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Discussion | Christian News | Chaplain's Office => Christian and Theological News => Topic started by: patrick jane on June 02, 2019, 05:41:15 pm

Title: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 02, 2019, 05:41:15 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90791.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/may-web-only/some-christians-are-turning-over-new-leaf-with-cbd-oil.html






Some Christians Are Turning Over a New Leaf with CBD Oil






Those using the hemp-based product often find relief amid a lack of understanding and regulation.

 
Mandy Van Schyndel remembers May 16, 2018, as the day her daughter Emma laughed for the first time. A remarkable milestone for an 18-month-old who started her life on hospice at the Mayo Clinic, not expected to survive. Even more remarkable that Emma’s parents credit a compound from a plant banned for more than 80 years with calming the disquieting symptoms of Emma’s conditions.

Faced with severe brain damage after suffering a bilateral stroke in utero, Emma’s diagnoses mounted: microcephaly, porencephaly, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. When her uncontrollable seizures started three months later, a fourth diagnosis was added: Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS).

“It’s a beast,” Mandy explained. “It’s one of the worst forms of epilepsy.”

As Emma’s seizures intensified, she experienced up to 12 cluster seizures daily. “It was really sad,” Mandy said. “She was losing some of the skills she had. She wasn’t smiling anymore and she wasn’t cooing as much.”

The disruptive nature of LGS took its toll on the family of seven in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. “It was hard to go to church,” admitted Mandy, “because if she fell asleep I knew she would wake up and have a seizure. And it wasn’t like a few seconds. It would cluster for an hour.”

After trying “many different concoctions of medications,” including steroid injections and 10 months on a ketogenic diet—none of which provided relief—the family faced reality.

“We went from trying to find seizure freedom to just trying to find any kind of reduction—to increase her quality of life.”

That’s when Mandy brought up the topic of hemp-based CBD oil with Emma’s neurologist. “I said [to him], ‘I know this is a taboo subject,’” said Mandy. “He said, ‘It’s not taboo. There’s really something to it.’ That was a nice reassurance to hear.”

What Is CBD?
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of the primary compounds or cannabinoids found in both hemp and marijuana. Though cousins in the cannabis family with a similar appearance, they have different chemical profiles. Unlike marijuana, hemp is non-psychoactive, meaning it can’t get you high and is legally defined as containing 0.3% or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the controversial psychoactive component in marijuana.

Though hemp cultivation has been legal at the federal level since January 1, 2019 (it was lumped in with marijuana and declared illegal in 1937), some states continue to grapple with the legal learning curve. And while lawmakers wrestle over regulation, or the lack of it, motivated consumers and clinicians are doing their best to do their own research in the caveat emptor CBD market, which is estimated to reach $2 billion by 2020 and $16 billion by 2025.

From chewing gum and chocolate to mascara and lotion, CBD can now be found in a multitude of everyday consumables. Has your favorite coffee shop added CBD-infused cold brew coffee to the menu? Is there CBD honey at your local farmer’s market? Maybe you’ve even seen ads for pet treats with CBD?

While new storefronts and online retailers set up shop for eager customers, established wellness brands seem to be coming on board as well. Young Living Essential Oils announced to distributors they plan to release a hemp CBD-infused essential oil sometime in 2019.

“Hemp-based CBD oil is not the same as marijuana. You get the anti-inflammatory [effects], the pain relief without the high,” said Troy Spurrill, a chiropractor with a focus on functional neurology and founder of Synapse, a clinic based in Eagan, Minnesota. “For some people, it really is and has been a lifesaver.”

Seizure Free with CBD
After several months of searching for a quality product she felt comfortable with, Mandy found a high-quality, full-spectrum CBD oil.

“I honestly didn’t have super high hopes,” she admitted, “but I felt the pull to try it.” A friend encouraged her to try it with Emma. “She kept saying, ‘Just try it. It’s not going to hurt her.’”

Within three days of giving their toddler two drops of CBD oil under her tongue twice a day, Mandy said they saw a “dramatic decrease” in Emma’s seizures. “It felt like the fog was lifted,” she said. “My child was awake under there. Now she’s laughing and smiling every single day!”

Emma went from having up to 12 seizures per day to going six months without one. “It’s miraculous,” Mandy said. “It baffles me that that minute amount can combat one of the most severe forms of epilepsy.”

Mandy said Emma’s therapists also remark on the significant changes in her daughter from a year ago. “She has more purposeful movement. She’s interacting with her peers. She’s playing with toys spontaneously. None of those things were happening before CBD oil,” said Mandy. “You can’t tell me that’s all a coincidence.”

It’s not a coincidence based on research either. Emma’s response seems consistent with the results of clinical trials, which showed CBD oil contributed to a significant reduction in the severity and frequency of severe epileptic seizures.

Those findings led to FDA approval last summer of Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil with trace amounts of THC, for seizures associated with two severe forms of epilepsy—Dravet syndrome and LGS—which Emma has. It’s the first time since the formation of the FDA that a drug from the cannabis plant has received approval.

The Forerunner
The controversy surrounding the plant restricted research about it for many decades, but that didn’t stop Nobel Prize nominee Raphael Mechoulam from engaging in the process of inquiry and discovery, starting in the 1960s.

A Holocaust survivor and professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mechoulam identified the first two cannabinoids (THC and CBD) and discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS)—cannabinoids that the bodies of humans and vertebrates make on their own.

Considered one of the founding fathers of cannabinoid research whose work is covered in the documentary, “The Scientist,” Mechoulam has published hundreds of articles on medical cannabis, endocannabinoids, and CBD, advocating for CBD’s anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and neuroprotective benefits. In 1980 Mechoulam and his colleagues found CBD decreased seizures in epileptic patients.

During the last few decades, more than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis plant, but THC and CBD are still the most abundant and attract the most attention.

CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which Spurrill explained “is a form of communication,” since it has cannabinoid receptors throughout the entire body, many of which are in the nervous and immune systems. Research suggests that may be one reason many CBD oil users often report experiencing benefits for many types of conditions. (CB1 receptors are found mainly in the central nervous system and brain, while CB2 receptors are found in the rest of the body, including the immune and muscular systems.) Those who experience “runners’ high,” for example, are feeling the effects of the endocannabinoid system at work.

Tiptoeing into CBD Clinical Use
Though aware of CBD over a decade ago, Spurrill was reluctant to bring it into his functional medicine clinic.

“I was not for it in the beginning,” he admitted. “I had the same concerns as a lot of Christians. I did not want to be a part of anything that promoted [marijuana use]. But then I saw the science and research, so I switched gears.”

In the last four years, Spurrill, who sees patients from 48 states and 12 countries, has documented results with more than 100 patients taking hemp CBD oil, seeing the biggest effects in people with insomnia, pain, anxiety, and seizures. “We’ve not had one problem with it.”

But he cautions anyone looking into hemp CBD oil to make sure there’s no THC in it since there are formulas that mix CBD from hemp and marijuana. “You have to know what you’re working with, because there are people who just want the high and they’re rationalizing the science that’s come out on CBD. They’re trying to escape life. For Christians, we don’t need to.”

Some evidence even suggests hemp CBD oil can decrease addictive marijuana use and help pain patients addicted to opioids regain sobriety.

In one case, hemp CBD oil was “a game changer,” said Spurrill, who helped a suicidal patient whose multiple surgeries left him in chronic pain and addicted to prescription painkillers. “He got off the opiates and is alive and doing well today. It managed the pain. It ended up being a big tool for me to help him.”

Christians Using CBD Oil
Despite the gaps in research and regulation, many people are turning to CBD in its various formulations—oils taken internally as well as capsules, topical creams, and edibles.

Kim Nelles, a Dallas-area mom, teacher, and former Young Life staff member, turned to CBD oil originally to help her husband, Brian, a veteran struggling with PTSD, after other biomedical and therapeutic options were ruled out.

“I wanted help. I didn’t want a vice,” said Kim. “I didn’t want to be any sort of stumbling block for anyone. The more I was researching, [I saw] these are two totally different things.”

But she was determined to find a pure form of hemp CBD oil. “I’m not a granola girl at all, but on this one thing I’m fastidious about making sure it’s organic and grown in the US. You have to know what you’re buying. Some folks have bought inferior products and haven’t had any sort of effect.” Together, the couple began taking a formula applied under the tongue and noticed it helped bring a sense of calmness.

Bethany Kremer, a caregiver in New Haven, Connecticut, and a friend of the Van Schyndels, started taking CBD oil in April 2018 and soon noticed three benefits. “For the first time since I was a teenager, I don’t have any cramps with my period. I lived on ibuprofen and Tylenol. CBD oil took away those cramps. Those have not returned.”

She also noticed improved sleep, as she wasn’t waking up as often in the night, and said it helped with her appetite and food cravings.

After a year of using CBD oil for stiffness and tension, Sheila, who preferred not to be identified with her last name, has since discontinued it. “I simply find I don’t need it,” she said, “I found that I had an increase in my sense of wellness, a sense of shalom, and the stiffness I used to feel went away.”

“I’m not against using it again,” she added. “As we grow and dialogue with [God], we’ll know what to do with continued use. … It’s a matter of listening to our internal wisdom and Father’s voice.”

Discernment Is Key
It all comes down to discernment, Spurrill said, citing one of his personal guidelines: “If God made it, it’s good. If man altered, just beware. That’s true for everything, including CBD oils.”

