A.L.I.V.E.—The “E” Is For Engagement Of Christ’s Followers

Let’s get some insight into the Greco-Roman and Jewish mindsets of the first century AD. Specifically, the mindset of men. 

There is a well-known letter written June 17, 1 BC, from a man named Hilarion, who was gone off to Alexandria, to his wife Alis, whom he has left at home. He writes to her: “If—good luck to you—you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, throw it out.” This letter captures the male-dominated mindset in the Roman world concerning women and children. In a word: inferior or even disposable. 

This mindset wasn’t limited to the world the Jews called “pagan,” but it was prevalent in Judaism too. Every day Jewish men began their morning prayer time with, “God, I thank You that You did not make me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” 

With this background, it makes it startling that a Jewish man (who prayed that prayer thousands of times) writing to people in Rome (who undoubtedly had the same mindset as Hilarion), begins his list of thank you notes with gratitude to two women! Paul goes on to list no less than 8 women, even giving preferential treatment to a wife (Priscilla) over her husband (Aquila) when he mentions her name first! (see Romans 16:1-4, 6, 12).

William Barclay wrote, “Anyone who asks the question: ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.”

Indeed Christians changed the lives of at least four groups:

  1. Women (especially in the role of marriage)—divorce was so common that it was neither unusual nor particularly blameworthy for a woman to have a new husband every year. Yet Christians taught men to esteem their wives and for marriage to be honored by everyone (Ephesians 5:28; Hebrews 13:4). 
  2. Children—who weren’t even considered a part of the family until they had grown up and proven their worth to the father. Yet Christians taught fathers to nurture their children (Ephesians 6:4).
  3. Senior citizens—the pragmatic Romans had little to do with those they considered less valuable. But the first blind asylum was founded by Thalasius, a Christian monk; the first free medical dispensary was founded by Apollonius, a Christian merchant; the first hospital of which there is any record was founded by Fabiola, a Christian lady.
  4. The weak and sick—when a plague hit Rome, all the young, healthy people left the sick and elderly behind. They ran away, but the Christians stayed to help. The Christians taught that everyone (regardless of age, sex, or wealth) was valuable (1 Timothy 5:1-2). 

That was just the start of Christianity. Men like William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln were Christians who opposed slavery; Clara Barton was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” and founded the Red Cross; Paul Brand was a doctor who ran to leprosy patients when everyone else shunned them; Mother Teresa loved those poor, dying souls whom others ignored. 

So what’s your conclusion? Throughout history Christians have been martyred for their faith, but not only are they willing to die for their belief that Jesus is alive, but they continue to do good to those who persecute them. Would people do this to perpetrate a hoax? Or does this sound more like the real deal?

Please check out the other evidence I have presented for the resurrection of Jesus:

Links & Quotes

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“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last.” —C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

“There must be nothing about our religion of our own inventing; it is for us to lay thought, and judgment, and opinion at the feet of Christ, and do what He bids us, simply because He gives the command.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The storms of life are no longer our point of reference when Jesus is our focal point.” —Dutch Sheets

Progressive Christians in 1800sMurray Vassar reminds Christians to speak up for morality!

“Policy, however, Sir, is not my principle, and I am not ashamed to say it. There is a principle above everything is political . . . And, Sir, when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God.” —William Wilberforce

Two imprisoned Christian pastors have been released from their prison sentence in Sudan. Kudos to the ACLJ!

J.Warner Wallace asks a great question: Can naturalism/evolution account for human dignity?

John Piper has a weighty post that is worth your time to read: satan and sodomy.

Links & Quotes

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“When you bounce your eyes away from a sexual image, immediately pull from your memory a pure image. Maybe a wedding picture, or a vacation experience with your family, or your buddies. There are thousands of positive images you can pull from your memory within seconds to replace the sexual images you’re tempted with.” —Steve Arterburn

“satan shows the best, but hides the worst, because his best will not [counterbalance] his worst; but Christ’s will abundantly.” —Matthew Henry

William Wilberforce said something about slavery that could just as easily apply to abortion today: “It naturally suggested itself to me, how strange it was that providence, however mysterious in its ways, should so have constituted the world as to make one part of it depend on its existence for the depopulation and devastation of another.” Check out this Live Action post: Lessons From Wilberforce.

“But do you want to get better? It seems like a stupid question. Of course we want our organization, our work and our health to improve. But often, we don’t. Better means change and change means risk and risk means fear.” —Seth Godin

Our worldview makes a huge difference in the way we live. Check out this post from Stand To Reason on how Christianity improved the lives of women.

