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Blog: What Planting a Church in a Global City is Teaching Me About Religious Freedom

By Daniel Yang, Senior Pastor of Trinity Life Church, Toronto

In January 2013 my wife, children, and I moved to downtown Toronto to start a church to reflect a city that has two story lines simultaneously at play. Toronto’s a mega-city in North America that claims the title of being the most ethnically diverse city in the world. This is a city where literally East meets West and a twin generation is born. One twin looks like a native-born Canadian that can’t make sense of a 19th century-style church. The other twin looks like a 2nd generation immigrant born into the trappings of Western comfort without its Christian roots. The twins have grown up sharing the same urban home, but without a common identity. Insert us, Trinity Life Church, a new church trying to bridge the gap with the message of Jesus and the Bible. Read more

Blog: Love like He did

by Jill King

Accepting the call to follow Christ is accompanied with a standard to live by. The Christian life means that our purpose is to usher in the glory of God while we are on earth by loving others. We study the life of Jesus, and seek to emulate the passion and love He extended to every person He interacted with. It is critical that we hold ourselves to a standard of holiness and righteousness because it draws us close to the father and allows him to work in and through our faithfulness to serve him.

We represent Christ in the way we live our lives, not through our own strength but by allowing Him to dwell in us and become the overflow of our hearts.  We also know that it is God’s grace that saves us, not our actions. If we seek to live like Jesus, why does it seem difficult for us to love like him?  We might strive to live a righteous life according to the law, cautiously presenting ourselves to the world, but if we are perceived as legalistic and even cold, then we are not living in accordance to the scripture.

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Blog: Choosing To Pray Rather Than Choosing a Side

Guest post by Kevin Brown

Today we are fasting and praying all day long.  We are fasting for the peace of Israel and the peace of Palestine.  Regardless of your theology and end-time position on the recent events in the Holy Land, no position could support the deaths of innocent Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the wall.  The people who are experiencing the violence and witnessing the deaths that are escalating in that part of the world need, at the very least, our prayers.

I love Israel.  I love the people and the rich heritage from which my savior was born.  I have visited there several times. But I also love Bethlehem, Palestine, the West Bank region and those who live in that part of the world.  One of the greatest conflicts of heart for us as followers of Christ is to live out the “Great Commandment” and the “Great Commission”.  The great commandment calls us to arm ourselves with love by loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and strength — but it also commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  A teacher of the law hoping to catch Jesus in this “conflict of love” asked Him, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus’ response (Luke 10:29-37) to the teacher is one that we should understand and seek to live out today.   Read more

Blog: WHAT’S GOING ON IN ISRAEL & PALESTINE?

by Bob Roberts Jr 

I’m being asked by many people to help them interpret what’s going on in the West Bank and Israel.  I don’t know anyone who can do that.  You can follow me on twitter @bobrobertsjr as I retweet articles I’m reading and about people affected.  My heart is broken.  I fear it’s only going to get worse.  I think both sides are out of control. No one news source will be able to do it for you!  They are all biased and move towards the center and you’ll probably find the truth somewhere in there – CNN, Fox, BBC, Al Jazeera, Washington Post, New York Times, and my favorite the Economist should all be listened to.

Israel has security concerns that must be addressed and the Palestinians have a responsibility to respect their existence, and I believe should say that publicly. Palestinians have been under occupation way too long, have had their land continuously taken from them, experienced illegal settlements, jailed without representation at times for many years, it the list goes on and on and on.  It isn’t just Palestinians that are concerned about it. There are a great many liberal and orthodox Jews both here in the US and in Israel that are challenging their own government at this point.  I also know Palestinians who are challenging Palestinians.   These kinds of things give me hope.  No conflict is resolved by vilifying the other – only by partners who are willing to challenge the wrong from their own tribe.  The people in Gaza were driven out of their homes from other parts of Israel when Israel established a nation in 1948.  So the little town of Gaza then has grown to 1.7 million today.  There are a few million Jews and a few million Palestinians and neither side is going to be driven out – which means they will have to negotiate and resolve.   Read more

Blog: The Problem of Jesus Followers Loving War

by Bob Roberts Jr.

I hate war.  Most people do.  James Hillman wrote the book A Terrible love of War in which he studies the psychology of war.  Though we hate war, we romanticize it or view ourselves nobly while vilifying everyone else.  Jesus told us to be peacemakers, yet I’ve seen Christians sometimes get caught up in war mongering.  How can that be?  There are few living people that remain since WWII, so we don’t remember what it’s like for the entire world to be at war, and that’s dangerous.

The problem of war is its justification – once it’s justified, then using any means necessary is ok.  It’s not ok.  I’m not a pacifist.  I would be the first to defend my family or country from an invasion, and where the wholesale slaughter and genocide of innocents is concerned.   We should as Americans and human beings do all we can to stop the loss of life.  To let a single man or regime destroy life out of madness and not confront them is sinful in itself.  The whole world is erupting in war, and it will continue to do so.  The Central Africa Republic, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, drug wars in Central and South America, Ukraine, Russia, Chechnya, Pakistan, proxy wars, Mali, Israel, Palestine, and others are  countries teetering on the brink of war . . . . this will not slow but only increase in the foreseeable future.   Read more

Blog: Blowing Your Horn and Hearing Things Differently

by Scott Prickett

When I was in the ninth grade, I played the trumpet. While I don’t think I ever played it particularly well, I played it well enough to be invited to go on a trip with the high school band to London, England. We were living in Germany at the time (my father was in the Army), but still, this was a pretty cool opportunity.