Though Scripture doesn’t mention CBD specifically, the Bible does give us guidance with wine: drink but don’t get drunk (Eph. 5:18). Paul also told Timothy to use wine medicinally (1 Tim. 5:23). And in his first public miracle, Jesus turned water into wine, not Welch’s.

And then there’s caffeine. While a few faith groups shun this addictive stimulant (once labeled the “devil’s drink”), it would be hard to find a church that doesn’t own a coffee pot.

Both Ezekiel 47:12 and Revelation 22:2 speak of leaves being used for healing—verses that many Christians lean on for spiritual assurance when using plant-based therapeutics, such as herbs and essential oils. On the latter, Samaritan Ministries wrote a series encouraging spiritual discernment as well.

Genesis recounts on the third day of creation God created seed-bearing plants, which would include cannabis plants. Regardless of how humans have used, confused, abused, or misused God’s good creation, the biblical principle still remains: God’s fingerprints were there first.

As Andy Crouch wrote for CT, “Christians despise no created thing. The [cannabis] plant is a part of a world that was declared good by its Maker every step along the way.”

However, doctors are not equally informed about CBD, and many are on a learning curve. Patients who expect their healthcare professionals to be well versed on both the benefits and risks of CBD oil may be disappointed.

Christianity Today reached out to physicians, some of whom were Christians, and found several were either not aware of the differences between hemp and marijuana or hadn’t studied it yet. Some thought CBD oil was the same as medical marijuana (which it is not) and a few either dismissed it as a fad or hadn’t heard of it. The Christian Medical and Dental Association recently published a piece on medical marijuana, though in a parenthetical note the author notes it's the CBD component in the marijuana that provides some benefit.

Walt Larimore, a physician and author of several books including God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Person, publicly answered a few questions recently about CBD oil on his blog. Yet while he acknowledged that some research suggests CBD oil can help with certain conditions, the post also mistakenly referred to hemp as marijuana.

Nonetheless, Larimore pointed to a 2017 Penn Medicine study that revealed one of the consequences inadequate regulation and oversight in a booming CBD market can have. The study found that 70 percent of CBD products sold online are either over- or under-labeled, due to the lack of standards.

The reality of mislabeling is why the purity of the sourcing and processing of hemp is important, said Spurrill, since the therapeutic benefits of CBD “can be negated if it’s not done properly. If it’s not a clean source, then there’s all kinds of problems,” such as pesticides, fungus, and molds.

Spurrill added that some types of people should be careful using CBD, including individuals with low dopamine, excessive sleepiness, low blood sugar, impulsivity, and anger.

“It doesn’t mean it won’t work. It means it could drive things down a certain path. Just because you read something is good, it means it may be good for a percentage of people in the right time and the right environment,” he cautioned. “All of that has to be considered.”

In his “Ask Dr. Walt” column, Larimore offers advice to anyone looking to try CBD oil: “Start with a very low dose and then very slowly increase how much you take.”

Removing the Stigma
Having a place where Christians can “thoughtfully explore and scripturally examine” CBD is important, said Natalie Gillespie, editor in chief for GodsGreenery.com, the first online CBD educational resource for Christians looking for information and research.

“When I first heard of CBD, I dismissed it immediately,” Gillespie wrote. “No way, Jose, was I going to use something that was lumped into the same plant family as pot. … Then I began to hear … so many stories, of the benefits my own friends found when using it. … That led to my inner questions. And the examination of my beliefs. I realized I have developed a trust, a faith, in Western medicine. … We are discovering every day that what God designs is better than what man makes.”

In an interview, Gillespie said the goal for the site, which launched in November 2018, is “to create a conversation and to take the stigma away from even being able to talk about it. The last thing you want is to feel like you have to hide.” She wants it to be “a place for thoughtful discovery through a biblical lens and community,” which includes talking with pastors about CBD.

Of those pastors interviewed, many were unfamiliar with it. But one pastor who tried CBD oil, Neal Locke of First Presbyterian Church in El Paso, Texas, said, “There are a great many things in God’s creation that are useful and intended for our benefit. … I think CBD oil falls into that category—potentially useful and for our benefit, but subject to wise and intelligent usage.”

As for the Van Schyndels, the relief CBD oil brought Emma gave the whole family freedom to enjoy life together again—from baseball games to going on vacation to enjoying boat rides.

“She giggles when we go fast,” said Mandy. “She loves the wind blowing in her hair. We were never able to bring Emma along because of her seizures and now we’re able to do that.”

“Emma is a true warrior,” said Mandy of her now two-year-old. “She’s one of God’s miracles. Her middle name is Grace because she’s truly here by God’s grace.”






Jenny Collins, MA, is a freelance writer with a master’s degree in holistic health studies, founder of Jenetic Communications and an adjunct instructor at the University of Northwestern–St. Paul. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and also writes at HolisticGPS.com








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Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 03, 2019, 10:33:34 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90820.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/june/david-platt-president-trump-pray-mclean-bible-church-sunday.html





David Platt Asks God to Grant Trump ‘All the Grace He Needs to Govern’




The “radical” pastor prayed for the president during an unannounced stop at his suburban DC megachurch.

 
David Platt did not publicly sign on to Franklin Graham’s day of prayer for President Donald Trump. He is not a member of his White House faith advisors, he did not endorse him, and he is not known for weighing in on day-to-day political happenings.

But yesterday, when the president visited McLean Bible Church, the DC-area megachurch where Platt has served as teaching pastor for the past two years, the Southern Baptist preacher prayed for him from the stage.

Platt cited 1 Timothy 2—the passage Franklin Graham used in his call for churches to pray for the president that day—as he put his arm around Trump and offered a two-and-half minute prayer.

“We pray that he would look to you; that he would trust in you; that he would lean on you; that he would govern and make decisions in ways that are good for justice, good for righteousness, good for equity, every good path,” the former International Mission Board president and Radical author said. “Lord, we pray that you would give him all the grace he needs to govern in ways that we just saw in 1 Timothy 2 that lead to peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.”

Platt asked that Trump would be granted grace, mercy, and wisdom; that he would know God’s love and that Christ died for his sins; that his family would be blessed; and that other leaders in the government would likewise be guided by God’s wisdom.

The president’s visit had not been publicly announced prior to attending the service in the Tysons area of Northern Virginia, one of a dozen Sunday services McLean Bible Church holds across its six locations. At the afternoon gathering in its largest and flagship location, Trump came in khakis, a blue blazer, and a golf hat, after a morning round of golf at his club in Sterling, Virginia, according to The Hill. (One White House statement linked his visit to prayer for Friday’s shooting in Virginia Beach, but it was not mentioned during Platt’s prayer, and the church is located a few hours away.)

The night before, Trump tweeted to thank Franklin Graham—a vocal supporter—saying, “We will stick together and WIN!” CT reported last week about the evangelist’s campaign to pray for the president this Sunday and asked Christian leaders about Paul’s instructions to petition “for all those in authority” in 1 Timothy 2.

Several fellow Southern Baptists applauded Platt’s prayer, including former SBC president Steve Gaines. The Gospel Coalition’s Joe Carter called it a model for “how we can and should pray for our presidents.”

Platt is in an interesting position. For years, he’s preached against the American focus on “self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency” and “individualism, materialism, and universalism.” And now he’s the pastor of a suburban Washington congregation full of Christians who work on the Hill, a place once deemed “a holy destination for GOP senators and Bush aides.”

“We worship under the banner, not of a country, but under the banner of a King. That King’s name is definitely not Donald Trump,” he told McLean Bible Church in a sermon last Fourth of July weekend. “It wasn’t Barack Obama. It wasn’t George Bush or Bill Clinton. And for that matter, it was never George Washington either. Our King’s name is, always has been, and always will be Jesus Christ.”

Cliff Sims, the former White House staffer who wrote a tell-all about his “500 extraordinary days” with the administration, had attended McLean Bible Church. He said in an interview on Ed Stetzer’s CT blog, the Exchange, that he suggested Platt be invited to a White House prayer breakfast, but Platt worried about the baggage. “When pastors get involved in the political space in a public way, there are drawbacks and it can put pastors in a position where people suddenly view them through a political lens,” Sims said.

Meanwhile it was Paula White who nixed the idea of inviting the pastor. According to Sims, she “said something to the effect of, ‘[Platt] believes that the American dream is evil. The President’s going to be really mad when he finds out that you’re bringing in someone to speak at the prayer breakfast who believes that the American dream is evil.’”

The subtitle of Platt’s 2010 book, Radical, is “Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.” As CT wrote in a 2013 cover story about the “new radicals” like Platt, the pastor critiques the church’s willingness to turn the “radical Jesus of the Bible … into the comfortable Jesus of 21st-century American culture.”

Last year, Platt’s Fourth of July sermon emphasized the command for Christians to pray for political leaders they disagree with, including President Trump.

“Some people who held Barack Obama in high honor are having a hard time showing honor for Donald Trump. Others of us have much honor for Donald Trump, but had a hard time showing honor for Barack Obama. Some of us have had a hard time honoring either of them,” he said.

“But brothers and sisters, the Bible doesn’t give us a choice here. This is a command. And if Nero was worthy of honor in the first century, then our president and our leaders are worthy of honor in the 21st century.”

