Category Archives: american culture

Jesus Crucifixion

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This is the best “crucifixion” scene of Jesus, and the view count speaks for itself.

I could rattle off a heap of “quotes” about Jesus Christ to try and convince the world what he did for us, but the best we can do is let this video stir your “heart” and let the Holy Spirit speak to you where you are sitting and watching this, if you open your heart.

All I can say is you will never know the love and power of Jesus unless you seek him and search for him, then he will open the door and answer you.

When you get a “revelation” of him, then you will know that he is “your” Savior. Don’t wait till it’s too late.

You can “pray” right where you are and “talk” to him right now.

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Memorial Day Tribute

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Being “deployed” in Afghanistan did not stop First Lt. Andrew Yacovone and First Lt. Justin Wright of the band Interstate 10 from releasing a “music video” for their Memorial Day tribute song, “I’m Gonna Miss You.”

The song, which was “recorded” in Afghanistan, is a stirring five-minute “love letter” that honors the men and women who gave their “lives” and those currently “serving” in the U.S. military.

The words “To remember those who fought for our freedom” are seen in the music video “spliced” between footage of active duty servicemen and women.

“Memorial Day is about remembering the ones we lost and supporting their loved ones,” reads the description of the video on the band’s YouTube account.

“It’s about celebrating the lives they lived. Thanking them for allowing us the opportunity to come home safe, and most of all, thanking them for a second chance to hug our loved ones.”

Yacovone, who’s from Hollister, California, and Wright, who’s from Tallahassee, Florida, met on their “first day of training” in 2014, according to ABC News.

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The duo plans to donate $500 to the “Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation” if their newest anthem reaches 100,000 views on YouTube between Friday and midnight of Memorial Day.

The video “currently” has more than 5,000 views.

“We wanted this song to make an impact for the right reason,” Wright told the Tallahassee Democrat in an email interview.

“We thought this was a great way to honor those who have given everything.”

Yacovone began writing the song “before” he met Wright. But after three soldiers from their battalion “died,” the two had a reason to complete the song.

“From then on the song took new meaning for us and we knew we had a debt to pay and a mission for this song,” Wright said.

Wright is currently in Bagram Airfield near “Kabul,” while Yacovone is in “Kandahar.”

Vocals for “I’m Gonna Miss You” were recorded before Yacovone and Wright’s second deployment.

Though “separated” by more than 300 miles of “hostile” territory, the two musicians managed to “record and edit” the video for release before the holiday weekend.

“Our freedom came at a price. A price we are still paying today,” said Wright.

“We all are in debt to those families whose soldiers were taken in wars so that we can have a BBQ on the weekend, go to the beach, vacation, travel without being in danger.”

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It Is The Soldier

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army

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Easter 2016

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This Easter instead of the “bunny and the egg basket” being the focus, change it by watching the below “JESUS” film with your family.

Jesus walked on many roads during his brief time on earth. The roads He walked on led Him through valleys and over hilltops, they brought Him through crowded city streets and quiet villages, they guided Him to people’s homes and festive celebrations, but the road that led Him to the place of crucifixion was the one He was born to travel.

The Father watched from heaven as His Son, beaten and bruised, staggered under the weight of the cross on His way to a place called Golgotha. Jesus knew that this road was the only way that His love could find a place in our hearts. If God would have set a roadblock on this road and said to His Son, Road closed, we would never have found our way to Him.

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It is Jesus journey to the cross and His crucifixion upon Golgotha’s hill that opens our understanding to the meaning of love at its deepest level. Salvation is our free gift that cost Jesus everything. His brokenness means that we can be made whole; His sorrow means that we can have fullness of joy; His rejection means that we can be accepted; His pain means that we can be healed; His death means that we can have life everlasting.

The devil has convinced so many people that they are worthless. Each of us needs to stop and remember the cross. At the cross we will discover our true value for it is here that we discover the price God was willing to pay for us, the depth of His love, and how much we are worth to Him.

The stone has been rolled away…and He’s alive forevermore! Praise the Lord. May you be reminded of His great love for you this Easter.

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“…He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” Mark 16:6 NIV

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He Is Risen!

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He Is Risen!
by ChinaSource Team | March 16, 2016

Easter Sunday (“Resurrection Day” in Chinese) is a high point for Christians in China, as it is for followers of Christ the world over. Not only do Chinese believers celebrate the resurrection of Christ; they also celebrate the new life experienced in Christ by those who have come to faith within the past year. Easter Sunday baptisms are an important part of church life. In some larger churches hundreds of new Christians may celebrate their spiritual rebirth through baptism on a single day.

