Category Archive: Featured Blog

  1. Saved By An Atheist – Do Humans Matter Or Not?

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    June 9, 2017 – Eric Metaxas  Find out how a famous atheist started a secular humanist on the road to faith in Jesus Christ.

    Sarah Irving-Stonebraker was on the fast track to academic stardom. A native of Australia, Sarah had won the University Medal and a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake her Ph.D. in History at King’s College, Cambridge.

    Sarah’s secular humanist perspective fit right in at King’s, and her views of Christians—that they were anti-intellectual and self-righteous—seemingly were confirmed.

    Yet, as she details in an eye-opening testimony from the Veritas Forum, a strange thing happened to Sarah inside her secular bubble. Somehow, the truth got in. After Cambridge, Sarah said she attended some lectures at Oxford by the atheist public intellectual and Princeton ethics professor Peter Singer.

    Singer, as you probably know, has stirred worldwide controversy by advancing the notion that some forms of animal life have more worth than some human life. Singer doesn’t believe in God, and therefore he sees no basis for any intrinsic human dignity.

    During the Oxford lectures, Singer asserted that nature provides no grounds for human equality, pointing to children who have lost their ability to reason through disability or illness. Sarah Irving-Stonebraker’s comfortable secularism was suddenly rocked.

    “I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo,” Sarah writes. “I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.”

    A few months later, at a dinner for the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion, Andrew Briggs, a Professor of Nanomaterials and a Christian, asked Sarah a perfectly reasonable question: Do you believe in God? Again, Sarah was flummoxed, fumbling something about agnosticism. Briggs replied, “Do you really want to sit on the fence forever?”

    “That question,” she now says, “made me realise that if issues about human value and ethics mattered to me, the response that perhaps there was a God, or perhaps there wasn’t, was unsatisfactory.”

    Fast forward to Florida, where Sarah was conducting research. She began attending church as a seeker: And she was overwhelmed by Christians living out their faith:  “feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.”

    And when she started reading the likes of Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, she saw the intellectual depth and profundity of their Christian faith. Then this: “A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night,” she wrote, “I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.”

    Sarah’s journey from doubt to faith reminds me a little of another formerly atheist denizen of Cambridge and Oxford—C.S. Lewis. Lewis saw the bleak implications of his worldview, stating, “Nearly all I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real, I thought grim and meaningless.” And just like Sarah, Lewis had good, well-informed Christian friends and colleagues such as J.R.R. Tolkien to point a disillusioned atheist gently to Christ.

    As Chuck Colson would say, while there are many good ways to share the good news with people, even scholars, one is to help them follow their worldview assumptions to their logical conclusion. The fact is, the grim, atheistic worldview simply can’t carry the weight of human significance on its bony shoulders.

    Created in the awesome image of God, men and women know that life has a meaning beyond “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” People everywhere see the True, the Beautiful, and the Good and long to know their source. And, thank God, He has revealed Himself!

  2. Nearly 50% Are Of No Religion, But Has UK Hit ‘Peak Secular?’

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    May 17, 2017 – Study shows overall decline in faith….  The secularisation of Britain has been thrown into sharp focus by new research showing that for every person brought up in a non-religious household who becomes a churchgoer, 26 people raised as Christians now identify as non-believers.

    The study also shows that inner London is the most religious area of the country, mainly because of its large Muslim and migrant communities. The least religious areas are the south-east of England, Scotland and Wales. People identifying as non-religious are typically young, white and male – and increasingly working class.

    Analysis of data from the annual British Social Attitudes survey and the biennial European Social Survey was carried out by Stephen Bullivant, professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. “The rise of the non-religious is arguably the story of British religious history over the past half-century or so,” he says in the introduction to his report, The ‘No Religion’ Population of Britain.

    It paints a picture of a Britain in which Christianity has seen a dramatic decline – although figures suggest a recent bottoming out in recent years. The avowedly non-religious – sometimes known as “nones” – now make up 48.6% of the British population. Anglicans account for 17.1%, Catholics 8.7%, other Christian denominations 17.2% and non-Christian religions 8.4%.

    Between 1983 and 2015, the proportion of Britons who identify as Christian fell from 55% to 43%, while members of non-Christian religions – principally Muslims and Hindus – quadrupled.