Another earlier message, given last January, mentioned the divide between black and white Christians voting for Trump in the 2016 election in the context of racial injustice.

Platt told Trump this weekend that the congregation didn’t just pray for the president on that Sunday, but week in and week out, as Scripture calls Christians to pray for their leaders. His prayer concluded:

Please, O God, give him wisdom and help him to lead our country alongside other leaders. We pray today for leaders in Congress. We pray for leaders in courts. We pray for leaders in national and state levels.

Please, O God, help us to look to you; help us to trust in your Word; help us to seek your wisdom and live in ways that reflect your love and your grace, your righteousness and your justice. We pray for your blessings on our president toward that end.

McLean Bible Church began as a nondenominational congregation in 1961, then grew in size and influence under Lon Solomon, its pastor from 1980–2017. A year before Solomon retired, McLean Bible Church began affiliating with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Platt succeeded Solomon and became installed as “pastor-teacher” in September 2017, then took on the role full-time—stepping away from the IMB—last year.







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Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Lori Bolinger on June 03, 2019, 10:59:38 am
What I am afraid of with CBD oil is that the government is going to overregulate it to the point that all the profits will go to big pharm and make the already expensive out of reach for so many not to mention needing a prescription for it.

In my condition, I have yet to find anyone who finds anything that completely controls the pain.  I have more pain relief than most and it is in part due to CBD oil.  If you want pain relief, another interesting choice is "Wild Lettuce" that stuff kills my headaches like nothing else will.

Everything we are doing is through our own research at this point and we are finding some answers but not enough yet.  The medical field is not even doing much research and my condition is often misdiagnosed, so natural choices are about all we have to try.  It is a trial and error thing.  In my experience with CBD oil it helps some but where I really notice is when I have an allergy attack..my throat, tongue, and vocal chords swell....when I take CBD oil (Dr.s won't address it, long story) I almost instantly get enough inflammation relief to get my voice back and it moves on from there.  I'm sure it has saved my life more than once so keeping it available and relatively cheap is important to us and so many others.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: truthjourney on June 03, 2019, 01:20:48 pm
What I am afraid of with CBD oil is that the government is going to overregulate it to the point that all the profits will go to big pharm and make the already expensive out of reach for so many not to mention needing a prescription for it.

In my condition, I have yet to find anyone who finds anything that completely controls the pain.  I have more pain relief than most and it is in part due to CBD oil.  If you want pain relief, another interesting choice is "Wild Lettuce" that stuff kills my headaches like nothing else will.

Everything we are doing is through our own research at this point and we are finding some answers but not enough yet.  The medical field is not even doing much research and my condition is often misdiagnosed, so natural choices are about all we have to try.  It is a trial and error thing.  In my experience with CBD oil it helps some but where I really notice is when I have an allergy attack..my throat, tongue, and vocal chords swell....when I take CBD oil (Dr.s won't address it, long story) I almost instantly get enough inflammation relief to get my voice back and it moves on from there.  I'm sure it has saved my life more than once so keeping it available and relatively cheap is important to us and so many others.
Where do you get CBD oil? My doctor(s) said no to alternative treatment.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Lori Bolinger on June 03, 2019, 01:25:16 pm
What I am afraid of with CBD oil is that the government is going to overregulate it to the point that all the profits will go to big pharm and make the already expensive out of reach for so many not to mention needing a prescription for it.

In my condition, I have yet to find anyone who finds anything that completely controls the pain.  I have more pain relief than most and it is in part due to CBD oil.  If you want pain relief, another interesting choice is "Wild Lettuce" that stuff kills my headaches like nothing else will.

Everything we are doing is through our own research at this point and we are finding some answers but not enough yet.  The medical field is not even doing much research and my condition is often misdiagnosed, so natural choices are about all we have to try.  It is a trial and error thing.  In my experience with CBD oil it helps some but where I really notice is when I have an allergy attack..my throat, tongue, and vocal chords swell....when I take CBD oil (Dr.s won't address it, long story) I almost instantly get enough inflammation relief to get my voice back and it moves on from there.  I'm sure it has saved my life more than once so keeping it available and relatively cheap is important to us and so many others.
Where do you get CBD oil? My doctor(s) said no to alternative treatment.
local health food store...it isn't cheap, but...have a friend whose newest Dr. told her to run (literally run) to the store for high quality CBD oil....
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Lori Bolinger on June 03, 2019, 01:29:44 pm
What I am afraid of with CBD oil is that the government is going to overregulate it to the point that all the profits will go to big pharm and make the already expensive out of reach for so many not to mention needing a prescription for it.

In my condition, I have yet to find anyone who finds anything that completely controls the pain.  I have more pain relief than most and it is in part due to CBD oil.  If you want pain relief, another interesting choice is "Wild Lettuce" that stuff kills my headaches like nothing else will.

Everything we are doing is through our own research at this point and we are finding some answers but not enough yet.  The medical field is not even doing much research and my condition is often misdiagnosed, so natural choices are about all we have to try.  It is a trial and error thing.  In my experience with CBD oil it helps some but where I really notice is when I have an allergy attack..my throat, tongue, and vocal chords swell....when I take CBD oil (Dr.s won't address it, long story) I almost instantly get enough inflammation relief to get my voice back and it moves on from there.  I'm sure it has saved my life more than once so keeping it available and relatively cheap is important to us and so many others.
Where do you get CBD oil? My doctor(s) said no to alternative treatment.
local health food store...it isn't cheap, but...have a friend whose newest Dr. told her to run (literally run) to the store for high quality CBD oil....
I also take more than recommended but that has to do with how my body metabolises meds...start out with recommendation then add if  necessary is the best plan of action.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: truthjourney on June 03, 2019, 01:33:29 pm
What I am afraid of with CBD oil is that the government is going to overregulate it to the point that all the profits will go to big pharm and make the already expensive out of reach for so many not to mention needing a prescription for it.

In my condition, I have yet to find anyone who finds anything that completely controls the pain.  I have more pain relief than most and it is in part due to CBD oil.  If you want pain relief, another interesting choice is "Wild Lettuce" that stuff kills my headaches like nothing else will.

Everything we are doing is through our own research at this point and we are finding some answers but not enough yet.  The medical field is not even doing much research and my condition is often misdiagnosed, so natural choices are about all we have to try.  It is a trial and error thing.  In my experience with CBD oil it helps some but where I really notice is when I have an allergy attack..my throat, tongue, and vocal chords swell....when I take CBD oil (Dr.s won't address it, long story) I almost instantly get enough inflammation relief to get my voice back and it moves on from there.  I'm sure it has saved my life more than once so keeping it available and relatively cheap is important to us and so many others.
Where do you get CBD oil? My doctor(s) said no to alternative treatment.
local health food store...it isn't cheap, but...have a friend whose newest Dr. told her to run (literally run) to the store for high quality CBD oil....

Does it come in different doses? What dose do you recommend? I'm going to call a local health food store about it.

Okay you already answered that. We must have been posting at the same time.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Lori Bolinger on June 04, 2019, 07:09:39 am
The article also talked about some of the plants talked about in scripture...three that I have personal experience with are Frankincense and myrrh and cumin

Frankincense which is also known as Boswellia is an anti inflammatory among other things.  When combined with myrrh it has a calming effect.  In fact, our AD son uses it to calm him and improve his focus...to do that you need to use essential oils of it, not ingested...Boswellia is the ingested version of Frankincense.

The other from scripture we are very familiar with is cumin.  The seed of cumin is called "Black Seed".  I haven't found anything better for mucus.  Because of asthma issues (again untreated, long story) I was coughing up up to 10 kleenex full of mucus a day.  I started taking Black seed and am down to 0-1 a day.  My husband also takes it for his chronic sinus issues.  It's awesome for that purpose.

I'm not sure I have tried any of the other things specified in scripture especially since names can get changed but thought those were interesting to talk about here.  Without natural stuff, I would be dead by now so I love the natural stuff but some just doesn't seem to work as well as others.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 04, 2019, 11:49:39 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90834.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/age-of-pelagius-joshua-hawley.html






The Age of Pelagius





An ancient heresy continues to affect our culture in surprising ways.

 
We stand at one of the great turning points in our national history, when the failure of our public philosophy and the crisis of our public life can no longer be ignored. And what we do about these needs will define the era to come.

For decades now our politics and culture have been dominated by a particular philosophy of freedom. It is a philosophy of liberation from family and tradition, of escape from God and community, a philosophy of self-creation and unrestricted, unfettered free choice.

It is a philosophy that has defined our age, though it is far from new. In fact, it’s most influential proponent lived 1,700 years ago: a British monk who eventually settled in Rome named Pelagius. So thoroughly have his teachings informed our recent past and precipitated our present crisis that we might refer to this era as the Age of Pelagius.

But here is the irony. Though the Pelagian vision celebrates the individual, it leads to hierarchy. Though it preaches merit, it produces elitism. Though it proclaims liberty, it destroys the life that makes liberty possible.

Replacing it and repairing the profound harm it has caused is one of the great challenges of our day.

Birth of a Heresy


Pelagius was born sometime between A.D. 350 and 360 in Britain, possibly Wales. Highly educated, unusually gifted, a scholar of both Latin and Greek, he made his way to Italy and then to Rome. There he became famous for his teaching on Paul’s letters.


