Daily Archives

March 27, 2018

What Will You Do Each Day to Make Our World—and Those Around You–Better?

What if we challenged ourselves to shift our focus from self-improvement to fostering community? As what all too quickly happens, the New Year pizazz motivates us to make some positive changes or accomplishments with our lives and year ahead, and then quickly dims into tiredness, excuses, or disappointments as only about 8% of us actually keep our resolutions. But what if we were to have a different focus this year which might last the whole year through? What if we challenged ourselves to shift our focus from self-improvement to fostering community? What if each day this year, we woke up with this challenge running in our veins, motivating us to make a positive impact right in our own homes, neighborhoods, and communities? And what if this challenge was fueled by a deep love for Jesus and a desire to show and share his love with others? This is something the Billy Graham Center is all about—showing and sharing the love of Jesus in this broken and hurting world. It's a place I'm grateful for as both a world hub of evangelism training and a team to be serving on. This team of outstanding professionals love Jesus and desire to make…

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The Palms, the Temple, and the Nations

What made Jesus explode in the Temple on Monday is actually related to his Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. The black Baptists of the South are not known for their adherence to a liturgical calendar, but we do know Palm Sunday and Easter. Palm Sunday is the tremor before the earthquake of our resurrection celebration, the birth pangs. Palm Sunday, then, is not the time for the best songs, suits, or dresses. The palms and shouts of hosanna are a preparation for something greater, the acclamation that Christ is risen. But as the Palm Sundays have stacked one upon the other, more questions linger. What did Jesus want to teach us when he entered Jerusalem astride a donkey to the shouts of hosanna? Did he do it so that we would have a nice liturgical action of palm-waving to entertain the kids on the verge of Eastertide? Immediately following Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem amid waving palm branches, Matthew, Mark, and Luke record that his next stop is to clear out the Temple. What does the clearing of the Temple have to do with palms and the parade from earlier? Last and most importantly, what do these two events have to…

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Bill Hybels Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Former Willow Creek Leaders

John and Nancy Ortberg, others confront megachurch with its own #MeToo moment. “The charges against me are false,” says Hybels of former friends’ “collusion.” When the #MeToo movement arose this past fall, Willow Creek Community Church sprang into action. “If you’ve been sexually harassed or harmed, your pain matters—to us and to God,” the suburban Chicago megachurch posted on its Facebook page, along with details about how to get help. A handful of Willow Creek’s female leaders, including cofounder Lynne Hybels, also joined the Silence Is Not Spiritual campaign, calling on evangelical churches to stand up for women who had experienced sexual harassment and sexual violence. Now the megachurch may have a #ChurchToo problem, one that pits cofounder Bill Hybels against some of his longtime friends. A group of former pastors and staff members has accused Hybels of a pattern of sexual harassment and misconduct, the Chicago Tribune reported tonight. The group includes John and Nancy Ortberg, well-known pastors and authors who are both former teaching pastors at Willow Creek and longtime friends of Bill and Lynne Hybels. It also includes Leanne Mellado, a former Willow staff member who is married to Santiago “Jim” Mellado, the former longtime head of…

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One-on-One with Brian Rosner on Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity

Being known by God brings significance, humility, comfort, and direction. Ed: How did you get interested in the topic of personal identity? Brian: It was for very personal reasons. Back in the 1990s I had my own crisis of identity of sorts. Some big changes happened in my life and I found myself asking some uncomfortable questions. I talk about it in the opening pages of the book. Being a Christian, I turned to God and the Bible for answers. What I found made an enormous difference to me personally. It also dawned on me that I was far from alone in wrestling with questions of personal identity. In the ensuing years I had conversations with and read about people in all sorts of circumstances—people who’d been made redundant; people whose parents had died; people whose identity online leaves them feeling like a phony; people with questions about gender and sexuality; people who felt deflated by their aspirations for life not coming to fruition; people who felt diminished by consuming responsibilities for children or parents; and people who felt at sea in our rapidly changing world. As Kevin Vanhoozer puts it, at the beginning of a new millennium, the human…

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We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries

Allegations of child sexual abuse and staff cover-up continue to swirl. Let’s set an example for all churches to follow, bringing healing to victims and churches alike. For nearly six years now, an open wound has been festering in the evangelical community. It’s time for healing to begin. But that healing cannot begin until we all know the exact nature and extent of the wound; until all the facts are out in the open; until the truth that liberates can be known; and most importantly, if and when it is pertinent, there is repentance. To put it simply: Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC; formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries) and its individual churches and leaders, present and former, who have been accused of failing to adequately respond to past incidents of child and sexual abuse should submit to a thorough, truly independent investigation. For six years now—and more intensely in the last few weeks—charges and counter-charges (see links below), accusations and defenses have been conducted in public forums and in the courts, without a satisfactory conclusion. This has left many, many observers bewildered, angry, and deeply suspicious of SGC and these accused churches. What’s worse, these unseemly events reverberate outward, mixing with the…

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