Joy in Persecution: Letters of Paul and Chinese Christians

Joy in Persecution: Letters of Paul and Chinese Christians

Blog, Encouragement
Around 62 A.D. the Apostle Paul was imprisoned, most likely in Rome, and penned a letter to the church at Philippi. The church at Philippi had been the first church in what is now Europe to be founded by Paul and they had supported him in his ministry and had continued to support him even during his imprisonment. One of the most striking characteristics of the letter to the Philippians is its emphasis on joy and encouragement. For me, it is hard to imagine a less joyful situation. After many hardships as a missionary and church planter, shipwrecks, beatings, several imprisonments and now imprisoned yet again for preaching the Gospel, now with the threat of possible execution hanging over him. How could Paul be joyful and even offer encouragement in…
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16 Ways to Share Your Faith

16 Ways to Share Your Faith

Blog, Encouragement, Evangelism
Sharing my faith. Why am I so hesitant to do it? As a forgiven follower of Jesus, I am so grateful for Jesus’ saving work, the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and my faith in a good and loving God who helps me live in a broken world. I want to tell others about what God has done for me. I know that God wants me to tell others and yet I am hesitant and fearful. This is an area that needs improvement in my life. One of my personal challenges for this year is to be more intentional about sharing my faith, having conversations about faith and pointing others to Jesus. Since this is definitely not one of my strong suits, I decided to reach out…
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Waiting for the Returning King

Waiting for the Returning King

Blog, Encouragement
In part one of this article, we looked at how the birth of Jesus was, in one sense, the culmination of centuries of expectation as Israel waited for the long-prophesied Messiah. Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection assured his victory over Satan, a conquering of death and a chance for those who trust in him to receive forgiveness and eternal life. Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus promised he would return again. Like those who waited for his first coming, we look around us at our broken world, at our broken relationships and long for Jesus’ return. Like every generation, since the disciples saw him depart, we hope that ours will be the generation that will welcome him back. As we reflect on this time of waiting, there…
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Waiting for the Messiah

Waiting for the Messiah

Blog, Encouragement
One aspect that I love about the story of Jesus’ birth, an aspect that sometimes gets lost in the amazing wonder of the details we are more familiar with, is the celebration at the end of the long wait for the Messiah. As 21st century readers, we need to try to appreciate the context of that moment in history. The Jews had been waiting for centuries for the promised Messiah. Numerous prophecies foretold of him and each generation waited with bated breath, hoping he would come. By the time the first century rolled around, God’s chosen people had not had a word from the Lord in 400 years! They had been ruled over by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Seleucids, and finally the Romans. I can imagine faithful Jews at…
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Get in the Game: Giving Your All for God’s Kingdom

Get in the Game: Giving Your All for God’s Kingdom

Blog, Encouragement
I love watching the Olympics and every time they come around I find myself getting sucked into the excitement and the pageantry. Sports that I couldn’t have cared less about for four years are suddenly exciting and I could sit spellbound, critiquing relay hand-offs or figure skating routines. Part of the excitement is that there is national pride on the line and, if you are like me, you feel the thrill of excitement and victory when one of your country’s runners, swimmers, or other athletes wins the gold. Part of the thrill is that we feel in some way that we ourselves have won through the athletic feats of those who represent our country. All citizens can share in the victor’s glory or the agony of defeat. As exciting as…
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