1917 - The Message that Saves

By now we have all heard of or seen the trailer for the blockbuster movie, 1917.  The story of two British soldiers in World War I who were selected to deliver an urgent message to a British regiment to stop an attack against the Germans.  If the message is not delivered in time and the British army proceeded with the attack, they would be led into an ambush and 1,600 British soldiers would be massacred.  To make the mission more personal, one of the soldiers to deliver the message, Lance Corporal Blake has a brother in the regiment that is about to be ambushed.  The suspense-filled movie is a race against time through WWI trenches, "no man's land", and enemies, to deliver an important message to save thousands of lives.

To ensure that I don't introduce spoilers for the movie, I won't mention any specifics that would alter the way the story is told.  But it is worth noting that World…

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The Lord of the Harvest is answering our prayers and calling church planters to enter into communities of poverty to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, make disciples of those who respond to the good news, and gather these believers into new churches.  It’s an encouragement that God is true to Himself desiring that none should be eternally separated from the joy of His Kingdom. 

The harvest field of souls is extremely complex.  The fields that are ripe unto harvest are vast and intermingled with cultures, complex issues that come with poverty, religions antagonistic to Christianity and of course, a Kingdom of Darkness intent of hindering the Gospel and keeping souls shackled in spiritual bondage.  It requires much prayer, creativity, and flexibility from the Evangel Deans who are equipping church plant teams.  Praise God for the Holy Spirit who provides the power, provision and creativity to address these complexities.  Dr. Maurice Mathu Omulubi, is the Apostolic Bishop…

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Closed Bars, Open Doors

Dozens of books have been published proving that the people of a place are the best ministers for that place. Missions around the world now recognize the priority of native believers in the work of reaching the lost.

Why then is it so hard to accept that incarcerated men and women can be empowered as disciples and leaders for the kingdom? Why is it so difficult to believe that the best ministers for prisons might be redeemed prisoners?

This is not a full answer, but I see at least 4 problems at play.

A Missiological Problem: We don’t view prison ministry as missions. We view it as compassionate charity. Missions is evangelizing, equipping, and empowering disciples to be strong and mature in the Lord. Charity is alleviating suffering. We view prison ministry as the latter, when in truth it should be the former.

A Theological Problem: We don’t believe in the equal status of incarcerated Christians. We apply the logic of the justice system, which strips…

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Read Fiction for Christ's Sake

Read Fiction for Christ’s Sake

‘Make the most of the time, because the days are evil’ says Paul to the Ephesian church (5.16). Somehow many of my brothers and sisters have taken this as an injunction against reading fiction. ‘Why would we spend time on something that is essentially a lie?’ says the diligent Christian. Never mind the time that we waste on so many other useless pursuits.

Sadly, this seems to be a case where many Christians use Paul’s words as their excuse for not having read a novel since their senior year of sophomore school. I say ‘No’ to this nonsense. Give me a good novel over a spiritual how-to book every day of the week. The problem with fiction is that it does not tell you what it means. It is dangerously open-ended and vague. It can strike readers in hundreds of different ways.

I am here to say that not only is this a good thing, but it is an essential concept that we need if we are to understand why people interpret the…

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Christ the Conqueror of Hell

Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The Descent into Hades from an Orthodox Perspective

By Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev (SVS Press, 2009)

 

What could a Russian Orthodox Archbishop’s in-depth look at Eastern liturgies have to do with the urban church? Very much it turns out.

Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev demonstrates that while emphasizing Christ’s decent to Hades may be out of fashion today, it was vital to the early church. He shows this from the New Testament, other early Christian writings, and the Church Fathers. The early church’s hope rested entirely on Christ’s victory over death and hell. This belief fundamentally shapes the life of the church. 

The second half of the book delves deeper into the Eastern Orthodox liturgies and will perhaps not be as interesting as the first half for many non-Orthodox readers. However, the survey from the New Testament through the Fathers is worth the price of the book. The author successfully shows that…

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Letters to the Church: A Response/Review

Letters to the Church by Francis Chan (David C Cook, 2018)

“Imagine you find yourself stranded on a deserted island with nothing but a copy of the Bible. You have no experience with Christianity whatsoever, and all you know about the Church will come from your reading of the Bible.” So begins Francis Chan’s Letters to the Church. Choosing to frame his work with this scenario highlights the basic shortcoming this book.

I should begin by saying there is much that is worthwhile in Letters to the Church. With emphases on prayer, the Spirit, sacredness, the Church as a family, what’s not to love? People are coming to Christ, churches are multiplying. All good things.

Unfortunately, Letters fails to address the assumption inherent in the opening scenario, and this colors much of what follows.

Yes, I understand that this is a thought experiment, a hypothetical situation meant to make us reflect on what Scripture says.…

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As we live out the Great Commission to the people groups around the globe, we are challenged with contextualizing the vast differences in people based on ethnicity, race, culture and life experiences.  While it may sound simple to say that we should "just share the Gospel", we cannot ignore the complexities caused by our own ethnocentricities making it difficult to present the Gospel in a way that is void of our own cultural biases and life experiences.  In other words, it would be naive to think that our culture is neutral and everyone else's is biased.  We share our lives within our own lens and biases.  Yet, we know we have been tasked with the Great Commission to take the Gospel to the ends of the world.  This is one of the key challenges of missions.  How do we know what is "raw" Gospel truth and what has been influenced by our own culture and experiences?
 
A lingua franca, sometimes called a bridge language or common language, is a…
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If God Gave Revival to the City, What Would it Look Like?

If you are a believer, you probably have some idea of what revival looks like, or, at the very least, have longed for an extraordinary move of God to come in your family, church, and city.  Within believing circles, saints and congregations have historically prayed for revival.  Prayer concerts, camp meetings, special services, all night vigils, and seasons of seeking God dot our various church calendars, albeit less than a century ago.  Still, believers long for revival, for a fresh visitation of the Lord, for renewal of faith, for corresponding actions of justice and compassion, and for an abundant harvest of souls.

Often times, though, we associate revival with wild eyed preaching, scary spiritual manifestation, or targeted rants against particular social sins.  Those who do not wish to be associated with fanaticism will steer…

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