Category Archive: Featured Blog

  1. Nigeria’s Forgotten Christians: Stand With Our Brothers and Sisters

    Leave a Comment

    February 25, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   Almost nobody knows what’s happening to the Christians of Nigeria—but even fewer care. Here’s why we should.

    In Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country, Christians don’t have time to worry about culture wars. They’re too busy facing a real one instigated by their Muslim neighbors and by a government that has studiously decided to look the other way. The scope of the violence is so vast as to be almost beyond belief, so let me first give you a snapshot of what’s happening on the ground.

    Deborah, now 31 and living in a camp for the internally displaced, was captured by the Boko Haram terrorist group and held captive for a year and a half. The Islamists came to her village and slaughtered her husband and family before abducting her and “marrying” her off to a 20-year-old Muslim terrorist, who complained of her argumentativeness while raping and impregnating her. After Deborah was recaptured following an escape, she received 80 lashes as punishment. She told journalist Douglas Murray that she no longer fears death.

    “What sort of death would I be running from?” Deborah asks. “I have already died once.”

    You could repeat Deborah’s basic story countless times in Nigeria. Operation World estimates that Nigeria, which is an officially secular state with a Muslim president, is 51 percent Christian and 45 percent Muslim. Since 1999, the West African nation of about 158 million people has been convulsed by ongoing attempts at imposing Islamic law in eight northern, mostly Muslim states, as well as in four other states where Christians predominate or where the numbers are fairly even.

    Things are particularly bad in the north right now. Unarmed Christian villages there are sitting ducks for Muslim Fulani tribesmen, who have been armed with weaponry provided by elements in the national military.

    “The locals dare not collect the freshest bodies,” the magazine reports. “Some who tried earlier have already been killed, spotted by the waiting militia and hacked down or shot. The Fulani are watching everything closely from the surrounding mountains. Every week, their progress across the northern states of Plateau and Kaduna continues. Every week, more massacres—another village burned, its church razed, its inhabitants slaughtered, raped or chased away.”

    Open Doors USA says the killings have jumped by a whopping 62 percent in a year. And while Nigeria is No. 12 on the World Watch List of Christian persecution globally, it’s in the top 10 in terms of overall violence.

    And yet it’s not all gloom and doom in Nigeria. As Tertullian reminded us, the blood of the martyrs is often the seed of the church. The country now boasts a strong prayer movement, dynamic church growth, and a growing missionary movement, with more than 5,000 cross-cultural workers—many of them in Nigeria or in other African nations.

    So while much of the world has forgotten about Nigeria’s persecuted Christians, surely those of us in the West cannot. They are our brothers and sisters, and they’re doing great things in the midst of severe trials. Let’s hold them up in powerful, prevailing prayer.

    The Christians of Nigeria need us, and since we are members of the same worldwide Body of Christ, we need them.

  2. Outreach Breakfast – Riga, Latvia

    Leave a Comment

    February 22, 2017 – CBMC Latvia held an Outreach Breakfast Event on the 26th of January, with 157 people participating. The featured speaker was Gleb Spivakovski, a businessman from the Ukraine. During the breakfast, Gleb shared his personal and business experience.

    “At the end of the 1980’s together with two co-partners I started a business in casino and night clubs, as well as the retail sales of cars — where I was very succesful. However, I didn’t have a peace in my heart and felt there was no meaning in my life. And then I met Jesus who turned my personal life up side down!

    With God’s guidance I sold the businesses to my co-partners and started new businesses based on biblical values with new co-partners. These new businesses focus on fitness and eco food production. The Lord has blessed us and currently these companies profit is close to 120 million USD, with locations in 12 countries worldwide.”  

    Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Riga as they reach their marketplace, building CBMC teams for Jesus Christ.

    latvia-outreach-1

    Gleb is married and the father of seven children.

  3. What Makes Christianity Different: Forgiveness

    Leave a Comment

    February 17, 2017 – Eric Metaxas  One aspect of Christianity is so amazing, that it impresses even the CBS Evening News.

    Quick, name the practice that most sets Christianity apart from the non-Christian world. Respect for human life? Not really. Religions such as Jainism have, if anything, an even more uncompromising prohibition against harming any living things.

    Sexual morality? Again, there are religions—Orthodox Judaism and Islam immediately come to mind—that place an even higher premium on sexual purity than Christianity. If you doubt this, ask yourself when was the last time you saw a Christian woman in a burqa.

    The answer to this question is forgiveness. No other belief system has the equivalent of forgiving your brother seventy times seven, i.e., every time—much less commands you to love your enemies, and bless those who persecute you.

