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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020  (Read 1341 times)

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patrick jane

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Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« on: May 02, 2020, 12:43:34 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/may-web-only/virus-breaks-camels-back.html







The Virus Breaks the Camel's Back







Saudi Arabia and civil war ravaged Yemen. And now this.


The first confirmed coronavirus infection in Yemen was identified in a 60-year-old man on Good Friday. No additional cases have been reported since then, but that can hardly be for lack of transmission, for it’s difficult to imagine a country more ill-equipped to fight COVID-19’s spread. This small Middle Eastern nation has endured five years of violence, blockade, starvation, and epidemic, and its medical system was ravaged before the pandemic began. The United Nations considers Yemen’s condition the world’s worst humanitarian crisis—and it’s a crisis to which our government contributes.

Located at the southern edge of Saudi Arabia and bordering the Red Sea, Yemen is thought to be the home of the biblical queen of Sheba, and perhaps only biblical language can adequately convey its confluence of miseries. The prophets’ mournful condemnations of violence and oppression all find expression in Yemen: The combatants’ “feet run to evil, and they rush to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways.The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths” (Isa. 59:7–8, NRSV). Yemen illustrates all too well the way sin flows from sin (Ps. 7:14–16) and how human and natural evil can conspire in our fallen world.

When Yemen’s civil war began in 2015, it was little noticed in the United States. Widely ignored too was the Obama administration’s decision to support a coalition intervention led by Saudi Arabia to back the Yemeni government and oppose the Houthi rebels challenging its power. Then-President Barack Obama never obtained congressional authorization for US involvement in this war, as required by the Constitution, and President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan congressional resolution to end American involvement last year.

While neither administration permanently planted any significant number of US boots on the ground in Yemen, both backed the coalition even as it racked up credible accusations of war crimes. Washington sold the Saudi coalition weapons, including a bomb used in the Saudi school bus strike that killed 40 children. Our military’s intelligence sharing informed the coalition’s air campaign as it bombed civilian targets like hospitals, schools, markets, refugee camps, weddings, funerals, food factories, and water treatment plants.

That damage to clean water sources fueled in Yemen the largest cholera outbreak on record in world history. Cholera is a waterborne disease in which diarrhea and vomiting cause catastrophic dehydration, and Yemeni cholera cases are estimated at more than 2 million in a population of 28 million. The same poor hygiene conditions that help cholera spread will spread COVID-19 too.

But the US-backed coalition’s single most harmful tactic is its ongoing blockade of Yemen’s airports and seaports. Ostensibly intended to prevent the Houthis from obtaining weapons from Iran, it has produced famine conditions and severe shortages of medical supplies. Yemen is a desert nation that must import 90 percent of its food, so under siege, Yemen is starving. Photos of malnourished Yemeni children call to mind Holocaust victims. A Yemeni child of five years or younger dies of starvation and other preventable causes every 12 minutes.

Between war casualties, cholera, and starvation, Yemen’s medical system has long been overwhelmed. Only half its hospitals are functioning normally. Medicine and equipment are in short supply, and many doctors and nurses worked without pay until outside aid groups began to cover some salaries. There is no scenario in which Yemen can be prepared for the coronavirus. There is no scenario in which Yemeni COVID-19 patients will receive the care they need.

But there is a scenario in which the United States could stop adding to Yemen’s suffering: We could stop assisting the Saudi coalition. Politically, this should be an easy sell: It has bipartisan support in Congress and among Americans aware of the war. It would not jeopardize US security—the Houthis have only local ambitions, and the power vacuum of civil war helps terrorist organizations rather than curbing them, most notably al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). (AQAP-linked fighters have even obtained American weapons and armored vehicles flowing into Yemen via coalition forces.)

US military withdrawal from Yemen’s conflict is no guarantor of peace. It will not rebuild hospitals or control epidemics. But it would make the coalition intervention impossible to continue, at least at its current scale. That could push Saudi Arabia and its allies to reach a peace deal or long-term ceasefire with the rebels after multiple failed negotiations. And it could well break the blockade, allowing in vital food and medical aid.

Open ports and a decline in violence in Yemen would give Christians an opportunity to serve the Yemeni people in ways that are now all but impossible. A NGO worker in Yemen told me few of the aid organizations that have managed to stay active in the country are affiliated with churches. That is partly because Yemen is a dangerous place for Christians, this worker emphasized. A mass shooting in 2016 included four nuns and a priest among its victims; international Christian aid workers were kidnapped and killed in 2009; and three Southern Baptist missionaries were martyred in Yemen in 2003. The Yemeni Christian population is extremely small and subject to persecution (conversion from Islam is prohibited). That likely won’t change however the civil war concludes, as neither the Yemeni government nor the Houthi rebels respect religious freedom. Yemen needs spiritual care as much medical and economic aid.

In this pandemic and after, amid civil war and after, Yemen desperately needs the church. It needs Christians to imitate our God who “will incline [his] ear to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more” (Ps. 10:17–18, NRSV). It needs us to embody God’s self-sacrificial care for the helpless. Yemen needs peace, and it needs our prayers.














Bonnie Kristian is a columnist at Christianity Today, a contributing editor at The Week, a fellow at Defense Priorities, and the author of A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (Hachette).
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 09:51:45 am by patrick jane »
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2020, 07:41:04 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/april-web-only/lay-down-your-ventilator-for-friend.html






Lay Down Your Ventilator for a Friend








What is a Christian to do when there's not enough to go around?


The weeks slide from our fingers as the pandemic’s first wave moderates—whether due to our quarantined culture or the wiles of viral behavior. Pressure mounts to resume some sort of normalcy. On the one hand, normal is impossible as long as a vaccine eludes us. But on the other hand, surviving a sustained shutdown is economically and emotionally infeasible. Thirty million Americans have lost their jobs, nerves are fried, and happiness stays socially distant.

Reopening America comes at a high price. Given what we know about the coronavirus and its effects, there’s a tradeoff to be calculated between economic livelihood and human life. The quarantine’s goal from the outset has been preserving hospital capacity for anticipated surges. America is a country where health care, while expensive and notoriously complicated, is regarded as more a right than a privilege. But if too many people get sick and health care resources deplete, rights give way to privilege. The better off get better while the poor and marginalized suffer.

Such is the way of life, some would say. Nature must run its course. The virus exposes a surplus population, the elderly, and the mortal sin of preexisting conditions. According to a recent Pew survey, a majority of people with no religious affiliation (56%) said ventilators should be saved “for those with the highest chance of recovery in the event that there are not enough resources to go around, even if that means some patients don’t receive the same aggressive treatment because they are older, sicker and less likely to survive.” Economists do the math: A life is worth X, a job is worth Y, toss in actuarial variables, and generate a value on which to base a decision. Risk and price prove as efficient as they are heartless.

But a value and values are not the same thing. Ideally when it comes to health care, the patient does the math based on their own preferences and personal beliefs. Providers then respond with treatment options available. Unavailable resources may press for a recalibration of utility over values, but Christianity resists. One’s personal conviction, prayer, Scripture, community, and trustworthy teachings supervene on ethical decisions. Thus, according to Pew, most evangelicals (60%) said limited ventilators should go to whichever patients “need them most in the moment, which might mean that fewer people survive but no one is denied treatment based on their age or health status” (the US average was 50%). Moreover, religious beliefs evoke suspicion of any human presuming authority over another’s life—God alone holds authority over death and life (Deut. 32:39).

Still, decisions have to be made. Years ago, I served a stint on a hospital ethics committee in Boston where we tackled organ donation after cardiac death. When was it OK to remove a heart for a consented transplant from a child after that heart irreversibly stopped beating? Hospital policy was to wait five minutes rather than the preferred two practiced by most medical centers. The reason was to provide the deceased with “spiritual wiggle room.” The hospital determined that five minutes should suffice for a soul to depart its body.

Nonreligious members of the ethics committee were nonplussed. With hundreds of children desperately awaiting organ donations, why risk organ viability by taking extra time for something that, scientifically speaking, we’re not even sure happens? The ethics committee turned to me (a minister at the time) for advice.

“Reverend,” they asked, “how long does it take for a soul to depart the body?”

All I knew to say was what Christians had always believed. I quoted the Apostles’ Creed: “We believe in the resurrection of the body,” by which we mean the whole body. No need for the wiggle room. How does this happen? The Bible says it works something like farming: A natural body gets sown in the ground like a corpse buried, but then gets raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). To dust we return, but from the dust we will rise and be recognizable like Jesus, fully healed and made whole and finally our true selves.

Except Jesus still has his scars. You’d think if resurrection gets you a new body, you’d at least lose the nail holes. “Look at my hands and my feet,” Jesus said (Luke 24:39). His scars were signs of sacrificial love. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:3).

Note that Jesus did not say to lay down another’s life. We’re told to take up our own crosses in order to follow Christ (Mark 8:34), not to crucify others. We can love sacrificially unto death for a friend with hope and without fear because Jesus really rose from the dead.

If social distancing fails and resources deplete, the question over who lives and who dies resorts to politicians, economists, and health care administrators. But Christians have another ethical choice. Is our faith sufficient that we would ever give up our own ventilator for the sake of a friend? For a neighbor? For even a stranger? One’s personal conviction, prayer, Scripture, community, and trustworthy teachings challenge us to consider sacrifice over self-preservation. Following Jesus means taking up crosses. Lose ourselves and we find our true selves. Our scars and core wounds reveal our core loves and real faith, not the fruit of our effort but the yield of our yielding to Jesus. Our greatest love and most beautiful virtues do not run, but rather transcend, nature’s course.

John Calvin once wrote:

We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves, and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our goal of life.














Daniel Harrell is Christianity Today’s editor in chief.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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 -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2020, 10:46:16 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/may/20-ways-to-help-your-children-process-pandemic.html







20 Ways to Help Your Children Process the Pandemic











In these seasons of crisis, in our all-important busyness, there is often a subtle temptation to overlook the precious little lives that dwell in our very homes.


You’re not the only one feeling the press. Little eyes, little ears, little bodies and tender souls are doing their best to process this COVID-19 experience alongside their parents – with far fewer tools. Try as we might to conceal it from them, a new “homeschool life,” coupled with a new “work-from-home-world,” or worse, a “no-work-at-all-world” - positions often anxious children in full view of life’s troubling complications. While we likely have ways of processing the noise, it’s entirely possible that our children might be overlooked in the missionary equation that lies before them.

On one hand, this is to be expected. There is, after all, a lot to do in these days. For most, the volume of work and responsibility has not slowed down, but rather has found a new and higher gear. Work that once took minutes in the office, now takes much of the day in divided attention. There’s also church life to attend to. There are burdens to bear, video meetings to coordinate, people to love. Then there’s the mission that we’re called to embrace. People are dying, others are ill, still others grieving for economic loss or mental health setbacks. We know that we must attend to these needs and both declare and demonstrate the Good News with the hope Jesus brings.

