I have had a lot of young women complain to me about a condition they find rampant in young men these days. I guess I will call it "commitment phobia." Now, this guy's willing to show interest, he's willing to date you, charm you, agree with you, spend money on you, and then you reach this level of mutual compat - ibility and that's good. And then, you're on the edge of commitment and he's gone. I hear it's pretty frustrating. I met a beautiful woman myself many years ago and we spent a lot of time together. We found that we agreed on all the important things. We reached a place of affection for each other and agreement with each other, so we were married - right? No.
In his book The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington predicts that demographics will decide the clash between Christianity and Islam. And, as he puts it, "in the long run ? Muhammad wins out."
In this instance, Huntington is wrong. For the foreseeable future there will be many more Christians than Muslims in the world.
As Penn State professor Philip Jenkins writes in The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, predictions like Huntington's betray an ignorance of the explosive growth of Christianity outside of the West.
For instance, in 1900, there were approximately 10 million Christians in Africa. By 2000, there were 360 million. By 2025, conservative estimates see that number rising to 633 million. Those same estimates put the number of Christians in Latin America in 2025 at 640 million and in Asia at 460 million.
According to Jenkins, the percentage of the world's population that is, at least by name, Christian will be roughly the same in 2050 as it was in 1900.
By the middle of this century, there will be three billion Christians in the world?one and a half times the number of Muslims. In fact, by 2050 there will be nearly as many Pentecostal Christians in the world as there are Muslims today.
But at that point, only one-fifth of the world's Christians will be non-Hispanic whites. The typical Christian will be a woman living in a Nigerian village or in a Brazilian shantytown.
And these changes will be more than demographic. Jenkins points out that who he calls "Southern Christians"?those living in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia?are far more conservative, theologically and morally, than their counterparts in the West.
Thus, as Christianity becomes more Southern, it becomes more biblically orthodox. While people like Bishop John Shelby Spong and Templeton Prize winner Arthur Peacock insist that Christianity must abandon its historic beliefs to survive, it is precisely these historic beliefs that attract our Southern brethren.
And that's why in Spong and Peacock's own Anglican Communion African bishops are ordaining missionaries to re-convert the West.
This story of Christianity's explosive growth is one of the great untold stories of our time?a story that North American Christians need to hear.
It's a story that repudiates those who say that Christians must compromise their beliefs to remain relevant. The opposite is the case. Biblical orthodoxy is winning converts while churches that have lost their biblical moorings languish.
This shift of Christianity's "center of gravity" is also a reminder to Western Christians that we are not the whole show, and we have to start thinking differently about ourselves. We are part of a much larger community: the worldwide Church.
Finally, it's a sign that, no matter how bad things seem at home, God is at work throughout the world. Everywhere it's proclaimed, the Gospel is changing lives and societies.
One thing remains true: It's Jesus who people of every realm and tongue bless.
It used to be that just one superpower had missiles which could carry deadly destruction to American soil. But in today's post-Cold War world, there are several countries that either have or may soon have that capability. Which has necessitated some fresh thinking about America's defense against a missile attack. That, in turn, has birthed the idea of anti-missile missiles - a controversial plan that launches defensive missiles to pre-empt and destroy an incoming enemy missile.
Now look, I don't know if the idea of destroying an incoming missile is workable or advisable for our national defense. But I do know that the Kingdom of God could use more people who knock down verbal missiles before they do a lot of damage. Just look around your church, your circle of Christians. Too much gossip and backstabbing? Too much misunderstanding between spiritual brothers and sisters? Do you see walls and hard feelings and disunity developing?
You can be part of the answer - if you'll commit yourself to seven little words that can knock down the missiles that destroy the unity and love of Jesus' followers. They're based on our word for today from the Word of God in Matthew 18:15. Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault..." Now, notice the scope of your complaint: "...just between the two of you." That could be one of the most disobeyed commands of our Lord - and one of the most damaging disobediences.
We go and talk to everyone but the person we've got the problem with. We would far rather talk about them than to them. And that raises the question of whether we really want a solution or just an audience for our gripes. Now for those seven anti-missile words. When a person comes to you with something negative about another person, get used to saying these words: "Don't talk to me. Talk to him (or, talk to her)." Every time you do that, you are standing up for the Jesus-way and standing against Satan's attempts to divide God's children.
The Bible says that "the words of a gossip are like choice morsels" (Proverbs 18:8) - we love to hear the dirt, in other words. But God doesn't. He says, "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends," (Proverbs 16:28) and "whoever spreads slander is a fool." (Proverbs 10:18) The mission of someone who loves Jesus is to contain negative talk, not spread it. And to go direct yourself when you have a problem with another person. You can try to avoid doing it the Biblical way by saying, "Well, they won't listen" or "What good will it do?" Well, really that doesn't matter. Jesus says your responsibility is to go to your brother or sister and to keep it - remember the words? - "just between the two of you."
There are way too many missiles being fired by God's children at God's children. And no army can win when they are aiming their weapons at each other. The good news is that you can do something about it. You can show people another way to be - actually, the Jesus way to be. When you hear something negative about a brother or sister, say those seven words - "Don't talk to me. Talk to her (or, talk to him)." You can knock down some missiles that otherwise could hurt a lot of people. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Post your comments! http://forums.gospelcom.net/view/rhm/awwy
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What do we do when we have committed a wrong that we are ashamed of? What can we do with those wrongful deeds that we can’t seem to erase from our consciences?
One way that many people deal with guilt is to cover it up. This can seem almost instinctive at times, as if something inside us says, “Hide it. Forget about it. No one can know.” But this puts us in a very precarious position, for not only are we dealing with guilt, but now we are dealing with the fear of being “found out.” When we add fear to our feelings of guilt we are adding apprehension to the remorse we are struggling to conceal. Just as a blackmailer is never satisfied, so the one who lives in fear with guilt ends up blackmailing his or her own heart to pay the mind. But the heart is never consoled, for the mind is never sufficiently paid.
Guilt that is concealed seldom stops with the one who harbors that hurt. Sooner or later that pain of fear and guilt is spread to others, particularly to those closest to us. “Victimless” crimes are an illusion, for deceit is a monster that needs constant feeding. It would be foolish for us to think that we can deal with guilt by somehow covering it up. The moment that we cover our guilt we escalate the tension in our lives by adding the dimension of fear. We may then become people who seem okay on the outside, but inside we are struggling to maintain the facade.
Many used this same ploy with Jesus in his day. They would throw one question after another in order to hide the real struggle beneath them all. He says to those who have tried to cover over their guilt, “Woe to you...for you clean the outside of your cup, but inside the cup is full of turmoil...First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside may become clean as well.” Here Jesus refers to the heart as a cup. What you pour forth will show the condition of your heart, even if the “outside” looks clean.
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