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We love the church. We love how beautiful, fun, messy and weird she is. She is the body of Christ, the city on a hill, the messenger of salvation.
However, this very love also compels us to point out when some of her bodyparts do things that are very, very wrong.
As the coronavirus pandemic marches on, we’re sad to report that the response of some Christians has been outrageously damaging. Either by using the crisis to earn money, spreading wild conspiracy theories or encouraging their church members to infect each other.
We must not forget that many other Christians do an amazing job of combatting the virus, helping the vulnerable and preaching the Gospel.
That being said, let’s have a look at the five worst Christian responses to the pandemic. (more…)
Originally published at christiancommunity.org.uk.
Coming to the UK was a sacrifice. I had to leave friends and family behind in Sweden, including my girlfriend – now fiancée – Sarah. I had to say no to speaking requests and opportunities to do the things I love the most. I had to prepare and plan the community we want to start in Sweden from a distance, which is far from easy.
This is a price I have been willing to pay. The new friendships I’ve built with people here and the practical experience of community of goods have been invaluable. As David Janzen writes in his Intentional Christian Community Handbook: starting a community from scratch without at least one person having lived in community previously, is a very bad idea. Even the apostles had to be trained in community life by Jesus himself before they founded their Jerusalem community church (John 13:29, Acts 2:44-45).
What I had not expected was the amount of “giving” I felt compelled to do in contrast to “receiving”. As I’ve written before, I have not mainly been inspired during my Training year. Rather, I have focused on inspiring others.
I guess this is because I have a hard time being an onlooker when I notice stuff that can be improved! This has in most cases been welcomed and appreciated, of which I am grateful. (more…)
Charismactivist apostle of love Heidi Baker recently visited Sid Roth’s show It’s Supernatural, where she shared testimonies about what God has done in her life and among the poor of Mozambique. The following testimony just gripped my heart, it can be heard from 11:30 onwards in the video:
Every Monday, in Mozambique, I visit my village. It’s just my local village, I like to keep it real – we have 3500 children in our school from there so I like to see their families. And I just sit and hold he poor, spending time loving them…
And on my way back from visiting a mama named Tina, I saw this little, old woman. And she was really poor, you know, her clothes were shredded, and a strange thing was that she was sitting in the sun. And I thought: “Why is this woman sitting in the sun in Mozambique?” It’s hot! At least she should be in the shade.
And I said “What’s your name?” in our local dialect. And she answered me back and said: “I have no name.” And I was undone by that. I thought, how can anyone on earth not be given a name? (more…)
As the extremely important COP 21 climate summit in Paris starts tomorrow, activists have taken it to the streets across the globe. I would had been marching in Paris today, had not the awful terrorist attacks happened, which has resulted in that protests are not allowed in the French capital for at least some weeks. Instead, I had praised God and retweeted reports from Sweden, Australia, Bangladesh, US, Japan, Nepal, Senegal, Switzerland and the UK:
The last image is especially powerful: it’s from Paris, where activists have laid out shows to signify the march that never took place there. Let us pray for the upcoming negotiations and that God’s Spirit will promote simplicity and equality.
An excellent article on the 3rd century charismatic pacifist and theologian Tertullian!
An amazing response to people who are anti-immigration and claim to follow Jesus at the same time.
I have a bone to pick with Christians this morning. Not allChristians. Not even themajorityof Christians in my (limited) circles. Not by a long shot. No, my concernis with a smaller subset of Christians that tend to make a disproportionate amount of noise. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of conversations with Christian people about the Syrian refugee crisis. I’ve observed a lot of reaction and response from Christian people online. And I’ve noticed some of these Christian brothers and sisters buying into thefear and the hysteria that attempts to convince us that we need to keep our nation’s doors resolutely closed to refugees from this part of the world.
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This post is written by Jesus Army member Joram on the Forward blog. We met Joram the other day and he told us about what he had experienced in Calais. This text expresses both the pain and hope of the refugee camp in a brilliant way, which is why I re-post it here.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered in sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table…” (Luke 16:19-21)
Every generation has its ‘Lazarus’: the poor, mistreated, abused, and neglected. Part of this generation’s Lazarus is the third world migrants who wash up on the shores of Europe. Their governments oppress them, abuse them, imprison them, torture them; so those that can escape head for the rich man’s gate known as Europe.
When they wash up on the shore after unspeakable tragedy at sea, some of them head for western France to Calais and the literal gate to the rich man’s land known as the Eurotunnel.
A diaspora of refugees with families shattered and scattered across the globe, children in one country, fathers in another, mothers in another. It was never meant to be like this.