    The radical nature of Christian forgiveness is so startling, so overwhelming, that it made the CBS Evening News.

    The story began in 2005 in the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan. On that day, Jameel McGee was, in his words, “minding his own business,” when he was stopped by a policeman, Andrew Collins. The encounter did not go well for McGee. Collins accused him of selling drugs and arrested him. At the time, McGee insisted that the charges were “all made up.” As CBS noted, “Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim,” and the outcome in McGee’s case was pretty much the same as in other such cases: He wound up serving four years in prison.

    In McGee’s words, “I lost everything.”

    Making matters infinitely worse was that McGee was telling the truth: He was in fact an innocent man.

    We know this because the policeman, Collins, was subsequently “caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing.” Among the falsified police reports was the one concerning Jameel McGee.

    While exoneration is sweet, it doesn’t make up for the four years spent behind bars. As McGee told CBS, “My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him.”

    He appeared to have gotten his chance when both McGee and Collins ended up working at a café run by Mosaic Christian Community Development Center. As CBS put it, the “bad cop and the wrongfully accused man had no choice but to have it out.”

    And that brings me back to what I said about Christianity’s unique emphasis on forgiveness. Collins told McGee “Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I’m sorry.” McGee’s response, “That was pretty much what I needed to hear.”

    But McGee did not stop there: He befriended the man who wronged him, so much so that he eventually told Collins that he loved him. As Collins tells the tale, “I just started weeping because he doesn’t owe me that. I don’t deserve that.”

    Thankfully, forgiveness, and the healing it brings in its wake, has nothing to do with “deserve.” As McGee, a Christian, understood, we forgive one another because, as Paul told both the Ephesians and the Colossians, God in Christ has forgiven us.

    The power of forgiveness transcends personal relationships. Think of the reaction to the Amish forgiving the man who killed ten young girls back in 2007. There was a power at work there that even the most hardened skeptic could not deny.

    Today, McGee and Collins share their story with others. At least one person seems to have taken its message to heart. The CBS reporter ended with the following question: “If these two guys from the coffee shop can set aside their bitter grounds, what’s our excuse?”

    The answer, especially for the Christian, is “none.”

  4. Breaking The Materialist Spell, We’re More Than A Bag Of Chemicals

    Leave a Comment

    January 18, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   You can learn a lot from fairy tales. But first you have to know whether you’re living in one.

    In Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” all the king’s subjects go along with the consensus view that their monarch has a beautiful new set of royal garments. Just one small boy speaks the obvious truth—that the king is parading around without any clothes at all.

    Something similar is happening in our day. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Klavan, author of the new book “The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ,” says our culture is under the spell of materialism—a materialism that categorically denies any spiritual reality and is completely blind to its own contradictions.

    Take the observation of psychologist Steven Pinker, who said, “I don’t believe there’s such a thing as free will in the sense of a ghost in the machine, a spirit or soul. I think our behavior is the product of physical processes in the brain.” Of course, Pinker doesn’t answer the obvious follow-up question: If that’s true, then how do you know it? Mere “physical processes,” absent a directing intelligence, give us no reason to trust their accuracy.

    Pinker isn’t the only one to have fallen for this illogical secular worldview. A lot of us have absorbed it subconsciously, which you can tell from our everyday language. For example, Klavan points out, “People say they experienced an ‘adrenaline rush,’ not that they were excited. Or, “people say they are ‘hard-wired’ for certain behaviors and ‘programmed’ for others. The underlying message? A human being is a cross between a chemistry set and a computer, his actions governed solely by a series of discharges and sparks.”

    On the contrary, Klavan asserts, a “person doesn’t make a choice because of processes in the brain. Those processes simply express the choice in the material world. Even if every impulse and every emotion is eventually mapped in the brain, there will still be not one iota of evidence that they originated there. It seems far more in keeping with what we know to assume that experience is spiritual and that the body expresses it the same way words express, but do not constitute, ideas.”

    This is not to dismiss the reality of chemicals and the like as markers of our physical existence—but we are more, much more, than a bag of chemicals interacting with our environment. The Bible presents us as embodied souls, with hints of both heaven and earth in our frames. If, as materialists suggest, that we and our choices and behaviors are merely chemical reactions, then things like love, virtue, right and wrong, are absolutely meaningless.

    Which is why pure materialism leaves us vulnerable to despotism. As Klavan writes, “Thinkers from John Adams to Marcello Pera have cited specifically Christian principles as the foundation of the West’s freedoms. A materialist worldview leaves formerly Christian cultures philosophically weak when those freedoms come under attack. Materialism strips humans of the logic of their humanity—which is the whole point of Western liberty.”

