Posted on March 2nd, 2015 by Jonathan
Tagline: “Life’s a vapor. Don’t spend yours on the sidelines.”
Vision Statement: We exist to glorify Christ by advancing the gospel and serving the poor.
Mission Statement: We aim to establish sustainable centers for alleviating poverty and multiplying disciples in third-world environments.
What They Do: You can break Vapor’s ministry activity down into three categories:
- Multiplying Disciples – sports leagues, community outreach, staff development, and local faith partners
- Alleviating Poverty – clean water, quality education, improved health, and accessible food
- Sustainable Centers – indigenous leadership, microbusinesses, local engagement
Where They Are: Vapor currently has five centers in Kenya, Togo, and Haiti. These are funded in part by the profits of Vapor’s thrift stores in the United States, where Vapor is based.
Happening Now: Today through Wednesday, Vapor is asking you to pray for them in a few specific ways. You can learn more about their three-day prayer initiative as well as download a copy of the initiative’s 2015 prayer guide by going to this page.
Get Involved: Aside from joining in to pray for them over the next three days (and beyond), Vapor offers numerous ways you can engage with them in the gospel work they are doing in poor communities all over the world: give monthly, sponsor a child, go on a trip with them, become an intern, volunteer, request a speaker, or host a Vapor dinner. Their website offers more details about how you can get involved.
Vapor is one of our Counter Culture ministry partners. As they might say it, don’t stay on the sidelines…
Posted on February 27th, 2015 by Jonathan
How Memorization Feeds Your Imagination: This is the first of 5 posts in which Joe Carter gives us tools to improve our ability to memorize Scripture. “By the time this series is complete you’ll be able to memorize short lists (such as the Ten Commandsments), learn techniques for memorizing long and detailed lists, and have memorized—and be able to recall—thirty key events from the fifty chapters of Genesis.”
Four Unthinkable Conversations: This creative piece by John Knight shows the lunacy of aborting babies who test positive for disabilities in the womb. He goes further, saying that such abortions actually serve as strong evidence for discrimination against the disabled and must be met with protective legislation.
Which Comes First–The Race or the Arrest?: “When asked whether it mattered that Garner was black and all the officers on the scene were white, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said, ‘I personally don’t think race was a factor.’ But it’s not that simple.” Bethany Jenkins goes on to explore implicit racial biases, how those can lead to unfair policing, and how the gospel is the solution.
Stand with Barronelle Stutzman: Washington’s attorney general offered to settle with the Christian florist he filed a law a law suit against, but she didn’t bite. Read her stirring response in which she courageously stands for truth and freedom. Then stand up with her.
Posted on February 26th, 2015 by Jonathan
The first ever Know More Orphans Intensive is in just a few days. This is one facet of the ministry of Altar84, which “exists to glorify God by mobilizing His people to care for orphans and vulnerable children until there are no more.” These events are great ways to get trained and equipped to care for orphans by a ministry that values and proclaims the gospel of spiritual adoption by our Father in heaven. To learn more about the Intensive or to register, go HERE. To find out more about Altar84, go HERE and/or watch the video below.
Posted on February 26th, 2015 by Jonathan
Adversity is nothing new to Ramez Atallah, president of the Egyptian Bible Society. We wrote about him almost a year and a half ago when, amid the confusing government transition in Egypt, the society’s bookshops were burnt to the ground by Muslim fundamentalists.
This blow did not dissuade him from the work before him, however. He resolved to rebuild the bookshops and replenish their resources so that the Word of God could continue to spread throughout Egypt.
Then, the events last week in Libya. ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians. Devastating news, particularly for Egyptian Christians like Ramez Atallah. But, in the words of this encouraging CT article, Atallah was once again “undaunted.” He saw an opportunity for gospel proclamation in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, and he took it.
Under Atallah’s leadership, the Egyptian Bible Society has now distributed over 1.65 million copies of a pamphlet titled “Two Rows by the Sea.” The pamphlet depicts the horrifying scene from the ISIS video: two columns of men walking by the sea, one in black and one in orange. There is a beautiful poem that powerfully describes the executed and their executioners, followed by a series of questions about the two rows. Which row understands? Which row sees? Which row will prevail? Which row pleases God? Each of the questions is simply answered by a couple passages of Scripture.
Needless to say, the brief publication packs quite a punch. Now, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who were rattled by the executions have had these questions about God, suffering, evil, and truth directly posed to them. Not only that, they’ve been proposed an answer: the gospel of Jesus.
We bring this story to your attention for several reasons.
First, we need to pray for the spread of the gospel in Egypt. Ask God to powerfully use “Two Rows by the Sea” to confront people with the truth of Jesus, and ask him to use Christians to help explain it further to lost people who read it.
Second, this story is a powerful reminder that we do not fight flesh and blood, and that God uses evil for good. Be encouraged and continue to trust that God is moving even in depressing headlines.
Third, we ought to be challenged by Ramez Atallah’s example of perseverance and endurance. Atallah continued to faithfully serve where God had placed him despite having his bookstores burned down less than 18 months ago. When the time came for God to use him in a huge way, he was ready.
