Monday, December 3, 2012

Bold Christianity

by Duke Taber

I have been blogging and running a website now for over a year and a half. My Facebook fan page has been in existence for almost as long, although it has only really been active about 6 months. One of the things that I have noticed since I have been interacting with the broader church in general is that there is a real lack of boldness when it comes to people talking about, and sharing their faith. This is especially true for those that live in the western world and even worse in the United States.
Because of this lack of boldness, it has left a vacuum. It seems that the only people who are bold about their faith is those that really do not portray an accurate picture of Christianity. They are those people that put pig’s heads on poles at Muslim gatherings or those that protest military funerals with signs that say “God hates homosexuals” etc. Those people seriously tick me off. However in all honesty, the fault arises not with the vocal few that have boldness, but the silent majority that no longer are bold as Christians. If we as Christians were walking in the boldness of the early church, these people would not be heard. So I wanted to do an article to encourage you to become bold as a Christian.

A biblical foundation for boldness

There are many motivational factors for why people get bold. Not all of these factors are biblical reasons for boldness. Some have to do with pride or prejudice rather than being motivated out of a love for God and the people that we are being bold with. So let’s take a look at the biblical motivating factors for being bold.
Joshua 1:9
New Living Translation (NLT)
9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The first thing we need to realize as we are seeking God for boldness is that boldness comes from the realization that we are not alone. That God is with us wherever we go and that if we will just be faithful to open our mouths, He will be faithful to back us up. It is that old adage that says “God and I equals a majority”. If God is for us, then who can be against us? The reason we do not speak up is because we are either afraid of what people will say or we are so discouraged in our faith that we no longer have the heart to say anything. We get too focused on the consequences of what will happen if we do speak up rather than on the fact that God is in control of our lives and is in control of the consequences.
John 7:25-27
New King James Version (NKJV)
25 Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill? 26 But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? 27 However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”


Simpsonville missionaries target human trafficking

The stories the Simpsonville missionaries tell about their work in Nicaragua are horrifying.
Jeremy Havlin said he once saw a boy about 10 years old chained inside his home with a collar around his neck. Girls as young as 7 are forced into prostitution, he said. A boy was sold to his uncle, who abused him sexually and turned him into the family slave, Havlin said.
“It’s almost like a Cinderella story without the happy ending,” he said.
Havlin is the director of One by One, a mission organized under Discover Church in Simpsonville that reaches out to Nicaraguan children who suffer abuse, child labor, prostitution and life without hope.
The missionaries work in one of the Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished countries, a place they said is rife with child neglect and human trafficking. They have begun a push for what they said they need most — money, missionaries and interns.
For Brie LeBret, it is key to persuade churches and businesses to send teams to Nicaragua to see the conditions for themselves.
“Once you get connected with it, you can’t come home and not want to do something to help,” said LeBret, who is the director of program promotions.
Origins in downtown Greenville sent four members, who painted with former prostitutes and children for a week in September — a fitting mission for a church focused on the arts, said pastor J.D. Mangrum.
The artwork was later sold at a Greenville coffee shop auction, raising about $3,000 for One by One, he said.
“This was a neat chance for our people to go down and align what they’re passionate about with a good cause for justice,” Mangrum said.