    Bullivant identifies a marked growth in “nonverts” – a person who was brought up to practise a religion, but who now identifies as having no religion. More than six in 10 “nones” were brought up as Christians, mainly Anglican or Catholic.

    Non-Christian religions have significantly higher retention levels; overall, only 2% of “nones” were raised in religious homes other than Christian. The “nonversion” rate was 14% for Jews, 10% for Muslims and Sikhs and 6% for Hindus. The picture is very different for people brought up as non-religious – 92% continue to identify as “nones” as adults. Conversely, the proportions of the non-religious who convert to a faith are small: 3% of “cradle nones” now identify as Anglicans, less than 0.5% convert to Catholicism, 2% join other Christian denominations and 2% convert to non-Christian faiths.

    “Looking at the long-term pattern, the non-religious share of the population has shown strong growth over our whole period,” says the report. “The year 2009 was the first in which nones outnumbered all Christians put together. With the single exception of 2011, this pattern has held. In two years, 2009 and 2013, nones formed a majority of the adult British population.”

    But, Bullivant told the Observer that the “growth of no religion may have stalled”. After consistent decline, in the past few years the proportion of nones appears to have stabilised. “Younger people tend to be more non-religious, so you’d expect it to keep going – but it hasn’t. The steady growth of non-Christian religions is a contributing factor, but I wonder if everyone who is going to give up their Anglican affiliation has done so by now? We’ve seen a vast shedding of nominal Christianity, and perhaps it’s now down to its hardcore.”

    Catholics, he said, had stayed “pretty steady”, thanks largely to immigration from countries with strong Catholic traditions. Immigration has also contributed to regional variations in faith affiliation, with a religious “micro-climate” in inner London. Bullivant said “Christian, no denomination” was the biggest group in inner London at 14%, followed by Muslims at 13%, Catholics at 12%, Hindus at 8% and Church of England at 7.8%.

    The south-east of England has the highest non-religious population, at 58%, followed by Wales at 56% and Scotland at 55%. More men than women identify as non-religious, with a 55:45 gender split. Younger people are also more likely to reject organised religion, and nones are “significantly whiter than the British average”, says the report.

    Bullivant identifies a generational shift in terms of education and religious affiliation. Among older nones, a high proportion had degree-level education. But the nones’ above-average levels of higher education fade further down the age groups. Thus the non-religious have the lowest levels of degree-level education among 25- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds.

    He said: “It used to be middle-class people ​who had gone to university who were more likely to step out of their parents’ religiosity. As having no religion has become the norm, vast swathes of working-class people are now also identifying as nones.”

    Although religious affiliation is declining in western Europe and north America, there is significant growth in other parts of the world. Islam is expected to become the world’s largest religion by 2075, and Christianity is booming in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and China.

  3. 34th Annual Metro Prayer Breakfast, Hosted by CBMC Oklahoma City

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    On April 19, Jim Firnstahl had the privilege of attending this Annual Prayer Breakfast. The guest speaker for the event was Tim Philpot, who served as president of CBMC International from 1996-2003. After he retired from CBMC International Tim began his service as a  judge of the Fayette Circuit Family Court in Kentucky in 2004. The prayer breakfast was attended by over 1,100 business, professional and government leaders in Oklahoma. Individuals who led in prayer included US Senator James Lankford and Joel Harder with the state Capitol Commission. Harold Armstrong, CBMC Area Director, Dru Baker, CBMC Program Administrator and an army of volunteers stage this wonderful event every year. We pray our Lord continues to bless this influential event for the gospel and CBMC. Read the full story here:  MPB 2017 The Oklahoman – April 20 2017

    Jim Firnstahl, Tim Philpot and Harold Armstrong

    Hobby Lobby Table

  4. Opening Closed Minds The Chick-fil-A Way: Friendship, Not Confrontation

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    May 6, 2017 – Eric Metaxas  Some college students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University are claiming, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling. Sadly, given these crazy times, that’s no longer really news. We’ve seen a steady stream of reports about scholars being driven off campus by mobs of triggered students, of speakers being disinvited or losing announced awards because of their Judeo-Christian beliefs—all in the name of tolerance, diversity, and “safe spaces”!

