Have You Ever


Have you ever seriously tried to forgive someone who has wronged you?  Have you ever seriously tried to be compassionate and patient?  Have you ever tried to let Christ’s peace, Christ’s words, Christ’s name be the reality around which you order your life?  If you have, You’ll know it’s not easy.  It takes serious prayer and real moral effort.  And people who engage in that effort tend to be people that are also capable of taking difficult decisions and engaging in difficult activities in other spheres as well.

Excerpted from Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters by N. T. Wright

 

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Immature


It is possible to be “in Christ” and be immature, not understanding fully what it means, not grasping the new possibilities and responsibilities set before us.  The road to maturity is through teaching and instruction.  What you need for that is teachers with boundless energy; and what you need for that is the life-giving power of the King Himself, working with Paul then and Christian teachers ever since.  Great demands will be made on them.  But the energy which Jesus inspires within them is always more than equal to the task.

Excerpt from Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters by N.T. Wright

God in Gotham


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Reposted from Mustard Seed Budget

New York City – never considered the spiritual heartbeat of America — is now experiencing revival, especially among millennials flocking to upbeat services with vibrant faith communities.

“A lot of people told us, ‘this is the graveyard of churches. Don’t go there. All the hipsters won’t want to come to church.’ We felt that’s the best place to be, where no one wants to go to church,” said Josh Kelsey, senior pastor of C3 Brooklyn Church.

In 1989, less than 1% of city residents attended church, according to CBN. But now about 5% goes to church, and there are hundreds of churches, big and small, scattered throughout the city.

The C3 Church in Brooklyn

The C3 Church in Brooklyn

“New York has reached the tipping point,” CBN concluded. If current trends continue, it could become a majority Christian city by the year 2026, according to CBN.

It turns out that Batman is not going to save Gotham City. Jesus is.

The formula for success has been to revive the unchanging elements like prayer and Bible study while changing the liturgy and relational dynamics to fit the multi-cultural, educated population of the city, pastors say.

“Church for me was a place where I always felt I had to be perfect,” said one church-goer. “C3 allows me to embrace my imperfections and know that God still loves me regardless. So it’s changed my perspective because I know I can still be a human and still beloved by God, which is not an idea I had before.”

Pastor Josh Kelsey

Pastor Josh Kelsey

A 2013 Barna survey found 32% of residents of the Big Apple considered themselves born-again, up from 20% in the 1990s, Religion News Service reported

“New York City is not known as a particularly religious place,” the RNS article stated. “But it is more spiritually active today than even 2001 in the wake of 9/11.”

The Presbyterians and the Dutch Reformed Churches were strong in New York City in the early 1800s but began to misfire as the city grew and changed its ethnic makeup, according to Pastor Tim Keller, a prominent minister in NYC.

When Catholic immigrants flooded Lower Manhattan in the 1880s, churches found themselves with fewer and fewer members. Restaurants, stores and theaters burgeoned, supplanting churches as a social gathering place. Many churches moved out of the ethnic downtown, and others built houses of worships in a fruitless effort to attract congregations, Keller said.

With numbers dwindling, churches grasped for fixes. Charles Briggs of Union Theological Seminary tried modernizing the message, teaching that much of scripture contains error. This gave rise to liberal Christianity, and instead of attracting followers with a more “intellectually reasonable” message, it finished off local churches, Keller said.

In recent years, New York City grew more expensive and cosmopolitan, attracting college-educated professionals who sometimes took a dim view of faith. In 1989, only 1% of the city attended a Bible-preaching church.

But now a new generation of Christian leaders is spearheading a pendulum swing back to God. Mac Pier, founder of the New York City Leadership Center, coordinates “concerts of prayer” with a network of congregations in the city.

“There’s been a huge hunger in churches across New York to come together and pray together over the last 25 years,” he told The Christian Post in 2014. “We’ve had 2000 churches, over a quarter of a million people that have gathered in various expressions of prayer including prayer walks, prayer summits, the National Day of Prayer. We have had a daily prayer vigil” for over 20 years.

Pastor Tim Keller pastors a Presbyterian church in New York.

Pastor Tim Keller pastors a Presbyterian church in New York.

There are 2,500 Hispanic churches, 800 Korean churches and 400 churches in Harlem alone, Pier said.

“They make a contribution to the community,” he said. “The provide volunteerism. They engage public schools. Ninety percent of the active Christian church is non-white. New York is probably the most international church in human history.”

