Daily Archives

March 21, 2018

The 10 Celebrities Evangelicals Trust Most and Least on Politics

Survey ranks political endorsements from Trump to Oprah to Jerry Falwell Jr. Jerry Falwell Jr.’s political advice falls somewhere between President Donald Trump’s and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s when ranked by evangelicals—and Americans overall—in a new poll of registered voters. According to Morning Consult, endorsements by prominent religious leaders hold more clout with self-identified US evangelicals than those by other celebrities, but still aren’t as impactful as endorsements by other politicians themselves. Evangelicals were most likely to heed recommendations by top leaders from recent administrations; nearly half (49%) said Trump’s endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a particular candidate, more than any other figure. Vice President Mike Pence (46%), President George W. Bush (43%), House Speaker Paul Ryan (34%), and President Barack Obama (33%) made up the rest of the top five for evangelicals, while a few spiritual and religious leaders ranked among the top 10: Oprah (31%), Joel Osteen (28%), and Jerry Falwell Jr. (27%). (Editor’s note: Morning Consult’s survey, conducted online from February 28 to March 2, relied on a multiethnic sample of 565 evangelicals for its questions for all current and former US presidents (and spouses) in the survey, while questions on other celebrities…

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Getting Small Churches on Mission (Part 4)

More ways small churches can serve their communities 8. Small churches could develop a jail ministry. Local and county jails almost always appreciate any attempt to lower recidivism and the evangelism and discipleship of inmates is a proven way to lower repeat offenses. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world with over 2.5 million persons locked up. Of those, approximately 1 million are in city or county jails. Unlike state or federal prisons, those in jail have often not yet been convicted of a crime. They have been charged with an offense (major or minor) and are awaiting trial. Persons convicted of sentences of a year or less often serve out their time in a jail. Jails are a fertile ground for sharing the gospel liberally. Jail ministry, like all new ministries, must be birthed after a long time of prayer with those who are interested in such a mission. Let the Holy Spirit soften your heart to incarcerated persons. Mediate on Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:36–40. When you minister to those in jail, to the least of these, you are ministering unto Jesus himself. After confirming a commitment to this ministry, set up a meeting…

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Faith in Russia: What Does It Mean?

Many Russians, be they Orthodox or Evangelical, will understandably view their homeland with affection, loyalty, and patriotism. After brief instructions from the Lutheran Archbishop Dietrich Brauer, we processed up the center aisle of the St. Peter-and-St. Paul Lutheran Cathedral in Moscow, launching the 500th Anniversary observance of the Protestant Reformation. Robed in gowns and hats of all colors and shapes, leaders of various Christian groups gathered in this important Moscow celebration: Lutherans, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, but there were no Russian Orthodox representative in the procession. As we passed the front row moving toward the raised platform, I saw an Orthodox priest standing. Even as we gathered around the altar for prayer, he remained apart. Later, I learned that while he would attend the service, he would not join in procession or prayer: according to the ancient Orthodox rule, a priest who prayed with heretics would lose his priesthood. This is Russia. A country in curious shifts and alterations more mysterious than the Trump/Putin insults and bravados. I live with memory of a state, the Soviet Union, ruled by atheists insisting that the Communist and Marxist dictum of “no God” be their country’s mantra. But it is wrong to assume…

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Commentary: The Lord’s Prayer’s Hard Plea

Does God lead us into temptation? Do we have to ask him not to? As most Christians know from painful experience, temptation is as easy to find as it is hard to resist. Every day, in a hundred ways, we face pressure to cut corners, mistreat others, and gratify our wayward desires. Sometimes we grasp the danger and paddle mightily against the current. Other times we sink into sin as if relaxing into an easy chair. But frequent failure leaves us demoralized and ashamed. Temptation already feels like an unfair fight. So why would God ever ratchet up the difficulty? This hypothetical lies at the heart of Pope Francis’s recent remarks on the Lord’s Prayer. During the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught his disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Speaking on Italian television last December, the pope wondered whether “Lead us not into temptation” should instead be translated as “Do not let us fall into temptation.” The trouble with the common translation, in the pope’s reading, is that it pictures God pushing us toward sin rather than pulling us away. After all, we wouldn’t ask him not to…

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Changing Direction – Reflections on the Chicago River at St. Patrick’s Day

When we follow Jesus, we do what the Chicago River did in 1900: we change direction. My husband and I live in downtown Chicago. Since I work at Wheaton College, people often ask, “Why don’t you live in the suburbs? Isn’t it a hassle to commute every day?” And from those who live in another state and only know the city fromknow the city the news, we often hear, “Is it safe to live in Chicago?” Living in the city was an intentional choice for us. We wanted to rub shoulders with men and women from all different backgrounds who might be open to hearing about God’s love and his invitation into a relationship. Plus it’s fun! We love the hustle and bustle of the city, the cultural variety of people who live here, and the great activities that happen throughout the year. As just one example, every year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the local Plumbers’ Union dyes the Chicago River green. This tradition is more than 50 years old and draws over 400,000 spectators to the banks of our river. Some years are a little more interesting than others. In 2013, we stood by the Wrigley Building and…

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