Discipleship in the Age of Richard Dawkins, Lady Gaga, and Amazon.com
Too often, discipleship gets reduced to the personal and private practice of spiritual disciplines. However, we must also understand the time we are in and learn how to respond to the culture. Our challenge is to see disciple-making not only in terms of adopting spiritual disciplines but also in terms of countering the prevailing rival eschatologies of our contemporary setting (the Enlightenment, Sexual Revolution, Consumerism) with the purpose of demonstrating the church's unique identity as God's kingdom people.
Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher for LifeWay Christian Resources and has served as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages. A contributor to numerous publications including The Washington Post, Christianity Today, and World, Trevin writes daily at Kingdom People, a blog hosted by The Gospel Coalition.
A former missionary to Romania, Trevin was recently named by Christianity Today as one of 33 millennials leading the next generation of evangelicalism. He is the co-host of the Word Matters podcast that explores difficult and contested passages of Scripture. He earned his Ph.D in Theology at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, and his Masters of Divinity at Sounthern Seminary in Louisville, KY.
Maryam and Marziyeh
Captive in Iran: Shining Light in Dark Places
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh knew they were putting their lives on the line. Islamic laws in Iran forbade them from sharing their Christian beliefs, but in three years, they’d covertly put New Testaments into the hands of twenty thousand of their countrymen and started two secret house churches.
In 2009, they were finally arrested and held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, a place where inmates are routinely tortured and executions are commonplace. In the face of ruthless interrogations, persecution, and a death sentence, Maryam and Marziyeh chose to take the radical―and dangerous―step of sharing their faith inside the very walls of the government stronghold that was meant to silence them. Come and hear how God used two courageous Iranian women for 259 days in Evin Prison to shine His light into one of the world’s darkest places, giving hope to those who had lost everything and showing love to those in despair.
Through God’s Lens: A Christian Worldview of Filmmaking
Stephen Kendrick has dedicated his life to serving Jesus Christ and making His truth and love known among the nations through movies, books, speaking, and prayer. Stephen and his brothers Alex and Shannon operate Kendrick Bros. Productions.
The Kendrick’s first production, FLYWHEEL, inspired viewers to walk in integrity. It was produced for $20,000, sold more than 1 million DVDs and has been used by churches and missionaries around the world. Their subsequent productions, FACING THE GIANTS, FIREPROOF, COURAGEOUS, and most recently, WAR ROOM, which is about the power of prayer, have also garnered national acclaim. WAR ROOM, released theatrically in August of 2015, garnered an A+ Cinemascore and became the #1 movie at the US box office. It was subsequently released in 20 other countries in theaters.
Join us for a FREE screening of the Kendrick brothers’ movie, War Room, in advance of the speaking event on January 30th. Make plans to bring your whole family!
In Sam’s own words
"Homosexuality is an issue I have grappled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God's good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh. Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God's grace, rather than less….
Peter said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much as in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:28-30)
Following Jesus involves leaving things behind and giving things up. For gay people, it involves leaving behind a gay lifestyle.
However much we have to leave behind we are never left out of pocket. Whatever we give up Jesus replaces, in godly kind and greater measure. No one who leaves will fail to receive, and the returns are extraordinary—a hundredfold. What we give up for Jesus does not compare to what he gives back. If the costs are great, the rewards are even greater, even in this life. For me these include a wonderful depth of friendship God has given me with many brothers and sisters; the opportunities of singleness; the privilege of a wide-ranging ministry; and the community of a wonderful church family. But greater than any of these things is the opportunity that any complex and difficult situation presents us with: to learn the all-sufficiency of Christ—learning that fullness of life and joy is in him and his service, and nowhere else. There is a huge amount to say on this issue, but the main point is this: the moment you think following Jesus will be a poor deal for someone, you call Jesus a liar. Discipleship is not always easy. Leaving anything cherished behind is profoundly hard. But Jesus is always worth it."
R. R. Reno
In America today, is a Christian society possible? Is it even desirable?
Yes and yes, says R. R. Reno, editor of First Things and one of America’s leading scholars of religion and politics. In fact, he warns, without a restoration of America as a Christian society, our culture will rapidly descend into an unhappy, shallow, lawless, and brutal place, divided more than ever between rich and poor and vulnerable to elite demagogues.Reno's bracing analysis is no counsel of despair, but rather a call to courage and action. America was once—and needs to be again—a Christian society.
Teen Event: 5 PM & Main Event: 7 PM
Raped, beaten, and kidnapped--Annie Lobért was living within a prison of sex trafficking, drugs and prostituting. Her life continued to spiral out of control and spiritual and physical death was growing nearer.
Lobért eventually suffered a heart attack after an extended use of cocaine. She cried out to God to deliver her as she slumped to the floor. Her answer came swiftly. Later Lobért shocked doctors by miraculously escaping death and walking out of the hospital. Lobért vowed to destroy the sex industry and launched the Hookers for Jesus in Las Vegas, Nevada (2005) out of her pain--her desperation.
With the help of Valley Bible Fellowship, Lobért also morphed into a bold witness for Christ and started Destiny House, a transitional program to help women get out of the sex industry. Currently Lobért and her ministry team witness to women on the Las Vegas strip and night clubs by praying and giving gift bags filled with makeup, perfume and Lobért’s phone number if the women need to reach out.
There’s no avoiding the opposition - hate.
Lobért faces constant death threats, via social media, and on the streets, however. Not a surprise. The amount of money spent on prostitution is $30 million a day according to a report by the San Francisco Examiner (Top 5 Myths About Prostitution). After spending 16 years in the sex industry, Lobért says her determination is unwavering. She’s on a mission to set the record straight about prostitution and the definition of sex trafficking. She addresses the church’s blindness to the problem and lack of acceptance of women leaving the industry.