Pelagius held that the individual possessed a powerful capacity for achievement. In fact, Pelagius believed individuals could achieve their own salvation. It was just a matter of them living up to the perfection of which they were inherently capable. As Pelagius himself put it, “Since perfection is possible for man, it is obligatory.” The key was will and effort. If individuals worked hard enough and deployed their talents wisely enough, they could indeed be perfect.

This idea famously drew the ire of Augustine of Hippo, better known as Saint Augustine, who responded that we humans are not achievement machines. We are fragile. We are fallible. We suffer weakness and need. And we all stand in need of God’s grace.

But Pelagius was not satisfied. He took his stand on an idea of human freedom. He responded that God gave individuals free choice. And he insisted that this free choice was more powerful than any limitation Augustine identified.

Augustine said that human nature was a permanent thing, but Pelagius didn’t think so. Pelagius said that individuals could use their free choice to adopt their own purposes, to fix their own destinies—to create themselves, if you like.

That’s why a disciple of Pelagius named Julian of Eclanum said freedom of choice is that by which man is “emancipated from God.”

Now as you might expect with followers who say things like that, Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Ephesus in 431.

But his philosophy lived on in late-20th-century America. And if you listen closely today, you can hear it almost everywhere—in our fiction and our film, in our school curricula and self-help books. It even features prominently in our law.

Pelagianism Today
Perhaps the most eloquent contemporary statement of Pelagian freedom appears in an opinion from the United States Supreme Court, in a passage written by former Justice Anthony Kennedy. In 1992, in a case called Casey v. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, he wrote this: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

It’s the Pelagian vision. Liberty is the right to choose your own meaning, define your own values, emancipate yourself from God by creating your own self. Indeed, this notion of freedom says you can emancipate yourself not just from God but from society, family, and tradition.

The Pelagian view says the individual is most free when he is most alone, able to choose his own way without interference. Family and tradition, neighborhood and church—these things get in the way of uninhibited free choice. And this Pelagian idea of freedom is one our cultural leaders have embraced for decades now.

But here’s the paradox. For all the big talk about individual freedom, Pelagian philosophy has made American society more hierarchical, and it has made it more elitist.

This is no accident. Pelagius himself was most popular with the old senatorial families of Rome—the wealthy, the well-connected. The aristocrats. They were his patrons. And why? He validated their privilege and their power.

Because if freedom means choice among options, then the people with the most choices are the most free. And that means the rich. And if salvation is about achievement, then those with the most accolades are righteous, and that means the elite and the strong. A Pelagian society is one that celebrates the wealthy, prioritizes the powerful, rewards the privileged. And for too long now, that has described modern America.

In the last five decades, our society has become hierarchical. Consider: If you are wealthy or well-educated, your life prospects are bright. College graduates and those with advanced degrees enjoy markedly higher wages. They rarely divorce. They have higher life expectancy. They enjoy better access to better healthcare. Their children attend better schools and score better on achievement tests. They have more opportunities for civic involvement and participation.

But if you don’t have family wealth and don’t have a four-year degree—and that’s 70 percent of Americans—well, the future is far less glowing. These Americans haven’t seen a real wage increase in 30 years. These Americans are fighting to hold their families together, as divorce rates surge. For these Americans, healthcare is unaffordable. Drug addiction is growing. And too many of their local communities, especially rural ones, have been gutted as industry consolidates and ships jobs away.

A society divided by class, where one class enjoys all the advantages, is a society gripped by hierarchy.

It is also a society defined by elitism. Of course, our elites don’t use that word. They say their privileged position comes from merit and achievement. They point to their SAT scores and prestigious degrees. They talk about economic efficiency.

How Pelagian of them.

The truth is, the people at the top of our society have built a culture and an economy that work mainly for themselves. Our cultural elites look down on the plain virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice, things like humility and faithfulness. They celebrate instead self-promotion, self-discovery, self-aggrandizement.

And then when industry ships jobs overseas, they say, workers should find another trade. Capital must be allocated to its most efficient use. When workers without college degrees can’t get a good job, they say that’s their fault. They should have gone to college.

Now, I rather suspect that if globalization threatened America’s tech industry or banking sector, our elites would sing a very different tune. We would hear how these industries are the lifeblood of the American economy and must be protected at all cost.

And that’s just the point. The elites assume their interests are vital while dismissing others. They assume their value preferences should prevail, while denigrating the loves and loyalties of Middle America. That’s the nature of elitism.

And at the end of the day, this hierarchy and this elitism threaten our common liberty. The steady erosion of working-class jobs and working-class life means, for millions of Americans, losing respect. It means losing their voice. It means losing their standing as citizens in this nation.

Our Pelagian public philosophy says liberty is all about choosing your own ends. That turns out to be a philosophy for the privileged. For everybody else, for those who can’t build an identity around the things they buy, for those whose life is anchored in family and home and nation, for those who actually want to participate in our democracy, today’s Pelagianism robs them of the liberty that is rightfully theirs.

Fundamentally, Pelagius misunderstood the Cross. Pelagius had not learned the meaning of Paul’s words to the Corinthians when he wrote, “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things … so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:26–29).

The Cross announces the weakness and need of every person. And that means it excludes the boasting and the pride of the few.

The Cross says the talented, the well-born, the well-educated do not deserve special privileges. They are not more valuable than anyone else. The call of God comes to every person and the power of God is poured out on all who believe.

This has spiritual ramifications, but cultural and political ones as well. Paul says it is the humble, the everyday, those without social status whom God chooses to exercise his power. And so, by extension, it is not the privileged but the common man or woman, not the elite, but the everyday person who moves the destinies of the world.

That burning insight was once the animating principle of American life. And we must make it so again.

We must rebuild a culture that affirms the dignity of the working man and woman, that protects their way of life and honors their central role in the life of this country. We must rebuild an economy that will offer opportunity for every American worker, whatever degree she may have, wherever he may live—an economy that rewards hard, productive work. For that, after all, is the work that built this country. We must rebuild a democracy run not by the elites, but by the great middle of America, a democracy that allows the working man and woman to realize their God-given ability to govern themselves and help manage the life of his nation.

That is the great task of the hour.




Joshua Hawley is the United States senator from Missouri. This article was adapted from a commencement address given at The King’s College in New York City on Saturday, May 11.












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Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: truthjourney on June 04, 2019, 11:53:51 am
The article also talked about some of the plants talked about in scripture...three that I have personal experience with are Frankincense and myrrh and cumin

Frankincense which is also known as Boswellia is an anti inflammatory among other things.  When combined with myrrh it has a calming effect.  In fact, our AD son uses it to calm him and improve his focus...to do that you need to use essential oils of it, not ingested...Boswellia is the ingested version of Frankincense.

The other from scripture we are very familiar with is cumin.  The seed of cumin is called "Black Seed".  I haven't found anything better for mucus.  Because of asthma issues (again untreated, long story) I was coughing up up to 10 kleenex full of mucus a day.  I started taking Black seed and am down to 0-1 a day.  My husband also takes it for his chronic sinus issues.  It's awesome for that purpose.

I'm not sure I have tried any of the other things specified in scripture especially since names can get changed but thought those were interesting to talk about here.  Without natural stuff, I would be dead by now so I love the natural stuff but some just doesn't seem to work as well as others.
I do know that ginger is supposed to be good for pain. You can make a tea out of it or bathe in it. Also sea salt is good for skin conditions like plaque psoriasis. A nurse told me once to use gold dial soap. I've seen firsthand how gold dial soap can help with mosquito bite infection that is severe. I had that as a child and still have white spots from it.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Lori Bolinger on June 04, 2019, 12:15:52 pm
The article also talked about some of the plants talked about in scripture...three that I have personal experience with are Frankincense and myrrh and cumin

Frankincense which is also known as Boswellia is an anti inflammatory among other things.  When combined with myrrh it has a calming effect.  In fact, our AD son uses it to calm him and improve his focus...to do that you need to use essential oils of it, not ingested...Boswellia is the ingested version of Frankincense.

The other from scripture we are very familiar with is cumin.  The seed of cumin is called "Black Seed".  I haven't found anything better for mucus.  Because of asthma issues (again untreated, long story) I was coughing up up to 10 kleenex full of mucus a day.  I started taking Black seed and am down to 0-1 a day.  My husband also takes it for his chronic sinus issues.  It's awesome for that purpose.

I'm not sure I have tried any of the other things specified in scripture especially since names can get changed but thought those were interesting to talk about here.  Without natural stuff, I would be dead by now so I love the natural stuff but some just doesn't seem to work as well as others.
I do know that ginger is supposed to be good for pain. You can make a tea out of it or bathe in it. Also sea salt is good for skin conditions like plaque psoriasis. A nurse told me once to use gold dial soap. I've seen firsthand how gold dial soap can help with mosquito bite infection that is severe. I had that as a child and still have white spots from it.
Ginger is also good for stomach issues...I want to say the article was talking about CO Q10 but my quick search didn't help and I don't want to say without the test data available...I also know that magnesium is a huge help to a lot of people and of course CBD oil
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Lori Bolinger on June 05, 2019, 09:37:41 am
TJ...I couldn't find the article I had in mind what I did find was articles that said that Magnesium is good for chemo patients as is Ginger and Curcumin (turmeric) both of which are anti inflammatories and Curcumin is a cancer fighter.  Life Extension (an online store) I am pretty sure has a high absorption Curcumin/turmeric with Ginger in it.  I use them for some supplements and have never been disappointed.  Where I didn't find CO Q10 directly tied to chemo, I do know that it is a huge supplement for people who cognitive issues.  You can take up to 1200 mg Qunol version from walmart is one of the top 3 on the market and has higher than average absorption if you want to try it....there are lots of good things for the brain but I don't know specifically for chemo.  Also if you try magnesium get something chelated or it's just a waste of money.