But in these seasons of crisis, in our all-important busyness, there is often a subtle temptation to overlook the precious little lives that dwell in our very homes. We often forget that they are processing, perhaps for the first time, life in a broken world. They are coming to grips with a world where things like an invisible bug can wreak such havoc, and where death and destruction are suddenly normative realities. To neglect them in this season might be to miss our highest mission. To fail to engage them might be to miss the most formative season that we, as parents, caregivers, friends, and family may have to interpret the gospel with our children and disciple them to maturity.

Here’s a few suggestions on how to help your children to process the pandemic:

-Ask them individually about what they are feeling and thinking about the pain they observe so you can grow in attentiveness to their unique needs;

-Pray with and for your children and speak courageous words of hope as you pray;

-Take one day each week for family worship: share a Scripture passage that is relevant to the moment, provide a single point of application, allow the children to discuss their ideas, and pray together;

-Memorize Scripture together as a family—the message your kids need to hear is the same message you need as well;

-Model neighbor-love by finding strategic ways to care for your neighbors who are hurting or alone. Take time with your children to prepare a simple gift basket for neighbors, or pick up and deliver some necessary groceries;

-Teach children to be a blessing to others by making crafts, writing cards, or scheduling calls with those who may need an encouraging touch;

-As the economy reopens, frequent local businesses and allow your kids to hear stories of the impact of the virus on everyday people they see regularly. Offer to pray with employees in front of your kids;

-Make allowance for shortened attention spans if you are watching a church service online. Take time to pause the video and help children process what they are hearing with a question of personal application;

-Process grief with children—allow them to feel the emotions of life in a fallen world even if that is simply mourning the loss of school or a big event they were looking forward to; Prepare them for adulthood where disappointment is normal and maturity is reflected in the ability to persevere through pain;

-Look out for vulnerable children in your community who don’t enjoy the blessing of a stable family. Go out of your way to care for them and invite them into the rhythms of your family as opportunity allows;

-Allow your children to catch you finding ways to meet a need, so your children understand the personal responsibility they have in extending God’s kindness to all people;

-Limit how much you grumble or complain in front of your children, so they don’t simply equate this experience with frustration and loss, but learn to see opportunity;

-Participate in restorative disciplines with your children such as regular exercise, meaningful hobbies, and healthy eating;

-If possible, spend time outdoors together as a family—not only is experiencing God’s creation restorative, but being outside often creates opportunities for conversation that leads to mission;

-Learn to debrief experiences with children—as you experience shared evidences of grace or of brokenness, take time to process with your children about what these experiences say about God, or about the nature of our fallen world;

-Create anchor moments each day as a shared point of reflection—perhaps around breakfast, dinner, or bedtime. As a family, share ways you’ve seen God at work in the world that day;

-Invite children into the conversations that you are having with other members of the church and allow them to see how maturing believers process suffering and pain;

-In prayer, bring to the attention of your children the missionaries who are struggling under the weight of this pandemic in places where food scarcity and various public health crisis makes this experience even more overwhelming;

-Give generously in full view of your children—make more food than you need so you can share, tip extravagantly as you have opportunity, buy extra household supplies to give to neighbors.

-Actively trust God—teach children in word and deed that God can be trusted, and His faithfulness is never determined by circumstances.

This shared historical moment that you are experiencing as a family will undoubtedly leave an indelible and future-forming impression on your children – the question that remains; will it be one that increases or decreases your children’s passion for Christ? Spiritually wise parents will seize this opportunity to interpret, in ways their children can grasp, a myriad of teachable moments that will become foundational for their children’s spiritual and missional trajectory.

The little eyes, little ears, little bodies and tender souls that live in our homes are busy processing as best as they can. Our primary missionary-making pattern right now is to disciple these little hearts with the mind and mission of Christ. In doing so, we are equipping our children with the skills and habits that will disciple them through the inevitable storms of their future.

















Jeff Christopherson is a church planter, pastor, author and Missiologist at the Send Institute - an interdenominational church planting and evangelism think tank.

Matt Rogers is a pastor at The Church at Cherrydale in Greenville, South Carolina. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Southeastern and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

The Exchange is a part of CT's Blog Forum. Support the work of CT. Subscribe and get one year free.
The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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 -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.
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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2020, 10:32:12 pm »




https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/may/20-ways-to-help-your-children-process-pandemic.html







20 Ways to Help Your Children Process the Pandemic











In these seasons of crisis, in our all-important busyness, there is often a subtle temptation to overlook the precious little lives that dwell in our very homes.


You’re not the only one feeling the press. Little eyes, little ears, little bodies and tender souls are doing their best to process this COVID-19 experience alongside their parents – with far fewer tools. Try as we might to conceal it from them, a new “homeschool life,” coupled with a new “work-from-home-world,” or worse, a “no-work-at-all-world” - positions often anxious children in full view of life’s troubling complications. While we likely have ways of processing the noise, it’s entirely possible that our children might be overlooked in the missionary equation that lies before them.

On one hand, this is to be expected. There is, after all, a lot to do in these days. For most, the volume of work and responsibility has not slowed down, but rather has found a new and higher gear. Work that once took minutes in the office, now takes much of the day in divided attention. There’s also church life to attend to. There are burdens to bear, video meetings to coordinate, people to love. Then there’s the mission that we’re called to embrace. People are dying, others are ill, still others grieving for economic loss or mental health setbacks. We know that we must attend to these needs and both declare and demonstrate the Good News with the hope Jesus brings.

But in these seasons of crisis, in our all-important busyness, there is often a subtle temptation to overlook the precious little lives that dwell in our very homes. We often forget that they are processing, perhaps for the first time, life in a broken world. They are coming to grips with a world where things like an invisible bug can wreak such havoc, and where death and destruction are suddenly normative realities. To neglect them in this season might be to miss our highest mission. To fail to engage them might be to miss the most formative season that we, as parents, caregivers, friends, and family may have to interpret the gospel with our children and disciple them to maturity.

Here’s a few suggestions on how to help your children to process the pandemic:

-Ask them individually about what they are feeling and thinking about the pain they observe so you can grow in attentiveness to their unique needs;

-Pray with and for your children and speak courageous words of hope as you pray;

-Take one day each week for family worship: share a Scripture passage that is relevant to the moment, provide a single point of application, allow the children to discuss their ideas, and pray together;

-Memorize Scripture together as a family—the message your kids need to hear is the same message you need as well;

-Model neighbor-love by finding strategic ways to care for your neighbors who are hurting or alone. Take time with your children to prepare a simple gift basket for neighbors, or pick up and deliver some necessary groceries;

-Teach children to be a blessing to others by making crafts, writing cards, or scheduling calls with those who may need an encouraging touch;

-As the economy reopens, frequent local businesses and allow your kids to hear stories of the impact of the virus on everyday people they see regularly. Offer to pray with employees in front of your kids;

-Make allowance for shortened attention spans if you are watching a church service online. Take time to pause the video and help children process what they are hearing with a question of personal application;

-Process grief with children—allow them to feel the emotions of life in a fallen world even if that is simply mourning the loss of school or a big event they were looking forward to; Prepare them for adulthood where disappointment is normal and maturity is reflected in the ability to persevere through pain;

-Look out for vulnerable children in your community who don’t enjoy the blessing of a stable family. Go out of your way to care for them and invite them into the rhythms of your family as opportunity allows;

-Allow your children to catch you finding ways to meet a need, so your children understand the personal responsibility they have in extending God’s kindness to all people;

-Limit how much you grumble or complain in front of your children, so they don’t simply equate this experience with frustration and loss, but learn to see opportunity;

-Participate in restorative disciplines with your children such as regular exercise, meaningful hobbies, and healthy eating;

-If possible, spend time outdoors together as a family—not only is experiencing God’s creation restorative, but being outside often creates opportunities for conversation that leads to mission;

-Learn to debrief experiences with children—as you experience shared evidences of grace or of brokenness, take time to process with your children about what these experiences say about God, or about the nature of our fallen world;

-Create anchor moments each day as a shared point of reflection—perhaps around breakfast, dinner, or bedtime. As a family, share ways you’ve seen God at work in the world that day;

-Invite children into the conversations that you are having with other members of the church and allow them to see how maturing believers process suffering and pain;

-In prayer, bring to the attention of your children the missionaries who are struggling under the weight of this pandemic in places where food scarcity and various public health crisis makes this experience even more overwhelming;

-Give generously in full view of your children—make more food than you need so you can share, tip extravagantly as you have opportunity, buy extra household supplies to give to neighbors.

-Actively trust God—teach children in word and deed that God can be trusted, and His faithfulness is never determined by circumstances.

This shared historical moment that you are experiencing as a family will undoubtedly leave an indelible and future-forming impression on your children – the question that remains; will it be one that increases or decreases your children’s passion for Christ? Spiritually wise parents will seize this opportunity to interpret, in ways their children can grasp, a myriad of teachable moments that will become foundational for their children’s spiritual and missional trajectory.

The little eyes, little ears, little bodies and tender souls that live in our homes are busy processing as best as they can. Our primary missionary-making pattern right now is to disciple these little hearts with the mind and mission of Christ. In doing so, we are equipping our children with the skills and habits that will disciple them through the inevitable storms of their future.

















Jeff Christopherson is a church planter, pastor, author and Missiologist at the Send Institute - an interdenominational church planting and evangelism think tank.

Matt Rogers is a pastor at The Church at Cherrydale in Greenville, South Carolina. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Southeastern and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

The Exchange is a part of CT's Blog Forum. Support the work of CT. Subscribe and get one year free.
The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

PJ ..Your doign a great job....Love this post....what a way to help the young.!

Blade
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."

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2020, 09:27:45 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/may/cameron-strang-relevant-magazine-podcast-return-sabbatical.html






Relevant Details Missing as Cameron Strang Returns










The Christian magazine halted publication without informing subscribers and has shared little about its founder’s sabbatical.


Last month, Relevant Podcast listeners heard a familiar voice in their earbuds: founder Cameron Strang, returning to the show’s lineup—and to leadership at Relevant Media Group—six months after stepping away due to public criticism from former employees.

Though Relevant promised to be transparent with its efforts to address Strang’s alleged racial insensitivity and difficult leadership style, it did not bring up the process again until the April 10 update announcing his return as CEO.

In the meantime, the bimonthly Christian magazine has not sent out an issue to its 27,000 paid subscribers since Strang stepped away in September, leaving fans to wonder about its future.

