Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Friday Feature 7.29.16 – Unicorns – In The Bible!

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I thought it fascinating to hear the Bible actually mentions unicorns. Apparently, Monday’s readers did as well.

See the article for yourself!

As per the usual Friday Feature format, I’ll throw in a few of my own comments:

1. Surprise!

Yes, this article surprised me. I wouldn’t have considered unicorns in anyway but fantasy or fairy tale.

2. Surprise! But…

The animals mentioned here and linked to by this article don’t seem like the fantasy animal commonly portrayed. God is God. His Word tells us about reality.

Think. Get into the KJV of Job 39 and have a look at the animals described there.

Act. Trust God’s Word.

Tuesday Rambling 7.26.16 – About the Akron Public Schools Decisions

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Ramble on? Yes, I think I will:

  • The Akron School Board must make difficult decisions regarding the closing of schools, with funds not available to re-build all previous schools. (For non-Akron area readers, some schools have already closed, some have been rebuilt.)
  • Much hurt and opinion emerge when the topic of closing a school comes up, understandably so.
  • A concern: Does it matter the superintendent believes in Jesus Christ?  Strong attack language against our schools’ leadership blurs believers’ responsibility to stay above reproach with our words, especially when speaking of another brother.
  • Does this insulate the board or the superintendent from criticism from other believers or the public at large? Certainly not, but when outrage trumps prayer, believers add problems to the already difficult situation.
  • Simply, does a willingness to uphold school leadership in prayer color how you speak about and interact with these troubling issues?
  • Another concern: We don’t have all the information about the decisions. Can we admit we just don’t have all the information? Can we admit these many-layered decisions reflect a complex pool of information and considerations larger than our feelings, neighborhood, or perspective?
  • A positive: in some ways the future of the community in which I live hangs in the balance. Losing our local high school and a fourth elementary school (has any other community lost more?) will sting. The positive lies in the fact the community cares! Yes, strong and healthy passion exists for a community often portrayed negatively in the public eye.
  • Another positive: the strong passion for this community has potential to unite and press forward, no matter the outcome. Yes, asking the question “what if” can breed optimism even if the decisions don’t “go our way”.
  • Encouragement: Jesus can and will accept our anxiety. He knows the future. His call and cause for His church will never change, even though circumstances may. Cast your cares (yes, even decisions about public schools with much at stake) on Him!

Monday Challenge 7.25.16

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Goodness, we welcome another Monday! I hope that means you welcome another set of challenging articles. Here we go:

Unicorns!

Yes, unicorns. I never thought I would post an article about unicorns. But, per Answers in Genesis, the Bible describes unicorns. Seriously!

Question: Does this fascinate you near as much as it does me?

Perfect Spouse

For those searching for the perfect spouse

Question: Singles: how much does this shape your expectations? Spouses: do you expect too much in any way?

Lawsuits

Churches now have to think about these types of things.

Question: Will this inspire you to pray for your church’s leadership?

Forgiveness

What do you mean when you say: I forgive you?

Question: Which of these thoughts challenged you most?

A Lived Witness

Today guest blogger Joe Tucker shares some wise thoughts. Joe is the executive director at Akron’s South Street Ministries. Check out their website and all they do to influence for Christ. Joe is married and the father of a young son. Enjoy this thoughtful challenge!

A Lived Witness

We recently had a minor theological tussle at the Front Porch Café in South Akron. One patron donated a piece of artwork with the St. Francis quote, “Preach the Gospel Always, Use Words When Necessary.” This patron loves Jesus, has a broad theology, and values those who ‘do.’

His donation incited another friend of the ministry to donate an opposing piece of religious art with a verse from John 3:16 on it. This alternative donor subscribes deeply to the evangelical faith, visits the prisons weekly to minister, and genuinely encourages individuals to believe in Jesus.

I am not one for fruitless theological debates. The perceived issue that both of these patrons felt was the act of Christian witness and the differential between word and deed. For this blog today, thought driven action, I want to challenge that differential and move us to a lived witness.