Hope that helps, I will keep looking and see if I can find something specific for chemo patients....in the meantime, praying.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 05, 2019, 11:58:53 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90841.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2019/june/summer-travel-how-road-trips-teach-me-trust-jesus.html






How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus




As I approach this season of pilgrimage, Scripture offers me a theology of travel.

 
My husband, Daryl, experiences more wanderlust than I do. He grew up in Southern California, traveling across the valley for high school basketball games, taking class field trips up the coastline, and loading up the church van for missions to Tijuana. On our family Sabbath, it’s Daryl who takes us out on the road around Southern California. When I ask where we’re headed, he smiles and nearly always says, “I’m not sure. Let’s just have an adventure.”

In particular, our trips to visit extended family bring out the differences in our travel methods. I plan ahead while Daryl enjoys serendipity; I prepare for every eventuality while he prefers to throw a few diapers and a bag of tortilla chips in the car and hope for the best. But since my husband’s side of the family lives in a Los Angeles—a thriving metropolis with all manner of convenience stores and restaurants—I’m learning to hang loose on these local treks.

As these drives to LA become more common, God is faithfully teaching me that my rigid, planned-up-to-the-minute travel method isn’t always the best one. In fact, the biblical model for following Jesus is much more Spirit-led than plotted in advance. It isn’t that preparation isn’t necessary or helpful, it’s that openness to the Spirit of God is more important still. “The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus tells Nicodemus in John’s gospel.

Paul’s journeys were continually interrupted by storms, bandits, imprisonments, and mobs, and once, when he made it all the way to the outskirts of the province of Asia, the Spirit of God turned him away at the last minute. Perhaps that’s why when God speaks to individuals in Scripture, his first call is often for them to step out in faith, to follow a new and previously unsought path. Much of the time God doesn’t even give the destination. The command is simple (and, if you’re a homebody like me, perhaps a little unsettling): “Go,” he says. “Go.”

God uses this word with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. “Go,” he says to Jonah. Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple, where he welcomes and blesses the infant Jesus. “Get up,” an angel says to Joseph in a dream, warning him to flee from King Herod’s murderous rage and go to Egypt.

As pilgrim people, we, too, are called to travel with our eyes open to the work of the Lord in the world around us. As N. T. Wright puts it, “A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey in the hope of encountering God or meeting him in a new way.” Whether we fly across the country or simply drive an hour to visit a friend, travel provides us with a unique opportunity to experience God anew by approaching our journey not just as travelers but pilgrims—people on the lookout for God at work and opportunities to join him.

Jesus was the ultimate pilgrim, after all, leaving his heavenly climes to not only visit with but live among humanity. He faced all the usual obstacles to comfort that plague us when we travel—difficulty in finding food and shelter, misreading the vibe of a particular place, and having to rely on the hospitality and grace of strangers, family, and friends. “Foxes have dens,” Jesus said, “and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus leans into this discomfort, telling his disciples to “take nothing for the journey.” He invites us to do likewise. (Though, to be fair, none of the disciples was toting a two-year-old. Surely then even Jesus would have advised bringing an extra snack or two.) Away from our usual environment, at the mercy of the road or the airlines or the weather or the host home, we are given the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: to receive welcome, to develop compassion, to grow in faith and trust that God will care for us throughout the journey and see us safely home at its end.

In my upcoming summer travels, I want to practice Christlike pilgrimage, watching for God as our family journeys, looking for opportunities to love those in my path with the love of Christ, and doing my best to accept discomfort and even disaster as means of discipleship and grace.

I also need to seek ways to slow down and listen—something that doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the lessons God offers to us in travel is to find peace amid the storm, to leave behind the intensity of our work lives and schedules and family pandemonium and settle into the quieter days of travel. As Carlo Carretto puts it, “That is the truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This ‘waiting,’ this ‘not making plans,’ this ‘searching the heavens,’ this ‘being silent’ is one of the most important things we have to learn.”

This insight comes home to me every time I visit my parents in the northern woods of Wisconsin, where I’m cut off from the busyness of my normal life. My parents’ internet is spotty; my cellphone works only intermittently; the last time I heard a siren of any kind was at the town Fourth of July parade half a decade ago.

Back home, Daryl and I often fall asleep watching The West Wing or The Office in an effort to still our ping-ponging thoughts. Here, however, any digital streaming takes literal hours to download, so we simply don’t. At night we open the windows to hear the oak and maple leaves blow in the wind, falling asleep with books on our chests. When we spend these days in the quiet of the northern forests, it’s as if Jesus stands at the helm of our proverbial boats during the storm of the usual daily grind—ministry, school, appointments, errands, household chores—and says, “Peace. Be still.”

In these pilgrimage moments, I’m ever so slowly learning to listen. I’m learning, too, that the journey, provision, and destination all belong to God.






Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author, most recently, of Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

This essay was adapted from Almost Holy Mama by Courtney Ellis. Copyright (c) 2019 by Courtney Ellis. Published by Rose Publishing, Peabody, MA. hendricksonrose.com








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Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Bladerunner on June 05, 2019, 03:00:44 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90841.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2019/june/summer-travel-how-road-trips-teach-me-trust-jesus.html






How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus




As I approach this season of pilgrimage, Scripture offers me a theology of travel.

 
My husband, Daryl, experiences more wanderlust than I do. He grew up in Southern California, traveling across the valley for high school basketball games, taking class field trips up the coastline, and loading up the church van for missions to Tijuana. On our family Sabbath, it’s Daryl who takes us out on the road around Southern California. When I ask where we’re headed, he smiles and nearly always says, “I’m not sure. Let’s just have an adventure.”

In particular, our trips to visit extended family bring out the differences in our travel methods. I plan ahead while Daryl enjoys serendipity; I prepare for every eventuality while he prefers to throw a few diapers and a bag of tortilla chips in the car and hope for the best. But since my husband’s side of the family lives in a Los Angeles—a thriving metropolis with all manner of convenience stores and restaurants—I’m learning to hang loose on these local treks.

As these drives to LA become more common, God is faithfully teaching me that my rigid, planned-up-to-the-minute travel method isn’t always the best one. In fact, the biblical model for following Jesus is much more Spirit-led than plotted in advance. It isn’t that preparation isn’t necessary or helpful, it’s that openness to the Spirit of God is more important still. “The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus tells Nicodemus in John’s gospel.

Paul’s journeys were continually interrupted by storms, bandits, imprisonments, and mobs, and once, when he made it all the way to the outskirts of the province of Asia, the Spirit of God turned him away at the last minute. Perhaps that’s why when God speaks to individuals in Scripture, his first call is often for them to step out in faith, to follow a new and previously unsought path. Much of the time God doesn’t even give the destination. The command is simple (and, if you’re a homebody like me, perhaps a little unsettling): “Go,” he says. “Go.”

God uses this word with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. “Go,” he says to Jonah. Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple, where he welcomes and blesses the infant Jesus. “Get up,” an angel says to Joseph in a dream, warning him to flee from King Herod’s murderous rage and go to Egypt.

As pilgrim people, we, too, are called to travel with our eyes open to the work of the Lord in the world around us. As N. T. Wright puts it, “A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey in the hope of encountering God or meeting him in a new way.” Whether we fly across the country or simply drive an hour to visit a friend, travel provides us with a unique opportunity to experience God anew by approaching our journey not just as travelers but pilgrims—people on the lookout for God at work and opportunities to join him.

Jesus was the ultimate pilgrim, after all, leaving his heavenly climes to not only visit with but live among humanity. He faced all the usual obstacles to comfort that plague us when we travel—difficulty in finding food and shelter, misreading the vibe of a particular place, and having to rely on the hospitality and grace of strangers, family, and friends. “Foxes have dens,” Jesus said, “and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus leans into this discomfort, telling his disciples to “take nothing for the journey.” He invites us to do likewise. (Though, to be fair, none of the disciples was toting a two-year-old. Surely then even Jesus would have advised bringing an extra snack or two.) Away from our usual environment, at the mercy of the road or the airlines or the weather or the host home, we are given the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: to receive welcome, to develop compassion, to grow in faith and trust that God will care for us throughout the journey and see us safely home at its end.

In my upcoming summer travels, I want to practice Christlike pilgrimage, watching for God as our family journeys, looking for opportunities to love those in my path with the love of Christ, and doing my best to accept discomfort and even disaster as means of discipleship and grace.

I also need to seek ways to slow down and listen—something that doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the lessons God offers to us in travel is to find peace amid the storm, to leave behind the intensity of our work lives and schedules and family pandemonium and settle into the quieter days of travel. As Carlo Carretto puts it, “That is the truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This ‘waiting,’ this ‘not making plans,’ this ‘searching the heavens,’ this ‘being silent’ is one of the most important things we have to learn.”

