Copyright 2017 - Marion First Friends Church

Christianity Today

  1. How Hispanic evangelicals hope to become Israel’s best friends.

    When Tony Suarez lost his wife to cancer last year, the Passover song he learned at his first Seder meal only months before became his anthem.

    Just as the Jewish people sing dayenu—“it would have been enough”—about God saving them from the plagues and leading them out of Israel, the Virginia pastor proclaimed that God’s faithfulness was enough, even without the miracle he had prayed for.

    “That song meant everything,” said Suarez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). “And we wouldn’t have known it if we hadn’t been in a synagogue.”

    Suarez is helping to lead a movement among Latino evangelicals that aspires to change the face of Christian Zionism in America.

    For the past few years, the NHCLC’s Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) has brought Latino churches—some with blue-and-white Israeli flags in their sanctuaries and Hebrew songs in their worship sets—together with pro-Israel and Jewish groups.

    The coalition has organized seminars, trips to the Holy Land, and sit-downs with Israeli politicians in order to make Hispanics “the most pro-Israel, pro-Jewish demographic.” With arms extended and flags waving, its members pray with their congregations for the peace of Jerusalem and the well-being of Israel.

    In addition to events in places like New York, Florida, and Washington, DC, HILC leaders have also advocated across Latin America against anti-Semitism and for the Jewish state. For example, Orlando pastor Carlos Ortiz has joined advocates for Israel in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Nicaragua reestablished a diplomatic relationship with the Jewish state earlier this year after a seven-year...

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  2. When one person’s rights are violated, everyone’s rights are in jeopardy.

    As I understand it, Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem was birthed from a conversation between him and an Army Green Beret member during the time when Kaepernick was sitting in protest of what he viewed as unfair treatment of African Americans by the law enforcement community.

    The Green Beret service member approached Kaepernick and they discussed how the service member viewed his act of sitting. Subsequently, Mr. Kaepernick agreed to kneel instead of sit. As I understand it, afterwards, they both left with a healthy respect for one another.

    This demonstrates something important. When we choose to engage in dialogue as a means of education and enlightenment in regards to differences in perspective and culture, we can make strides to bridging the gap of understanding.

    As a veteran of the Marine Corps, the notion of kneeling during the playing of our National Anthem in silent protest lends to an array of conflicting emotions for me personally. Part of this is simply the fact that during the Anthem, I am in deep reflection.

    Having proudly served in the Marine Corps, my conviction concerning the National Anthem is that it’s great! It’s part of the cornerstone of our great nation. The men and women who have diligently served in any capacity of the Armed Forces are unified in their allegiance to protect and defend the United States.

    To many, the Anthem signifies both the pride and the sacrifice of those who serve and have served, and those who’ve fought and will fight in defense of our nation. In the same vein and with the same proclivity in the interest of freedoms nationwide, it is vitally important that the rights and liberties that those in our branches of the...

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  3. What beaming a proton to space has to do with salvation.

    When news broke this summer that Chinese scientists had engineered the successful “teleportation” of a photon over a distance greater than 300 miles, Star Trek fans around the globe rejoiced. It was, however, a belated celebration: Teleportation has been around as a serious theory for 25 years and has been a reality in the lab for 20.

    On the other hand, one might argue the celebration was premature. If one defines teleportation as the transfer of an object from one place to another without crossing intervening space (what Scotty does when Jim Kirk is in trouble), then what the Chinese performed was not teleportation. The object, a photon, was not transferred, but information about the object—its quantum footprint, so to speak—was.

    While Star Trek fans might be disappointed, scientists, technology companies, and the intelligence community are thrilled. Because teleportation, or “telephresis” as some scientists prefer to call it, happens instantaneously and without crossing intervening space, it may have the potential of providing hacker-proof communications security and next-generation cryptography.

    This kind of teleportation is possible because of the strange interaction of subatomic particles, which physicists refer to as “entanglement.” According to Randy Isaac, a solid-state physicist and executive director emeritus of the American Scientific Affiliation, a particle can be entangled with another particle in such a way that their quantum properties, such as position, speed, and spin, are linked. An action performed on the first particle instantaneously affects its partner particle, regardless of the distance between them in space or, as Einstein taught us to say, spacetime.

    Entanglement...

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  4. Church leaders need to be in social media spaces

    Social media use is pervasive in American culture today. The various social media platforms we use are the 21st century version of the town square—they are modern-day spaces to exchange ideas, learn the news, and more.

    Once upon a time, it was trendy to think that social media was a trend—a cultural oddity of the new millennium that would pass as quickly as it burst onto the scene.

    Social media is not going away anytime soon, for better or worse. According to Pew Research Center in 2016, about 79% of adults who use the internet use Facebook, 32% use Instagram, and 24% use Twitter. Of the 68% of all Americans who use Facebook, 76% of them use it daily.

    Pastors and church leaders need to be in social media spaces. Here are three basic ways I see pastors and church leaders undermine themselves on social media, and some ideas about how to avoid these missteps:

    1. Trying to Become Famous

    It makes me sad when I see Christian leaders vying for the attention of people on social media when all they really want to do is make themselves look important. All of us can be guilty of this sort of prideful pursuit from time to time, but some pastors and church leaders do nothing on social media but try to make themselves look more influential than they actually are.

    The most common way pastors and church leaders try to make themselves look more influential than they actually are is by purchasing Twitter followers or Facebook likes. Rather than spending the time to build a following of people who are interested in their content, they spend money to pad their stats and build hollow “influence.”

    The ways in which trying to become famous on social media undermines the leadership of local church leaders are many.

    Trying to become...

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  5. Hosted by Drs Ed Stetzer and Lynn Cohick

    In this episode of Theology for Life, Ed and Lynn talk about John the Baptist and different baptismal traditions. How should we view baptism, and what do we find in Scripture? What’s happening in baptism? And what’s the role of repentance in baptism?

    Dr. Lynn Cohick is professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.

    Dr. Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

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