Nathan Shank on No Place Left

 2015 05 Nathan Shank 

Great news Nathan Shank is writing!  Here’s his Biblical foundation for a No Place Left strategy.

No Place Left is the focus of the October 2016 edition of Global Missiology.

Persecution makes a comeback in China

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The new laws will put the state firmly in charge, giving the Communist Party the ability to hire and fire church leaders and change religious doctrine to make it more Chinese.

That means churchgoers will have to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party first.

China correspondent Matthew Carney

China is set to launch a nationwide crackdown on the Christian churches.

The Communist Party has just enacted much tougher laws that criminalise Christians if they don’t pledge loyalty to the state.

The Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that all religions now have to become ‘Chinese’ and the new laws will attempt to bring churchgoers and their leaders under party control.

Christianity Today sums up what the new regulations are likely to include:

  • No religious activities that are not approved by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) .
  • No one may provide a venue for religious services that are not approved by SARA.
  • No one may use their home for religious practices that are not approved by SARA (including home or family Bible studies).
  • No publishing religious materials without approval from SARA.
  • No foreign or domestic donations may be made to any religious organization that hasn’t been approved by SARA.
  • No one may call themselves a pastor without the approval of SARA.
  • No international religious exchanges may happen without the approval of SARA.
  • No one may study theology at school without the approval of SARA.

Across Beijing, church leaders are waiting for the first round of arrests and detentions. It seems the harassment has already begun.

Matthew Carney’s report from the (Australian) ABC is worth listening to. You get the feel of what it is like for the ordinary Chinese believer.

There are 25 million believers registered with the official church and around 75 million believers in unregistered churches. By 2030 China may have the largest Christian population in the world.

InterVarsity did the right thing

 Walk in action

Scripture is very clear that God’s intention for sexual expression is to be between a husband and wife in marriage. Every other sexual practice is outside of God’s plan and therefore is a distortion of God’s loving design for humanity.

InterVarsity 

InterVarsity has made clear its position on marriage and sexuality. This is a rare thing, many Christian organisations, leaders and churches would rather duck the issue.

We live in strange times when it’s news that a Christian organisation believes what Christians have universally taught on sexuality for 2,000 years.

The Atlantic warns:

Organizations like InterVarsity are not infrequently torn between older, conservative donors and powerbrokers, and the younger donors and activists who hold the key to their future.

If public-opinion polls are any indication, a polarizing position like this may sharply limit the field of future supporters. 

If that’s the case the mainline churches must be bulging with a surplus of young activists and donors. Instead they’re in an unending spiral of decline and decay.

This is the lesson of history — move away from Biblical orthodoxy and you’re finished as a movement. There is no other pattern.

 

Exponential Europe

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I’ll be doing a session at Exponential Europe this week, Oct 12-13.

Look forward to meeting up if you’ll be there.

If you can’t be there, it will be streamed live for free

All you need is love

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The only way Christianity can become salvageable is by admitting that it is unsalvageable in its present form. The only way it can be saved is to admit that it is lost. The only way it can be healed is to admit that it is sick.

Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren is on a mission to save Christianity — from itself.

The movement Jesus started has lost its way and must be reborn. No longer defined by a set of unchanging beliefs, but by a way of life centered in love, embodied by Jesus.

Belief is the problem. Love is the answer. All you need is love.

So Brian has written another book.

There’s nothing new in his message. We’ve heard it before. Another attempt to reinvent the Christian faith and make it more acceptable to our culture. It’s a faith the world can embrace. But it won’t.

Gone is the one true God revealed in Scripture, and supremely revealed through Jesus Christ. Gone are notions of sin and salvation. Instead we have the god of love as “the Spirit at work in our world for the common good.”

It’s not up to Brian McLaren or anyone else to redefine the Christian faith. God has made himself known in his Word — Old and New Testaments. God has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Sorry but that’s a belief and it’s true. Only by understanding who God is and what he has done through Jesus can we fully know what love is. And yes, if our response is to not love God with all our heart, mind and strength and love our neighbour as ourselves — then we have not understood who God is, and what he has done for us.

True belief inspires us to love. True love is defined by the very nature of God revealed in Scripture. Love and belief are not opposites, they are the two sides of one coin.