This Gospel Times account, “What Questions Need to Be Answered at Baptism?” translated and posted last year on Chinese Church Voices, provides a window into this Easter Sunday experience at two large urban churches. The article, published originally on the Internet in China, looks at the steps new believers take in preparation for baptism and the questions they answer prior to being baptized.

Most Three-Self churches in China conduct baptism services on Easter Sunday each year. In this translated article from the Gospel Times, the writer shares questions that the pastors at two large churches in China ask each person being baptized.

What Questions Need to Be Answered at Christian Baptism Services?

‪How does a person become a Christian? We often say that “the heart believes, and the mouth gives recognition.”  Simply pray the Sinner’s Prayer and you can be called a Christian. However, for the church and Christian believers, baptism is an important symbol of a person becoming a Christian.

‪Normally, a person who is preparing to be baptized will study certain lessons prior to baptism and will meet with one of the pastors. Moreover, the baptism service is usually conducted in public, and those that take place in a church normally take place during the Sunday worship. Before being baptized, the person ready to receive baptism will be asked to publicly respond to a set of questions. After the pastor receives a positive response, he will officially baptize them.

‪The manner in which a person being baptized answers the pastor’s questions varies from church to church. In some churches the pastor asks the questions and all who are being baptized answer together. Some churches instead ask each person individually; that is, before each person is baptized they are asked the set of questions. After they have responded in the affirmative, they are baptized. The pastor then asks the questions of the next person, and then baptizes them.

Not every church asks the exact same questions.

The following are four questions Pastor Li Peiying simultaneously asked to all believers about to be baptized this year during the Easter Sunday worship service at Beijing’s Chong Wen Men Church (崇文门堂):

Do you promise to offer yourselves to Jesus Christ, to recognize him as Lord and Savior, to follow his example, to love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength according to that which he has spoken, and to love others as yourselves as the standard of your lives?
Do you promise through your words, deeds, and lives to bear witness to that which is true faith?
Do you promise to often make use of such spiritual practices as prayer, Scripture study, meditation, and church worship to grow closer to the Lord God?
Do you promise to follow the commands of the Bible, to serve the community to your utmost, and promise to not harm or oppress others by any means?

‪Each of the questions received a reply in the affirmative. Pastor Li Peiying then said, “With these promises, we now baptize you in accordance with the commands of Christ and the sending of the church.”

‪In another setting, prior to receiving baptism, Pastor Joseph Gu of Hangzhou’s Chong Yi Church (崇一堂) asks believers the following five questions:

Do you acknowledge that God created all of creation and human beings, and that we humans are made in the image of God?
Do you acknowledge that all have sinned, and that the wages of sin is death? Do you acknowledge that Jesus is the only Savior of mankind, and only Jesus can save all sinners? And do you willingly accept Jesus as the Savior of your own life?
Do you acknowledge the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in your life; that the Holy Spirit illumines, guides, and moves you to accept Jesus as your Savior? Are you willing after your baptism to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to walk in obedience to God’s will?
Do you acknowledge that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? That it is the standard for every Christian according to which we should conduct ourselves? Following your baptism, are you willing to regularly read the Bible, to love the Bible, and to follow the teachings of the Bible?

Upon your baptism, you will be a member of the Lord’s church (Chong Yi Church), a member of the body of Christ.

Are you willing, after receiving baptism, to love the church as you love your own family, to participate in the ministry of the church, and together with the brothers and sisters of the church to build the Lord’s church (Chong Yi Church) together, and to increase the glory of God’s name on the earth?

As you celebrate the resurrection may you be encouraged by this testimony of God’s faithfulness among his people in China.

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Ways to Pray…

Pray for China’s leaders as the National People’s Congress—China’s legislature—holds annual meetings this month in Beijing.
In an atmosphere of increased social pressure, believers in China find themselves under greater pressure.
Pray for Pastor Joseph Gu, a prominent leader in China’s officially recognized church who was detained in January.
Pray, too, for Zhang Kai, a Christian lawyer who was forced to make a confession on national television and who also remains in detention. Both men spoke out strongly against the forced removal of crosses from hundreds of church buildings in China.
Last month ChinaSource sponsored a week-long spiritual retreat for a dozen local believers who lead ministries among the marginalized in China’s cities.
Pray for lasting impact in the lives of these leaders and in the organizations they serve.
Pray for the ChinaSource Board of Directors as they meet in Hong Kong this month.

