Saturday Zoom-In: LA / Estonia

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A powerful message concerning the need for world missions. Each person has the responsibility to carry the gospel on. Thousands die everyday who have never heard the gospel before. Mati Simm shares at an LA house church service as they meet under “social-distancing conditions”. He breaks a message of prayer for the nations.

Listen from 39:00 – 1:09:00 for the introduction to the Baltic churches and Mati’s sermon message.

In his sermon, Mati references a conversation he had with a brother who went to Estonia on the One Year Challenge.

He asked the brother, “Why do you want to stay here?”

The brothers response?

“It’s really hard to convert atheists… and I love it!”

That’s inspiring faith. Listen for more.

Thursday Links: The Christian Response to Coronavirus

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Douglas Jacoby short lesson: In this talk (16 mins), Douglas shares 6 components of a Christian response to Covid-19. While this particular coronavirus is certainly dangerous, and should be taken seriously, how we respond spiritually to the threat is even more important. There are things, from a biblical point of view, that are more important than surviving a pandemic.

What can the early church teach about the virus? The early church was no stranger to plagues, epidemics, and mass hysteria. In fact, according to both Christian and also non-Christian accounts, one of the main catalysts for the church’s explosive growth in its early years was how Christians navigated disease, suffering, and death.

Featured Article: 4 Primary Tasks for the Shepherd-Planter

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Whether you are aspiring to do so or aspiring to support, knowing the role of a church planter can help any disciple understand more deeply the needs of a church, its members and its work. This article by Mark Hallock discusses just this!

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The most basic responsibility of the shepherd-planter is to know his sheep. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). This means it’s not enough for pastors to know their sheep as one massive whole on a macro-level. Rather, we must know each person individually, from the nursery to the nursing home.

You can read the full article here.

What We’re Reading Today

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“Humility” by Andrew Murray. He claims it is the cardinal virtue, and sits at the cornerstone of who Jesus is. That he did not consider equality with God to be used to his advantaged, but humbled himself to become our servant.

“We will learn that we can never have more of true faith than we have of true humility.” (68)

“Humility is simply the disposition which prepares the soul for living on trust.” (68)

You can find the book on Amazon here.

Saturday Zoom – Ancient Rome

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Taken from “The Plagues That Might Have Brought Down the Roman Empire”, and article written Caroline Wazer of the Atlantic. Reference is made to a historian (Michael McCormick) who shares the Christian role in this piece of history. Inspiring for a generation facing an outbreak and fear regarding the Corona Virus.

For Bishop Cyprian, the plague that came to bear his name was hard proof of the superiority of Christianity over traditional Roman religion. Seeing the pestilence as an opportunity to put their most deeply-held beliefs into action, early Christians beatifically set about caring for the sick and giving proper burials to the dead.

On the other side of the religious divide, the pagan establishment was overwhelmed with fear. Traditionally, Roman priests interpreted epidemics as a sign of displeasure from the gods. Evidence in the form of new iconography on coins and references to extraordinary state-organized sacrifices suggests that the Plague of Cyprian was no different. As Harper notes, sources agree that, “the epidemic undermined the social fabric of pagan society” while “the orderly response of the Christian community, especially in the burial of the dead, presented a stark contrast.”

Featured Article: Beware of the god of Open Options

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This week’s featured article might hit close to home if you are the type of person who spends as much time browsing for the perfect movie as you will watching it!

It seems that the more options we have, the more afraid we are of choosing. We become enslaved to being noncommittal.

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The fact is that we live in a world of many options. Our daily decisions are much more complicated than learning your father’s trade and working to survive.

We worship the god of open options. And he’s killing us. He kills our relationships, because he tells us it’s better not to become too involved. He kills our service to others because he tells us it might be better to keep our weekends to ourselves. He kills our giving because he tells us these are uncertain financial times and you never know when you might need that money. He kills our joy in Christ because he tells us it’s better not to be thought of as too spiritual.

What’s most frightening about the god of open options, though, is that you may not even know that you’re worshiping him. Because he pretends not to be a god at all.

In fact, he promises you freedom from all gods, all responsibilities. “Keep your options open,” he whispers. “Worship me, and you don’t have to serve anything or anyone. No commitment necessary. Total freedom.”

You can read the full article here.

What We’re Reading Today

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From Duncan Hamilton’s biography of Eric Liddell, “For the Glory”.

Known for his Olympic running achievements in 1924, his greatest story occurred after, as he moved to China, giving up a career in athletics in order to become a missionary.

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“Skeptical question are always going to be asked when someone is portrayed without apparent faults and also as the possessor of standards that appear so idealized and far-fetched to the rest of us. Liddell can sound too virtuous and too honorable to be true, as if those who knew him were either misremembering or consciously mythologizing. Not so. The evidence is too overwhelming to be dismissed as easily as that. No one could ever recall a single act of envy, pettiness, hubris, or self-aggrandizement from him. He bad-mouthed nobody. He didn’t bicker. He lived daily by the most unselfish credo, which was to help others practically and emotionally. Liddell became the (concentration) camp’s conscience without ever being pious, sanctimonious, or judgmental. He forced his religion on no one. He didn’t expect others to share his beliefs, let alone live up to them. . . His heroism was to be utterly forgiving in the most unforgiving of circumstances” (8)

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If you are considering taking a OYC, this book is a great read on sacrifice and a God glorifying perspective in the face of severe trials.

You can buy the book here.