    Truly, though, the kerfuffle at Duquesne shows what we’re up against. In March the university announced that the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A would be opening in the Catholic school’s main food court.

    Instead of cheers for a company that donates generously to charity and makes a great chicken sandwich, the decision brought jeers from some students, who claimed this would put their “safe place … at risk.” One leader of a gay student group said Chick-fil-A has “a questionable history on civil rights and human rights.” A petition that says bullying is a problem on campus demands that Chick-fil-A be banned, while Niko Martini, the president of the Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance, says that the school should, at the very least, “acknowledge there is still some tension.”

    So, what has Chick-fil-A done? Well, Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, has publicly stated his support for the biblical definition of marriage. And the company’s foundation in the past has supported Christian organizations such as Exodus International and Focus on the Family that have taken faith-based stances on human sexuality. By that standard, lots of people of faith are “questionable” in the eyes of some campus groups.

    But of course they’re wrong, and we’re not. Dan Cathy is a case in point. A few years ago, you may recall, Chick-fil-A’s president and COO reached out to Shane Windmeyer, who was organizing a national boycott of Chick-fil-A as the executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students. Before they met, Windmeyer thought Dan Cathy was a fiend. What he discovered after months of discussion was that Dan had become his friend. His mind began to open.

    “Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level,” Windmeyer wrote in an eye-opening article in The Huffington Post. “He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being ‘a follower of Christ’ more than a ‘Christian.’”

    There was no marginalizing here, no destruction of safe spaces, even as Dan Cathy made no apologies for his beliefs, while conveying respect and a peaceable witness to Windmeyer. I wonder whether those Duquesne students might gain a new perspective about Chick-fil-A—and about Christians—upon reading that article. Even better, what might happen if Christians like Dan humbly came alongside them and became, not a debating partner, but a friend?

    Let’s face it, folks, convincing people who’ve fallen for the new sexual propaganda that we’re not out to scare or marginalize them won’t be easy. Through long years of indoctrination in academia and popular culture, their minds have been closed to a Christian worldview. Sadly, they really do think we have horns and tails.  But we don’t, and we’ll need to more consistently emulate the patient, loving approach of Dan Cathy if we’re ever going to change their minds.

  5. A New Rain Of Faith In Europe: Hope For Christianity On The Continent

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    May 4, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   Has the demise of Christianity in Europe been greatly exaggerated? There are some encouraging signs of life.

    It’s become customary to refer to Europe as “post-Christian.” But this is an overstatement—and it obscures large differences in religious practices across the continent: For instance, Poles are far more likely to attend church on a weekly basis than Scandinavians—and even more likely than Americans. Still, it’s difficult to dispute the idea that Christianity’s influence in Europe, on both a personal and societal level, is in decline.

    But a pair of recent stories suggests that this may be changing.

    The first story was a column in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. The headline read “Our politicians are more devout than ever—so it’s time we started taking their faith seriously.”

    In it, Nick Spencer, whose just-released book is entitled “The Mighty and the Almighty: How political leaders do God,” notes that rather than European politics becoming a “God-free zone,” one of the “most striking trends of the last generation or so is how many Christian politicians have risen to the top of the political tree.”

    Whereas in the thirty-five years following the end of World War II, only one Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, could be described as “devout,” since then, at least three of his successors—Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and now Theresa May—could be described that way.

    And it’s not only Britain. As Christianity Today recently told readers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christianity is “deep,” “genuine,” and “important” to her life.

    Even in France, the country that invented and institutionalized modern secularism, what the French call “laïcité,” Catholicism has become a kind of “X Factor” in the upcoming presidential elections.

    And that brings me to the second story. In the most recent issue of the Jesuit magazine, America, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry told readers that a few years back, he noticed that “Whenever I was less than five minutes early for Mass, I had to go to the overflow room.” His church “was filled to the gills every Sunday, with young families and children most of the time.”

    He decided to see how widespread this phenomenon was, so he visited parishes all over Paris and found the same thing: Sunday high Mass is packed in most parishes in Paris. The same is true in France’s second largest city, Lyon. It’s even true, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent, in his family’s home village.