This insight comes home to me every time I visit my parents in the northern woods of Wisconsin, where I’m cut off from the busyness of my normal life. My parents’ internet is spotty; my cellphone works only intermittently; the last time I heard a siren of any kind was at the town Fourth of July parade half a decade ago.

Back home, Daryl and I often fall asleep watching The West Wing or The Office in an effort to still our ping-ponging thoughts. Here, however, any digital streaming takes literal hours to download, so we simply don’t. At night we open the windows to hear the oak and maple leaves blow in the wind, falling asleep with books on our chests. When we spend these days in the quiet of the northern forests, it’s as if Jesus stands at the helm of our proverbial boats during the storm of the usual daily grind—ministry, school, appointments, errands, household chores—and says, “Peace. Be still.”

In these pilgrimage moments, I’m ever so slowly learning to listen. I’m learning, too, that the journey, provision, and destination all belong to God.






Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author, most recently, of Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

This essay was adapted from Almost Holy Mama by Courtney Ellis. Copyright (c) 2019 by Courtney Ellis. Published by Rose Publishing, Peabody, MA. hendricksonrose.com








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[shadow= blue,left]You did good on this one PJ.. :o :o

Blade[/shadow]
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 06, 2019, 02:20:06 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90848.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/pastors-worship-and-god-said-more-sermon-puns-more-parties.html







And God Said to Pastors: Use More Sermon Puns and Plan More Parties




Three reasons to practice levity and humor in public worship.

 
When I was a student at Regent College, I once impersonated J. I. Packer in a chapel service. I pretended he was C-3PO from Star Wars. He laughed, I laughed, people laughed. We laughed, I’d like to think, because the impression fit the man: Both J. I. and C-3PO are tall, lanky creatures, all joints and sockets. They’re both British, über-rational, uncommonly smart beings possessed of photographic memories that lead them on occasion to boast of this particular ability. They’re also both catch-you-by-surprise funny.

As Packer’s teaching assistant for three years, I had the privilege of watching him up close. The point of comparing him to C-3PO was not to stress Packer’s ostensibly robotic appearance or preoccupation with etiquette but rather to highlight certain quirky details of Packer’s wonderfully idiosyncratic self. It was, if you will, an act of testimony. To bear witness to Packer in this context was to bear witness to the grace of God in his life, quirks and all.

This moment of witness also reflected an oft-forgotten aspect of Christian worship: the call to joy, levity, and humor.

“Seriousness is not a virtue,” G. K. Chesterton states in his marvelous book Orthodoxy. “It would be a heresy,” he continues, “but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally, but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.”

If Chesterton is right, that a certain form of seriousness is a vice rather than a virtue, then it is a vice for everybody—one that tempts both the plumber and the prime minister, the homemaker and the priest, the academic and the artist. It is a vice that especially tempts folks who belong to my own tribe of liturgical scholars. Although C. S. Lewis believed that “joy is the serious business of heaven,” liturgists would have us believe the inverse—that seriousness is the serious business of heaven and of worship, not joy.

Yes, our public worship begins and ends with the Father’s glory and is centered on the work of Christ and the Spirit. Yes, a primary purpose of our liturgical gathering is the praise of God and the sanctification of his people. And, yes, idolatry, superstition, hypocrisy, irreverence, formalism, and all other heretical “isms” are serious matters. But does it follow that corporate worship is fundamentally a deadly serious affair? If Lewis is right about the nature of joy, can’t the church’s liturgy also be a fundamentally joy-filled affair, marked by festivity, laughter, and perhaps even a dash of humor?

Allow me to suggest three theological reasons for why we should treat corporate worship as “playful business”: the grace of God, the future of God, and the comedy of God’s work.

First, a sense of humor is required of the people of God at worship because the grace of God requires it. The world that God made is marked by hyper-abundance. There is more in creation than human beings need or could ever make good use of in multiple lifetimes. Birdsong, tuneful to the human ear, exceeds our need for aural pleasure. The flavors in our foods, from chicken korma to Krispy Kreme doughnuts, go beyond what any individual deserves. In creation, there is wonderful excess—of light and texture, goodness and beauty—and it is all a grace.

There is nothing needful about this divine act. Nothing outside of God’s character compels him to make a world in which not just one kind of apple exists but rather 7,500 cultivars of apple, from Aceymac to York Imperial. As Karl Barth says, it gives God a “sporting joy” to make such a world possible to “its very depths.” It is a world made in grace and for grace. Accordingly, we are freed from an anxious need to feel only “useful” or “productive.” We are freed to revel in creation’s excess. We get to; we don’t just have to.

In the context of our common worship, we get to make our church architecture playful, like Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, with its whimsical colors and its fantastical vision of a world renewed by Christ. We get to include puns in our sermons, like Jesus did. We get to shout for joy, like the mountains continually do (Isa. 49:13). We get to laugh in the Spirit; we get to participate in a joyous dance; we get to do so because it is God’s everlasting pleasure to make worship possible.

Second, a sense of humor is required of the Christian at worship because of God’s good future.

“In God’s Home,” Saint Augustine remarks, “there is an everlasting party.” And what is celebrated there, he explains, is not a passing moment or an occasional feast. No, he writes, “the choirs of angels keep eternal festival, for the eternally present face of God is joy never diminished.” Eastern Orthodox Christians understand well how the church’s worship on earth is a simultaneous participation in the worship that takes place in heaven. And because it is heavenly in its orientation, our earthly worship belongs to God’s future.

As the Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon once imagined it, the Trinity makes the world a kind of “wild party,” full of joyful shouts and shared laughter. “And forever and ever they told old jokes,” Capon writes, “and the Father and the Son drank their wine in unitate Spiritus Sancti, and they all threw ripe olives and pickled mushrooms at each other per omnia saecula saeculorum, Amen.”

Capon readily grants the crassness of the image. But he also argues rightly, I believe, that its crassness tells the truth better than most books of theology and treatises on worship. Put simply: We joyfully laugh now in our praise of God because it’s our way to participate in the joyful laughter that the Host of Heaven enjoys forevermore before the face of God.

Third, a good sense of humor is required in our practices of public worship because comedy, not tragedy, will have the final word in God’s work. In his book, Telling the Truth, Frederick Buechner says that comedy is at the center of God’s redemptive work in Christ, from birth to resurrection and beyond. “It all happened not of necessity,” he writes, “not inevitably, but gratuitously, freely, hilariously. And what was astonishing, gratuitous, hilarious was, of course, the grace of God. What could they do but laugh at the preposterousness of it, and they laughed until the tears ran down their cheeks.”

If a fundamental purpose of corporate worship is to proclaim and enact the gospel, then surely, I would like to believe, our practices of proclamation and enactment would somehow point to the astonishing, gratuitous, even hilarious nature of the Good News. Using humor to draw attention to this “gratuitous grace” binds us more deeply to Jesus and humbles us more thoroughly because we have found that grace, not sin, has the last word in our life—preposterously so.

These three invitations are easier said than done, of course. There is an appropriate way to be humorous in worship, but it’s all a matter of context and timing. A sermon that includes a joke is one thing; a jokey sermon is another. Levity of spirit should not be confused with misguided attempts to be “hip,” nor should liturgical festivity ever devolve to liturgical flippancy.

By way of a healthy model, we might look to the idea of play. In play, children revel in the sheer gratuity of life. In play, the universe comes into being as an expression of God’s sheer delight in being. And in play, Christians enter into a fundamental aspect of worship—as an act of wonderment and delight in the “grace that is piled on top of grace,” as Eugene Peterson translates John 1:16.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) once remarked that for children, play is a rehearsal for later life, without its burdens and gravity: “On this analogy, the liturgy would be a reminder that we are all children.” If Ratzinger is right, then the church at worship does well to rehearse the playful delight of God’s children in the eternal liturgy of heaven. We, like the saints before us, have been raised by force of grace to a life that fills our mouths with laughter and our tongues with shouts for joy.






W. David O. Taylor is assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. His book Glimpses of the New Creation: Worship and the Formative Power of the Arts is due out with Eerdmans in 2019 and his book Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life is due out with Thomas Nelson in 2020. He tweets at @wdavidotaylor.

This piece was adapted from an essay published in “Divine Comedy,” the November 2018 issue of Regent World, a publication of Regent College. Published with permission from Regent College.





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Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 16, 2019, 03:43:26 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/91022.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/beating-guns-shane-claiborne-michael-martin.html






Are Guns Inherently Evil?










Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin envision a future without firearms. Should believers rally to their cause?

 
Someone, somewhere in America will be the victim of gun violence today. Mass shootings have become part of our routine national experience. What should be done with guns? That, essentially, is the question animating a new book from Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin, Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence.

Claiborne and Martin argue that that guns should be destroyed and refashioned. Their argument runs like this: Guns are violent, violence is antithetical to peace, and because Christians must be committed to peace, they should oppose guns. No Christian who cares about peace is energized for violence.

Many readers will be familiar with Claiborne’s previous books on Christian nonviolence. He has been admirably consistent: Christians who take the teachings of Jesus seriously must forsake violence and pursue what makes for peace. In Claiborne’s case, this has meant a recurring emphasis on aiding the poor, sheltering the homeless, and advocacy against capital punishment. Martin, for his part, is the founder and director of RAWtools, Inc., a nonprofit that turns guns into gardening tools. Together, they want to beat guns, figuratively and literally.

