Can We Agree to Disagree? by Erik Tryggestad

By Erik Tryggestad

‘I read the Chronicle, but I don’t always like what I read,” a brother in Christ once told me during a visit to Nashville, Tenn.

“Brother, that makes two of us,” I replied.

It’s true. I don’t agree with every person we quote in these pages. Frankly, the ideas expressed here bother me sometimes. They bother me enough to make me think, to dust off my Bible and prayerfully ponder what it says, to ask for God’s wisdom and discernment.

We try our best to remain true to the vision of our founder, Olan Hicks, who wrote 74 years ago that The Christian Chronicle “is to be built on character. It means to stand for right and truth, for fairness and impartiality, for zeal according to knowledge. It is a newspaper and is to be conducted on the principles of news reporting.”

As we report, we strive to inform, not to endorse. It saddens me when a reader angrily declares they are withdrawing support from us because we gave ink to a person or an idea they consider doctrinally unsound or because of a viewpoint that made them uncomfortable.

Truth is, I hear far more praise than criticism for what we do. The No. 1 compliment we get is that we merely report without condemning, without telling our readers what to think.

My favorite readers are the ones who tell me, “I didn’t agree with that story, but I thank you for telling it.”

That’s what keeps me going.

Contact: erik@christianchronicle.org

A Servant’s Dream by Andrea Young

by Andrea Young

A Servant’s Dream

Written on September 11, 2017

At twenty-seven-years-old, Alfredos Sayelo was wicked, drunk, and near death when he recalled his boyhood desire to serve God. When he awoke from his stupor, he hungered for the Word of the Lord.

He visited countless denominational churches and Bible schools in Namibia desperate to learn the Scripture. They shunned him because he did not have a high-school certificate or money. One day a teacher from “The Church of the Living God” came to Alfredos while he was reading the Bible.The man asked him if he understood what he was reading and when he said, “No,” the man explained it to him. Following the lesson the teacher boasted about his “Evangelist” credential. This discouraged Alfredos because he wanted to learn the Bible and teach others like that man was; he thought he wouldn’t have the chance.

Not long after, Alfredos was searching Google when a World Bible School advertisement appeared. He registered and was accepted. Then, Mary McKinney, a beloved sister of the Lord, adopted him and guided him into the knowledge of the truth.

Mary saw he had a soft heart, and continually encouraged Alfredos with advice on how to overcome the problems in his life. The more he learned and studied, the more he changed. One day, Alfredos learned how to be forgiven. Guilt washed over him because he still had sin in his life. He then repented and was ready to be baptized.

Mary sought a person to immerse him and God sent a minister named Lukas Kamono to baptize him at the Kehmu church of Christ near Rundu, Namibia on April 2, 2017. Alfredos now continues his Bible study with Mary through World English Institute. She is happy that God allows her to help Alfredos and is thankful that he is a young man who has a “noble and good heart” (Luke 8:15). She praises God for the increase to His kingdom and is looking forward to meeting Alfredos in heaven one day.

Now as a Christian, Alfredos is grateful that God answered his prayers and directed him to WBS. He now has peace and the strength to overcome sin. He says,

I will always feed myself with His Word, and I will be ready to teach others about Him. My dream to be a servant of God has been fulfilled.

Let us faithfully serve the Lord like our brother and sister in Christ.

 

 

Outsiders and Insiders by Christiana Muir

 

By Christiana Muir

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 

“So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
Matthew 22:8-10, New International Version

My mother was burned by the church, so she warned me to be wary,
And a picture was painted with paint that was tainted,
And church became a place that was scary.

Church was a building; I was an outsider looking in,
And a perception was formed and developed deep within.
That church was a place for the worthy, and I did not belong,
And it took someone from the inside to reach me on the outside.
To teach me I had it all wrong

And it came through action followed by word.
Because a Gospel that is lived is a Gospel that is heard.
And what’s absurd is I was blinded by deception, wounded by rejection.
But because someone was His reflection, I experienced resurrection.

His love has no exceptions. That’s the Gospel truth.
He loves the exiled and broken, not just those in the pews.
And I refuse to believe that His love can be earned.
Because it wouldn’t be the Gospel if it was something we deserved.

Outsiders and insiders, all welcome to the table.
Not because we are worthy, but because He is able
And because He is able, a beautiful cycle begins
Where outsiders become insiders to welcome outsiders in.

