If you’re over the age of 40 like me, you probably have a distant memory of revivals. They were about a week long and often involved a traveling evangelist who came in specifically for the saving of souls. He’d talk frequently about hellfire, and the need to have a sufficient reply to God when you die and face him.
As you may know, Pakistan is on the northwest border of India. It’s a relatively young country. Created in 1947 as a separate country from it’s motherland of India, it was to serve as a home specifically for Indian Muslims. Pakistan even means land of the pure, in a religious sense. However, the founder of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, did provide freedom for minority faiths to prosper openly. That said, if you’re a Pakistani Christian today, you can bet on persecution.
Ready for a bit of Bible geography? I hope so. Knowing the geography in and around Israel is an important part of our understanding the whole Bible – from the call of Abram to the travels of Paul. We should consider including geographic details as part of our instruction, both in small Bible studies and embedded in our sermons.
A long time ago I remember hearing a Scott Wesley Brown song about Africa. The chorus says, “Please don’t send me to Africa, I don’t think I’ve got what it takes. I’m just a man, I’m not a Tarzan, don’t like lions, gorillas or snakes. I’ll serve you here in suburbia in my comfortable middle class life, but please don’t send me out into the bush where the natives are restless at night.” That was 1995. Today, the Internet a plethora of news, some of it good news, about God’s work around the world. Still, our discomfort about how this news might effect, change, and shape us is the same.
Every year it’s the same summertime forecast in church. Attendance is lower, giving is off, and activities slow down. Families vacation or simply skip out to enjoy the outdoors. It can be a season where discipleship hits a wall or is refreshed, depending on the intensity of your weekly small groups and the preaching schedule.
“Friends everywhere, I ask you to pray as I preach,” said Charles Fuller. “In all my ministry never have I felt the conflict of Satanic powers as I do now when I stand before the microphone, preaching the shed blood of Christ as sinful man’s only way of approach to God.”
Charles Fuller’s call to Gospel ministry began with hearing Ephesians 1:8, preached by Paul Rader in 1917. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,” Paul writes, “in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” After that day at the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, Charles Fuller was never the same.
July 4, 2017, marks 241 years since the American colonies declared independence from the British Empire. For the American colonists, the after effects of the expensive French-Indian War of 1754-63 brought about the need for separation, as the British exploited increasing ways to make the colonists pay their fair share of wartime expenses.
Today, few churchgoers think much about whether the colonists had any biblical grounds to go against the king in 1776, especially since the United States is a story of success. But, as with any war, it is good wrestle with what Scripture instructs and allow God to shape us through his Word and not our own. This is certainly true as we approach Independence Day celebrations.
According to Asia Harvest, there are approximately 84 million Protestant Christians and 21 million Catholics in China. That sounds like a lot of people, but it represents only 7.7 percent of China’s population. Compared to only four million in 1949, the number of Christians has rapidly increased, especially since the government eased religious restrictions in the 1970s. That said, Communist China keeps a watchful eye on churchgoers, forcing them to document their activity. The government also tears down church buildings or the distinguishing mark of their cross in the name of beauty.
As the summer begins, it might be fruitful and challenging to ask about vacations. Is it biblical to take a summer vacation? Is vacation such a modern invention of time that the Bible doesn’t answer the question? Like other cultural assumptions, are we simply accepting a practice as normative without investigating it through the lens of God’s Word? How can we as church leaders begin to unpack this question for our parishioners?
South Sudan is a landlocked country that claimed its independence in 2011, making it the world’s newest nation. Sudan is in the north, Ethiopia is to its east, and there are four other countries that border it. According to Samaritan’s Purse, there’s a level 4 famine occurring in the country, which means, “Widespread social breakdown; markets close; survival strategies widespread; affected population identifies food scarcity as the major societal problem.”