Surprising Statistics

Beating Guns offers a useful historical overview of gun markets in the US and an instructive statistical analysis of American gun violence. The book is at its strongest when accounting for the scale of firearm ownership and use in the United States. Many of Claiborne and Martin’s findings are indeed quite alarming. Most people are aware, for example, that Americans own more guns and experience more gun violence than any other nation in the world. But did you know that Americans own half of all firearms globally, even though the US accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population? Did you know that of the 38,000-plus gun-related killings in America each year, more than half are the result of suicide? Even the statistical caveats offered are instructive. For example, 65 percent of guns are owned by 20 percent of gun owners, and of that latter group a mere 3 percent own half of all firearms!

Claiborne and Martin cite other statistics that might come as a surprise to readers. Even among gun owners largely committed to Second Amendment values, there is surprisingly broad consensus favoring specific regulatory policies. Around 85 percent support universal background checks covering private sales and gun shows, and somewhere around 65–68 percent support banning assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.

In a related chapter on “myth-busting,” Claiborne and Martin helpfully push back against some of the more popular arguments made about the utility and indispensability of guns. The belief that “guns keep us safe” has a certain intuitive logic. Surely they make their owners at least feel safer. But it turns out that “for every one gun used in self-defense, six more are used to commit a crime,” and at least one study has shown that a gun kept in the home is 12 times more likely to be involved in death or injury to a family member than to stop an intruder. Mace is often an equally effective deterrent.

When it comes to the history of the gun in the US, Claiborne and Martin are not interested so much in the technological chronology as they are in the development of the firearm market. They worry (understandably) about the mass production and marketing of firearms, connecting the economic development of munitions to stages of militarization, particularly defense contracts. The history of gun manufacturing, on their telling, is one of war, opportunism, busts, and ultimately commodification. As they put it, “Gun production went from a specialized skill to a corporate enterprise.” To this day guns remain icons of our national self-understanding.

From their statistical and historical insights, Claiborne and Martin build toward the theological argument of the book, one plainly in keeping with the authors’ longstanding commitment to Christian pacifism: Following Jesus means taking him at this word that his kingdom is a kingdom of peace. Guns, therefore, are false idols to be rejected. Christians cannot, as Claiborne and Martin argue, “carry a cross in one hand and a weapon in the other.” Being conformed to the image of the Son must involve rejecting violence, a violence Jesus helps his disciples “unlearn.”

Abolitionist Spirit
Beating Guns is in many ways an interesting and timely book. It offers an illuminating overview of our contemporary experience with firearms and situates that experience historically. That said, let me offer a few reasons why I’m not convinced that the book achieves its aims.

The chief problem is the authors’ insistence on condemning all firearms categorically. For Claiborne and Martin, the intrinsic purpose of a particular firearm is of little consequence. They are simply evil. The problem with this approach, however, is that proper moral assessment of firearms really does require differentiation by type and purpose. A 12-gauge shotgun, for instance, has an intrinsically different purpose than an AR-15 or a .22-caliber rifle. Some guns are designed for hunting, some for sport shooting, and some for self-defense. Is there really nothing to be said for the responsible hunter or sport shooter?

Taking a more realist approach to firearm regulation and to the church’s practices would have strengthened the moral force of the book considerably. Everyone is weary of violence, but a significant percentage of the weary do not find their shotguns or hunting rifles particularly threatening to themselves or to others. They are unlikely to catch the vision for how beating their rifles into gardening hoes makes the world less violent. One reason is that Claiborne and Martin never establish a firm Christian ethical argument for why firearms are inherently evil. Instead, the claim is implicit in their larger commitment to pacifism—a commitment that not every believer will share. Which means that a strength of the book—its emphasis on peacemaking—is also a weakness, in that its constructive proposals are unlikely to convince Christians who aren’t already pacifists.

As a result, the segments of the population that most need persuading are also the segments least likely to engage the book. Gun owners interested in discrete, measurable firearm regulations will be put off by its abolitionist spirit, since they are made out to be complicit in wrongdoing simply by owning firearms. That is the posture Claiborne and Martin believe necessary. A better method, I think, would have been to show how gun enthusiasts of different stripes could begin to understand peacemaking as limiting the violence guns can inflict. Help readers see clearly how specific firearms make our world more violent, and you’ll stand a better chance of drawing them to a moral vision of a more peaceful existence.

In articulating their goal of seeing all firearms repurposed as garden tools, Claiborne and Martin, of course, lean heavily on Isaiah 2:4, one of the Bible’s best-known prophetic passages, which speaks of a time when people will “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” If God has promised this reality, the authors say, then we should be doing our utmost to live into it today.

But there’s no escaping the deeply eschatological nature of this passage, which also speaks of how God “will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.” The reign of peace that God promises depends upon his final triumph over every form of sin and injustice. That triumph was announced and achieved at the cross, but in this period before Christ returns, we still await its full consummation.

Of course, none of this forces us into some fatalist resignation toward gun violence. Nor does it preclude taking prudent measures in the arena of public policy. But it does emphasize that our deepest hope for peace is not rooted in restricting or even abolishing weapons. We put our ultimate trust, instead, in the One who appoints those who bear the sword (Rom. 13), who has defeated death, and who reigns forever as the Prince of Peace, “having disarmed the powers and authorities” and “triumph[ed] over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). As Christ’s servants, we participate in his redemptive work, bringing the gospel of peace wherever we go.



Claiborne and Martin’s vision for how to beat guns may not be compelling in every respect, but their vivid portrayal of how guns are beating us makes the book well worth reading.



Matthew Arbo is assistant professor of theological studies and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Oklahoma Baptist University.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 22, 2019, 11:48:29 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/91155.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/june/prayer-polarization-pray-together-sunday.html






Prayer & Polarization












Amid societal polarization, American churches are dedicated July 7th to pray for the country.

 
Polarization has been trending for a long time. Especially in politics, but also in education, religion, economics, race, and more.

Even suggesting a place in the lonely middle-of-the-road can spark accusations of compromise and capitulation. Like the North Pole and the South Pole, polarization is about opposites that never meet and can’t even see each other. When it’s summer in the northern Arctic, it’s winter in the southern Antarctic.

Introduce a big What If.

What if Christians could set aside the cultural categories and extremes of our generation to center on the faith we all share in Jesus Christ? What if we could do something that demonstrated our Christian hope more than popular despair? What if together we made Jesus the winner rather than seeking victories for our sides of the lines that are dividing so many?

The proposal straight out of Washington, D.C.: Pray Together Sunday. It wasn’t my idea, but I was there when a staff member of the National Association of Evangelicals who is trained as a lawyer proposed a very Christian and biblical antidote to divisive polarization. She suggested choosing a summer Sunday for churches across our nation to pray together for God’s blessing in America.

Good idea with lots of reasons to say no. Of course it’s a good idea for churches to pray. No true Christian should object, but it’s easy to come up with a quick list of why it won’t work:

1. The idea is already taken. We already have a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of every May.
2. Prayer is already part of every weekend church service. Asking churches to pray is like asking dogs to bark — it’s what they already do.
3. Getting lots of churches to do anything together is tough to coordinate. Most churches like to make their own decisions, do what they are already doing and value independence over cooperation.

But, what if it works? Start with yes instead of no:

1. The National Day of Prayer is mostly about individuals praying rather than Sunday church praying. Multiple congregations praying together across traditions and geography on the same Sunday is an expression of the biblical Body of Christ.
2. Joining our prayer voices in solidarity with other churches beyond our usual network is a powerful expansion of our usual Sunday intercession as a congregation (dogs barking may be common but different breeds barking together across America on the same day would be a news story!).

It doesn’t take every Christian or every church to join in something for it to be spiritually significant and supernaturally powerful. Many churches have already proved it can be done since Pray Together Sunday was launched in July 2016.

3. Give it a try. Pray Together Sunday is scheduled for July 7, 2019. The date is part of the Independence Day holiday weekend — a good addition to celebrating our nation’s birthday; a date when most churches have space for an extra prayer in the order of worship—and probably not a high attendance weekend except in resort areas.

Propose to your pastor or church board that your church join Pray Together Sunday on July 7th. (Basic information and invitation is available at NAE.net/praytogether.)

Sign-up, simple and free, at NAE.net/praytogether to indicate that your church is in with others and not just an independent prayer site. (Sign-up is not required but good to do.)

Use free materials. Also simple and free: bulletin inserts, wording for church screens or printed bulletins.

Include time in the July 7 church service for one person or several persons to pray around the theme “Love God. Love Others.” Tell everyone that your congregation is joining in a special national prayer time with other churches across America.

WWJT = “What Would Jesus Think?” What would Jesus think of each of our churches praying for America at the same time in his name? What would Jesus think of our solidarity in obeying his command to love God and love our neighbors (Matt. 22:37-38)? I believe Jesus would like it.





Leith Anderson is head of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: Bladerunner on June 22, 2019, 07:23:47 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90841.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2019/june/summer-travel-how-road-trips-teach-me-trust-jesus.html






How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus




As I approach this season of pilgrimage, Scripture offers me a theology of travel.

 
My husband, Daryl, experiences more wanderlust than I do. He grew up in Southern California, traveling across the valley for high school basketball games, taking class field trips up the coastline, and loading up the church van for missions to Tijuana. On our family Sabbath, it’s Daryl who takes us out on the road around Southern California. When I ask where we’re headed, he smiles and nearly always says, “I’m not sure. Let’s just have an adventure.”