CHRISTIANA MUIR is a recent graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., with a degree in theology and ministry. She attends the Ethos Church of Christ in Nashville, where she is training to plant churches. Her dream is to help reconcile the divide between churches and outsiders — like she used to be — by helping congregations consider ways they can serve missionally in their communities.

High Demand for New WBS Study Edition Bible

by Kevin Rhodes

High Demand for New WBS Study Edition Bible

Written on April 3, 2017

“We’re so impressed with the new WBS Bible!”

That’s the kind of repeated response we’re getting since we recently released the all-new WBS Study Edition Bible (English Standard Version). The Bible is the culmination of two years of planning and content creation that supplements the 2016 text edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) published by Crossway.

The WBS Study Edition Bible serves multiple functions. First, it is an attractive, durable, inexpensive Bible available for purchase as pew Bibles and gifts for seekers, youth, new Christians, family, friends and personal use. Second, it is a Bible that some 8,000 everyday Christians who are WBS Study Helpers can provide as gifts for proven WBS students. Third, it is part of WBS’ Free Bible Incentive Program wherein a donor’s gift of merely $5 connects a WBS student with a WBS Study Helper and provides the Bible for no cost to the student. Finally, the Bible includes Study Helps that encourage readers to continue personal study, including with WBS’ Bible lessons.

According to WBS’ President, John Reese, “This Bible evidently fills an important need among churches of Christ. Christians can be confident that the Helps in the Study Edition faithfully represent the principles and practices of New Testament Christianity—including biblical faith, baptism and unity. The ESV is also an excellent literal translation in modern English.”

John noted that sales of the Bible are approaching 13,000 after only two full months. “And we are fulfilling a special order of 20,000 by an international evangelistic ministry. Not only have we accelerated our print schedule [from 2018], we have tripled our original quantity.”

The WBS Study Edition Bible provides a whole lot for little cost. A Bible sells for only $5 each (plus shipping) and for as low as $3.50 for volume orders. To purchase a Bible, go to www.worldbibleschool.net/bible. To learn more about the Free Bible Incentive Program for your WBS students, go to www.worldbibleschool.net/incentive.

 

 

The Masks We Wear by Heather Hodges

 

By Heather Hodges

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10, English Standard Version

We often feel the need to hide our brokenness, sin, pain and suffering behind a mask of happiness and perfection.

We conceal our true selves out of fear or self-preservation. The masks we wear become so comfortable and familiar. They become part of us and we would feel naked without them.

During those moments when our guard is down and we remove the mask, we feel vulnerable and exposed, but we are also authentic and raw.

Wearing the mask only perpetuates the pain and loneliness. But when we take the mask off, we open our hearts to the presence of God and to healing, restoration and transformation.

When we summon the courage and remove the mask we feel the presence of God surround and strengthen us.

Peace and love to you. “Soli Deo gloria.” To God alone be the glory.

HEATHER HODGES is a mom, wife, artist, inspirational speaker and follower of Christ. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Abilene Christian University in Texas and has been in ministry alongside her husband, Wade, for almost 20 years. They worship with the Preston Road Church of Christ in Dallas, where Wade Hodges serves a preaching minister, with their sons Caleb and Elijah. See her gallery at heatherhodgesart.com.

 

Announcing Spoken

by Jonathan Towell

Announcing Spoken

Written on June 21, 2017

In late April, we quietly launched our first iPhone app. “Spoken” allows people to learn English by reading Bible and receiving free coaching from a native English speaker. Students record their scripture readings and Christian coaches record responses.

Experience from partner ministries like WEI and Let’s Start Talking has, for many years, shown that there is incredible global demand for English. This demand is fertile soil for finding seekers.

When a person signs up for World Bible School, it is usually because they already had some interest in the Bible. This is not always true when a person signs up to learn English. Instead, they are exposed to God’s word, sometimes for the first time. Of course, we know the power of the word of God:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The approach for Spoken is simple. Adopt a student. Listen to scripture readings (on your own time). Record a response that gives encouragement, pronunciation advice, and a thought about the scripture. Invite your student to study the WBS material with you. And when your student decides to put on Christ, let us know and we’ll help with follow up.

Each response takes 30-60 seconds. This tool is very simple to use.

