The Weekend Wanderer: 29 December 2018

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

iranian christians“Iranians Are Converting To Evangelical Christianity In Turkey” – NPR reports on something that has been tracked by religious news agencies for awhile. “In Turkey and across the Middle East and Europe, evangelical Christians are converting Muslim refugees eager to emigrate to the West. The refugees in Turkey escaped Iran, where conversion to anything but Islam is illegal. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iran. Those considered part of the native Christian communities are permitted to practice their religion with restrictions, but a Muslim converting to Christianity is considered an apostate. The Iranian government jails converts, especially those who proselytize. The authorities see it as a Western plan to turn Iranians against Islam and the Islamic regime, according to converts in Turkey.”

 

iweslej001p1“Counsel for preachers (and other Christians)” – Over at his blog, Alan Jacobs shares some penetrating insight from John Wesley on how preachers should approach life and preaching. What’s his advice? Read more to shape your faith and skill as a preacher. “What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear to this day, is want of reading. I scarcely ever knew a Preacher read so little. And, perhaps, by neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it. Hence your talent in preaching does not increase. It is just the same as it was seven years ago. It is lively, but not deep: there is little variety; there is no compass of thought. Reading only can supply this, with daily meditation and daily prayer.”

 

Griswold-The-Other-Evangelicals“Evangelicals of Color Fight Back Against the Religious Right” – Evangelicalism is changing in more ways than one. In The New Yorker, Eliza Griswold reports on one of the most significant changes. “In the United States, evangelicalism has long been allied with political conservatism. But under Trump’s Presidency right-wing political rhetoric has become more openly racist and xenophobic. In evangelical circles, hostility toward people of color is often couched in nostalgia for the simpler days of nineteen-fifties America….The growing number of evangelicals of color have begun pushing in earnest for more of a political voice in the church.”

 

persectued church 2018“The 10 Most-Read Stories of the Persecuted Church” – Christianity Today gathers together their 10 most-read stories related to the persecuted church in 2018. Ranging from Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey to Indonesian churches blasted by a family of suicide bombers, from North Korea’s decision to free American Christians and Leah Sharibu’s inspiration of Nigerian believers, and so much more. If you aren’t familiar with these stories, you should be.

 

hang christians“Jeremy Hunt orders global review into persecution of Christians” – On a related note, UK Foreign Secretary is calling for a global review of persecution of Christians. “The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered an independent, global review into the persecution of Christians of all nationalities amid claims that not enough is being done to defend the rights of nearly 200 million Christians at risk of persecution today. The unprecedented Foreign Office review will be led by the Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, and will make recommendations on the practical steps the government can take to better support those under threat.”

 

baby feet.jpeg“The Case Against CRISPR Babies” – Nicanor Austriaco at First Things: “A few days after Thanksgiving, a Chinese scientist named He Jiankui shocked the global community by announcing that he had created the world’s first gene-edited, designer babies—twin girls named Lulu and Nana. The two ‘CRISPR babies’ had been born a few weeks earlier to their HIV-positive father Mark and his wife, Grace. Many scientists expressed anger and frustration at the announcement. U.S. National Institutes of Health Director, Francis Collins, described Jiankui’s work as a ‘profoundly unfortunate,’ ‘ill-considered,’ ‘unethical,’ ‘scientific misadventure’ that ‘flout[ed] international ethical norms.'”

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Prayer Meeting that Lasted 100 Years

I came across this article while working on some message preparation and background study on prayer. Thanks to the author, Leslie K. Tarr, for writing this powerful illustration of the link between prayer and mission.

Herrnhut &  Zinzendorf.jpg

FACT: The Moravian Community of Herrnhut in Saxony, in 1727, commenced a round-the-clock “prayer watch” that continued nonstop for over a hundred years.

FACT: By 1791, 65 years after commencement of that prayer vigil, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth.

Could it be that there is some relationship between those two facts? Is fervent intercession a basic component in world evangelization? The answer to both questions is surely an unqualified “yes.”

