Wednesday, October 4, 2017

News and Good News

Three devastating hurricanes have struck the United States and/or the islands of the Caribbean since late August. A gunman massacred concert-goers in Las Vegas only this week, killing at least 59 image bearers of God and injuring more than 500 others.

In response, some Christian pastors and leaders have spoken and written biblically -- displaying wisdom and compassion while making much of Jesus and His gospel. In our own church, Jim Smith preached a message Sept. 17 in which he showed us from Luke 13 how Jesus taught us to respond in the case of such tragedies. I commend his sermon, which you can listen to here.

Regarding the killings in Las Vegas, author Jared Wilson of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote here what I consider a helpful piece on what God is saying when such evil occurs.

We have heard and read about a lot of bad news recently -- and there is a lot more we probably have not paid attention to. When we receive such news, may we not take long to think about God through the lens of the gospel. The good news that never changes is the supreme and holy God loves the world and has sent us a Savior who took our place in absorbing the punishment that we deserved. His life, death and resurrection have purchased perfect justice and peace.

Here are articles on some other recent news items of interest to evangelical Christians:

1. Half million people flee Burma -- More than 65 million people in the world are refugees, according to the latest report from the United Nations. The causes for their displacement from their homes and sometimes their countries are war, violence and persecution. Ethnic cleansing by the Burmese army has forced about 500,000 people, primarily Rohingya Muslims, from the country also known as Myanmar. This is the story of a man and his family who fled their home and finally reached a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

2. Nabeel Qureshi dies -- Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian apologist whose three books focused on Islam, died Sept. 16 at the age of 34 following a year-long bout with stomach cancer. This tribute by Justin Taylor, an executive vice president with Crossway, serves as a helpful retrospective on Qureshi's life. The excerpts of Qureshi's testimony about how his conversion from Islam to Christ brought pain to his family and him are particularly poignant. Videos are included.

3. China's unregistered churches prepare for crackdown -- Churches that refuse to register with the Communist regime are making changes in response to increased pressure from government officials, and they are expecting greater restrictions in the months ahead.

4. The Village Church changes course -- The Village Church, the multisite megachurch in the Dallas/Forth Worth metroplex, will turn each of its campuses into an autonomous church in the next five years, lead pastor Matt Chandler announced Sept. 24. This appears to be an important development. The multisite approach that uses such slogans as "One church, four campuses" does not seem to match what we see in the New Testament, where each body of believers appears to be treated as an autonomous church. With Chandler's status as president of the Acts 29 church-planting network, The Village Church's action could influence other multisite congregations to go to the Scriptures regarding their practice.