In particular, our trips to visit extended family bring out the differences in our travel methods. I plan ahead while Daryl enjoys serendipity; I prepare for every eventuality while he prefers to throw a few diapers and a bag of tortilla chips in the car and hope for the best. But since my husband’s side of the family lives in a Los Angeles—a thriving metropolis with all manner of convenience stores and restaurants—I’m learning to hang loose on these local treks.

As these drives to LA become more common, God is faithfully teaching me that my rigid, planned-up-to-the-minute travel method isn’t always the best one. In fact, the biblical model for following Jesus is much more Spirit-led than plotted in advance. It isn’t that preparation isn’t necessary or helpful, it’s that openness to the Spirit of God is more important still. “The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus tells Nicodemus in John’s gospel.

Paul’s journeys were continually interrupted by storms, bandits, imprisonments, and mobs, and once, when he made it all the way to the outskirts of the province of Asia, the Spirit of God turned him away at the last minute. Perhaps that’s why when God speaks to individuals in Scripture, his first call is often for them to step out in faith, to follow a new and previously unsought path. Much of the time God doesn’t even give the destination. The command is simple (and, if you’re a homebody like me, perhaps a little unsettling): “Go,” he says. “Go.”

God uses this word with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. “Go,” he says to Jonah. Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple, where he welcomes and blesses the infant Jesus. “Get up,” an angel says to Joseph in a dream, warning him to flee from King Herod’s murderous rage and go to Egypt.

As pilgrim people, we, too, are called to travel with our eyes open to the work of the Lord in the world around us. As N. T. Wright puts it, “A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey in the hope of encountering God or meeting him in a new way.” Whether we fly across the country or simply drive an hour to visit a friend, travel provides us with a unique opportunity to experience God anew by approaching our journey not just as travelers but pilgrims—people on the lookout for God at work and opportunities to join him.

Jesus was the ultimate pilgrim, after all, leaving his heavenly climes to not only visit with but live among humanity. He faced all the usual obstacles to comfort that plague us when we travel—difficulty in finding food and shelter, misreading the vibe of a particular place, and having to rely on the hospitality and grace of strangers, family, and friends. “Foxes have dens,” Jesus said, “and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus leans into this discomfort, telling his disciples to “take nothing for the journey.” He invites us to do likewise. (Though, to be fair, none of the disciples was toting a two-year-old. Surely then even Jesus would have advised bringing an extra snack or two.) Away from our usual environment, at the mercy of the road or the airlines or the weather or the host home, we are given the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: to receive welcome, to develop compassion, to grow in faith and trust that God will care for us throughout the journey and see us safely home at its end.

In my upcoming summer travels, I want to practice Christlike pilgrimage, watching for God as our family journeys, looking for opportunities to love those in my path with the love of Christ, and doing my best to accept discomfort and even disaster as means of discipleship and grace.

I also need to seek ways to slow down and listen—something that doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the lessons God offers to us in travel is to find peace amid the storm, to leave behind the intensity of our work lives and schedules and family pandemonium and settle into the quieter days of travel. As Carlo Carretto puts it, “That is the truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This ‘waiting,’ this ‘not making plans,’ this ‘searching the heavens,’ this ‘being silent’ is one of the most important things we have to learn.”

This insight comes home to me every time I visit my parents in the northern woods of Wisconsin, where I’m cut off from the busyness of my normal life. My parents’ internet is spotty; my cellphone works only intermittently; the last time I heard a siren of any kind was at the town Fourth of July parade half a decade ago.

Back home, Daryl and I often fall asleep watching The West Wing or The Office in an effort to still our ping-ponging thoughts. Here, however, any digital streaming takes literal hours to download, so we simply don’t. At night we open the windows to hear the oak and maple leaves blow in the wind, falling asleep with books on our chests. When we spend these days in the quiet of the northern forests, it’s as if Jesus stands at the helm of our proverbial boats during the storm of the usual daily grind—ministry, school, appointments, errands, household chores—and says, “Peace. Be still.”

In these pilgrimage moments, I’m ever so slowly learning to listen. I’m learning, too, that the journey, provision, and destination all belong to God.






Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author, most recently, of Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

This essay was adapted from Almost Holy Mama by Courtney Ellis. Copyright (c) 2019 by Courtney Ellis. Published by Rose Publishing, Peabody, MA. hendricksonrose.com








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Title: Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
Post by: patrick jane on June 28, 2019, 09:21:34 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/91232.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/let-womens-world-cup-get-political.html







Let the Women’s World Cup Get Political







When athletes become advocates around hot-button issues, Christians need not retreat.

 
All the reasons that we love following sporting events become even more enticing when the game is played at the highest level of competition and on a global scale.

This month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup brings the excitement and emotions of tournament play, wrapped up in the paradoxical feeling of watching games in which we act as if everything is at stake for us when in reality, very little truly is.

The US Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) has taken center stage, advancing into the quarterfinals; three more victories and the USWNT will maintain its title of best women’s soccer team in the world. Even Americans who otherwise don’t follow soccer feel a sense of pride and patriotism watching our team dominate on the field.

The players wearing the American flag on their jerseys also have distinct views about the nation they represent—what they see as the values most important to take a stand for, draw attention to, and speak out about.

Twenty-eight members of the USWNT have joined in a lawsuit arguing that the US Soccer Federation is in violation of the Equal Pay Act, since the women’s team makes a fraction of the men’s team, even though they play more games and have drawn in more viewers in recent years.

Megan Rapinoe, considered the “heart and soul” of the US squad, does not participate in the national anthem, in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Additionally, the team has offered their support of LGBT rights, with many of the USWNT players and coaches themselves belonging to LGBT communities.

Overall, the USWNT has not been shy about sharing their views—they follow a long legacy of American athletes who use their platform to address major issues. Think Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Billie Jean King.

Ali was arrested in 1966 for his refusal to be drafted into the military. But by 1996, the United States Olympic Committee chose the legendary boxer as the honorific to light the torch that commenced the Atlanta Olympics.

Runners Carlos and Smith were kicked off the 1968 Olympic team in the middle of the games for their black power demonstration, returning home to death threats. A 23-foot statue of them in San Jose now commemorates their legacy.

In tennis, Billie Jean King pioneered the battles that the USWNT still fights today—equal pay for women and LGBT rights. Seen as a radical in the 1970s, King has since been awarded numerous honors and titles, including a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In the midst of their dominating play so far, the issues many members of this USWNT stand for can be polarizing. Many Americans, and especially Christians, have followed their convictions and picked their sides on these matters.

There can be a temptation for some to bristle at the notion of “politicizing” sports in our current moment, particularly if they disagree with the team’s stances. Can’t soccer just be soccer? Can’t we have an escape from all the debate?

To complain that the USWNT has politicized the World Cup (or that Colin Kaepernick has politicized the NFL, for instance) is understandable. But the truth is that sport, like everything else, happens in a political context.

Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus and his followers pay particular attention to the political and cultural forces around them. Knowing this context becomes crucial for how they ultimately engage others, minister to them, and proclaim the gospel to them.

As Christians studying the interaction between faith and sports, we see this arena as another area where God calls us—as players, coaches, fans, and viewers—to engage with prayer and discernment.

We see a dimension to sports that gives believers a unique opportunity for ministry and a way to better understand society. (We talk about the many forms this faithful side of sports can take—ethically, philosophically, sociologically—at the Second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity, which is being held this fall at Calvin College.)

Just as Christians use their platforms to reflect their deeply held beliefs, through word or deed or sideline prayer on bended knee, Megan Rapinoe and her USWNT teammates are speaking with conviction, too. Whether or not we agree, as fans and followers of Christ, we can pay attention and listen.

By acknowledging the moral convictions in sport, we are reminded that these competitors are people, not just entertainment commodities. When we watch, we see athletes—not theologians or politicians—who come onto the field in the fullness of their humanity.

Like Ali, Carlos, Smith, and King, they have the chance to speak from the largest platform they’ll ever experience, and we have the opportunity to consider our own beliefs and views as we respond.

Would we rather just watch soccer as soccer? Probably. And for the 90-plus minutes between whistles, we usually do.

Sport gives us a chance to enjoy the pure excitement of the action and competition and also, at times, consider the social, moral, and political issues that surround it. USWNT isn’t bringing politics into soccer; they’re asking us to not ignore the politics they’ve dealt with in soccer and American society in general.

When sport and faith intersect, we could withdraw or dismiss it outright, or we could see it as an opportunity to better understand and pray for the global sporting community—one rife with the animosity that so often comes from intense competition.

Watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup reminds us how much we love the game. But it might also stir deeper appreciation when we remember the political and social context that got us here—including Title IX and the history of women fighting for their place in sports. While sports narratives are mostly told through players and the media, it is up to us how we consume them.

So, join in the fun. Enjoy the action. And rather than trying to downplay the surrounding social, moral, and political issues surrounding the games—pray for godly discernment in how we respond.





Chad Carlson is a Kinesiology professor and the director of general education at Hope College. Brian Bolt is the Dean of Education and Head Men's Golf coach at Calvin College. They are co-directors of the Second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity this coming October

Speaking Out is Christianity Today’s guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the magazine.