Shortly after launch, we began global advertising to people searching for things like “English coaching” or “English pronunciation help.” Some of the top responding countries are Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Myanmar, Egypt, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Nepal, and Algeria. Do you note a pattern? This is an excellent opportunity to connect with and teach Muslim and Hindu seekers.

Today, we have hundreds of students ready for a coach. Will you help us and adopt a student?

How to sign up as a coach?

If you are already signed up as an online WBS study helper, you can sign up to coach by emailing us at help@spokenapp.org.

Note: To be a Spoken coach, you must speak English as a first language and have an iPhone.

Panera and Psalms: Where do you find much-needed reflection?

Panera and Psalms: Where do you find much-needed reflection?

By Bailey McBride

I recently read a Wall Street Journal feature on Ron Shaich, founder of Panera Bread Co. He had just sold the business and was thinking about his future.

“I’ve watched both my mom and dad pass away,” he said. “I learned we each have an opportunity if we have a chronic disease to reflect on our own lives. But I am convinced that the time to reflect is not in the ninth inning, on your death bed. It’s while you are going through life.”

His words struck a familiar chord for me. For 17 years, I have gone each morning to Panera for coffee, breakfast, meditation and reflection. No matter what my responsibilities or position, I have taken the first hour of my day to reflect on what was ahead and how I needed to shape my attitude and behavior.

The Bible is rich with examples of people who took time to reflect. David, the psalmist, spent much of his youth alone with his sheep. He reflected on life and saw God as his shepherd who protected and cared for his needs (Psalm 23). When he was anointed king, he was in constant danger from Saul and his followers. He reflected on God as rock and redeemer when he was saved from a near-death experience (Psalm 18).

Biblical texts can encourage reflection, but life experiences and thought deserve reflection as well.

The book of Psalms is where I go when I need inspiration for reflection. The psalms are a varied tapestry of life experiences and emotions. God clearly blessed David with a perceptive heart and mind to help him explore celebration and danger in life. Working my way through Psalms each year has increased my sensitivity to God’s presence and work in my life.

Biblical texts can encourage reflection, but life experiences and thought deserve reflection as well.

Recently, I had lunch with my youngest grandchildren, Connor and Garrett. They are in their mid-teens and were facing the start of another school year. I have been reflecting on how much they have changed since they were my roommates in Rome last year. Both have grown up a lot, and both are seriously dedicated to wrestling. I am reflecting on how I can best love and help them through this stage of life. This reflection leads to prayer and a search for God’s guidance.

As an octogenarian, I am reminded often of death because so many people I have loved and admired are ill or dying.

I have never feared death, but I am certainly not eager to experience it. Reflections on death remind me of the many unfinished tasks of my life. My reflections prompt me to work on tasks that I can complete.

Reflection is not easy if it is not already a habit. It takes time and isolation.

As an optimist, I am still dreaming and planning during my times of reflection. I am trying to recreate myself after retiring from college teaching after 57 years. I am trying to find meaning after losing the wife of my youth after 59 wonderful years.

I don’t have any idea how long I will live, but I am determined that every minute God gives me will be used to enrich the lives of others.

Reflection is not easy if it is not already a habit. It takes time and isolation. The best way to cultivate the practice of reflection is to set aside time most days of the week to think and consider the events and people in your life. Many find it useful to have a pen and paper to makes notes. Many find it useful to begin with a Bible passage and let their minds absorb the ideas until they are reflecting on life.

Your heart and soul will flourish if you give yourself time to reflect.

Contact: bailey.mcbride@christianchronicle.org

The “Aha” Moment by Andrea Young

by Andrea Young

The “Aha!” Moment

Written on September 18, 2017

Tami Pickett had a lot of questions about baptism. Her son Joshua was studying WBS lessons when he signed up his mother for the courses. Larry Baum, a teacher passionate to share the truth of God’s Word, adopted Tami off the Student Board. Larry is a member at the Burleson church of Christ in Burleson, Texas.

Larry was impressed by Tami because she was gracious and always responded to questions with scripture. He also related to her background, because he was sprinkled as a baby like Tami. After completing “Born of Water and Spirit” Tami said that it was a “stunning revelation” that she needed to be fully immersed. She sent a note to Larry saying that she was ready to be baptized.