Strang told listeners that he’s “excited to be back” for a new era at Relevant as it prepares to revamp and expand its podcast offerings, transition to a yearly print publication, and relaunch its website, all under an advisory board newly enlisted to oversee leadership of the 10-person staff.

Relevant’s loyal followers, some of whom have been around for its entire 20-year history, are excited to hear Strang’s voice again. But as much as they hope to see the kind of progress the company has promised and prayed for, a few have questioned the lack of communication.

“When the print issues stopped coming, I was disappointed but figured the company was trying to figure out how to move forward. I suspected they had lost a lot of advertisers & revenue,” wrote Erin Bird, an Iowa pastor, in a Twitter thread responding to the April update. “I’ve patiently walked thru this w/ you, actually prayed for you guys (& those hurt), & was hoping to see a repentance from Cameron that would show the world how to truly apologize.”

Bird, who subscribed to Relevant for 17 years, echoed what other fans said: He likes Strang and Relevant, which makes it even more disappointing that their response has fallen short and ultimately led him to stop reading and tuning in.

“Hearing an update that shared nothing about seeking relational reconciliation broke my heart,” Bird told CT. “All I heard was how difficult this season has been to Cameron, but not how grieved he was about the hard season he put others through as their boss.”

Strang’s sabbatical was prompted by accounts of racial insensitivity and poor leadership that previous editors, including Andre Henry and Rebecca Marie Jo Flores, say they experienced while working with the small staff at Relevant’s office in Orlando, Florida. Within a week of their criticism making headlines in late September 2019, Strang issued an apology and took a leave of absence to “engage a process of healing, growth, and learning.”

Strang, whose father Stephen Strang is the publisher and CEO of Charisma magazine, launched Relevant in 2000. He was 24 at the time, setting out to reach Christian 20-somethings and 30-somethings in a departure from cheesy or “culture wars” content targeted at young adults.

Its magazine, website, and podcasts—which now receive over 690,000 downloads a month, according to the company—offer a hip but faithful take on the world of pop culture and Christian life, with celebrity-clad cover stories and interviews with figures like Lecrae, Jim Gaffigan, and Lauren Daigle.

Strang declined to be interviewed for this article and instead directed CT to an April 17 podcast episode, in which he discussed his return with outgoing editor and producer Jesse Carey and writer and editor Tyler Huckabee. Carey, who served as publisher during Strang’s absence, did not respond to multiple requests sent by CT over the past two months.

“I decided to go away to handle this in a private way,” Strang said in the 23-minute podcast discussion. “I tried to learn from this. Honestly, whether I succeeded or not, I tried to set an example of humility and leadership and teachability.”

Strang’s reflections echoed points raised in his September apology, where the 44-year-old CEO lamented his own “unhealthy” and “toxic” leadership, as well as the recent update posted by Relevant, which cited the pace and workload of running the company as major stressors.

“As a small, independent company with big goals in an always-changing media ocean, Cameron often led RELEVANT like a constantly redlining speed boat, going fast and making quick turns with little margin,” the company’s statement said. “This recent season opened our eyes to how that approach led to stress and a lack of health in our organization, and for that both Cameron and the RELEVANT executive team wish to extend a sincere apology.”

On the podcast, Strang did not mention former staff members by name but said he was “deeply sorry for hurting people that were close to me” and asked concerned listeners “for the grace to walk this out” in the long term.

Right after Strang left last September, Carey assured listeners that they would “be transparent about how things are going and who are the leaders that are speaking into Cameron and speaking into Relevant.”

That didn’t happen over the sabbatical period, and the April updates don’t share specifics about how Strang has addressed the concerns raised or whether he has pursued reconciliation.

Henry said on Twitter that Strang has not reached out to make amends with him or, to his knowledge, with the 44 others who signed a statement confirming an “abusive” work environment at Relevant.

On the podcast, Strang brought up weekly counseling as a primary means for addressing the “core issues” that led to his unhealthy leadership and referenced taking to Christian leaders during his months away, but did not name any particular leaders, curricula, or programs he learned from.

With Strang’s return on April 15, the company’s announcement said, “he and the team have worked hard to internally address the criticisms in substantive and tangible ways.” Relevant Media Group appointed an advisory board to provide accountability and receive human resources complaints, which the company lacked before.

The board includes Carey (who recently left the staff but continues to appear on the podcast); author and activist Christine Caine; pastor Dharius Daniels; nonprofit leader David Docusen; and Bible Media Group president Tessie Guell Devore.

While Strang said on the podcast that he did not follow Relevant articles or podcasts during his sabbatical, he spent the time thinking big picture about his company’s future, including the decision to put the print magazine on hiatus because it had become unsustainable financially.

Relevant’s promotional material claims “in a recent survey, our readers say they keep the magazine on their coffee table for over 9 months.” Lately, though, subscribers haven’t had much choice; the most recent issue, featuring Malcolm Gladwell on the cover, came out eight months ago.

Several Relevant subscribers told CT they received no notification of the decision to pause the magazine, despite getting regular emails from the company and even having their subscriptions continue to auto-renew.

“The unplanned disruption to the magazine left some advertisers and subscribers unclear what the plan was, and where the magazine was, and we sincerely apologize for our lack of communication while we worked to sort everything out,” Relevant said in its April update.

And though Relevant confirmed that its print publication has been halted, users can still buy annual subscriptions online for $14.99. An email confirmation for the subscription reads, “Your first issue will arrive in 6-8 weeks!”

Relevant joined a slew of magazines, big and small, that have had to reduce their publication frequency or stop putting out print issues altogether due to rising production costs and slumping ad revenue. To maintain agreements with subscribers, these publications typically offer an equivalent perk, such as access to a member’s only site, said Caysey Welton, content director at Folio, which covers the industry.

Relevant subscribers will be transferred to an upcoming “Relevant+” membership for a new site slated to debut this fall and will have the option to request a refund.

Over the past several months, disappointed subscribers have requested refunds or cancellations of their subscriptions over the skipped issues, and they report receiving responses after complaining on Twitter. Depending on how an agreement is worded, there may not be legal liability for failing to deliver issues. (The bigger legal concern in the magazine world these days are fraudulent third-party auto-renew practices, now the subject of a string of lawsuits and crackdowns.)

Besides the financial constraints, the current restructuring allows Relevant to better target the audience they’ve been going after all along. “What would I do differently if was launching Relevant from scratch?” Strang wondered out loud on the podcast. “I probably, in 2020, wouldn’t be mailing paper to people’s houses if I’m trying to reach 25-year-olds.”

Welton at Folio agreed that publications skewing toward younger readers cannot rely on print, and Relevant has been moving that direction for years with its expanding lineup of popular podcasts. “If you’re trying to reach Gen Z to young Gen X, then if you’re leading with print, you’re probably already doing something wrong,” he said.

Particularly in light of the challenges accelerated by the coronavirus crisis, the new model of a single issue a year for a special-interest publication matches where the industry is going. Relevant describes its new annual print edition as “Relevant, but coffee table size like Kinfolk.”

“That’s what the future of print looks like,” Welton said. “That’s the kind of thing we’re going to see a lot more of. … Nicer paperstock, thicker book, fewer ads, if any, with just really good, engaging, evergreen content inside.”

The new business plan at Relevant, including more changes to address the concerns that emerged last year, will unfold over the next six months. The company said it plans to form additional advisory boards focused on mission and ministry, justice and diversity, and business strategy and culture.

On Easter this year, days before resuming his position as CEO, Strang posted on Instagram for the first time since last October, sharing pictures of his son and the puppy they got at the start of his sabbatical. More than a hundred people commented to say they had missed him and welcomed him back. They said they had been praying for Relevant and were excited to have him return.

Similar replies from subscribers rolled in when the publication shared an update on Twitter.

“This is an example of a Christian organization doing it right. He owned his stuff, stepped down, got counsel & accountability, and now huge, lasting changes are in place,” one person responded. “Super bummed about the print mag, but I understand consequences, & growth takes sacrifice. This is good news.”

Others still want more. When Strang left, Huckabee told Relevant’s audience that “We plan on doing everything we can to be an example of how to handle a situation like this. Lord knows we’ve tried to hold other institutions to the fire when they’ve done something wrong—both in what they did and their response to it—and now it’s our turn.”

Some expected that would mean more openness about the leadership and cultural change. “The @relevant team was not transparent throughout the process as promised. That is a massive problem in terms of trustworthiness,” one critic posted. “The statement essentially blames Camerons’s mistreatment and abuse of his employees on exhaustion.”

Another said, “there has been nothing about any of this that makes me want to give Cameron a second chance.”

Strang said he came back at the prompting of the new board, many of whom he’s known through Relevant or other channels—Devore, for example, used to be the executive vice president of his father’s publishing company, Charisma House.

Strang said in addition to rejoining the podcast lineup—now with popular podcaster Jamie Ivey and hip hop artist Derek Minor in the mix—his focus will be new partnerships for Relevant, including expanding devotional content.

“All I ask for people who have been concerned or even skeptical hearing my voice is for the grace to walk this out,” Strang said. “I can’t snap my figures and make everything right; this is a long-term process of healing and restoration and reconciliation.”
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2020, 12:07:12 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/may-june/pregnancy-center-movement-shifts-pro-life-community.html





There’s a New Kind of Pregnancy Center on the Block








A new generation of Christian leaders is making the movement more effective by taking a broader look at community dynamics.


Savannah Marten is a pro-life activist who thinks like a missionary. When she became the director of the Pregnancy Center of Greater Toledo in 2016, she was frustrated by a suspicion that the community had no idea it existed. So she set up her office with trendy furniture and prints of hand-scripted Bible verses, then promptly left it.

“We can only show up and serve to the level that we understand the people that are walking through our doors,” Marten said. She took a roll of quarters to the local laundromat, started conversations with patrons, learned about the families in the neighborhood, and spread the word about the center.

She started church-hopping nearby. She networked with local organizations, connecting over shared concerns for Lucas County and offering to partner with them or serve on their boards. She worked with hospital systems to get the center direct scheduling access with more than a dozen ob-gyns, so pregnant clients could see obstetricians earlier in their pregnancies—a proven factor in combating infant mortality.

It’s been a few years, but Marten estimates she still spends about half of her working hours outside the center. Though she wasn’t new to pro-life advocacy or the pregnancy center movement when she took the director job, she was willing to listen to her community and try new strategies. That approach has been a crucial part of the center’s success—leading to a 22 percent jump in clients last year alone—and could be the key to making pregnancy centers more effective for a new generation.