We traveled around London playing concerts for English elementary schools. Sometimes when we got done with the concert at a particular school we would hang out with the kids and play soccer. There were times that when we got done and were leaving, the children would want our autographs, as crazy as that sounds. They apparently thought us as some kind of celebrities and apparently looked up to us.  Read more

Blog: Getting Out of the Way Without Getting Out of the Action

By Scott Prickett

We make it so unnecessarily difficult. We carry a burden which was never for us to carry and actually believe, with largely good intentions, that we are needed for things to advance. We mistaken our skills as abilities we have developed as opposed to gifts we have received and then are proud to offer these gifts to the Gift-giver as if we have something original to offer. It’s a cycle of narcissism fueled in pride that creates unnecessary disappointments and allows for unwarranted credit.

The Kingdom of God will advance in the timing and planning of God. He’s got this. The Kingdom doesn’t need a single one of us, yet the King chooses to include us. The purpose He provides us in the inclusion of His Kingdom is life-giving. It’s a pleasure to serve the King.  Read more

Blog: EVERYDAY MISSION: BAIT AND SWITCH?

by Bob Roberts Jr

Click here to purchase book
Click here to purchase book

I am convinced that we as followers of Jesus unintentionally and unnecessarily turn people off from Jesus.  We go into preacher mode, or we view people as projects.  That not only turns someone off to Jesus, it isolates us from other people.  One of the things I realized long ago was the reason we like to give “gospel” presentations to others is because we don’t want to take the time and effort to be a friend with someone.  If someone is a friend, they’re a friend because of who they are, not what they can do for me or I can do for them.  We want to share the Gospel without benefit of relationship – and that simply doesn’t fly anymore – not that it ever did.  If I view God’s kingdom as a blessing to all, then I naturally share it as it naturally comes up.  I’ve shared the good news of Jesus to some of the most unlikely people in some of the most unusual public squares in various nations where people of another faith rarely share their faith.  It’s because they’re legitimate friends and they want me to know their friends and they have me explain who I am and what I believe.  I have explained how I became a Christian and what I believe about God to my next door neighbor, to my yard man who’s from Mexico, to someone in Iran, to several leaders in Saudi Arabia, to people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Laos, India – literally all over the world.  I’ve often thought if someone even thinks you’re “witnessing” you’re probably not witnessing really good.  It really should be a part of everyday conversation.  By the way, in a real conversation, you listen to them as well and to their story and what they believe –because they’re your friend and you love them, not because they’re your project.     Read more

Blog: EVERYDAY MISSION #3: STATISTICS AND STORIES

by Bob Roberts Jr

[Adapted from Week 3 of A Field Guide for Everyday Mission: “WHAT Does An Everyday Missionary Do?”] 

Fort Worth is a beautiful, messed up city. And I love it.
At the time of writing, “Cowtown” is the second-fastest-growing large city in the US. We’ll be over one million strong by 2030, with 20,000 new living units being built in three miles of downtown. They’re largely apartments, condos, and lofts on top of trendy ground floor retail and restaurants. We have great bike trails that you have to share with horses. We’re even rerouting the Trinity River to include a lake and water park. Wanna come live on mission with us? Patterned after downtown Portland, OR, Fort Worth is becoming a hot place. (Literally: it’ll definitely be warmer here than Portland)

In the midst of the progress, 75 percent of our city is unchurched. That’s high for the traditional middle of the Bible Belt. As of a few years ago, 20,000 refugees live here from 45 ethnic groups. Eight thousand people need nursing care but can’t afford it. Between four and five thousand homeless roam our streets, over 60 percent of whom are women and children. One out of every six males and one out of every four females is sexually abused before age eighteen. We’re home to 200–300 gangs, with five to six thousand members. We’re not comparing our city to yours; we’re simply stating facts. This is the broken city we love. Really, wanna come live on mission with us?   Read more

TO MY DAUGHTER ON YOUR WEDDING DAY

Lee and Jill
Lee and Jill

by Bob Roberts Jr

Jill, this is your day – and it’s going to be fantastic.  I’ll do my best to keep it all together during your wedding, just know I love you deeply and am so incredibly proud of you.  You’ve been patient.  You waited for God to bring the right man and he has.  Do you remember when you were in middle-school and I had you write out what kind of man you wanted to marry?  I don’t know if you still have that list. . . . I would bet Lee comes close to filling most of what you would want.

So today, you begin your life anew with Lee.  I’m grateful for him, his family, and our history together over the years.  There really is something about having been in relationship with people over the years.  Everyone is always looking for new, improved, better, different friends without realizing the community God has placed them in and valuing it.  There are no perfect people, you know I’m not, you may come close but you still aren’t perfect, and in a month or so, maybe sooner, you’ll discover Lee isn’t perfect as well.    Read more