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News That Illustrates June 25, 2012

Christians in the News—and Its' Good!
Here's a positive story about evangelical Christians from The New York Times. Andre Aganbi, 19, a student at Duke University and a Southern Baptist "missionary" had spent the day on the plaza with his church group "reading the Bible and chatting with passers-by about God." But all of that was interrupted when a purse-nabbing thief started running by them, practically tripping in their laps. Andre and his friend Mark jumped on the thief and tried to hold him down, but the thief took out a gun, shot it, and ran away. The reporter for The New York Times was quite impressed with Andre's faith and peace in the midst of the whole situation. Andre relayed an imaginary phone conversation with his parents in which he said, "What did you do today? Hung out, chased some guy, almost got shot. Shared the Gospel." The reporter was also stunned by a "prayer circle" in which the young believers huddled close and "with an almost eerie level of calm each of [them] thanked the Lord."

PREACHING ANGLES: Evangelism; Prayer; Witnessing

Christians in the News—Another Positive Story (Well, Sort of)
And here's another positive story about Christians in the news. The New York Times also reported that "Some of the nation's most evangelical groups urged a solution to illegal immigration on Tuesday …." Sadly, however, the article could only fathom that the 125 evangelical leaders who signed the statement were driven by political motives. The author completely missed the clear biblical motivations behind this commitment to immigration reform. Jim Daly from Focus on the Family referred to the "Christ-centeredness" of their stance. "It wasn't a tough discussion," he said. "It was, 'What would the Lord want us to do?'" And in his article in Huffington Post, Matt Soerens notes the fundamental reason for the statement: the Bible. Soerens quotes Leviticus 19:34 and then writes, "Caring for immigrants is a biblical mandate, and evangelicals cannot dismiss Scripture."

PREACHING ANGLES: Bible; Immigration; Social Justice

TV—Where Are the Christians?
Timothy Dalrymple asks some profound questions about the cumulative effect of the stories we hear, particularly the stories we see and hear on TV. He writes, "The television show Friends showed a group of six men and women living in New York City and, from time to time, confronting serious questions about relationships, marriage, vocation, even death." And yet they hardly ever included God in their conversations. Dalrymple continues, "Now, expand this out to dozens of television programs, scores, hundreds, where people are facing important, sometimes life-and-death questions, without once asking the ultimate questions about God and afterlife and salvation …. almost entirely without reference to God. What is the cumulative effect?" Dalrymple asks, "Are we training ourselves—and training our children—to confront life's questions without reference to God?

PREACHING ANGLES: Godlessness; Stories; TV; Television

"Just As Long As Our Baby Is Healthy"
How many times have you heard expectant couples say, "Well, as long as our baby is healthy"? John Knight from Desiring God ministries cautions, "'Healthy' exists on a spectrum or possibilities just like disability. And that spectrum is becoming narrower with every passing year." He points to a news article about University of Washington scientists who were able to identify the DNA sequence of a fetus with 98 percent accuracy, and with safer techniques. The article noted, "The accomplishment heralds an era in which parents might find it easier to know the complete DNA blueprint of a child months before it is born. That would allow thousands of genetic diseases to be detected prenatally." That means that more children with disabilities will be aborted. But Knight also argues that many people will be tempted to order up "designer babies"—all fueled by "an increasingly idolatrous mindset that says I have the right and the responsibility to determine what is best for me — including the physical and/or developmental makeup of my children, or somebody else's children."

PREACHING ANGLES: Abortion; Children; Disabilities

Soccer and Salvation in the Slums
Here's a beautiful story about a ministry that reaches into one of the darkest slums in the world—the Klong Toey of Bangkok. "Klong Toey is home to over 100,000 people crammed into a space of about two square kilometers. Open sewers, drugs, gangs, rampant disease, and unstable housing situations and jobs are but some of the maladies that hinder comprehensive flourishing in Klong Toey and other slums the world over." So how did Ash and Anji Barker set out to bring Christ into this slum? They started with a soccer program that now reaches about 100 youth. Then they also started ministries that provide Thai cooking lessons to tourists and a jewelry-making business.

PREACHING ANGLES: Outreach; Poverty; Social Justice; Sports

Charlie Sheen and the Unrepentant Heart
You have to love the title of this article about the controversial actor Charlie Sheen—"Repentant, No Way, Man." Sheen, who made waves for his problems with anger, addiction, gambling, and promiscuity (and being an all-around obnoxious human being), doesn't admit much (or any) wrongdoing or a need to address the issues in his life. When asked if he could live a clean life [free from drugs and alcohol], he replied, "I don't know what clean is." He also said, "Regardless of what [my] persona might be, I'm still the 7-year-old kid in the back of the class, afraid to raise his hand. I don't want [my acting career] to extinguish that child, because … I refuse to grow up."

PREACHING ANGLES: Entertainment; Repentance; Selfishness

The World Burping Championship
Here's a fun way to set up a sermon on the need to have worthy goals, a high purpose, or a compelling mission for your life—otherwise you might settle for the world burping championship. That's right, the World Burping Championship was held on June 12, 2012, at Hudson Station in New York. Tim Janus, 35, won the contest with his amazing 18.1 second belch. Janus had this to say about his accomplishment, "It's beautiful, really." According to a spokesperson for the World Burping Federation, their goal is to "restore burping to a place of respectability in Western culture, and to remove the stigma that has attached itself to this practice during the last millennium." A used to have a saying for this story—"Get a life!"

PREACHING ANGLES: Goals; Mission; Purpose; Vision

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