The Pregnancy Center of Greater Toledo opened in 1984 as part of a wave of centers popping up all over the country in the decade or so following the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. After the landmark abortion ruling, “We started getting attacked by the pro-choice side saying, ‘You don’t care about women,’ ” said Roland Warren, current CEO of CareNet, one of the largest pregnancy center networks in the US. In response to the pushback, pro-life Christians shifted from protests and reaction to ministries and action.

Pregnancy centers—sometimes referred to as “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy resource centers”—became a big part of that response. Their original mission was profound but uncomplicated: to save babies. Philosophies differed back in the ’80s, and they still do. Some centers front evangelism, while some keep their faith affiliations in the background. Some offer certain medical services, but most rely on a volunteer-led counseling model.

Over the decades, these pregnancy centers—now numbering over 2,000 in the US, far more than abortion clinics—have served hundreds of thousands of women and babies despite outside scrutiny and legal challenges. Critics have accused them of being misleading (because they do not provide abortion referrals), coercive, or proselytizing. They’ve also borne the brunt of the criticism lobbied at the pro-life movement as a whole of having a singular focus on saving life in the womb rather than addressing the factors that lead to unplanned pregnancy in the first place.

The narrow focus was something that frustrated Angie Weszely and Denise Stein when they led a center in Chicago. The expectations resulted in too much baggage between the counselors and their clients. They saw well-meaning Christian volunteers stuck in the fog of their pro-life checklists: Is she going to keep the baby? Did we share the Four Spiritual Laws?

A wave of new leaders is realizing that some of the tried-and-true strategies for pregnancy centers—opening a gospel tract or printing a sonogram—might not be as effective as they or their predecessors assumed. As many directors in the founding generation retire, younger Christians have begun to test new methods to care for women and reduce the demand for abortion.

This shift could be partly out of necessity. Last year, a New Yorker investigation into rural pregnancy centers reported that as few as 4 percent of women who visited came for direction on whether to have their baby or abort. A majority, the magazine found, wanted social services and pregnancy testing, which are required to sign up for Medicaid.

Some centers are adapting their offerings, providing pregnancy testing, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, and even contraceptives. Others are sticking to pregnancy counseling but are adjusting their language and setup to cater to a different clientele.

The landscape has challenged the pregnancy center movement to take a closer look at its mission, at whether to prioritize spiritual salvation or abortion prevention, and at the lengths to which it should go to achieve either. On the abortion end, many Christians are looking upstream at factors that can throw a pregnancy into crisis: poverty, social isolation, insufficient medical care, and the lack of a committed partner.

Weszely and Stein cofounded a ministry, ProGrace, to separate abortion from politics—particularly the pro-life and pro-choice labels—and equip churches to support women in crisis pregnancies before they make their way to a clinic. Other Christian organizations, inspired by their convictions around life and family, are stepping in with resources beyond what a pregnancy center could offer.

Overall, the church’s response is becoming more strategic, holistic, and comprehensive—a community endeavor that extends far beyond a center itself.

Neighborhood Culture
In Toledo, it started with paint color.

When “a bunch of white, middle-aged women who don’t live in the neighborhoods” were making all the decisions, “it looked like Joanna Gaines had set up the center,” said Marten. “But what we were hearing from our clients was that it felt like a hospital.”

A stylish, fast-talking 30-something with a pixie cut and a wide smile, Marten wasn’t going to let culture clash keep the center from reaching women in need. She enlisted leaders from Toledo’s African American and Latina communities to serve on a cultural competency advisory committee.

Members agreed to a two-year term, during which they’d advise the center on everything from the decor to the paperwork. The advisers didn’t have to be Christian or even pro-life; they just had to understand that the center was both of those and be willing to help.

At their recommendation, the center now takes its design cues from the colorful murals in the neighborhood, and hardly two walls are the same color. The lobby is a peaceful forest green. One of the client rooms contains a giant, multicolored floral mural painted by students at Toledo School for the Arts. Others have neon modular furniture and inspirational prints on the walls (“You are an awesome woman!”).

The committee also advised the center to space out the chairs in its cozy lobby—women coming in who have lived in poverty often need to protect their personal space and could feel uneasy sitting so close to someone else. The center transitioned intake paperwork to mobile-friendly online forms and shifted the questions based on adviser feedback.

“We realized we were asking about the father of the baby before we were asking about rape and sexual abuse,” Marten said. The center’s intake paperwork now asks about abuse first. Marten said it helps counselors discern whether bringing up partner support or marriage is even appropriate or whether a counselor might instead encourage a woman to speak to police.

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The small changes are making a big difference. In 2019, the center saw a 22 percent jump in appointments, performed 200 additional ultrasounds, and increased attendance at parenting classes by 8 percent. A greater portion of its clientele came back for multiple visits, allowing the staff to foster deeper relationships—and providing more chances to show them the love of the gospel.

Over 500 women who came through the doors had a baby last year, and staff know of only 8 who went ahead with an abortion.

Marten is bringing what she has learned in Ohio to a national CareNet conference for the second time this year, urging fellow directors to consider adding their own cultural competency advisers.

Racial Biases in Health Care
Down in Dallas, Cessilye R. Smith began Abide Women’s Health Services with fellow women of color in mind. In an area south of downtown that some call South Dallas, some call Fair Park, and some, like Smith, call “the hood,” she has set out to extend the work of the pro-life pregnancy center movement by addressing infant and maternal mortality among women of color.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black babies in the US are nearly twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white babies, and African American and Native American women are nearly three times more likely to die than white mothers during pregnancy or after giving birth.

Combating racial biases in health care is Abide’s first priority, and Smith believes it needs to be a bigger part of the pregnancy center movement as a whole. She said when black women turn up at hospitals to deliver after not being able to see an obstetrician regularly throughout their pregnancies, doctors may make assumptions that affect their standard of care. For example, they may think that black moms aren’t as interested in nursing and not offer robust breastfeeding support, or that they suffer from addiction and reduce their pain meds.

Since Abide opened its doors in 2017, providing free childbirth classes, support groups for new moms, and breastfeeding education, 90 percent of its clients have been black or Hispanic. Most of the staff members are also women of color, and the 25 women who volunteered last year began with training in implicit bias and cultural humility and diversity.

Smith has shifted her own approach to pro-life activism. No longer does she repeat the statistics about black abortion rates. Instead, she points to the factors behind them and the racial disparities in care, advocating for maternal justice through Christian outlets like the And Campaign.

“When the public eye sees the pro-life movement fighting to end abortion without looking at the root, then you will always get the side-eye from the black community,” she explained to Catholic theologian and ethicist Charles Camosy.

Abide’s goal is to open a free maternal health clinic next year, then eventually a birthing center designed for women of color. In the meantime, Smith—whose home birth inspired her to become a doula—offers scholarships covering books, classes, and even bills to black students who want to become licensed midwives. The involvement of midwives and doulas (non-medical labor assistants) correlates with better birth outcomes, but women of color are far less likely to access such support. Black and Hispanic women currently make up less than 5 percent of licensed midwives in the United States.

Care Past Nine Months
Tammy Abernathy also has a personal connection to the women she sets out to serve at Hope Women’s Center in Phoenix. After raising her own children as a single mom, she got involved in the ministry to offer better support to women in similar situations.

In 2013, she took the helm of a network of four regional centers as they moved away from the medical offerings emphasized by others in the movement (think ultrasound techs and doctor referrals) to provide a broader range of counseling support instead.

“Women were coming with so many other coexisting things they were dealing with,” Abernathy said.

Her team is trained in trauma-informed care and works with women and teen girls who are dealing with poverty, domestic abuse, and unintended pregnancy—often all at once. Hope’s broader scope means Abernathy sees a higher percentage of clients return for ongoing support than she did in her previous work at a more traditional pregnancy center, she said.

Hope is part of the ProGrace network, which focuses on long-term outreach, so that women have a place to go both during and after a pregnancy.

ProGrace founders Weszely and Stein partner eager churches with pregnancy centers. They are clear about their convictions: While the organization does not advocate for abortion, stating that “God’s design for pregnancy was to intertwine a woman and a child,” they believe that “for the church to be a safe place, Christians need a way to respond that is outside of the debate,” Weszely said.

For churches, that means pastors must acknowledge that women within their congregations are intimately familiar with abortion—it’s not just something that happens “outside” the church—and that Christians who oppose abortion not look to politics as the only fix. For centers affiliated with ProGrace, that means no “pro-life” or “pro-choice” talk, no marches, no endorsing candidates. For Abernathy, the ProGrace paradigm allows her to focus on the women in her centers rather than on the surrounding politics, she said.

The Evangelism Question
Evangelicalism has historically dominated the pregnancy center landscape, and the vast majority of today’s centers are affiliated with Protestant networks and churches. But even among Christian centers that share core beliefs, networks can have different approaches to when and how to incorporate the gospel.

CareNet, with its network of more than 1,130 Christian pregnancy centers, uses the mantra of being not just pro-life but “pro-abundant life.” Its leaders want to see families transformed through their relationship with God and the church. Yet affiliates are not required to share the gospel with each client. The hope is that it would come up organically.

There are no Christian symbols or Bible verses in the public spaces of Marten’s center in Toledo. But her office is full of them (“Be Still and Know That I Am God,” a print above her desk proclaims). Her conversations are peppered with Scripture in a way that sounds less like a script and more like wisdom she received from a friend.

“The gospel is so ingrained into everything we do,” she said. “But for us, the form is just as important as the message.” Marten shares CareNet’s philosophy: Don’t start by opening a tract. Start by meeting the women.

The same goes for another network, Heartbeat International. Its 2,500 affiliates list relationship building as a prerequisite for sharing the gospel, training volunteers to first “listen and learn.”

On the other side of the debate is Hope National, an association started by National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) cofounders Jim and Pat Dundas. The Hope National manual reads: “It has been the instruction in some pregnancy center volunteer training programs to make the gospel of secondary importance and/or practice in counseling the client. This is in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ.”

In certain circumstances, focusing on evangelism can cost pregnancy centers federal funding through the Title X Family Planning Program at a time when more are looking to partner with state programs for maternal health. Some Title X centers violate the Dundases’ approach in order to comply with federal guidelines: They wait until after a client’s intake visit to ask permission to share the gospel.

Faith in the Background
Whether centers prioritize evangelism informs other aspects of their operation, including offering contraception. Christian pregnancy center networks have traditionally avoided doing so, worrying that it implicitly endorses sex outside of marriage. But some, stepping in as alternatives to Planned Parenthood, believe it allows them to reach more women.

The Source, a network of eight Christian pregnancy centers in Texas, made headlines late last year when it announced it would offer hormonal and other birth controls at its centers.