Practicing Pure Religion in Nursing Homes

I am sure most Christians have read James 1:27 which says that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.“ We all probably know what keeping ourselves unstained or undefiled as some translations put it but what about the “pure religion” part? In the first place, keeping ourselves unstained can mean many things. Thankfully Jesus’ righteousness is imputed toward us, on our account, in our behalf (Rom 3:26) made possible only because “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
Pure Religion is….
So how does God the Father view pure religion? It may not be what we think it is. It is not about acting pious, having good behavior, having perfect church attendance or always saying the right thing. No, love is active, deed-oriented, action-induced, and results-driven. And this is where the nursing home comes in. At one Bible study I asked the residents, “How many you are today orphans and widows?” Every single one of the hands went up except an elderly man. He said that he was a widower. I could say that James might include that pure religion is visiting the orphans, widows, and widowers and still be right. Just think of this…everyone in almost every nursing home are orphans and widows or widowers because their parents have long since died and most living there have outlived their spouses. Even for those who still have their spouses, their parents are likely deceased. In the facility that I go to, about 3 in 10 residents there have no family to visit them and no friends who come to see them which means that they are exceedingly lonely.
Society seems to think of these precious people as castoffs or as having no more use in society but that could not be further from the truth. These men and women (a few are not that old and simply disabled) are so lonely and seeking meaningful conversations. They have so much of their life to share and so much wisdom to offer but no one to share it with. What a waste. So many of these men and women are lonely and so I see why Paul says we should “weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15) because this is how we “contribute to the needs of the saints” (Rom 12:13) and we can be “the one who does acts of mercy” (Rom 12:8).
This is truly a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). My problem with being a living sacrifice is that I keep crawling off the altar. Talk is cheap but deeds is true love. The Apostle John said that we should “not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Love is a verb…it’s what you do, not what you say. I am not saying that words are not important but actions always speak a lot louder than words. My children often never really heard my words because my actions were drowning them out.


Yes Virginia, There will be a 'Nativity Display' in Palisades Park, Santa Monica this Year
Contact: Rev. Patrick Mahoney, 540-538-4741
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 30, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Faith groups to set up "Live Nativity" in Palisades Park after the City of Santa Monica and a federal judge banned Nativity displays that had been in the park for 59 consecutive years.
Photo: The Live Nativity Display in front of the Supreme Court from a past project
The groups discovered the decision of the city and federal court decision only applied to "unattended" Nativity Displays in Palisades Park.  However "attended" displays are permissible.
This is a major victory for religious freedom, the First Amendment and the public display of Nativity scenes.
Working with Santa Monica city officials, the faith coalition will have a live Nativity Display on Saturday, December 8, between 1:00 and 4:00 P.M. in Palisades Park.
The Christian community as well as people of good will from all across Southern California are being encouraged to bring their own personal Nativity Scenes that they would display in their homes during the Christmas Season.
The name of the event is "The Birth of Christ. The Birth of Freedom. The Santa Monica Nativity."
This entire campaign is part of "The Nativity Project" which was launched by the Washington, D.C. based Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action almost 7 years ago.
This national project encourages the faith community to set up Nativity Displays in public places all across the nation.
This Wednesday the groups are having a "Live Nativity Display" in front of the United States Capitol and Supreme Court as they did last year.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, states,
    "We are so thankful that a Nativity Display will be seen in Palisades Park for a 60th Consecutive year.  It is critical that the faith community did not allow the City of Santa Monica and the federal court to crush the First Amendment and religious freedom by banning a Nativity Display in Palisades Park.
    "Sadly, we are seeing an erosion of public expressions of faith across America.  This is especially true during the Christmas Season. Therefore, it is important for the Christian community continue to speak out with passion and courage when they see the trampling of free speech rights and religious freedom.  Simply stated, the faith community will never 'go silently into the night' when these issues are at risk.
    "By finding a way to creatively address this injustice, the powerful message of Christmas and religious freedom will continue to be heard and scene in Palisades Park. We hope people from all across America take inspiration from this victory and stand up for these critical issues."
For more information or interviews call:
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 540.538.4741

Christians Find ‘Creative’ Loophole in Atheist-Inspired Santa Monica Nativity Ban & Secure Permit for ‘Live’ Display

For the past year, atheists and Christians have been battling over the presence of nativity displays in public parks in Santa Monica, California. In an effort to temper the bickering, the city inevitably implemented a ban on all religious speech in local parks, thus ending a nearly-60-year tradition of having a display in Palisades Park. Just when all hope for Christians who wished to see the nativity tradition continued was lost, local believers found a loophole — one that will allow them to, once again, host a nativity.

According to a press release, Santa Monica’s atheist-inspired ban on nativity displays only applies to those which are “unattended.” This essentially means that displays which are not “live” and involve figurines may not be utilized, however there is no provision or ban on religious displays that are “attended” (displays that involve human beings).

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition posted a press release in which he announced that a faith coalition in Santa Monica applied for a live nativity display — a request that was granted by the city. The news release calls the development in a case that seemed all but hopeless for local believers “a major victory for religious freedom, the First Amendment and the public display of nativity scenes.”