    Breaking the materialist spell, Klavan writes, “requires rebelling not against scientific facts but against flawed scientistic logic.” So we will need more people willing to see what’s before their eyes, challenge the secular illogic, and speak the truth—that the materialist emperor truly has no clothes.

  5. Are You A Dangerous Christian?

    Leave a Comment

    January 12, 2017 – John Stonestreet  How far can Christianity be reduced before it’s no longer Christianity? We need to be able to answer that question with a firm answer.

    One of C. S. Lewis’ most famous arguments is his so-called “trilemma,” laid out in “Mere Christianity.” Because of the things Jesus said and did, reasoned Lewis, He must either have been a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.

    He made this point to debunk the most common secular misconception of Jesus, which has only grown more popular in the last half century. “I can accept Jesus as a great moral teacher,” says the secularist. “Maybe He was a kind of first-century Gandhi. But I can’t accept him as God in human flesh.”

    Lewis called this idea “patronizing nonsense.” Apart from the historic belief that Jesus is God and man, born of a virgin, that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day, Lewis could see no future for Christianity. “Mere” or bare-minimum Christian faith, he argued, requires a belief in these miracles. Yet many today still insist that some kind of stripped-down, “bare-essentials” Christian faith is possible, and that the ancient summaries like the Apostles’ Creed are too exclusive.

    During a sit-down interview with pastor Tim Keller just before Christmas, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof suggested that Christianity can survive without the virgin birth or Resurrection.

    “I deeply admire Jesus and his message,” he said, “but am also skeptical of themes that have been integral to Christianity—the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the miracles, and so on.” Are these really that essential to the Christian faith? Isn’t it possible to be a Christian without embracing them?

    Keller replied that you can’t remove Jesus’ miraculous entry into the world or His miraculous return to life “without destabilizing the whole [of Christianity]. A religion can’t be whatever we desire it to be.”

    He went on to explain that the main point of Jesus’ teaching, and of the New Testament, is not a moral maxim, but a message: that Jesus Christ is God in human form, Who was and did everything the ancient creeds say. And believing this is essential. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, if Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is vain, and we Christians are to be pitied above all people.

    Now as far as I’m concerned, Keller knocked it out of the park. But judging by the letters to the editor, it seems many readers felt differently.

    One United Church of Christ minister chided the paper for allowing an evangelical to represent Christianity. The creeds, she wrote, “are not tests of faith for individuals,” and “the virgin birth is not central.”

    And a religion professor at Hofstra University scolded the Times for giving a “platform” to Keller’s “dangerous” reading of Christianity.

    If you know anything about Tim Keller, a lot of adjectives come to mind. But “dangerous” isn’t one of them. But to those who prefer patronizing nonsense to historic Christianity, there’s nothing more dangerous than someone who can convincingly articulate the miraculous doctrines at the core of our faith.

    In our culture of skepticism and unbelief, being winsome doesn’t guarantee a warm reception. But messengers like Keller not only make the claims of historic Christianity more accessible in our secular culture, they model what it looks like to be both loving and—as our critics put it— “dangerous.”

    Why? Because “dangerous Christianity” can’t be outsourced to the professionals alone. All who follow Christ are to be informed and equipped to proclaim Him to the world around them.

  6. CBMC Ukraine Update

    Leave a Comment

    (Shared by Wouter Droppers, President of CBMC Europe/Europartners)  November 24-28
    Together with David Martin and Henk Vennis we visited Kiev to get connected to young professionals, the former CBMC group and to give a seminar about work, business, economy and finances from a biblical perspective.

    It was a great trip. We connected to Mission in profession, leaders impact in Ukraine and the young leaders from the Central Baptist Church. We also gave a teaching for the latter group on Sunday in their church. On Friday we visited a CBMC team and some entrepreneurs to discover and explore what is going on in Kiev and the Ukraine. That evening we started our seminar which lasted through late Saturday afternoon.

    Meanwhile David was preaching in a church in Kiev and on Sunday I preached in the Central Baptist Church about crisis and hope according to Romans 8:18-39. Afterwards we talked with the young leaders of the church. We felt blessed and privileged to be there. We also made appointments to return and start our Young Professionals program in Kiev. We will give the seminair again for more people. This was our last mission trip for 2016. We felt grateful.

    hdr

    Wouter Speaking – Financial Seminar

  7. No, We Can’t ‘Agree To Disagree’ On Marriage, And Here’s Why

    Leave a Comment

    December 30, 2016 – John Stonestreet   Can Christians agree to disagree on our culture’s most controversial topics? Well, when it comes to certain issues, the answer is no.