A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that the number of people in America identifying themselves as Christians has dropped. Check out the results of the survey here, and then listen to what John MacArthur has to say in this video—

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect show us a successful model for positive social change.

Farshid Fathi is a Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran for his faith. His letter from prison is absolutely amazing!

So some of Lois Lerner’s “lost” emails have been found, and it is clear why she and the IRS wanted them not to be seen. Check out how liberal political agents attack their conservative opponents.

“The solution to life’s problems is spiritual because the essence of life is spiritual. It is astonishing how many difficulties clear up without any effort when the inner life gets straightened out.” —A.W. Tozer

“It’s natural enough in our species, as in others, that the young birds should show off their plumage—in the mating season. But the trouble in the modern world is that there’s a tendency to rush all the birds on to that age as soon as possible and then keep them there as late as possible, thus losing all the real value of the other parts of life in a senseless, pitiful attempt to prolong what, after all, is neither its wisest, its happiest, or most innocent period. I suspect merely commercial motives are behind it all: for it is at the showing-off age that birds of both sexes have least sales resistance!” —C.S. Lewis

Links & Quotes

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Some interesting reading from today…

“A gracious Hand leads us in ways we know not, and blesses us not only without, but even against, our plans and inclinations.” —William Wilberforce

A cool article about George MacDonald’s influence on C.S. Lewis.

Ken Davis uses an optical illusion to make a fantastic point in his post Perception Or Reality?

The son of a Hamas founder confirms that this terrorist group targets civilians.

[INFOGRAPHIC] This is a win-win: Benaiah featured on The Overview Bible Project.

Praise God!! Millions of Muslims converting to Jesus Christ!

“Commend me to the Christian who says, ‘I bless God I am saved; now what can I do for others?’ The first thing in the morning he prays, ‘God help me to say a word to some soul this day.’ During the day, wherever he may be, he is watching his opportunity, and will do good if he can.” —Charles Spurgeon

“There’s a great deal of trust in the love of God, and a great deal of love in the trust of God.” —John Piper

The Work Of A Preacher

Rev. John Venn was a key member in the Clapham Sect, a group of devout Christian reformers in England, alongside William Wilberforce. These wise words should be well attended to by all pastors—

John Venn“Were the work of a preacher indeed confined to the delivery of a moral discourse, this would not be an arduous task. But a Minister of the Gospel has much more to do. He will endeavor, under Divine Grace, to bring every individual in his congregation to live no longer to himself, but unto Him who died for us. But here the passions, prejudices, and perhaps the temporal interests of men combine to oppose his success. It is not easy to obtain any influence over the mind of another; but to obtain such an influence as to direct it contrary to the natural current of its desires and passions, is a work of the highest difficulty. Yet such is the work of a Minister…. 

“We have to convey unpleasant tidings; to persuade to what is disagreeable; to effect not only a reformation in the conduct of men, and a regulation of their passions, but, what is of still higher difficulty, a change in their good opinion of themselves.  Nay, further we have not merely to ‘wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ For this office the Christian Minister may in himself ‘have no resources above those of any of his congregation,’ their weaknesses are his weaknesses, he must therefore undertake his work in weakness, fear and much trembling, but knowing that it may yet be effectual, for it is in weakness that Christ’s strength is always made perfect.” —John Venn (1759-1813)

Amen!

Seven Men (book review)

Seven MenWhen I read Bonhoeffer, I knew Eric Metaxas was a special author, bringing such a vibrance and fullness to his subject. So I began Seven Men And The Secret Of Their Greatness with high expectations, and I’m happy to tell you that Eric Metaxas exceeded those expectations!

As the title implies, Seven Men is a collection of seven biographies of key men in history. These aren’t biographies covering the entire lives of these great men, but rather a zoomed-in look at a crucial moment in the lives of these men. Eric gives us just enough of an introduction to their early lives to set the stage, and then concentrates his look at the decisions or stands these men took to achieve the title of “great.”

How does one measure greatness? In the case of these seven men, Eric defines greatness as heroic character put to a test where most are tempted to stop short. These seven men stood firm mainly because of their godly character, and their conviction that a stand in their age would mean others in their own age would be able to stand as well.

Even if you’ve read or heard about George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, or Charles Colson, you owe it to yourself to read Seven Men to see why they are considered “great” men.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

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