    What was once a revival that “you could fleetingly smell in the air,” has become more tangible, nowhere more so than in the movement called La Manif Pour Tous, “protest for all.” La Manif got 200,000 people in Paris alone to march in protest against legalizing same-sex marriage.

    This in turn spawned other Christian movements in a country that supposedly had moved beyond that sort of thing. What these movements share is an opposition to liberalism, which in the French context means “a drive for ever-greater individual liberty.” As Gobry writes, “Liberalism, in this view, is responsible for sexual depravity and the culture of death,” and “leads both to abortions and to quasi-slaves in third world factories making disposable consumer items of questionable worth.”

    While French Christianity still has a ways to go, what Gobry describes brings to mind the “cloud as small as a man’s hand . . . rising from the sea” Elijah’s servant saw in 1 Kings 18. Secularism has left Europeans “in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Let us pray that God sends much-needed rain to both sides of the Atlantic.

  6. Know The Truth, Know The Culture

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    April 27, 2017 – John Stonestreet   Acquiring the Tools of a Christian Worldview    You’re a Christian. You sense God has more for you. You want to go deeper. You want to make a difference.

    I meet folks all the time who sense that things have changed. What Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson once called “a post-Christian” culture has become a “post-Christian-and-darn-proud-of-it” culture. Living out your faith is, well, difficult these days. And it’s frustrating.

    Yet here we are. We, like every other generation of Christ followers, are still called to share our faith in this cultural moment. We’re still called to live our faith out in our communities, places of work, neighborhoods, etc. But how do we do this?

    The most important thing, Chuck Colson believed, was to be equipped in Christian worldview, with the ability to communicate it in what he sometimes called “prudential language.” Here’s Chuck describing what that means.

    While we have to be immersed in scripture and understand it fully, we also have to know whenand how to use it in public discourse.

    Let me give you an example. G. K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were asked if they were shipwrecked on an island, what would be the one book they would want to have with them.  Everybody expected Chesterton, a prominent Christian, to say “the Bible.”

    When it came his turn to speak, however, Chesterton said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, he’d like to have “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”

    The point is that oftentimes we need to understand things that aren’t covered in the Bible. And we need to understand things that help us apply biblical teaching to all of life.

    A man once told Oswald Chambers that he read only the Bible.  Here is what Chambers said:

    “My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously to think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight…The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.”

    And when it comes to making a biblical case on any hot topic—taxes, the deficit, homosexuality, whatever—we need to understand the issue and how to make that case in a way that is accessible to believers and non-believers alike.

    The sad fact is that today, starting a conversation with “the Bible says” will often cause the listener to stop listening.  So what you do is make arguments based on what the Reformers called common grace, or what historically has been known as natural law.

    This is what Paul did when he gave his famous sermon at Mars Hill, his first foray into the Greek culture. He quoted Greek poets; he referred to Greek artifacts.  He thoroughly engaged their culture.  And then he used their beliefs to lead directly into the gospel.

    This is why we’ve got to study biblical worldview, to compare how the Bible works out in life versus how other systems of thought do. I assure you: You will see that the biblical way is the only way to make sense of the world, to live rationally in the world, and eventually, your friends will see this as well.

  7. CBMC Japan

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    March 24-29, Tokyo-20170325_005158886Tojyo-20170325_005239151Emily and Jim Firnstahl traveled to Tokyo, Japan for the 17th National Prayer Dinner; where over 500 people attended. This was their third time to attend this event which is an important gathering for the faithful believers in Japan. It is one of the largest annual events of God’s people and includes prominent business, church and government leaders. While a modest number of attendees by large nation standards, Japan has only 1% of its population claiming to be Christian, so it is a great encouragement to those attending. CIMG5999

     

    CIMG6007They then traveled to Kyoto and Osaka to meet with CBMC Teams. Currently there are eight teams in the three cities: Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The National Prayer Dinner is a joint effort with duties shared by all team members. Please continue to pray for these men and women as they share Christ and CBMC in their marketplace.

  8. Jesus, the Last Adam

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    April 13, 2017 – John Stonestreet   What do the first man and Jesus Christ have in common? The writers of the New Testament tell an exciting story for you, and for the whole world.