The Source CEO Andy Schoonover said the strategy is meant to reduce unplanned pregnancies (and thereby reduce the demand for abortion). “Women who are sexually active and not using contraceptives are approximately eight times more likely to have an abortion than those who are using contraceptives,” he said, citing CDC data.

The network also sees offering contraceptives as a way to establish relationships with women in their local communities.

“If they don’t get it from us, they will go somewhere else to get it,” Schoonover said. “Do we want to develop and maintain that relationship with the patient or would we prefer a different organization, which is more than likely not ideologically aligned, develop that relationship?”

In New York City, where the abortion is rate is double the average of the rest of the country, a pregnancy center called Avail strategically distances itself from evangelical pressures and expectations. Avail calls itself a nonprofit “with a Christian orientation” but says its goal is to offer a supportive place for women to take a breath and make a decision—not be swayed toward or away from a certain outcome.

“If you are facing an unexpected pregnancy, you may fear being judged or pressured,” Avail’s website reads. “At Avail, you will find the opposite. Our staff and volunteers strive to treat others the way they would want to be treated and are non-judgmental, respectful, and supportive.” The strategy is meant to make women in what could be the most progressive, pro-choice city in the country feel welcome walking in. (The ProGrace team gave an in-person training session at Avail last year.)

At its Times Square office space, Avail also invites men to participate in the decision-making process around unintended pregnancies, with male counselors to meet with one on one as well as options for support after an abortion. It’s an approach also being used nationwide through CareNet, which now offers outreach for men at 65 percent of its centers. After its research found that the biggest influence on a woman’s decision about abortion is often the man who got her pregnant, CareNet’s Joseph Project partnered with the National Fatherhood Initiative to engage more men in parenting classes and mentoring.

Abortions Next Door
The Pregnancy Center of Greater Toledo also runs an after-abortion counseling center called the Haven House. Like the center, the Haven is eager to work with its neighbors—even though it’s next door to Toledo’s only remaining abortion clinic, with just a narrow parking strip between them.

Others may not have the same situation with location, but it’s easy for Christians in pro-life ministries to feel surrounded by the abortion-rights movement. Abortion clinics are closing at record rates, but Americans are becoming more vocal in their support of abortion itself.

Some pro-life activists have concentrated their efforts on the legal space or on protesting around the remaining clinics. But like those who launched their movement in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, pregnancy center leaders today feel a deep calling to make a difference in the lives of women who could find themselves facing unintended pregnancies and desperate for assistance.

They want to do more than bring a woman in and show her an ultrasound or offer a gospel tract. (Most clients, Marten points out, are moms already and know the reality of the beating heart inside them.) Ministries are asking these women bigger questions like “What do you need?” and are stepping in to help.

The pregnancy center movement increasingly isn’t only about the baby, or even the baby and the mom, but about the whole family, neighborhood, and community.

Every once in a while in Toledo, an unwitting woman comes into the Haven to check in for her abortion appointment next door. In the interest of honesty and maintaining a positive relationship with the abortion clinic, Haven staff reluctantly redirect these women to the building across the parking lot.

“But we also tell them we don’t believe they walked through our doors by accident,” said Marten, who has made some inroads in pro-choice circles and was given a woman of the month award last year by a feminist group in Toledo.

Before the mistaken woman leaves the Haven for her appointment, she is asked if she wants to talk about anything and is invited back.

Marten and her team pray earnestly to meet her again. They pray they’ve done enough to earn her trust. And, like pregnancy center workers past and present, they grieve over every lost baby and every forever-changed woman.










Maria Baer is a contributing writer for CT and is based in Columbus, Ohio.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2020, 02:14:52 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/may/darrin-patrick-died-seacoast-journey-st-louis-acts-29.html






Died: Darrin Patrick, Who Used His Fall and Restoration to Help Struggling Pastors






(UPDATED) The St. Louis pastor spoke up about the difficulties faced by leaders and critiqued “celebrity culture” in ministry.


Darrin Patrick, a megachurch pastor, author, and speaker, has died.

Patrick was a teaching pastor at Seacoast Church, a multi-site megachurch based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and the founding pastor of the Journey Church in St. Louis, where he lived.

In a Friday evening update, Seacoast Church stated: “Darrin was target shooting with a friend at the time of his death. An official cause of death has not been released but it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No foul play is suspected.”

Patrick’s unexpected death came as a shock to friends and colleagues. Robby Gallaty, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist, in Hendersonville, Tennessee, said that Patrick was scheduled to speak at his church next weekend.

“I just talked to him Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Gallaty. “This is the second close friend I have lost in a year.”

Gallaty first met Patrick in 2015 and had invited him to speak the following year at a men’s ministry event at Long Hollow. Just before the event, he said, Patrick called and said he was leaving the ministry.

At the time, Patrick had been a rising star among Reformed evangelical circles and was serving as vice-president of the Acts 29 church planting network. He was fired from Journey for what church elders called misconduct including “inappropriate meetings, conversations, and phone calls with two women” and an abuse of power.

Despite Patrick’s fall from ministry, the two stayed friends. Patrick admitted his faults and got counseling. He went through a restoration process that lasted 26 months, according to a 2019 blog interview posted at Christianity Today. He returned to the ministry as a preacher but not as a senior pastor of a church.

“You generally don’t see guys bounce back,” said Gallaty.

Gallaty said his friend was “passionate about the Lord” and about helping people grow and overcome adversity and that he will be missed. His sudden passing has hit Gallaty hard.

Last fall he lost his friend, Jarrid Wilson, a pastor and mental health advocate, who took his own life. Now another friend is gone.

“These are two friends who have sat at my dining table,” he said. “Now both are gone.”

Gallaty said pastors are great at helping other people but often don’t know what to do when they struggle. They try to keep up appearances, he said, and try to handle their struggles on their own.

“We don’t feel like we can ask for help,” Gallaty said.

Chris Surratt, a Nashville-based ministry consultant and coach, heard about Patrick’s passing through a late-night text from his brother, Greg, who is pastor at Seacoast.

“My answer was, ‘oh, no,’” said Surratt.

The two met not long after Patrick was ousted from his church and became friends. Both were from St. Louis and had planned this month to go to a St. Louis Cardinals game together before Major League Baseball put its season on hold. Patrick had once been a chaplain for the team and was a longtime fan.

“He was one of those guys I could reach out to when I need someone to talk to,” he said. “He was just a good guy.”

Bob Oesch, a member of Journey Church, said that Patrick had been a great help to him. Despite his failings, Patrick’s influence in St. Louis can still be seen, he said.

“He was good at recognizing leaders and freeing people to lead out of their own strengths,” said Oesch, who 15 years ago, with Patrick’s support, started an innovative program called Theology at the Bottleworks, a monthly discussion group at a local microbrewery. He continues to run it today.

Oesch recalled that Patrick would often ask people who “lived without God in their lives”: “How’s that working for you?”

“And that was a great way of getting people to see the value of putting God in their lives,” Oesch said. “I still call it ‘the Darrin question.’”

Recently, Oesch said he was watching a Journey member’s backyard concert on Instagram—as has become popular during this time of social distancing—when he saw that Patrick had also tuned in. The two exchanged greetings.

“Glad I did,” said Oesch.

Patrick talked about losing his church in a podcast interview that was published this week. He talked about being part of a group of young pastors who became celebrities with book deals, speaking gigs, fame and money but little spiritual maturity.

“It was a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Patrick said his early success led to an obsession with keeping up his image rather than his soul.

“I was spending a lot of energy creating and sustaining my image,” he told podcast host Charles Smith. “It’s so subtle; I am trying to influence people for the gospel — you have to have a social media presence, you have to speak at conferences.”

Patrick said he eventually became isolated from many of his friends when he was pastoring Journey Church.

“I stopped pursuing friendships,” he said. “Another way to say that, I stopped being known. And that was the beginning of the end.”

In the years since his fall, Patrick said he'd spent a great deal of time trying to rebuild friendships. As part of his restoration plan, Patrick also said he apologized to people he had hurt as a pastor.

“Another very impactful part of the plan was the privilege to sit in front of dozens of people, honestly regarding how I had hurt them, and being able to apologize specifically for my sin,” he said in a 2019 interview. “Though incredibly painful, I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to do that.”

Seacoast Church announced Partick's passing in a statement on Friday, calling him a “loved member of the Seacoast family, the teaching team, and pastoral staff.”

“God allowed Seacoast to be a part of Darrin’s story in a time when he needed a family," the statement read. “He was a gift to us and we are thankful for the time the Lord gave him to us. His influence and impact cannot be measured. We are surrounding the Patrick family with our prayers and support during this time.”

Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, said he talked to Patrick, a longtime friend, a few weeks ago. They were hatching plans to work together in the future, said Stetzer.

“His last text to me was, ‘let’s do something together,’” said Stetzer.













Stetzer interviewed Patrick and his wife, Amie, and his spiritual mentor, Greg Surratt, about Patrick’s fall and restoration for his blog in 2019. He said Patrick wanted to tell his story so people could learn from his mistakes.

“No failure is ever a success story. But it can be a redemption story. That’s what Darrin wanted people to know.”
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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 - May 2020
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2020, 02:18:22 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/may/remembering-darrin-pastors-mental-health.html







Darrin Patrick’s Death, His Love for Pastors, and How We Need One Another





Darrin’s death is not the last word on his life. His love for pastors—and his concern for their mental health and thriving—can be part of our response today.


Darrin Patrick has died.

Darrin is probably best known for planting The Journey Church in St. Louis in 2002, eventually growing to six locations. He was a husband, father, speaker, and author.

Darrin and his spiritual mentor Greg Surratt led the Pastor's Collective podcast and he was serving as a teaching pastor at Seacoast Church.

But, most importantly, Darrin was married to Amie and they have four children.

Darrin’s Journey and Focus

Darrin was very open about his journey—and specifically asked me to help share his story a little over a year ago. His story of leaving the Journey is painful and messy, but he wanted people to know about it.

He wanted people to learn from his pain.

Darrin died from a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.” I know that has caused some people to want more details—to use language that is more precise and to provide added details. And, as you can tell from the statement, the situation is confusing. Seacoast Church shared, ““Darrin was target shooting with a friend at the time of his death. An official cause of death has not been released but it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No foul play is suspected.”

Thus, it is important to let families communicate the way they are comfortable. Families grieve in complex ways—and right now, they owe nothing to the rest of us. We just owe them our prayers.

The family is grieving and I am respecting their grief and their communication choices.

And, from there, I am going to take Darrin’s admonition from a year ago and fast forward it until now—hoping that even this moment might be a catalyst for pastors to get help that Darrin always wanted them to get.

Darrin and I talked recently and his last text to me (after our call) says, “Let’s do something together!!”