Posted on February 25th, 2015 by Jonathan
Sexual immorality is a pervasive problem in our culture today. You can hardly go out without being in some way assaulted by sexually inappropriate images or messages. This is why David Platt discusses the issue at length in his new book, Counter Culture. How are Christians to respond to such sin? How are our lives supposed to looked markedly different from the culture around us?
And what do we do as parents?
In the video above, we asked counselor Heath Lambert, a father, how he attempts to faithfully shepherd his children in a culture so saturated by sex.
Dr. Heath Lambert serves as Executive Director at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. ACBC is the largest biblical counseling organization in the world with certified counselors and counseling training centers in 17 countries. He is also the author of Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace (Zondervan, 2013). The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors is one of our Counter Culture ministry partners. Learn more about Heath at their website.
Posted on February 24th, 2015 by David Burnette
Although most followers of Christ are probably aware that they should be sharing the gospel, my guess is that many will tell you that they feel convicted about their failure to do so. Either they don’t do it well, or, more often, they hardly do it at all. This often leads to guilt, which, those same people can tell you, is a poor motivator in personal evangelism.
So what should motivate us as we tell unbelievers the good news of Jesus Christ?
In The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Pastor Mark Dever shares three biblical motivations for evangelism. The first motivation is, quite simply, a desire to be obedient. That’s good and right, and it shouldn’t be labeled as legalism. After all, the Great Commission commands us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). The second motivation to personal evangelism is a love for the lost, which Jesus himself has uniquely modeled for us in his life, death, and resurrection. Both of these motivations are crucial if we want to continually engage unbelievers.
Finally, Dever mentions a third and more foundational motivation in our evangelism – love for God. This may sound obvious, but it’s true. Our greatest need is not a spiritual pep talk or more willpower, but rather a greater love for the One whom we proclaim. Now that doesn’t mean that our love of God has to feel sufficient before we speak; our love will always feel too weak. But it does mean that our pursuit of unbelievers must be the fruit of our pursuit of God. To put it another way, obeying the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) should the fruit of obeying the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-37). Dever cites John Cheeseman on this point:
Love for God is the only sufficient motive for evangelism. Self-love will give way to self-centeredness; love for the lost will fail with those whom we cannot love, and when difficulties seem unsurmountable [sic], only a deep love for God will keep us from following his way, declaring his Gospel, when human resources fail. Only our love for God–and, more important, his love for us–will keep us from the dangers which beset us. When the desire for popularity with me, or for success in human terms, tempts us to water down the Gospel, to make it palatable, then only if we love God will we stand fast his his truth and his ways. (100-101)
How will this observation change your approach as you seek to be faithful in sharing your faith?
(1) John Cheeseman et al., The Grace of God in the Gospel (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1972), 122.
Posted on February 23rd, 2015 by Becca Benson
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
The often-quoted words of Solomon stand true today. Sexual immorality is not a new topic. The world has known of it since the days of Genesis. This generation of teens is not the first to experience the temptation and pressures of sexual immorality. But are they walking in a time of different and maybe even greater pressure?
Same Command, Different World
“Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 6:18a
The command remains the same, but the world is different. Teens today face the tension and temptation on an almost constant basis. The pressure from peers that we have talked about for decades lives on; but today the ease of access created by a world that is ever connected opens doors and opportunities nonstop.
Outside voices and expectations are louder today and permeate deeper into the crevices of teen culture and innate belief. The longstanding perspective of teens feeling guilt, shame, or even questioning whether sexual immorality is right or wrong no longer exists. We live in a “do what feels good” culture that teaches teens to empower themselves by following their desires alone—sinful or not.
At Their Fingertips
Today there are apps and social media galore to allure and give access. There is no hiding in a world that is always visible and expecting your life to be displayed in pictures and clever sayings that are 140 characters or less. The number of likes your photo receives is far more important than anything else. How can you possibly have a life if it isn’t documented for the online world to see?
Their pressure is not to just live; but they must do it in perfect fashion. If they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend, obviously they are not worth anything according to the world. If they aren’t participating in sexual activity, how could they possibly be happy or keep that significant other . . . is what they are being told. There is no understanding or belief that their bodies are valuable but rather they are just one notch to be used in climbing the ladder of popularity and acceptance.
The desire to belong, to fit in, and to be loved and accepted is an ever-growing monster in the heart of a teen that drives actions and gives birth to belief that satisfaction comes in fulfilling sinful desires and giving the voices around them the role of god to proclaim their truth. These desires become their idol with stronger powers than many of us realize.
They Are Not Exempt
In ministry, we are often tempted to hope and even pray that our students would simply make it through. We can even stoop to hoping that they will only make “small mistakes”. And in that we forget that even teens are called to holiness. Even teens are called to deny themselves and walk in godliness. First Corinthians 6:18b-20 applies to them as well.