    For years, a steady drumbeat of Christian pastors, musicians, and authors have announced they’ve “evolved” on the issue of homosexuality. Authors like Matthew Vines and more recently, Jen Hatmaker, musician Nicole Nordeman and Yale philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff argue that the Bible doesn’t actually condemn same-sex “marriage.” Christians, they say, should bless such unions as “holy.”

    Many of them have said that even if we don’t agree, we shouldn’t make it a big deal. We can “agree to disagree,” they say. Typically, they offer one of three reasons.

    First, this issue, they say, is like the mode of baptism, or worship styles, or wine versus grape juice in the Lord’s Supper. In other words, homosexuality is a matter of preference, an area where believers can respect one another’s differences.

    But this doesn’t make sense for either side. Advocates of same-sex “marriage” say it’s a human right. If that’s true, the traditional view is not just mistaken, it’s dangerous! Opponents say that acts of homosexuality are sinful. If that’s true, then Christians can’t agree to disagree either.

    Second, we often hear that the Church is evolving on this issue, especially every time a Christian celebrity changes their minds. But the vast majority of evangelicals still hold to the traditional view, and they’re not changing their minds anytime soon. As my “BreakPoint This Week” cohost, Ed Stetzer, points out in Christianity Today, “Evangelical organizations across the spectrum are making clear where they stand on marriage.” Groups like the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Christianity Today, and even more progressive social-justice-minded organizations like World Vision and Fuller Seminary, have all unambiguously committed to hold the line on this issue.

    As have denominations. Virtually every evangelical communion has reaffirmed God’s design for sex and marriage. Even in the United Methodist Church, long considered a stronghold of liberal theology, and in the worldwide Anglican communion, the marriage debate has taken a conservative turn as traditional members in Africa and elsewhere exert their influence.

    But, some will reply, “If Christians don’t all agree on what marriage is, you can’t say there’s such a thing as ‘the Christian position.’” But Christian truth isn’t made of what people who call themselves Christians say. It’s revealed truth, made known through creation, through Scripture, ultimately through Christ—each of which are quite clear about what makes us male and female, what marriage is, and about sexual morality.

    Which is why Christians never questioned marriage until culturally yesterday. A post-sexual revolution claim just a few years old does nothing to negate the consistent Christian witness about marriage throughout all of history.

    Which brings up the final argument, “If marriage is a core part of Christian teaching,” we hear, “why isn’t it in the creeds or the councils? Why did no one talk about it until now?” The answer is, because no one questioned what marriage is until now—anywhere, much less in the Church.

    Throughout history, the need to clarify certain Christian doctrines has almost always arisen because of challenges. No one thought we needed a canon, until Marcion suggested some books weren’t Scripture. No one thought we needed to clarify Jesus’ place in the Godhead, until the Arian heresy. In each case, what was upheld wasn’t a theological innovation, but a clarification of the consistent Christian teaching.

    So next time someone says, let’s just agree to disagree about this issue, say, “No. Instead, let’s agree to love each other and to pursue the truth together.” That’s a much better way forward.

  8. Salvation History In One Hymn-O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

    Leave a Comment

    December 16, 2016 – Eric Metaxas  One of the best summations of God’s promises to Israel and mankind is as close as your nearest hymnal.

    I want you to imagine yourself in a monastery in the eighth century. It is December 17th and you’ve gathered with your brothers for Vespers, the sunset prayer service.

    As with all Vespers, at the heart of the service is the chanting of select psalms, each of them preceded and followed by what is known as an antiphon, a sung or recited response.

    What sets apart December 17th, and the six nights that follow it, are the seven antiphons used only on these nights. Each one is a name of Christ—specifically, they are Messianic titles from the book of Isaiah: Sapienta (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix (Root of Jesse), Clavis (Key of David), Oriens (Dayspring), Rex (King of the Nations), and Emmanuel.

    Because each of these titles is preceded by the word “O” they are known as the “O Antiphons.”

    If this sounds familiar, it should. I have just given you a glimpse into the origins of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”—the greatest Advent, or should I say Christian, hymn of all time.

    While I asked you to imagine an eighth century monastery, the O Antiphons predate the eighth century. The Roman philosopher Boethius, who lived in the late fifth and early sixth centuries, alludes to them in his writings. It’s reasonable to suppose, as one scholar put it, that “in some fashion the O Antiphons have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.”

