My Picks for Tuesday 4-26-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

This a very absorbing, inspiring, and challenging article about the church in China…

The China SyndromePhilip Yancey
“We live in a time like the apostles,” Pastor Yuan reflected.  “Christians here are persecuted, yes.  But look at Hong Kong and Taiwan—they have everything, but they don’t seek God.  I tell you, I came out of that prison with faith stronger than I went in.  Like Joseph, we don’t know why we go through hard times until later, looking back.  Think of it: we in China may have the largest Christian community in the world, and in an atheist state that tried to stamp us out!”…

…Chinese leaders know that all of the top fifteen countries ranked on a Prosperity Index have a Christian heritage.  Indexes that rank nations by freedom, lack of corruption, and gender equality show exactly the same trend.  Even die-hard atheists have to recognize that religious faith can have good effects on society.

David Aikman records a statement from a Chinese social scientist indoctrinated in Maoism.  “One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.  We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective.  At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.  Then we thought it was because you had the best political system.  Next we focused on your economic system.  But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.  That is why the West has been so powerful.  The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics.  We don’t have any doubt about this.”

In case you hadn’t heard…

Christian author Jen Hatmaker takes stand for LGBT inclusion Jonathan Merritt
“Her seeming shift will undoubtedly anger some conservative Christians who have decided that homosexual marriage and relationships are a hill on which to die. Hatmaker acknowledged that some Christians may abandon her in light of her evolution on this issue, but appears willing to accept whatever blowback is coming because she believes the stakes are too high.”

While on the subject: This excellent article by my very good friend appeared about a year ago. It showed up again in my FB newsfeed and I’m glad it did. It is truly worthy of your time and attention…

Pondering the Future of MarriageJon Weatherly
“But let’s not kid ourselves. Becoming clearer about what we object to morally, becoming more effective in showing Christ’s love to LGBT people are vital steps. But they will not satisfy the church’s critics. The real-time social media reaction to the ERLC conference shows that our critics will accept nothing short of full endorsement of same-sex marriage, even labeling the failure to endorse it as “hate.” We need to get used to that, if we aren’t already. Don’t search the Internet on this subject unless you’re consciously empowered with patience and grace from the Spirit of Christ.

As the church provides cruciform community, can we somehow address the culture at large? Conference participants answered with a thoughtful yes. Apart from the Bible and Christian theology, a potent case can be made for the traditional view of marriage.

Tired of the culture wars, many Christians concede they cannot impose their morality on others. Yet, if we believe same-sex marriage is harmful, we do not express love for neighbor by staying silent. An effective public case must be made without recourse to the Bible’s authority…Sherif Girgis and Ryan Anderson, two of the authors of the recent book, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, provided provocative approaches to the topic from what all can observe of the world around them. The church needs to become familiar with such ideas to maintain a faithfully robust witness…

…So will the church exhibit sufficient confidence in its position to engage the culture with patience, humility, and forthrightness? Bold in speech by our calling in Christ, we Christians generally talk about our beliefs a lot. Conscious of the difference Christ makes in us, we distance ourselves from those whose lives do not reflect that difference. But at least, in part, our words have failed to persuade because we have failed to make friends and listen to them.

Our bold speech and distinct identity can work differently. If we are confident about God’s Word and our standing with God, we can be confident enough to listen, empathize, and build respectful, loving relationships with LBGT people. They mostly know what we think, and we do not need to remind them in order to fulfill our responsibility or to maintain our purity. God’s Word is powerful enough that we can wait to speak, even if it is a long wait, and to speak with gentleness that befits the Christ of the cross.”

For church leaders who recruit leaders…

What Happens When Character Matters Less Than Talent?
Mike Leake
“It’s easy to pick on celebrity culture, but I wonder how often this plays out in the local church? You’ve got a gaping whole in your children’s ministry. It seems that all of your prayers are answered as Mr. Good-Theology expresses interest in heading up the department. He has passion, great theology, and tremendous talent. He’s also got a good deal of arrogance to match his gifts.

So what do you do?

Most will propel him to that position of leadership. On the front end the benefits seem to outweigh the pitfalls. We hope that eventually his character will catch up with his gifts. But it seldom does.”


Your idea has already been tried…
Your Idea Has Been Tried - Dilbert by Scott Adams
Click image for a larger view. Source: Dilbert

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