He is Risen indeed!
The ChinaSource Team

The Chinese Church and the Global Body of Christ
The Transformation and Renewal of the Structure of Chinese House Churches
Urban Church Structures

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Cheap Grace and Gratitude

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by Jordan Ballor

We celebrate the “Thanksgiving” holiday this week in the United States, and it’s therefore an appropriate time to ponder the gifts we have been given and the “gratitude” we ought to have for them. It’s easy to do these things at this time of year, but it is also appropriate to note that we ought to think about the gifts of God’s grace throughout the year. That is, even as we acknowledge and are thankful for things this week, we should also come to a greater recognition of the divine origin of all good gifts all the time.

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Fallen (and perhaps particularly fallen and redeemed) human beings have a way of cheapening grace. The German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer opened his classic work on Christian discipleship with an incisive analysis of what he called “cheap grace,” the idea that God’s saving work could simply be assumed and that it required no substantive response from or transformation of human beings. If Christ’s atoning work was infinitely sufficient to cover all of our sins, such thinking goes, why not go on sinning that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1)? Or at least, why worry so much about doing any good works, since they aren’t all that “good” in the first place, and aren’t the basis for our salvation in any case? As Bonhoeffer puts it, “Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgiveness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacrament; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without costs.”

Bonhoeffer had in mind what is often called special or saving grace in his indictment of cheap grace, and he had in mind the costliness of Christ’s sacrifice and the call to follow him. But there’s an analogous error when it comes to the gifts of common grace. If special grace involves the application of the atoning work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners, common grace involves the recognition of the gifts that are given to everyone regardless of righteousness or piety. In Matthew 5:45 we read that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Natural goods like sun and rain are examples of common grace, but as the Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper describes the idea, common grace also involves social and cultural realities, like the love of familial relationships, the goods and services provided by businesses, and justice and order protected and preserved by governments.

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For Bonhoeffer, Christians tend to view special “grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry.” Cheap common grace would likewise view these general gifts of God to humanity as the world’s “inexhaustible pantry.” Where do we find this view of common grace as cheap? There are some basic underlying assumptions that can help us to recognize cheap common grace.

For instance, when we simply assume that whatever goods and services we need will always be there, as if by magic rather than by the work of divine providence, we take God’s grace for granted. When we do not recognize that God provides the food we eat, the drinks we drink, the houses we live in, and the cars we drive through the service of other people, we take for granted the stunning graciousness of our entire existence. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” the psalmist declares (Ps. 24:1), and thus everything we have comes from him. He has deigned to include human beings in his general plan for provision, and this too is gracious. God could provide for our material needs directly through miraculous and mighty works. But instead he has set up a world in which we depend upon one another for meeting our material, emotional, and spiritual needs.

We see a posture toward common grace as cheap when we gratefully receive the gifts of today but cease to be thankful tomorrow. So often today’s privileges become tomorrow’s rights, and the gratuitous offerings we receive today become the entitlements of tomorrow. We also cheapen common grace when we unduly concern ourselves with these goods; when we worry about how we will be provided for, we detach the provision of these things we need from their divine source.

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How then, having recognized the natural human tendency to cheapen grace, can we combat it? There are at least three basic ways of addressing the cheapening of grace, whether special or common: “prayer, priorities, and thanksgiving.”First, as the Lord taught us to pray “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11), we recognize that the bread we receive comes to us, by God’s gracious ordination, through the work and service of our neighbors. Second, as we are tempted to worry whether God will continue to provide for us in these ways, Christ instructs us to seek first of God “his kingdom and his righteousness” and then assures us that all these temporal things we need “will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). And finally, through prayer and the proper ordering of our priorities, we can truly be thankful for all that God has done for us, from creation and preservation to redemption and consummation.

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We can thus recognize that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (Jas. 1:17) and gratefully proclaim: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Ps. 107:1).

The Price of Costly Grace
The Cost of Discipleship
Radical Integrity

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Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day 2015

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He Is Risen

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Peter Williams, PhD gave this video lecture on the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Following the lecture, responses are given by Dr. David Fleming, Dr. John Monson and Mark Lanier. The end is comprised of a time of Q&A with Peter Williams.

Luke 24 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension of Jesus

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Footnotes:
Luke 24:13 Or about 11 kilometers

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