I focused on those two exclamation points for some reason while I cried. We talked about caring for pastors and he ended our conversations with the enthusiasm he often had, particularly as he cared for pastors.

He ended with those exclamation points.

!!

Our Friendship

The journey of our friendship was both fun and life-giving.

We would laugh that our early friendship led to a motion to investigate me from the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention. We were in a fight back then, and battles often bring people together. It did then, but that was not the last battle we’d walk through. Years later, we sat and cried together in a St. Louis restaurant after his removal from The Journey Church.

We talked a lot. We cried together more than once.

Since learning of his death, I’ve cried. A lot.

And, I remembered what Darrin’s passion was—helping pastors in hard times. His death has been hard for many of us, coupled with the stress and pain of the times we are in.

So, I’ve thought about pastors and church leaders who are struggling with burnout and mental illness and isolation. A lot.

The only thing I can think of to do right now is to do what Darrin dedicated his last few years to do—to press on through the pain, helping all of us remember that our pastors are not immune to stress, burnout, and mental health issues. To honor Darrin, I want to remind all of us that we don’t have to walk this journey alone.

Do not think his final moment is the last word on his life. He cared about pastors and his death reminds me that we need to care about them as well.

Pastors and leaders are struggling. Many of those pastors and leaders keep silent in their struggles for the sake of their churches, their families, or (at times) even their own pride. Whatever the reason, too many of our leaders are simply not finding the care and resources they need. Many seem to have it all together—but they don’t.

I don’t—and as I write this through tear-clouded eyes, I am guessing you don’t either.

The reality, though, is that our pastors are people who hurt, too, and who don’t have it all together.

And the devastating reality is that the struggles that many have with burnout and mental health are compounded by the COVID-19 crisis. We feel more alone than ever.

To honor Darrin, let me share two important truths I want our churches and leaders to implement immediately and embrace wholly.

First, don’t always believe what you see.

It may seem like your pastor or leaders have it all together. But it’s important to remember that we can’t assume anything. In 2002, Darrin planted The Journey Church, which experienced remarkable growth and launched a number of multisite campuses. But in 2016, he was confronted by the elders of that church.

You might ask, “Why tell that now?” Well, because Darrin asked me to, and I walked through some of that pain right here on The Exchange. You can read more of Darrin’s story here, Amie’s story here, and Greg’s story here. He wanted these published and we walked through them together.

Darrin wanted his pain to help you.

To help me.

The truth is that pastors and leaders have daily struggles that are constantly pressing on them. This comes in the form of taking care of themselves spiritually, emotionally, and physically, as well as caring for their churches and staff they lead. Many also feel pressures from family and friends. And most caring burdens of others who confide in them to a degree that many of us cannot fathom.

Like all of us, Darrin still struggled. We talked some about those struggles—his and mine, actually.

If you think your pastor is okay, make sure. Keep asking and praying. Offer opportunities for retreat and for spiritual care. How can your pastor or leader have accountability and support? Mentorship and care? Never assume.

Second, make soul care a priority.

I understand that our churches are under pressure to balance a number of priorities—discipleship of our people, solid teaching, good worship, thriving small group ministries, our children and youth, our outreach, hospitality… the list goes on.

But, to be frank, a church is only as healthy as its leaders. When our leaders suffer, we all suffer. Last year the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center hosted the GC2 Summit on leadership, burnout, and mental health. (You can see the sessions here.)

I know in Covid years that was a long time ago, but it was just five months back, and we were talking about the struggle and pain that pastors walk through.

That GC2 summit on pastors and mental health sold out. If you weren’t there, I wish you could have felt the energy in the room. Our pastors need care. Many are burned out or on the edge of burnout. Many face challenges in their leadership teams and in their congregations.

And, then Covid came and it got worse.

Darrin would want us not just to know that but to do something about it. And, caring for pastors is what Darrin and I talked about in our last phone call, the follow up text I shared earlier.

Pastors are not immune and do not have to be alone

Darrin would want you to know that, especially during this season of more isolation, we must press into caring for our pastors. It cannot be optional. Here at the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, we have partnered to launch the Resilient Church Leadership initiative because we see a growing wave of burnout and pastoral crises.

Darrin openly shared about his struggles, and in a sense he represents thousands of other pastors and leaders who are struggling. How can our churches prioritize caring for these leaders? Let’s make caring for leadership a high priority.

I cried more on Friday than I have in many years. I cried again today.

When I told Donna, we remembered the last time we went to dinner, the four of us, and laughed about the Enneagram and our kids. And, we talked about the struggles we all had.

Now, I cry for the end of a faithful, joyful, and authentic life. And I cried for the church. God’s church.

Let’s press forward together as God’s family, caring well for those who shepherd us well as though they were our very own family. Because they are.

Darrin, I love you, friend. I hope this counts as doing something together.












Ed Stetzer leads the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. The WCBGC has partnered to create ResilientChurchLeadership.com. Laurie Nichols and The Exchange team contibuted to this article.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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 - May 2020
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2020, 02:22:09 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/may-web-only/coronavirus-pandemic-hits-americans-spiritually-weak.html






This Pandemic Hits Americans Where We’re Spiritually Weak






Our cultural values are making us sad: money, mortality, and fear of missing out.


In a video chat last night, a friend admitted, “I’ve been crying a lot, and I’m not sure why.” COVID-19 has given us many reasons to weep. We’re out of our routines, the stock market has plunged, and we imagine millions dying. This virus and economic crisis punch us squarely where our spiritual armor is weakest: mortality, money, and our fear of missing out.

In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul distinguishes between two kinds of sorrow—a sorrow that “leads to death,” and a “godly sorrow.” The latter “brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (v. 10). Godly sorrow, he writes, produces “earnestness,” eagerness to repent, and a “longing” and “readiness to see justice done” (v. 11). The question the church faces now is which kind of sorrow COVID-19 will bring.

We are in the midst of the most widespread societal upheaval that many people alive today have ever experienced. Already our institutions, habits, relationships, and culture are shifting before our eyes. Frank M. Snowden, author of Epidemics and Society, shared with the New Yorker, “Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are.” The question we are facing is not whether we will experience sorrow and change; the question is how. As biblical prophets walked with people through catastrophes, their advice was never to just endure until it ends. Instead they focused on proactively changing relationships with each other and with God.

As a cultural anthropologist who grew up in a middle-class white United States home and then lived for much of my adult life in Nicaragua, China, and South Africa, I study the ways cultures adapt and change. Social scientists dub people like me WEIRD—Western and educated, from industrialized, rich, and democratic countries. My home culture is especially weird compared to much of the Majority World in our responses to loss and unpredictability. Yes, we WEIRD people have much that will help us against the coronavirus—well-funded research labs, hospitals, and democracy. But dealing with financial, mortal, and daily uncertainties is not our strong suit. This current upheaval slams us up against some of our deepest lies and idols. It demands strong muscles that many of us have let atrophy. Identifying how our culture has left us poorly prepared for this can move us toward the kind of sorrow that produces repentance and justice.

Mortality and the myth of perpetual productivity
In America we learn that we are what we do. We treat those who aren’t productive, young, or fashionable as not worth our attention. Everything in us has been taught to recoil at two of the most pressing realities of COVID-19: lost productivity and dying people.

In middle-class white America, introductions nearly always involve the question “What do you do?” Jobs, college majors, and contributions to an ever-churning productive economy come to define who we are. I have been taught to love schedules, precision, and hard work. Time is our commodity to use or save, not waste or spend. Economists account for human value by measuring wages and the goods we produce, and this seeps into everyday thinking.

Meanwhile, we idolize youth and treat death as the final failure. “No one in America ever looks forward to growing old,” anthropologists Lowell Holmes and Ellen Rhodes Holmes write in an anthropological analysis of American culture. Our magazines, advertisements, and media portray young people as productive, important, and beautiful. Youth are people who matter. As theologian and social worker Joyce Ann Mercer points out, we find it “almost impossible to imagine what vocation means or what forms it might take in older adulthood.” In a culture that shows little regard for the aging or the otherwise seemingly unproductive, COVID-19 forces us to re-account for their value as we face losing them.

In our glorification of youth, we recoil from death. In Nicaragua, I remember learning that someone died when a woman ran past our home wailing with grief. In South Africa at the height of the AIDS pandemic in 2006, a friend told me she had attended a funeral every week for nearly a year. I believe I have attended only two funerals in ten years. In many parts of the world, mourning is a public event, wrapped in widely shared rituals of care. In such cultures, death is still unwelcome, but unlike in my culture, death is familiar and shared in community.

For people who have learned to avoid death and rest at all costs, how might this pandemic lead us to a godly sorrow of repentance? The Christian view of rest and death is radically different from what pervades our culture. Theologian Norman Wirzba writes that “Sabbath is not an optional reprieve in the midst of an otherwise frantic or obsessive life. It is the goal of all existence.” COVID-19 is bringing some people long hours, others temporary waiting, and others layoffs. All need the message that work does not define us. We are made also to rest. The prophet Jeremiah told Israel that for all the time they had refused to practice Sabbath rest, disaster would force rest upon them (2 Chron. 36:21). Are we pushed now into receiving the rest we have neglected to give ourselves?

Death, our final rest, is also not an enemy to fear. In the context of telling his disciples “Do not worry about your life,” Jesus reminded them that God cares even for the grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, and all the more for humans (Matt. 6:25, 30). We do not escape worry by ignoring death, but by facing it with Christ. Accepting godly sorrow in this time might mean learning from experts like medical doctor Atul Gawande about how to start conversations about mortality. Rather than cling desperately to longevity, we can ask God for the life that is truly life. That life includes receiving rest even now.

Money and the expectation of human progress
An estimated $3.6 trillion disappeared in one week as the stock market collapsed. The impact will be felt most not by stockholders but by those at the bottom of social ladders through layoffs, closed nonprofit organizations, and evictions.

Our sorrow as the market crashes is not just about lost money. Americans are not so much addicted to money as we are addicted to progress. Social scientists agree that the narrative of time as a steady movement toward an ever-better future is deeply influential in Western cultures. “The constant pursuit of material wealth is not so much a desire to have things for their own value as to provide evidence for one’s friends and neighbors that one is succeeding and getting ahead,” write anthropologists Holmes and Holmes. This economic crisis strikes fear not just because we imagine layoffs and homelessness (which might motivate us to genuine concern for neighbors) but because our narrative of relentless human betterment is destabilized. Suddenly we find that things are not getting better.

We believe this metanarrative of a perpetually improving future not because God works that way but because we tell ourselves that human-made technology works that way. Since the industrial revolution and the Enlightenment, Western people have grown to trust in human innovation and the upward trend of capitalist growth. We expect economic prosperity because humans will make it so.