    Sally Lloyd-Jones’s “Jesus Storybook Bible” is a favorite in my house for a lot of reasons. But the best part may be the prologue. In it, Jones explains that although the Bible contains laws for moral living, it’s not mainly a book of rules. And although it tells of great men and women of God, it’s not a book of heroes, either. Rather, it’s a story about one Hero in particular.

    As Jones puts it, every story in the Bible whispers this Hero’s name. And there’s no time of year when that is more clear than at Holy Week. Beginning with Palm Sunday, running through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and finally, Easter Sunday, we have the benefit of seeing not only Jesus’ story unfold, but of seeing the culmination of the whole story of Scripture itself.

    This was a benefit the disciples didn’t have. For Christ’s first followers, His words at the Last Supper, His arrest, His trial, and crucifixion were a bewildering defeat. It was only in retrospect, when Jesus opened the Scripture to them, first on the road to Emmaus and later in the upper room, that they understood, and even then, not fully!

    Only after Christ’s ascension could a restored Peter stand before Jerusalem and proclaim the punch line of Holy Week: “Let all of the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.”

    The rest of the New Testament shows how the Holy Spirit continued to reveal Christ’s presence throughout all of Scripture. Paul, for example, sees Jesus in the Bible’s very first chapters, calling Him “the Last Adam,” and contrasts the two men as heads of the human race. One failed and brought death on all his descendants. The other was faithful, bringing life through His death and resurrection.

    And if we take the time to read Scripture more carefully, we see how deeply the parallels run. The ways in which Jesus is similar to, and yet better than Adam, are astonishing:

    The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden. The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man. The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped. The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree. The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face.

    The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.”

    We celebrate this last event on Maundy Thursday—Jesus’ final meal with His disciples, and His new command that we “love one another.” In giving Christians this meal, He sealed His role as Adam’s replacement.

    Do you remember how, when Mary Magdalene saw the risen Christ, she mistook Him for a gardener? Through His body and blood, the Last Adam restored what the forbidden fruit destroyed, inviting us back to a restored Garden-City in the New Heavens and Earth, where the tree of life grows around the throne of God, free for the taking. That’s what His story, our story, the story are all about.

    On Good Friday it’s easy to rush through this dark reminder of our sin, and look forward to Easter. But please, stay a while. The only way to Easter Sunday is through this week, and the events and the words Jesus spoke before His death are worthy of our reflection.

  9. How To Reach Your Secular Neighbor

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    April 5, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   Ever wondered why secular people aren’t interested in God? Maybe we’ve never given them a reason to be.

    When it comes to sharing Jesus Christ with the growing numbers of religious “nones” in America—that is, those who answer “none” when asked to describe their religious beliefs or affiliations—there’s no silver bullet. That’s the bad news. The good news is, the Golden Rule still works pretty well.

    That’s the gist of a thought-provoking and ultimately encouraging article by Khaldoun Sweis, who is Tutor of Philosophy at Oxford University and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Olive-Harvey College in Chicago. Khaldoun starts off his argument—which you’ll find in our friend Ed Stetzer’s blog, “The Exchange”—by making a shocking claim. Khaldoun says of the “nones,” “They not only think that they don’t need God, but many have never been given a single reason as to why He is relevant to their lives.”

    The respected Pew Research Center reports that half of these secular neighbors say they left their childhood faith because they no longer believe it or are no longer interested in it. Khaldoun tells of a secular female who dismissed a courageous boy passing out tracts, saying, “I don’t want or need your god, thank you very much.” Ouch!

    Khaldoun, who has been sharing the good news of Jesus with such people for the last 15 years, says that when they say they don’t believe in God, he will ask them to describe the god they don’t believe in. “Nine times out of ten,” he writes, “it is usually a god I do not believe in either! The caricatures and misrepresentations of the Christian God are abundant.”

    But rather than getting all defensive about it and lecturing them about their mistaken worldview, Khaldoun will engage them. In fact, he commends such engagement to all of us—in the four major arenas of secular thought in the world: government, education, media, and culture. “Use the pluralism diversity thesis to gain a seat at their table,” he says. “After all, according to them, Christianity is just another paradigm, and since they don’t want to be intolerant of any viewpoint, you should be allowed to speak too.”