They redefine the word poor – they have smartphones, Nike trainers, mp3 players and navigate at sea using Google Maps. But only because we, in the rich man’s kingdom, are so driven by our mad consumer desire for the latest ‘thing’, we throw last year’s stuff away. But don’t be fooled by this – the real poverty is the loss of loved ones, of being stateless, homeless, jobless and friendless. The sores on the modern Lazarus are underneath his skin, too deep to be seen by the superficial glance of the citizens of the rich man’s country. (more…)
In this sermon, I talk about what the Bible says about justice. You rarely find someone who says that s/he is against justice, but you do find a lot of different definitions of justice. Here are five definitions of economic justice, together with my comments on which is the best from a Christian perspective:
1. Same for All
This is the idea that in a just and equal world, everybody has the exact same amount of money. There are hints towards this perspective in Lk 3:11 and 2 Cor. 8:13-15. However, this definition has received a lot of criticism simply because different people have different needs – people in poor countries without social safety nets need more money than people in rich countries, for example. This why not so many actually agree with this definition, even if we who try to promote equality are often accused of this while we really mean definition no. 2:
2. According to our needs
This is how the early church viewed economic justice: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (Acts 2:44-45) We can also see this in Ex. 16 where the people collect heavenly bread every day, and since the greedy are unable to store up a lot for themselves, everyone are able to collect what their family needs for that particular day. The socialist motto “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is based on the same line of thinking, but it was a biblical idea long before Marx was even born.
An excellent piece by my friend Deborah-Ruth Ferber about how Easter without forgiveness of sins is no Easter at all… despite bunnies and eggs.
Easter is NOT primarily about the liberation of people of colour, proving that gay lives matter, or radical civil disobedience – it is about proclaiming Christ’s ultimate triumph over evil so that all individuals (regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation) have a chance to rule and reign with Him. It is a radical proclamation of self-sacrifice – the most intimate and personal act ever committed by a man, and also the gateway to eternal life and salvation.
It’s Easter Sunday again. My Sunday school children have just gotten back from their frantic morning of Easter egg hunting and indulging in goodies – the only day of the year their parents will let them eat chocolate before breakfast. The choir has sung its cantata, the pastor has preached a stirring sermon on the resurrection, and the church is packed to standing room only with what we coin C&E (Christmas…
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The Pakistani Christian community is on fire, in both a glorious and tragic way. I have several Pakistani Facebook friends who regularly post videos, images and written reports about revival – blind people seeing, deaf people hearing, and many receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour. For example, my friend Ayoub Khawar posted this healing report the other day:
This girl had mucus coming from her ear from childhood, but after prayer she testified she is healed! Praise the Lord !!
Share about Jesus with someone today! Someone who really needs it, today!!
A month ago, he posted:
People are hungry for the Word of God !!
Over 300 people gave their lives to the Lord and we only had 70 Bibles to give to them.
They were so happy and thankful as they received this treasure !
However, yesterday he contacted me personally to share less joyful news. News about another fire that is burning i the Pakistani Christian community, the fire of persecution. He wrote:
2 Bomb Blasts in Churches in Yohanaabad (our neighboring town), Lahore. Need your urgent prayers ! the situation is so bad about 14 died and more than 68 injured, our neighbors whole family died, husband wife with a baby to be delievered and there little girl died
It’s YouTube Friday and the latest entry on the Holy Spirit Activism YouTube channel is this short interview with Huw Lewis, apostolic leader in the Jesus Army, where he explains why the JA practice community of goods. Community of goods means sharing possessions so that nobody is rich and nobody is poor and was being practiced by Jesus and the apostles (Jn 13:29) and in the first church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-45). Huw, I and many others think that it is a very good way of living and we encourage all believers to pray about joining a Christian community.
However, there are Christians who think that community of goods isn’t something good but rather, that the apostles were naïvely mistaken when they started to share their possessions. I found an article arguing for this at biblestudytools.com, an article that is used as the official explanation to what community of goods is about and that has received one of the top spots when you search for “community of goods” on Google. It’s horribly bad though so please let me criticise it for you.
All rich people or some?
In Acts 2:44, it is said that, in the infant church at Jerusalem, “all that believed were together, and had all things common,” and (Acts 4:34 f) “as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet.” The inference from this, that there was an absolute disposal of all the property of all the members of the church, and that its proceeds were contributed to a common fund, has been disputed upon the ground that the example of Barnabas in selling “a field” for this purpose (Acts 4:37) would not have been mentioned, if this had been the universal rule. The thought conveyed is that all believers in that church held their property as a trust from the Lord, for the benefit of the entire brotherhood, and, as there was need, did as Barnabas.