If you truly believe you will truly love. Love, obedience to Christ and faith are different ways of understanding the same reality of discipleship.

Jesus taught us that God is love, but love is not god. Who God is and what he does in history reveals the true nature of his holy love. Yes doctrines can be used as weapons. Just as the word “love” can be used to undermine the truth of the gospel.

The same Jesus who said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you,” said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me.”

Related: The future of American Christianity? Or the last hurrah of a bankrupt faith?

Följ Jesus Fiska människor

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Following and Fishing has been translated into Swedish.

Thanks to Magnus Alphonce and Richard Hultmar.

The heart of mission in Acts

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For over a century Westerners have been reinventing the gospel and mission with disastrous results.

Jim Hamilton helps blow away the confusion with a careful study of the central theme of the book of Acts. This is what he concludes on the gospel in Acts:

God’s justice is seen in his righteous reversal of the unjust condemnation of Jesus, in his just calling to account of those who perpetrated that crime, and in the proclamation that forgiveness of sins is available through Jesus.

Forgiveness is available through Jesus because Jesus has satisfied God’s justice in his death on the cross. Thus, the justice of God is of a piece with the salvation of God. God demonstrates his mercy by making a way for sins to be forgiven through the death of Jesus. Upholding his justice through the death of Jesus, God can extend mercy to guilty people who deserve only justice.

This mercy is offered to those who crucified the Messiah, and the redemptive mercy of God is put on display through the healings and teachings that the witnesses to the resurrection do in Acts.

God’s justice and his mercy balance one another. The justice keeps the mercy from becoming insipid sentimentality, while the mercy keeps the justice from crushing all with just punishment.  Justice and mercy serve a higher aim … for both display God and evoke the glory that God rightly deserves.

Jim Hamilton

Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts as one story told in two halves. 

Acts shows that at the heart of mission is the spread of the gospel resulting in disciples and churches to the glory of God.

125-Pioneering Movements in Prisons — Phil Alessi

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Phil Alessi (the dangerous guy on the left) tells the story of disciple making movements in the prison system.

Links to Phil’s resources:

Watch Released From Darkness: Making Disciples in the Indiana State Prison System

UPDATE: Do you know anyone with a heart for prisoners and their families? Can you spread the word on social media and by email?

Here’s the short link: http://wp.me/p1q8Rw-2LE

Play

The faith of America — LifeWay reports

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According to the latest LifeWay research Americans love God and believe the Bible (sort of) but are confused about the details.

Six in 10 say everyone eventually goes to heaven, but half say only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. And while 7 in 10 say there’s only one true God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—two-thirds say God accepts worship of all faiths.

Most Americans still identify as Christians. But they seem to be confused about some of the details of their faith.

For example about two-thirds of Americans believe Jesus is God while half say Jesus is a being created by God. 

Evangelical believers say hell is for real. Other Americans aren’t so sure.

Many evangelical believers say everybody goes to heaven. They also believe that only those who trust Jesus as their Savior are saved.

Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature

The resurrection really happened. But not everything else in the Bible did

Americans believe in the Trinity. But are fuzzy on the details.

Americans disagree about sex, abortion, homosexuality and gender.

Three-quarters of Americans say people must contribute their own effort for personal salvation.

more

Iran — the country with the fastest growing church in the world

Iran before and after

At the time of the Islamic revolution in 1979, there were around 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands – some say more than one million.

Carey Lodge reports:

Christians in Iran face relentless persecution. Ranked ninth on Open Doors’ list of countries where it’s most dangerous to be a Christian, open churches are forbidden and converting from Islam – the state religion – is punishable by death for men, and life imprisonment for women. Last year more than 100 Christians were arrested or imprisoned and allegations of torture have emerged.

And yet, the church in Iran is thriving.

In 2015, Operation World named Iran as having the fastest growing evangelical population in the world, with an estimated annual growth of 19.6 per cent. According to Mark Howard of Elam Ministries, an organisation founded by Iranian church leaders with the purpose of expanding the church in Iran, more Iranians have become Christians in the last two decades than in the previous 13 centuries combined.

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