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I visited a Kenmore church recently and ran into an old youth group leader of mine. This leader nostalgically recalled a mission trip we had taken together my sophomore year of high school to New York City to witness on the street. It was a challenge and uncomfortable, talking to strangers about faith and the afterlife.

I find myself much more comfortable sharing my faith today, because Jesus is narrative of my daily life, decisions, and actions. When a friend asks how I am doing, I can honestly answer, “I’m struggling right now, it’s been a tough week. I’ve been praying about it, but I feel distant from God.”

This honest answer, is often more inviting to a conversation than any of the apologetic strategies I learned on that mission trip years ago. When someone inquires how my family is, I can honestly reply, “My wife and I have been praying together more, and it has really helped deepen our relationship.” Again, I have found that by honestly citing what God is doing in my life, the door opens up for conversation around faith, God, and Jesus.

However, to enact this reality, we as Christ-followers actually have to live a life worthy of witness. The challenges I had in New York were connected to the reality that my life wasn’t an active witness. Now I can cite the many ways God is working in my life: the neighbor who I am trying to love better, the family member I am seeking reconciliation with, the systems of oppression I am learning about and moving to resist. All of these bear witness to the reality of God in my life, and we can share those witnesses with folks around us in both word and deed.

Think and Act 7.20.16 – When Churches Partner With Local Schools

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Guest Blogger Sarah Klingler!

Sarah Klingler is a local wife, mother, and runner who gains a unique look into the body of Christ through her position on staff at Love Akron. You can read more about Love Akron at their website. Allow Sarah today to share her passion for church/school partnerships with you. As always, think, then act!

Local ministries are doing an amazing job of meeting the needs of the marginalized – those living in poverty, those struggling to find a job after being incarcerated, or those who are looking for help leaving behind a life of addiction. Did you know that there is an institution in our community where the local church can serve the poor, feed the hungry, minister to the homeless, welcome refugees, and care for orphans all in one place? Where is this, you ask?

Neighborhood schools. Every church is planted in a neighborhood; every neighborhood has a school or schools; every school has needs that simply can’t be met by administrators and staff alone.

What are some reasons churches should consider forming a partnership with a school?

1. There is such a wide array of ways that a church can help.

People sitting in the pews have so many diverse talents and gifts, and a school can use all of them. From tutoring to lunch room monitoring to organizing a clothes closet to helping teachers create bulletin boards to helping with small maintenance projects. The list of opportunities at your neighborhood school is nearly endless.

2. Creating a partnership between a church and a school provides benefits to both partners.

The staff, administration, and students will be blessed by the church’s consistent presence, their meeting of needs that are specific to that particular community, and their encouragement. The volunteers will be blessed by the relationships that are formed, the improvement that is seen in students’ skill levels and behavior, and the appreciation expressed for the impact they are making.

3. It really is a wonderful opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to be salt and light in the community.

There should be no hidden agendas going into these partnerships. We recommend simply starting with the question, “What can we do to help?” Schools can feel comfortable with the church’s presence, and we can trust that God will work in the hearts and minds of all those who are impacted. This might be some students’ or staff members’ only tangible experience with the Church, perhaps their first or only experience with Christians. What an amazing opportunity to introduce Christ in this way- through both service and love.

Think. Try to imagine all of the issues and problems in your community. Now think of the school as a microcosm of society. Imagine teachers trying to teach a classroom full of students of different ability levels, different backgrounds, with different family issues. What an impact the local church could make in coming alongside of educators and families. Take a look at just one example of a working partnership here. https://youtu.be/KhxBCiqtu7E

Act. Did reading this resonate with you? Do you wish something like this could happen in your own church? Talk to your pastor. Call a friend in the education world and hear the challenges and needs they have. Find out about organizations that are working to equip churches to form these partnerships. Locally you can reach out to LoveAkron.org.