The author of this article, H.E. Jacobs, almost immediately begins to argue that the Biblical community of goods was not required for all believers in Jerusalem to participate in. This is indeed a difficult task since Acts 4:34 says that all who had property sold it and gave it to the apostles so that they redistributed the money equally. And all really means all. Now, believers who didn’t own property such as widows probably weren’t obligated to give (instead, their participation in the common purse was by receiving) but Barnabas is rather used as an example of one among all the property owners who sold everything to introduce him to the readers. Likewise, Jesus’mother and brothers are mentioned in Acts 1 to highlight some of who were praying, not to say that the others weren’t praying.
A Mennonite Seminarian Turned Pentecostal Intern Re-Examines an Anabaptist Approach Towards Signs and Wonders
Deborah-Ruth Ferber reviews my chapter Charismatic Anabaptism: Combining Signs and Wonders with Peace and Justice, in our new book A Living Alternative. She’s very kind in her judgment! 🙂
“Holy Spirit come with power, breathe into our aching night. We expect You this glad hour, waiting for Your strength and light. We are fearful, we are ailing. We are weak and selfish, too. Break upon Your congregation, give us vigour life anew.” (1)
“If you believe and I believe and we together pray, the Holy Spirit must come down and set God’s people free. And set God’s people free. And set God’s people free. The Holy Spirit must come down and set God’s people free.” (2)
“Praise the One who breaks the darkness with a liberating light. Praise the One who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight. Praise the One who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease, calming and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace.” (3)
The words to these well-loved Mennonite hymns echoed across the room as we all stood to sing of the…
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A number of houses in Mosul, Iraq, have been marked with the letter “N”. All of these houses belongs to Christians, and “N” is the first word in the Arabic word for Christian, “Nasrani”. Together with the symbol there is often also a text stating “Property of the Islamic state”. This is what pre-genocidal persecution looks like.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), also simply known as the Islamic State, is a fundamentalist islamist movement that has been sparked first by the war in Iraq and recently by the Syrian civil war, and that has taken control over a large area in eastern Syria and western Iraq. The movement has an extreme wahhabist interpretation of Islam and uses a lot of violence. It has cooperated with al-Qaeda, but allegedly, al-Qaeda has cut its ties with ISIS because they thought that ISIS was to radical.
Over a month ago, the islamist rebels took control over Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, which lies closely to the ruins of the biblical Nineveh. Christians have been living in this city for at least 1600 years, but now they were subject to severe persecutions. Besides the threatful “N” marks on their houses, ISIS gave them an ultimatum: convert to islam, pay the expensive jizya tax, or die. As a result, thousands of Christians have fled Mosul and are now internally displaced. Several Christians have already been killed.
Deborah once again writes awesomingly about signs and wonders from a Mennonite perspective. I agree on *almost* everything, not being as critical as her towards the first group of charismatics she describes (those who believe that all people can prophesy).
If you read this article and you like it, you can check out some of my earlier thoughts on the Charismatic movement by reading this blog post: http://debdebbarak.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/a-mennonite-who-speaks-in-tongues/
In our modern world, the Charismatic movement has gotten a somewhat bad rap unless you are Pentecostal yourself. There are two main ways of thinking of the charismatic movement according to the Christians that I have met. The first way is to view it as a super incredible movement which is the answer to all of life’s problems. I see this view played out all the time by churches which claim that they have raised people from the dead (I sincerely have my doubts about that one), go on mission’s trips with no other purpose than to preform healings, and have youth meetings where the only purpose is to receive Words from the Lord for one another. Although these churches do provide…
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Really good exposition by Deborah-Ruth Ferber! It clearly show both how beautiful and radical the Lord’s prayer is.
The following is my lay exposition of the Lord’s Prayer. Although I have studied Theology at both the undergrad and graduate levels this is meant simply for personal devotions rather than actual Greek/Theological exegesis.
Our Father – I’m saying Father here, not Mother, but Father. Not that I have any problems with calling You Mother, but right now I need You to be a Daddy to me. I tend to rely and trust women more than I do men, mostly because I am a woman and don’t always understand the ways of men. But I’m learning to trust You. I’m learning to be held by You. I’m learning to believe that You’re a strong Daddy that will protect me.
Who Art in Heaven – You live in the Highest realm. You don’t just look down on earth, though – You also came as a participant. You have all the…
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