Christianity Today reported in 2013 the “proliferation of immigrant churches and white evangelicals, who now compose up to 5 percent of NYC’s population. Here, charismatic Christians are challenging their city’s wide divide between weak and strong—and showing that there is a power beyond the dollar and the degree.”

Indeed, New York City is not an abyss of zombies, Starbucks-sipping elites who believe they’re too smart to believe in God. It is a vibrant community much in need of responding to God.

“We’re not coming in with a message that will discourage them but rather lift their eyes to know who Jesus is,” said Pastor Kelsey. “If we do it from a place of humility and empathy, then people are receptive to it. Even if they’ve never heard it before or they come in thinking this is irrelevant, once they come in and sense the presence of God and the community and the fellowship, they really do open up to what God is about.”

In Defense of Dee


Desiree Andrews is a student at Lincoln Middle School in Wisconsin who has Down Syndrome. While cheering for her basketball team on the sidelines, she became the target of harmful comments from the stands.

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Three boys who were playing in the game overheard the comments directed at Desiree. They stopped the game, walked off the court, and took action.

“The kids in the audience were picking on Dee, so we all stepped forward,” said player Chase Vazquez (pictured below on the left).

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“It’s not fair when other people get treated wrong because we’re all the same. We’re all created the same. God made us the same way,” added player Scooter Terrien.

Now, Desiree never walks to class alone.

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Students have been drawn to her after a situation that could have taken away this pretty smile.

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The last home game on March 9 was played in Desiree’s honor, with the boys chanting “Who’s house? Dee’s house!”

Read more at http://www.sunnyskyz.com/good-news/1072/Middle-School-Basketball-Players-Walked-Off-The-Court-To-Defend-A-Cheerleader-Being-Bullied/?__scoop_post=ff29d540-c9b6-11e4-f0e8-90b11c3d2b20&__scoop_topic=1467548#ERTHRhaC5wbPeyTj.99

You Got Served


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Reposted from Sunny Skyz

Residents of this Colorado town woke up to a pleasant surprise when they found all their driveways and sidewalks had been shoveled.

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The mystery shovelers only left a flyer attached to front doors that read, “You’ve been served.”

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As it turns out, over 50 homes in the area had been “served” by six teenagers who chose to wake up early and do something nice for the community. The high schoolers said they just wanted to pay it forward.

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When offered money, the teens refused. When offered hot chocolate, they couldn’t resist.

Texas Elementary School Refuses To Cover Up ‘Controversial’ Plaque


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Reposted from Opposing Views

A Christian plaque at Mountain Peak Elementary School in Midlothian, Tx, has galvanized the small community against the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which wants the plaque removed because it sits on public property.

In August, MyFoxDFW.com reported that school officials covered the plaque with duct tape in an effort to avoid a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (video below).

However, after someone pulled the duct tape down, the school said it had no plans to cover the plaque back up.

The plaque features two crosses and states, “Dedicated in the year of our Lord 1997 to the education of God’s children and to their faithful teachers in the name of the Holy Christian Church – Soli Deo Gloria.”

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the school district superintendent on June 26 that said, “The plaque at Mt. Peak Elementary offends the Constitution… since the plaque specifically promotes ‘the Holy Christian Church’ and contains a Latin phrase meaning ‘glory to God alone’ or ‘glory to the only God.’ The two Latin crosses on the plaque further solidify its impermissible purpose.”

A similar religious plaque is on display at the nearby Longbranch Elementary school, but was not covered.

Hiram Sasser, an attorney with the Liberty Institute, told MyFoxDFW.com, “This type of religious censorship just because it happens to have religious references is really hostility to religion, and that kind of hostility should not be tolerated. They probably are not going to bring a lawsuit, and until they do, there’s no reason to do anything with the plaques.”

Several Midlothian residents appeared at the Midlothian School Board meeting last night to keep the Christian plaque on public property.

“We’re just wanting to practice our faith here in the Bible Belt, and being able to express our faith is very important in this community,” Rev. Bennie Leonard told NBC Dallas Fort Worth.

Rev. Leonard’s Liberty Baptist church is across the street from Mountain Peak Elementary School, but has not been subjected to any complaints by the Freedom From Religion Foundation because the church sits on private property.

“Our organization is about keeping religion out of the government,” Freedom From Religion Foundation Attorney Sam Grover told NBC Dallas Fort Worth. “Because these plaques are on the school building, they’re not individual speech. They’re government speech, and that is restricted.”