    Then Khaldoun says we are to enquire—that is, listen to them and ask thoughtful questions. Often the problem with their worldview will become readily apparent, even to them. A student walked into his office and stated brashly, “I do not believe in anything that is not physical. I only believe what science tells me is true.” Khaldoun asked him if hisidea was physical. A great conversation then ensued.

    Finally, Khaldoun says, we can edify. “George,” he says, “whose father died over ten years ago, never forgot that I was one of his only friends who came to that funeral. If you know people long enough, they will inevitably go through difficult times. This is the opportunity to show them the love of Christ. …. It is demanding, if not impossible, for people to forget that! When the heart is tender, it is more open than any other time!”

    That, my friends, is evangelism according to the Golden Rule. We can make Christ relevant—and real—in the lives of others not by arguing them into the kingdom but by showing them what a Christ-follower looks like—someone who engages with the community, who thoughtfully enquires about sensitive, ultimate issues, and who edifies—one might even say encourages—by our loving presence.

    Throughout this process we’ll need to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. Part of that readiness involves having resources at our fingertips that clearly and nonthreateningly describe the Christian faith and worldview to our secular neighbors. Get ready to make God relevant to your neighbors, secular and otherwise.

  10. Christians Don’t Retire From Kingdom Work

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    March 22, 2017 – John Stonestreet   Staying In The Game At Any Stage Of Life!  Narrowly escaping the jaws of a large reptile might get you thinking about your life. But you don’t have to wait ‘til then to make important changes.

    C. S. Lewis wrote that pain is God’s megaphone—something He uses when He can’t get our attention any other way. I know at least one Christian who has an idea of what that’s like: God got his attention after—and I’m not making this up—he was nearly eaten by a crocodile.

    Bill Beattie was a businessman whose life was going quite well. He’d been happily married for 35 years, and his three children were leading productive lives. He expected to spend the years ahead peacefully serving as an elder in his church in Danbury, Connecticut.

    But God was prompting Bill toward other things. Problem was, Bill wasn’t listening. That changed after a canoeing adventure on the Zambezi River, home to hippos and crocodiles, during an anniversary trip to Africa with his wife Kathie. Bill recalls, “I was a novice canoeist and had foolishly rejected Kathie’s suggestion of canoeing lessons prior to the trip.” The guide gave them a five-minute training session, and sent the couple paddling away, headed downstream. They were “eyeball-to eyeball with hippos at every turn,” Bill recalls. The expression on Kathie’s face told him that his wife was terrified.

    And she was right to be. They suddenly struck a submerged tree trunk and capsized the canoe. The rescue team quickly picked up Kathie, but their canoe could not hold another person. Bill tried to right his own canoe and climb on top of it as the crocodiles watched.

    Struggling with his canoe, Bill didn’t notice, but his companions did, that a 13-foot crocodile came within 10 feet of him before turning and pursuing some of the flotsam from the canoe that had gone floating down the river.

    Around the campfire that evening, Bill reflected on what had happened that day. It was extraordinary, he says, “that the croc did not attack and drag me to the bottom. I sensed that God had intervened on my behalf to save me for His purposes.”

    Back home, Bill began to consider his areas of strength, and consulted with friends. Believing God was leading him to start a ministry for at risk, inner-city boys, he founded the Pathways Danbury, a mentoring ministry which now reaches girls as well. Christian adults provide them with one-on-one mentoring, Bible study, and tutoring. They can attend Bible camp in the summer, and if they graduate from high school meeting standards of excellence, they’re given a grant for education, business, or housing.

    The key to their ministry, Bill notes, “continues to be sharing Jesus on a long-term basis to kids who are at risk for drugs and alcohol . . . delinquency and family instability.”

    Now frequently on BreakPoint, we like to share stories of Christians like Bill who are making a difference in the world by tackling the brokenness in their own backyard. We do this to remind us that all is not lost… that God has his people everywhere, enlisting them in his Kingdom work to make all things new. And if God is at work there, He’s at work around you too.

    Bill’s story also reminds me how much Chuck Colson hated the idea that retirement is about spending the rest of your life on the golf course. He would have none of that. Christians don’t retire from Kingdom work, he’d often say.

    But there’s no need to wait until you’re nearing retirement: God has placed you where He has for a purpose right now.

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