    But it’s what they teach us, and not just their antiquity, that gives them their power. The composer and musicologist Robert Greenberg has noted that if you take the first letter of each of the Messianic titles in reverse order, by December 23rd you will have the Latin phrase Ero Cras, “tomorrow I will come.”

    Whether this was intentional or an instance of perceiving a pattern where none was intended, there is no denying that the message of the antiphons and the resulting hymn is the literally awe-inspiring faithfulness of God. All of God’s promises to His people are fulfilled in the One whose coming we sing about.

    He is Sapienta, the Wisdom of God, upon whom the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, and knowledge and fear of the Lord rested (Isaiah 11). He is Adonai, the Lord our lawgiver and judge, who will save us (Isaiah 33). He is the root of Jesse’s stem, whom the Gentiles will seek out and whose dwelling will be glorious (Isaiah 11). He is Oriens, the Radiant Dawn, the light that has shined upon the people who dwelt in darkness (Isaiah 9).

    He is all these things and so much more.

    To sing all seven verses of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and ponder their meaning is to join Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus on the first Easter morning and have our eyes opened to us. Starting with Moses and the prophets, the entirety of scripture is ultimately about Jesus.

    Every time we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” during this Advent season, we are participating in one of the most venerable expressions of the faith itself.

    The setting may have changed, but the truth expressed remains the same: God’s awe-inspiring faithfulness.

  9. Young Professionals Weekend – CBMC Europe

    Leave a Comment

    Frans van Santen, Coordinator, Young Professionals from Europartners (CBMC Europe) shares highlights of the second weekend retreat. With 13 participants from seven different nations, we enjoyed a great weekend in the woods of Doorn, The Netherlands.

    We learned about the God who calls each one, about our personal calling and leadership style, and heard testimonies of God’s work. As one participant put it: “I loved the great atmosphere that everybody created of confidence, respect and love.”

    Apart from the prayer time, teachings and personal worktime, we enjoyed volleyball and some of us took a tour to the city of Amsterdam. Everybody left the weekend with a sense of greater purpose and refreshment. We are grateful!

    For more information on the young professionals ministry in Europe, please visit: https://www.europartners.org/young-professionals

  10. IV Latin American CBMC Convention

    Leave a Comment

    Julio Acuna, Director of CBMC Latin America shares his insight:
    It is a pleasure to share with you that the 4th Latin American Convention “Transformational Connections” held November 3-5 in Valencia, Venezuela was a success, even in the midst of difficulties across the country. We had the wonderful opportunity to hold such an important event to bring hope to the professional and business community not only in Venezuela but in Latin America in general.

    The opening session was attended by 130 people, including a special representation of important guilds and living forces of the city of Valencia: Chamber of Industry, Chamber of Commerce, Fedecamaras, among others. We also had the valuable participation of speakers, workshops and participants from different countries that gave a truly continental tone to the event. These included: Araya from Chile, Edgar Medina from Mexico, Julio Cesar Acuña from Ecuador, Christyan Perez from Paraguay, José de Dios representing Generosity Path from the United States, and a special representation of Venezuela with Jesus Sampedro, Arnoldo Arana and Abraham Figuera. Likewise, we had the assistance of active members and eight newly incorporated cities in the CBMC family, including Valencia the host city of the Convention.

    We had the opportunity to hear testimonies from businessman whose lives have been transformed resulting in the success of both their companies and their families. Among them was Javier Barcia, president of EcoPacific, a family business leader in the innovative elaboration and distribution of natural juices in Ecuador.

    We also heard the story of Verlo Araya, an icon of the Government of Chile for the national promotion of entrepreneurship based on the success of its company CFruit, which distributes 50% of the fruits in northern Chile. In addition the conference was a point of connection and networking. Young Professionals and businessmen had the opportunity to attend as scholarship holders and rethink their future.

    During the two days we had the opportunity to participate in the Generosity Path Workshop hosted by José de Dios, the representative for this ministry in Latin America.

    Young professionals from Venezuela and Ecuador met for a relaunch of Young CBMC of Latin America.

    Before the Convention, the Latin Board met with representatives from Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela, accompanied by online participation from other countries.

    Each of the convention participants have committed to open a new committee in the next 12 months and to disciple two people. “One will become thousand” Isaiah 60:22.

    It was an event marked by the valuable effort and support, affection and dedication of directors, staff and members of CBMC; motivated by the desire to continue to spread the work of CBMC and to speak hope in Jesus Christ to all in their marketplace. We hope to continue working together to build a transformed Venezuela and Latin America.

    la-conv-yp

    Young Professionals

    la-conv-3

    Group Selfie

    Business Leaders Panel

    Business Leaders Panel