The economic pattern of most of the Bible is not upward growth. More often, prosperity comes and goes in cycles or sudden interventions. In the metanarrative of the Bible, God oversees the rise and fall of civilizations. Individuals and societies thrive not because their cleverness mitigates all risk, but by the gracious care of God. Human innovation has an important role to play in coping with COVID-19, but the pandemic has also exposed our over-reliance on human ingenuity for protection.

Godly sorrow as we face the lie of human-made progress will mean remembering the source of Christian hope. Many Americans traveling to the Majority World incorporate “hope” into organizational names like “building hope” and “bringing new hope.” Over the years, though, I have learned that my Majority World brothers and sisters often have the kind of hope that comes of suffering, endurance, and character (Rom. 5:3–5). Hope I grew up with was often an imitation built of privilege, a thriving economy, and a modernist narrative of progress. Living paycheck to paycheck or with no paycheck has the potential to produce hope that is like gold refined by fire (Rev. 3:18). The hope we need now will be built on a God who meets the desperate.

Fear of missing out and human attempts at authenticity
The past weeks brought a flood of emails reading “canceled.” Losing these activities hurts not just because we will miss seeing friends or keeping busy but because our culture teaches us that these activities make us us. Long before the coronavirus, we were living in an epidemic of what Harvard Business School writer Patrick McGinnis dubbed FOMO: fear of missing out.

The cultural commentator David Brooks diagnoses this condition using Kierkegaard’s term “the aesthetic life.” A person in this aesthetic lifestyle lives to “rack up experiences,” becoming “eventually paralyzed by self-consciousness.” “You tell yourself that relationships really matter to you—scheduling drinks, having lunch—but after you’ve had twenty social encounters in a week you forget what all those encounters are supposed to build to.” As we consume both purchases and activities, we have what theologian William Cavanaugh calls a detachment problem. Rather than being too attached to the stuff we buy, we are too quick to discard what matters. We gorge ourselves on activities and products, ever eager to have what’s next.

Many cultural analysts have pointed out that American consumption is fueled by a desire to prove who we are. Whether filling our lives with stuff or activity, we are “concerned primarily with what other people of our social position or age-set have, think, or do,” according to anthropologists Holmes and Holmes. Tim Keller and others note that Westerners use consumption and activity to claim and display their “authentic self.” In contrast to much of the world, Americans use consumption rather than tradition or family as a primary source of identity. Historian Meic Pearse writes in Why the Rest Hates the West, “Only an abundance of riches such as no previous generation has known could possibly console us for the emptiness of our lives, the absence of stable families and relationships, and the lack of any overarching purpose.”

As we give up sports tournaments, concerts, parties, and coffee dates, we are not just missing opportunities to see friends; we are destabilizing our sense of identity and purpose. According to Richard Rohr, fear of death often reveals an even deeper fear of never having really lived. The combination of a novel virus plus canceled activities means we have to face that fear.

What does godly sorrow look like in the face of FOMO? Now can be a time to recognize what makes life good. Have we sought the good life by chasing ever newer and greater experiences? Are we striving to craft some truly authentic self by what we buy and do? Now is a time to stop spending money and labor on what does not satisfy. Instead this is a time to learn to receive from God “what is good,” that “your soul will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:2).

As we confront the ways this pandemic has caught us spiritually unprepared, there is no promise that we will feel any less sorrow. But we do determine what this sorrow will produce. In this time of cultural upheaval, our shared sorrow has the potential to spread repentance. Now is the time to replace our reliance on productivity, progress, and social standing with a longing and readiness to see justice done.














Christine Jeske is a professor of cultural anthropology at Wheaton College. She is the author of three books, including the forthcoming The Laziness Myth (Cornell).
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2020, 02:25:31 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/may-web-only/mothers-day-good-advise-skip-mommy-blogs-look-to-christ.html






For Good Mothering Advice, Skip the Mommy Blogs and Look to Christ








Parenting children requires a rich understanding of God’s nature.


Mothers today face an onslaught of mixed messages about how best to parent in the 21st century. Podcasts, blogs, and books on mommy-ing abound, but many of them indulge regularly in shallow parenting advice and fallacies about excessive self-care or “me-time.”

In the midst of the coronavirus quarantine, moms on social media often advise diametrically opposed strategies: Take regular mental health breaks while your children gorge on Netflix, or schedule out every minute of children’s at-home education so they don’t fall behind in productivity. The message seems to be either “love yourself first” or “pour all your energy into your children’s future.”

Neither side answers the more important question: How do we mother like Jesus Christ during this particular cultural moment? In the words of an overused adage, “What would Jesus do?”

In Motherhood: A Confession, Natalie Carnes, associate professor of theology at Baylor University, attempts to answer this question by sharing her personal experience of raising three daughters. She follows the structure and style of Augustine’s autobiography, Confessions, and elevates the conversation about motherhood from the self-centered to the spiritual without ever losing touch with the beauty of the ordinary. Part memoir and part theological study, Motherhood: A Confession explores “how motherhood, infancy, and children disclose what it means to be human in relation to the divine.”

Carnes’s core argument is that mothering imitates God. We birth forth disciples, hand down tradition, and grow our children into the church. By knowing the maternal attributes of God, we better mother our own children, and we also discover how the concept and practice of motherhood fuels a flourishing body of Christ.

In Scripture, God refers to himself as “the God who gave you birth” (Deut. 32:18), and in Isaiah, he compares himself to a nursing mother (Isa. 49:15). In the New Testament, Jesus adopts this metaphor for himself when he speaks to Jerusalem: “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matt. 23:37). Throughout church tradition, too, Christian writers from Origen to Bonaventure have drawn theological insight from imagining God as our mother.

We also find Jesus using birthing imagery to talk about salvation: “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). Although preachers and biblical scholars are familiar with this birthing metaphor, they rarely dwell on its significance. Carnes offers a corrective by meditating on what this metaphor means for discipleship and what it reveals about God’s nature. Whereas the early church dramatized this birth image with baptismal fonts shaped like wombs, in the contemporary church, “women and children have remained largely absent from talk of divinity and humanity,” writes Carnes. “But what if their lives were taken as significant sites for theological work?”

If motherhood reveals God’s divine nature, it also reveals our own humanity. Many of us who’ve read Augustine’s Confessions relates to the fourth-century bishop not because of his portrait of holiness but because he authentically relays his struggle with ordering his often disordered loves—sexual desires, pride in his intellect and accomplishments, and the like. So, too, Carnes bares herself before her reader.

When she writes about how motherhood has divided her will in “an unhealable way,” I feel as though she’s telling my story and that of many other women like me. “I yearn for you, but I feel the pull of my work,” she confesses to her daughter. “I have only the episodic negotiations of my divided self [and] I am forced to face my limitations of time and energy.”

Although the enigmas of motherhood and work are left mostly unanswered in the book (as they should be), Carnes offers robust insights into the practice of Christian parenting. If we are to mother like Christ, she says, we must prepare our children “for a cruciform life.” Although it’s tempting to make parenting an end in itself—are we sleep training well, potty training right, educating successfully, raising good citizens, and training moral, upright individuals?—we need to direct our attention to the Cross. Our children belong first and foremost to God, as we all do. The God who bore us into existence also became “as an infinitesimal zygote,” showing how we mothers will become children again to our children. “As we age,” writes Carnes, “we all become our daughter’s daughters.”

The cruciform life is humbling, even humiliating, as we who are currently in authority over our children will someday become needy of their care. In the meantime, we teach our children to pray “not my will, but yours” (Luke 22:42) by first praying this prayer ourselves. We get on our knees and remember that God is the primary parent to us all. He “mothers us to life,” says Carnes, and draws us toward “the expectant Mother Church [that] labors for us all to reborn as little christs.”

By renewing our understanding of God’s maternal qualities, Carnes hopes to help us be better parents, yes. But ultimately, she wants to “help fashion the church’s imagination” to better love the Lord. That is God’s deepest desire for us. As mothers, it’s also our deepest desire for our own children.















Jessica Hooten Wilson is an associate professor of humanities at John Brown University and the author of three books, Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky; Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence; and Reading Walker Percy’s Novels.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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 - May 2020
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2020, 10:31:20 pm »
I really do have to agree with this article.  Motherhood like fatherhood should have God as part of it.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2020, 08:44:57 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/may/remembering-darrin-pastors-mental-health.html






Darrin Patrick’s Death, His Love for Pastors, and How We Need One Another






Darrin’s death is not the last word on his life. His love for pastors—and his concern for their mental health and thriving—can be part of our response today.


Darrin Patrick has died.

Darrin is probably best known for planting The Journey Church in St. Louis in 2002, eventually growing to six locations. He was a husband, father, speaker, and author.

But, most importantly, Darrin was married to Amie and they have four children.

Darrin and his spiritual mentor Greg Surratt led the Pastor's Collective podcast and he was serving as a teaching pastor at Seacoast Church.

Darrin was very open about his journey—and specifically asked me to help share his story a little over a year ago. His story of leaving the Journey is painful and messy, but he wanted people to know about it.

He wanted people to learn from his pain.

Darrin died from a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.” I know that has caused some people to want more details—to use language that is more precise and to provide added details. And, as you can tell from the statement, the situation is confusing. Seacoast Church shared, ““Darrin was target shooting with a friend at the time of his death. An official cause of death has not been released but it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No foul play is suspected.”

Thus, it is important to let families communicate the way they are comfortable. Families grieve in complex ways—and right now, they owe nothing to the rest of us. We just owe them our prayers.

The family is grieving and I am respecting their grief and their communication choices.

And, from there, I am going to take Darrin’s admonition from a year ago and fast forward it until now—hoping that even this moment might be a catalyst for pastors to get help that Darrin always wanted them to get.

Darrin and I talked recently and his last text to me (after our call) says, “Let’s do something together!!”

I focused on those two exclamation points for some reason while I cried. We talked about caring for pastors and he ended our conversations with the enthusiasm he often had, particularly as he cared for pastors.

He ended with those exclamation points.

!!

Our Friendship

The journey of our friendship was both fun and life-giving.

We would laugh that our early friendship led to a motion to investigate me from the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention. We were in a fight back then, and battles often bring people together. It did then, but that was not the last battle we’d walk through. Years later, we sat and cried together in a St. Louis restaurant after his removal from The Journey Church.

We talked a lot. We cried together more than once.

Since learning of his death, I’ve cried. A lot.

And, I remembered what Darrin’s passion was—helping pastors in hard times. His death has been hard for many of us, coupled with the stress and pain of the times we are in.

So, I’ve thought about pastors and church leaders who are struggling with burnout and mental illness and isolation. A lot.