This generation is not accepting of mediocrity or middle-of-the-road religiosity. They either believe it or they don’t. They do not mindlessly accept something and try to live their lives by it. When it comes to sex, simply saying “Don’t do it” might not be the answer. Jesus taught big truth; why don’t we?
How do we walk with them through the deafening expectations from a sinful world filled with people who do not naturally walk towards holiness?
They Need You
We as believers are called to flee, but also to go. There is a generation in desperate need of truth. There are teens across this world that need you to aggressively pursue a friendship with them in which you share the beautiful truths of Christ’s gospel and the satisfying reality of self-denial and pursuit of the only One who fulfills. They need to hear your voice. They need to see your life. They need you to teach them about forgiveness. How are they to know what mercy and grace are if we do not teach them through both their difficult and triumphant days?
It is an incredible thing to see teens pursuing the Lord. They can remind us daily of God’s presence in their lives as they run hard after holiness amidst seemingly insurmountable pressure. May we trust in the God who is greater than our desires and this over-sexualized culture. Ask the Lord to renew your hope and set firm your belief that he is greater and worthy of the praise of this next generation.
Engaging an increasingly hostile culture is one of the topics in David Platt’s new book, Counter Culture. To find out more, go to CounterCultureBook.com.
Becca Benson serves as the Associate Student Minister at The Church at Brook Hills.
Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Jonathan
Does Islam Inevitably Lead to Violence?: Caleb Greggsen thinks that the better question to ask is “whether or not there is a legitimate place for violence within Islamic tradition. The answer is yes.” Later in the article, he says, “Islam may raise up soldiers willing to kill for their cause. We must be willing to die for ours.”
The Real Faces Behind the Gay Issue: A story from Jasmine Holmes: “Sometimes we can get so bogged down in the issues that we forget that all issues belong to people — hurting people. Lost people. Alienated people. People just like us before Jesus stepped into our lives (1 Corinthians 6:11).”
Wash. floral artist’s home, savings at risk of state seizure after court ruling: “A government that tells you what you can’t say is bad enough, but a government that tells you what you must say is terrifying.”
Sin: Can’t Live With It, Won’t Live Without It: Tim Challies reflects on the tricky reality that, though he’s been changed, he still sins. “I am owned by God and subject to him. My relationship to sin has been radically transformed.”
Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Jonathan
If you feel overcome by the power of sexual sin, there’s hope. That’s the base message of Route1520, a ministry aimed at helping those who personally struggle with sexual addiction, those who have been hurt by the sexual sins of loved ones, and parents trying to raise godly and pure children. In their own words . . .
Route1520 is built on the firm belief that individuals cannot change through mere willpower or simply learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. We believe that change takes place in community as we take the Gospel of Jesus Christ more deeply into our understanding and into our hearts. This process is a journey and not a quick-fix formula.
Watch the video below to hear about how the Lord redeemed Greg from his sexual sin and graciously brought him into the light.
There is still time to register for their four-day EMBARK Men’s Recovery Intensive, held in Alabama from February 26-March 1. EMBARK would serve as a great start to the healing and recovery process as it “focuses specifically on sexual addiction and involves a comprehensive approach to healing that goes beyond the acting out behavior and gets to the root issues that are driving the unwanted behavior.”
Route1520 is a Counter Culture ministry partner on the issue of sexual morality, an issue covered by David Platt in his latest book, Counter Culture. Route1520 offers great resources people struggling with all sorts of sexual sin on their website.
Posted on February 19th, 2015 by David Burnette
Words like desperate and urgent are sometimes overused, but not when they’re used to describe the needs being met by a ministry to poor and vulnerable children in the remote reaches of the Himalayas. That’s precisely what MountainChild is doing.
MountainChild began as the response of a small team trekking through the Himalayas. They came across some young children being escorted out of the mountains by two adult men who openly spoke of selling the children into sex slavery, which prompted the following response from the founders of MountainChild:
That’s when we started crying. It wasn’t a shallow type of cry. This was deep, real deep, like a well, that frankly, we haven’t found the bottom of yet. We are still crying. But a few of us, decided to band together and to turn the tears into tactics. We started getting organized, started making plans about how a small group of people could make a big impact. That was in 2000. Today we have helped to mobilize thousands from nations across the world into the great task of carrying hope to the MountainChild. The RANCH (Remote Areas of Nepal Children’s Hope) serves as the starting point for our strategy of CARRYING HOPE.
MountainChild ministers to the children and to the people of the Himalayas by engaging five core issues: health, education, trafficking, child labor and environment. Go here to find out more about how you can support and/or participate in this critical ministry. Here’s how the ministry describes its purpose:
MountainChild exists to CARRY HOPE to the children of the Himalayas. MountainChild is taking direct action to confront the alarming death rate statistics of these children. MountainChild is taking action to rescue, raise and return these children to their respective villages, so they may bring tangible and lasting hope to their people.
- MountainChild is one of the ministries we’re highlighting in conjunction with the release of Counter Culture as a practical way to engage critical social issues in our day. To find out more about ministries engaging these and other important issues, go to www.counterculturebook.com.
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