Secular Churches Rethink Their Sales Pitch – The Atlantic

When Justina Walford moved to New York City nine years ago, she’d never felt more alone. She’d left behind her Church, her God, and her old city, Los Angeles. Then a secular congregation called Sunday Assembly filled the spiritual void—at least for a time.Walford had just turned 40. As a child, she had been deeply religious. Her parents had no interest in religion, and didn’t understand why she would; they’d sent her to a Christian school in hopes of good discipline and education. But Justina fell headlong into faith, delighting in her Church community and dreaming of one day becoming a pastor herself.By the time she turned up in New York, her faith had long since unraveled, a casualty of overseas travel that made her question how any one religious community could have a monopoly on truth. But still she grieved the loss of God. “It was like breaking up with someone that you thought was your soulmate,” Walford told me. “It’s for the better. It’s for your own good,” she remembered thinking. Even though it no longer made sense to her to believe, she felt a gaping hole where her Church—her people, her psalms, her stained-glass windows—used to be.Then Walford read an article about Sunday Assembly, a community started in Great Britain in 2013 that had spread quickly across the Atlantic to her doorstep. Members gather on Sundays, sing together, listen to speakers, and converse over coffee and donuts. Meetings are meant to be just like Church services—but without God. “ shed her faith, she joined a large and fast-growing group—the “nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated. According to data from the latest version of the Public Religion Research Institute’s annual “American Values Atlas,” 25 percent of Americans today are religiously unaffiliated, up from single digits in the 1990s. Among young people, that number is 39 percent. Those numbers describe not

Read more at: Secular Churches Rethink Their Sales Pitch – The Atlantic

Fishers of Men

On many occasions I have heard stories from non-Christians talking about how they started building a relationship with a Christian, sometimes it is a person they work with, sometimes it is someone they knew in school…, but the moment the Christian found out they they were non-Christians, the Christian started acting like talking to a non-Christian would kill them! This is incredibly rude, makes non-Christians believe we are liars when we say that we have a God of love, and chases them AWAY from Christianity! This is NOT how Christians are supposed to behave! 
We are supposed to be fishers of men. 

Read more at Fishers of Men

It’s OK even John the Baptist doubted at the end, and Jesus still loved him! – Smart Christian.net


We all think of John the Baptist as a giant of the faith, and he certainly played a huge part in the Christian faith. He was the first son of a woman that was too old to have babies without divine intervention. He was the first mere human outside of Mary, and maybe Joseph to recognize Jesus divinity by actually jumping for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary spoke. Luke 1:39-44 He preached the coming of Jesus as was prophesied Matthew 3 :1-3
He witnessed a divine sight when he baptized Jesus. Matthew 3:16-17
And he even challenged the morality of the King! Mark 6: 17-18.
Which is something that no one who values their life did in those days, but John did what God told him to do!
Yet..Read more at : It’s OK even John the Baptist doubted at the end, and Jesus still loved him! – Smart Christian.net

Look for the Divine, but don’t miss the significant

jesus_manger     My Bible study today included Luke 1:46- Luke 2:26   The Jews were expecting a conquering divine king, what they got wasn’t even close to what they expected. They had a humble baby, that had come from a questionable pregnancy (She wasn’t officially married when she got pregnant.), Who was laying in basically an animal feeding dish. His birth was attended by lowly shepherds and farm animals. (The wise men came later) Most people would feel that this was a sorry lot for anyone, especially for the King of Kings!
Yet significant things had happened. Zacharias had stayed too long in the temple doing his priestly duty, when he came out he could no longer speak. Elisabeth was barren and considered too old to get pregnant, yet she did. Zacharias regained his speech immediately after letting it be known that his child’s name was John, which was an unusual name to pick in that culture. Mary didn’t get divorced or stoned after she got pregnant, which would have been very common after getting mysteriously pregnant. The strange behavior of the priest and the widow in the temple when they came to circumcise Jesus…
These were not knock everyone on their knees in awe miracles, but they were significant, and they certainly were not the type of miracles that people were expecting.
Yet they led to one of the greatest miracles of all when Jesus walked out of the grave!
Just because you don’t see God working on your life, and you haven’t had any miracles in your life so powerful that put you on the floor doesn’t mean that he isn’t working. Keep your eyes open for the significant!

The love of a child

oldman

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, ‘Hi.’ He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. ‘Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,’ the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, ‘What do we do?’

Erik continued to laugh and answer, ‘Hi.’ Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, ‘Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.’

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.
My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comment.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. ‘Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,’ I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s ‘pick-me-up’ position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.
Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, ‘You take care of this baby.’

Somehow I managed, ‘I will,’ from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, ‘God bless you ma’am. You’ve given me my Christmas gift.’

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, ‘My God, my God, forgive me.’

I had just witnessed Christ’s love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not.. I felt it was God asking, ‘Are you willing to share your son for a moment?’ when He shared His for all eternity. How did God feel when he put his baby in our arms 2000 years ago?

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, ‘To enter the Kingdom of God , we must become as little children.’

If this has blessed you, please bless others by sending it on. Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of what is really important. We must always remember who we are, where we came from and, most importantly, how we feel about others. The clothes on your back or the car that you drive or the house that you live in does not define you at all; it is how you treat your fellow man that identifies who you are.

This one is a keeper.

‘It is better to be liked for the true you than to be loved for who people think you are…’ Amen!

From the Facebook page of Kimberly Anne Bradford