The only thing I can think of to do right now is to do what Darrin dedicated his last few years to do—to press on through the pain, helping all of us remember that our pastors are not immune to stress, burnout, and mental health issues. To honor Darrin, I want to remind all of us that we don’t have to walk this journey alone.

Do not think his final moment is the last word on his life. He cared about pastors and his death reminds me that we need to care about them as well.

Pastors and leaders are struggling. Many of those pastors and leaders keep silent in their struggles for the sake of their churches, their families, or (at times) even their own pride. Whatever the reason, too many of our leaders are simply not finding the care and resources they need. Many seem to have it all together—but they don’t.

I don’t—and as I write this through tear-clouded eyes, I am guessing you don’t either.

The reality, though, is that our pastors are people who hurt, too, and who don’t have it all together.

And the devastating reality is that the struggles that many have with burnout and mental health are compounded by the COVID-19 crisis. We feel more alone than ever.

To honor Darrin, let me share two important truths I want our churches and leaders to implement immediately and embrace wholly.

First, don’t always believe what you see.

It may seem like your pastor or leaders have it all together. But it’s important to remember that we can’t assume anything. In 2002, Darrin planted The Journey Church, which experienced remarkable growth and launched a number of multisite campuses. But in 2016, he was confronted by the elders of that church.

You might ask, “Why tell that now?” Well, because Darrin asked me to, and I walked through some of that pain right here on The Exchange. You can read more of Darrin’s story here, Amie’s story here, and Greg’s story here. He wanted these published and we walked through them together.

Darrin wanted his pain to help you.

To help me.

The truth is that pastors and leaders have daily struggles that are constantly pressing on them. This comes in the form of taking care of themselves spiritually, emotionally, and physically, as well as caring for their churches and staff they lead. Many also feel pressures from family and friends. And most caring burdens of others who confide in them to a degree that many of us cannot fathom.

Like all of us, Darrin still struggled. We talked some about those struggles—his and mine, actually.

If you think your pastor is okay, make sure. Keep asking and praying. Offer opportunities for retreat and for spiritual care. How can your pastor or leader have accountability and support? Mentorship and care? Never assume.

Second, make soul care a priority.

I understand that our churches are under pressure to balance a number of priorities—discipleship of our people, solid teaching, good worship, thriving small group ministries, our children and youth, our outreach, hospitality… the list goes on.

But, to be frank, a church is only as healthy as its leaders. When our leaders suffer, we all suffer. Last year the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center hosted the GC2 Summit on leadership, burnout, and mental health. (You can see the sessions here.)

I know in Covid years that was a long time ago, but it was just five months back, and we were talking about the struggle and pain that pastors walk through.

That GC2 summit on pastors and mental health sold out. If you weren’t there, I wish you could have felt the energy in the room. Our pastors need care. Many are burned out or on the edge of burnout. Many face challenges in their leadership teams and in their congregations.

And, then Covid came and it got worse.

Darrin would want us not just to know that but to do something about it. And, caring for pastors is what Darrin and I talked about in our last phone call, the follow up text I shared earlier.

Pastors are not immune and do not have to be alone

Darrin would want you to know that, especially during this season of more isolation, we must press into caring for our pastors. It cannot be optional. Here at the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, we have partnered to launch the Resilient Church Leadership initiative because we see a growing wave of burnout and pastoral crises.

Darrin openly shared about his struggles, and in a sense he represents thousands of other pastors and leaders who are struggling. How can our churches prioritize caring for these leaders? Let’s make caring for leadership a high priority.

I cried more on Friday than I have in many years. I cried again today.

When I told Donna, we remembered the last time we went to dinner, the four of us, and laughed about the Enneagram and our kids. And, we talked about the struggles we all had.

Now, I cry for the end of a faithful, joyful, and authentic life. And I cried for the church. God’s church.

Let’s press forward together as God’s family, caring well for those who shepherd us well as though they were our very own family. Because they are.

Darrin, I love you, friend. I hope this counts as doing something together.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - May 2020
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2020, 03:50:41 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/may/coronavirus-faith-tech-show-up-now-ianacare-christian-apps.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29







How Christians Are Hacking Their Way to Coronavirus Help












Introducing new technology to connect patients and families, an app to support for caregivers, and more opportunities for crowdfunding.


When Michelle Brock’s grandmother passed away in early April, it wasn’t due to COVID-19 complications. But the global pandemic kept her family from filling her hospital room with loving presence the way they longed to.

“I wasn’t able to travel back to Florida to where my grandparents live, and it was a really hard time knowing that even my grandpa couldn’t be there,” Brock said.

This desire to prevent anyone else from feeling alone in their final moments prompted Brock to join a COVID-19 hackathon hosted by FaithTech, a platform focused on bridging the gap between faith and technology.

Though Brock is a graphic designer and documentary filmmaker who doesn’t consider herself tech-savvy, the hackathon connected her with a team whose skills complemented hers. Together, they dreamed up a solution to the predicament Brock and so many others had encountered during the pandemic.

The result of their teamwork was Sound of Your Love, a service that collects voice recordings from friends and family that can be played with a single tap, which is easier than accessing voicemail or arranging FaceTime calls.

“Even if you get to the point in your illness where you’re too weak to hold a screen up or have a conversation, we still wanted there to be a really easy way for people to leave a message,” Brock explained.

With Sound of Your Love, friends and family can dial in and leave a voice message that will be looped into a “soundtrack of love.” Its interface makes it simple for caretakers or medical professionals to hit play one time rather than navigate individual recordings or calls from loved ones.

While it’s a simple solution, it represents just one way that Christians are combining compassion and technological know-how to address the unique challenges brought on by the coronavirus. Rather than using business acumen to fatten their own wallets in the midst of the crisis—as currently some titans of industry are doing—a few Christians are instead thinking like entrepreneurs to provide services to others at little or no cost.

Beyond the hackathon, which generated a dozen winners and 55 projects to connect neighbors, the elderly, health care workers, pastors, and volunteers, Christians are starting grassroots projects to meet needs from a distance.

Christian author and speaker Jefferson Bethke, who has half a million followers on Facebook, created a public spreadsheet at the beginning of the pandemic to connect followers in need with financial gifts from strangers.

The project ended up helping over 700 people and drew in fellow leaders to get involved with creating a new platform. Now Bethke—in partnership with activist Christine Caine, author Ann Voskamp, photographer Esther Havens, and entrepreneur Jessica Kim—has evolved the initiative into Show Up Now, a website, app, and social campaign that encourages peer-to-peer generosity just like the original spreadsheet did, but with an added layer of prayer and outreach. Since launching, the Show Up Now website has fielded 1,157 requests for financial help and a few hundred requests for prayer.

“A lot of times in pandemic or crisis moments, the world operates out of scarcity,” Bethke said. “But Christians are meant to operate out of abundance.”

The movement taps into a wider trend of people using peer-to-peer fundraising to get their needs met in this moment of economic distress. Popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe is in more demand now than it’s ever been in its 10-year history, with coronavirus-related campaigns on the site raising over $60 million at the end of March. Though it offers an imperfect answer to complex problems, crowdfunding remains a popular option for people who need help immediately and can’t wait for more systemic solutions to emerge.

In addition to a financial component, Show Up Now encourages other forms of practical action by partnering with Ianacare (which stands for “I Am Not Alone Care,” but is pronounced like “eye on a care”), an app developed by Kim and her business partner Steven Lee. Originally launched last summer as a way to support family caregivers, Ianacare is designed to rally a social network to help check in emotionally, send gift cards or meals, volunteer to get groceries, provide pet care, and more.





The pandemic has made this mission feel all the more pressing, Kim said. In addition to the surge of medical needs around the virus, those offering care for non-coronavirus illnesses are still doing so. Ianacare has tailored some of its options for “caring without contact” responses.

“COVID-19 has increased the demand for care at home, because we cannot go into the hospital,” she said. “A lot of organizations and nonprofits are no longer operating. So people who are caregiving need help, but their resources have become even more limited. That’s where friends and family need to really show up. Because we are the only option right now for people who are caregiving.”

Float Me Through is another platform connecting people who have pandemic-induced financial needs with those willing to give a little spare cash.

Put together by a team at Useful Group, a marketing and advertising agency that frequently works with Christian publishers, Float Me Through was born from a small coalition of people wanting to do more to help those around them. According to chief creative officer Nick Rynerson, the agency was “lucky” to escape the financial hardships hitting many other small businesses. And though the company took on some pro bono work for nonprofits addressing the crisis, Rynerson and his coworkers wanted to do more.

“We almost immediately started thinking, ‘What can we do that would actually be helpful to other people?’” Rynerson said.

Though the government and nonprofits have provided some avenues for financial relief, Rynerson loved the idea of a no-strings-attached form of giving that would be more immediate and personal. His first thought was like Bethke’s: create a simple Google form where people with needs could ask for help and people who wanted to help could sign up to donate. It soon evolved into a slightly more sophisticated website where people could enter their needs in dollar amounts, with the option to add comments, and they would be matched in the back end with someone willing to help.

“We just wanted to make it so that if people needed help, they could get help without red tape,” he said. “And if somebody wanted to help another person but didn’t know where to start or everybody in their network was doing okay, it would be a place where they could jump in and help people.”

For now, the site is limited to Illinois residents to keep the initiative local and encourage neighbors caring for neighbors. But if there’s enough interest from other locations, the Useful Group team could create sister sites that accomplish the same function in other places, Rynerson said. He’s not invested in whether the project lasts a few weeks or a few years—he just hopes it facilitates generosity in new ways.

“A lot of people who have resources aren’t super used to direct giving,” he explained. “If this spurs them to help people they know outside the platform better and then they never use the platform again, great.”

These sites and apps might look like straightforward tech solutions to coronavirus-created problems. But they’re all driven more by a desire to connect people to one another than they are by a propensity for slick bells and whistles.

And the faith and empathy driving the people who created them provide useful insight for church leaders or anyone looking for creative ways to serve their communities in a time of crisis.

From Bethke’s perspective, the key is collaboration. He highlights his experience working with a team to come up with creative solutions as more meaningful than what he might have done on his own. Brock believes Christians have a unique call to be a “non-anxious presence” in the context of a world fighting panic. And Kim thinks getting as close as possible to the person you’re trying to serve is the best way to make sure any solutions you offer actually address the most pressing pain.

Though no person will balance all of this perfectly, Rynerson believes that Christians have been prepared for moments just like this one to serve and love a hurting world.

“As a faith community, both liberal and conservative, we’ve been talking about these things for 2,000 years—what it means to love your neighbor and to sacrifice for them,” he said. “I think the church can be champions of the call to love each other and to love our communities in this unique time.”

Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - 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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