Larry then contacted Kella Jones, a WBS follow-up partner who also worships with the Burleson congregation, to connect with Tami. Kella said that Tami was one of her fastest follow-up students because she was so eager to be baptized. Kella contacted Bob Pulliam, the preacher of Fry Road church of Christ in Houston, Texas. He counseled her and she was baptized that very day! Tami, who is also a photographer, didn’t even think of having her picture taken because she was focused on her commitment to God and was overwhelmed with joy! Larry said,

I felt so happy when she requested baptism and especially when she was. I just thanked God that His Spirit opened her eyes and heart to the truth. Praise God and all the Glory goes to Him.

Presently, Tami is affected by hurricane Harvey, but counts her blessings. She still has power, water, and her new church family! Please pray for her in her walk in Christ as she suffers through effects of the storm. Pray that Tami might be a light to her community as they all work through the tremendous aftermath of the hurricane.

Why Don’t We All Understand the Bible Alike?

How can everyone read the same Bible and come to different conclusions about what it means? If we’re all reading the same book, why don’t we all believe and practice the same things? Here are some thoughts about why we don’t all understand the Bible alike.

 

 

Not the Reason

First of all, you need to give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume they are lazy, ignorant, or rebellious. There are honest, sincere, God-fearing people from every religious tradition. That doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone is equally right or no one is wrong. It just means, typically the problem is NOT people’s motives or work ethic.

Statements like this, “Well, if people would just read their Bibles, they would see it clearly says…” are rarely helpful. After all, the people who disagree with you are probably thinking the same thing. They are thinking you just need to start reading your Bible and you would see they are clearly right.

An Illustration

Imagine there are seven children in a family. Each of the children is a different age and has different things going on in his or her life: one is hungry, one has baseball practice that evening, one is having trouble with a boyfriend, and one just failed his history test.

All seven of the children walk into the kitchen to discover their father is on the phone with their mother, who is out of town for the week. Without interrupting the phone conversation, they decide they will try to glean the information they need by listening to everything their father says to their mother.

They listen as their father asks and answers several questions and they try to piece together an idea of what kind of mood their father is in, what they are going to have for supper, and what the plans are for that evening. It’s easy to see how some of the children will inevitably walk away with differing impressions and understandings.

One reason the children will not understand the conversation alike is that none of them can hear both sides of the conversation. They can only hear what their father is saying, but not their mother’s end of the conversation. Another reason is, they are each asking different questions. They are listening from their unique perspective and trying to understand something about which the other children do not care.

Understanding the Bible Alike

Reading the New Testament is like listening to one side of a telephone conversation. The apostle or evangelist who wrote each book was having a conversation with the original audience, answering their particular questions and addressing their particular problems. This is true for the Gospel accounts, the book of Acts, the epistles, and the book of Revelation. It is even true of the Old Testament.

One reason we struggle to understand the Bible alike is that we are coming to the Bible asking the wrong questions. We are trying to force the Bible to answer our questions, rather than asking, “What issues is the Bible actually addressing and how is it addressing those issues?” The only way to come to similar understandings of the Bible is to start with the same question.

Primary Issues

The primary issues of the Bible are the issues the Bible specifically addresses. These must be our primary concern. Paul wrote:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

The Bible specifically addresses questions about who Jesus is, what His death means, what His resurrection means, and how to become a redeemed citizen of His kingdom.

The things Scripture specifically addresses must be our primary concern. We must strive to understand what the biblical authors were saying to their original audience. Only then will we be able to understand how that message applies to us today.

Secondary Issues

Listening to one side of a phone conversation, the seven children can understand, “Dad told mom he would pick her up at the airport tomorrow evening at 3:00.” The issue of picking mom up at the airport was directly addressed in the conversation, therefore it is a primary issue.

However, the issue of Sarah’s recital that is supposed to take place on the same evening at 4:30 was not directly addressed. How can the children know whether or not their parents will make it to the recital? Though that issue wasn’t specifically addressed, it may be possible to piece together an answer to that question, based on other things that were said.

There are many issues the Bible does not address directly, but we can piece together a proper understanding by taking the whole of Scripture into consideration. We must be very careful with this of course, because it is possible to allow our own bias to cloud our judgement.

Many of these secondary issues revolve around things the biblical authors and audiences took for granted. They didn’t address some issues, because the answers would have been obvious to them based on everything they knew about God and His will.