That heroic eighteenth-century evangelization thrust of the Moravians has not received the attention it deserves. But even less heralded than their missionary exploits is that hundred-year prayer meeting that sustained the fires of evangelism.

During its first five years of existence the Herrnhut settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727 the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering. An unlikely site for revival!

Zinzendorf and others, however, covenanted to prayer and labor for revival. On May 12 revival came. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted.

Looking back to that day and the four glorious months that followed, Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.”

A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate the period. On August 27 of that year twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer.

Some others enlisted in the “hourly intercession.”

“For over a hundred years the members of the Moravian Church all shared in the ‘hourly intercession.’ At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord,” stated historian A. J. Lewis.

The Memorial Days of the Renewed Church of the Brethren, published in 1822, ninety-five years after the decision to initiate the prayer watch, quaintly describes the move in one sentence: “The thought struck some brethren and sisters that it might be well to set apart certain hours for the purpose of prayer, at which seasons all might be reminded of its excellency and be induced by the promises annexed to fervent, persevering prayer to pour out their hearts before the Lord.”

The journal further cites Old Testament typology as warrant for the prayer watch: “The sacred fire was never permitted to go out on the altar (Leviticus 6:13); so in a congregation is a temple of the living God, wherein he has his altar and fire, the intercession of his saints should incessantly rise up to him.”

That prayer watch was instituted by a community of believers whose average age was probably about thirty. Zinzendorf himself was twenty-seven.

The prayer vigil by Zinzendorf and the Moravian community sensitized them to attempt the unheard-of mission to reach others for Christ. Six months after the beginning of the prayer watch the count suggested to his fellow Moravians the challenge of a bold evangelism aimed at the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey and Lapland. Some were skeptical, but Zinzendorf persisted. Twenty-six Moravians stepped forward the next day to volunteer for world missions wherever the Lord led.

The exploits that followed are surely to be numbered among the high moments of Christian history. Nothing daunted Zinzendorf or his fellow heralds of Jesus Christ—prison, shipwreck, persecution, ridicule, plague, abject poverty, threats of death. Church historians look to the eighteenth century and marvel at the Great Awakening in England and America, which swept hundreds of thousands into God’s Kingdom. John Wesley figured largely in that mighty movement and much attention has centered on him. It is not possible that we have overlooked the place, which that round-the clock prayer watch had in reaching Wesley and, through him and his associates, in altering the course of history?

One wonders what would flow from a commitment on the part of twentieth century Christians to institute a “prayer watch” for world evangelization, specifically to reach those, in Zinzendorf’s words, “for whom no one cared.”

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Quotations on Temptation

img_1040“I can resist anything except temptation.”  – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

“Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” – Richard Sibbes

“A celebrated decadent wrote, ‘The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it’. Yet that unhappy man himself was a complete contradiction of his own epigram; his life narrowed and darkened to a dungeon because he was unable to get rid of the hideous desires that he had satisfied. Yielding to a temptation is like yielding to a blackmailer; you pay to be free, and find yourself the more enslaved.” – G. K. Chesterton, Daily News, August 8, 1908.

“Temptations are like tramps. Treat them kindly, and they will return bringing others with them.” – Dwight L. Moody

“When you catch yourself overstepping the line in any sense, that’s where you have to physically say no. And you can do this. The Bible teaches very clearly that we can say yes or no — no matter what our desires. Ask God to shout at you when you need to say no, and to give you the power He promised.” – Jill Briscoe

“Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.” – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.” – Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armour, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch-deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

“His Majesty [the Lord] . . . rewards great services with trials, and there can be no better reward, for out of trials springs love for God.” – Teresa of Avila

“Temptations, when we first meet them, are like a lion that roared at Samson; but if we overcome them, the next time we see them we shall find a nest of honey within them.” – John Bunyan

“We usually know what we can do, but temptation shows us who we are.” – Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

“As the most dangerous winds may enter at little openings, so the devil never enters more dangerously than by little unobserved incidents, which seem to be nothing, yet insensibly open the heart to great temptations.” – John Wesley

“The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.” – T. S. Eliot