantines and seeking medical attention when available. In fact, Luther proposes that not to do so is to act recklessly. Just as God has gifted humans with their bodies, so too he has gifted the medicines of the earth.

What if a Christian still desires to flee? Luther affirms that this may, in fact, be the believer’s faithful response, provided that no emergency exists and that they arrange substitutes who will “take care of the sick in their stead and nurse them.” Notably, Luther also reminds readers that salvation is independent of these good works. He ultimately tasks them to decide whether to flee or to stay during plagues, trusting that they will arrive at a faithful decision through prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Participation in aiding the sick arises out of grace, not obligation.

However, Luther himself was not afraid. Despite the exhortations of his university colleagues, he stayed behind to minister to the sick and dying. He urged his readers not to be afraid of “some small boils” in the service of neighbors.

Though God’s children face earthly sufferings, those who proclaim faith in Christ share in a heavenly promise of freedom from illness and suffering. In an open letter calling for prayer from Christians around the globe, an anonymous Wuhan pastor affirms “[Christ’s] peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things.” Both Luther and the Wuhan pastor express the reality of suffering but recognize that death and suffering do not have the final word.

This week, my grandparents in China messaged me that they are well but are dwelling “like rats” in their apartment, leaving only when necessary. Incidentally, in the Chinese Zodiac system, 2020 is the Year of the Rat—the animal that spread pestilence-carrying fleas across Europe in the 14th century.

My grandparents live west of Wuhan in the province of Sichuan, where more than 100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed. I cannot help but think of them and my other relatives living in China at this time. Hoping to send them masks now out of stock in many stores throughout Asia, my parents and I discovered this week that even US stores have been depleted.

In a climate of fear surrounding the outbreak, I come back to Luther’s letter for guidance. As a medical student and a future physician, I have a clear vocational commitment to caring for the sick—whether they have coronavirus, tuberculosis, or influenza. Precautions I will take, yes. But I am reminded by Luther that they are individuals deserving of care all the same.

“When did we see you sick?” ask the righteous in the parable of the sheep and the goats, to which Jesus responds, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:39–40). If and when the coronavirus encroaches upon our communities, how will we faithfully respond?






Emmy Yang is a Theology, Medicine, and Culture Fellowat Duke Divinity School and a medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - January 2020
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2020, 08:48:39 am »
I'm not sure what to make of this. I guess only time will tell. But if it's true and really happening then there's not much we can do except to put our complete faith, hope and trust in God the Father no matter what happens. I don't doubt that the psychopaths who rule the world are capable of doing something like this. They definitely want to eliminate most of the world's population especially minorities and dissidents who don't want to get with the program, so to speak. They really enjoy fear mongering and causing panic. They love to see suffering, death and destruction. They have the technology to do this too. No doubt about that and if it is a real threat then they have the cure for themselves.

BREAKING: FEMA CAMPS PREPARING FOR WUHAN SUPER VIRUS OUTBREAK - GENOCIDE WARNING USA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMwc3AQhSAI
« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 04:06:33 pm by patrick jane »
Eph. 5:11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose and rebuke them.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

 

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