Non-Issues

There are other issues and questions we might call, “non-issues.” These are things Scripture simply doesn’t address either directly or indirectly. Like the children listening to their parents’ conversation, one of them might ask, “What did they say about eating candy?” The honest answer might be, “They didn’t say anything about it.”

How should we approach these non-issues in Scripture? How do we handle issues like whether or not a Christian can – or should – vote in an election, when voting is something never addressed directly or indirectly in Scripture?

We handle these issues with sobriety, humility, reverence for God, grace for our Christian brothers and sisters, love, and a desire to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (see Romans 14 and Ephesians 4).

Bottom Line

We need to start with the question, “What issues is the Bible actually addressing and how is it addressing those issues?” We need to be willing to accept the full implications of what we discover. And we need to be willing to say, when appropriate, “The Bible doesn’t address that issue.”

We will always have differences of opinions, but it is possible to be on the same page about matters of first importance, have a solid understanding of secondary issues, and not let “non-issues” come between us.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams  April 19, 2017

http://www.radicallychristian.com/why-dont-we-all-understand-the-bible-alike

 

Be A World Changer in One Minute

MAY 12, 2017 BY JOHNDOBBS

So often I look at the dreadful status of the world around me and sigh and wish that I could change things in a significant way. This moves me to join with organizations that are making a difference either through participation or through contribution. That is not a brag… I’m far away from being able to brag about myself in this matter.

 

 

I wonder how often we fail to make a difference in the world because we’re always looking at some IMMENSE problem that demands a GIANT solution? What if we could change the world in one minute or less in a simple way?

I don’t know if she knew this was going to happen but Ashley C. Ford (Twitter @iSmashFizzle) did just that back in December. One area that touched her heart was the unpaid lunch debts at the schools around her. So she just made a suggestion in a tweet:

A cool thing you can do today is try to find out which of your local schools have kids with overdue lunch accounts and pay them off. (LINK)

Depending on your experience with Twitter, you may know that thousands of tweets float by in the universe every hour and you won’t see the vast majority of them. But sometimes they catch your eye.

At the time Ashley had  66,000 followers.  Enough of them saw and retweeted so that this simple suggestion began to grow wings.  By now that tweet has been retweeted more than 13,000 times.  Every time it is catching someone’s eyes.

Lindsey Bell noted that Kristina Arwood, a resident from Evansville, Indiana, helped raise $20,000 to pay off lunch debts in her area. She told CBS News, “It really hit home for me. . . . I grew up on free and reduced-price lunches, but even that 40 cents was hard to get together with four kids. There were times I wouldn’t eat because I didn’t have money and didn’t want to be labeled as the poor kid.” (LINK)

The Today Show ran with the story and you can read some of the amazing results of this tweet HERE.

What touches your heart? What is it that catches your breath when you hear about it?

I’ve been blessed to know a number of these influencers. One person I’ve never met in real life but who has had a great influence in my world is Mike Ellis. He’s one of those who doesn’t let anything keep him from reaching out and helping others. Another world changer is Aaron Reddin who was inspired to love the homeless people of Little Rock. His world changing idea was to buy a van and stock it with stuff the homeless need and take it to them. This has grown as others have gotten on board. Or Mike Baumgartner who refurbished an RV and turned it into a kitchen and goes where disaster strikes to make food for victims and helpers…and this has also evolved.  Quincy Gardner has gathered around him an army of helpers who come to the aid of people truly in need.

 

Stack of Cards from Love in the Mail Group!

I once had an idea that if I could get 100 people to agree to send 1 card with 1 dollar to 1 person per week that we could change the lives of 52 people per year. So I started a group on Facebook called Love in the Mail. We’ve sent cards and dollars to over 100 people now. We still don’t have 100 participants, hovering around 70. But to me that’s a simple plan, a simple idea, that makes a big difference. Let me know if you want to join in!

The one thing all of these people have in common in the beginning is that they had an idea of a way to help someone and they just put it out there. There is, in most people, a heart of compassion that needs an outlet.

So what idea have you had that might change the world in one minute? Why not just tweet it out or share it on Facebook or call a friend and ask if they want to join in? I have a little project right now that I’m about to ask some friends to join in and help. Maybe I can help change someone’s world in one minute.

I’ll be watching for your world-changing idea!

You should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you – Jesus, Matthew 7:12

Thanks for reading. JD

http://johndobbs.com/world-changer-one-minute/