Joseph Shulam was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1946 to a Sephardic Jewish Family. In 1948 his family immigrated to Israel just before the establishment of the State. Joseph grew up in Jerusalem. While in high school he was introduced to the New Testament and immediately identified with the person of Yeshua. Joseph’s fascination with the teaching of Yeshua eventually brought him to faith in God and the Messiah. This caused his family to reject him. As a result of that rejection he traveled to the United States and finished high school in Dasher, Georgia. After a short study in Michigan Christian College, he returned to Jerusalem and enrolled in the Hebrew University, there he studied Biblical Archaeology and Bible. From the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Joseph returned to the United States and studied New Testament and Chemistry in David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. There he met Marcia Saunders and after a short courtship they were married.
Join the School of Christian Thought’s morning seminar on Islam on Sunday, June 28th with Joe Shulam. Our goal is to help Christians understand the threat of international Islam and know how to respond as Jesus would with the truth of the Gospel. Joe Shulam can help us with this because he not only lives among many Muslims in Jerusalem, but he also counts Muslims as some of his friends. More details about times and session titles will be released soon.
Dr. Ron Henderson
Dr. Ron Henderson is professor and chairman of the department of Physics and Astronomy at Middle Tennessee State University. He obtained degrees from the University of Tennessee, Duke University, and the University of Virginia (Ph.D.) before joining MTSU in 1996. Since becoming chairman in 2008 he has focused on growing the program by preparing physics majors for life after the bachelor's degree, with special attention given to students that are not pursuing graduate degrees. Efforts have included reforming introductory courses, creating career-focused curricular pathways, and requiring research involvement of all physics majors.
Andrée Seu Peterson
My choice of topics for my bi-monthly “WORLD” columns and the daily blogs are serendipitous. I would like to think it is the Holy Spirit behind that serendipity, because I have committed the process to Him. I never go looking for stories, but I keep my ear open, and God sends little thoughts my way. You all get them too, but since you don’t need to write for a living, you just let them flit in and out of your mind. I have begun asking God to let me write only essays that build up the Church, as opposed to muckraking articles. This is because I myself am most helped by those kinds of stories --- those that showcase God’s glory and faithfulness and power --- so I want others to be encouraged by the truth too. You ask if there are subjects that are “easy” and some “hard.” The subjects I know nothing about are “hard” (Just kidding). So I have decided, over the years, to stay away from current events altogether, except, now and then, as springboards to more “devotional” topics.
Dr. Ming Wang
While in medical school, Ming became a Christian and since then, his faith has inspired all of his work. Today, Dr.Wang is a world-renowned cataract and LASIK surgeon, and the er-hu and dance skills he learned during the Cultural Revolution have now become his hobby, and are utilized to help his medical charity work (EyeBall). Dr. Wang is also the founding president of the Tennessee Chinese Chamber of Commerce and co-founder of Tennessee Immigrant and Minority Business Group. He will describe his Chinese Bible project, which may possibly help in recruiting a quarter of the human population for God’s kingdom.
Describing his 16-year journey with faith and science, Dr. Wang will tell the powerful story of the amniotic membrane contact lens. He will describe how he began fetal wound-healing research to help injured adult eyes, and how he was frustrated at not being able to find a way to conduct this corneal wound-healing research without harming an unborn child. The questions in his heart were “Are science and faith really this contradictory? Should we do fetal wound-healing research without our moral, ethical and faith principles? Or, should we not do this research at all, and therefore not being able to advance medicine and improve the quality of our lives?”
Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Dr. K.P. Yohannan has been crisscrossing the globe for the last 40 years, challenging the body of Christ to discipleship. His call to a radical lifestyle—with an all-out commitment to Jesus—has left its impact on nearly every continent. To the Church caught up by the tidal waves of compromise and self-preservation, Yohannan’s life message is as fresh as today’s podcast yet as timeless as the scriptural mandate itself.
Yohannan is the founder and international director of Gospel for Asia, a Christian mission organization that has brought the Good News of Christ to millions in South Asia over the last three decades.
“A former atheist and hard-bitten journalist with The Chicago Tribune, in 1980 Lee Strobel began an investigation that would alter the course of his life forever. Observing the transformation in his wife following her conversion to Christianity, he began exploring the evidence supporting the truthfulness of the Christian faith. What he discovered eventually led to his own commitment to Christ in 1981.
Recounting the investigation process, Strobel remarks, “Some people are more experiential - they like to experience things - but because I come from a law background, a legal background, and a journalism background, I tend to respond to facts and evidence. My way of processing my spiritual journey was to ask the question ‘Is there any evidence that supports Christianity being true?’”
Lee Strobel knows a good story. More importantly, he knows how to sort through confusing facts and data in order to get to the bottom of the truth. As the former legal affairs editor for The Chicago Tribune, he has sat in courtrooms and police departments and done countless interviews to search out the story and get the facts. Says Strobel, “I proceeded to gather all the evidence pro and con and be as thorough as I can and ask all the tough questions, and then subject them to scrutiny of a skeptic. I determined to remain open and vowed that I would respond to whichever direction the evidence points. I think that is a rational way to behave. That is to say ‘If there is convincing evidence, then the most rational and logical thing I could do would be to follow that evidence regardless of which direction it took me.’”
The nearly two-year process led him to the conclusion that the evidence overwhelmingly supports Christianity as being true.
Dr. Marvin Olasky
Olasky is editor-in-chief of World magazine and the Distinguished Chair in Journalism and Public Policy at Patrick Henry College. He is the author of 22 books, including Compassionate Conservatism, Fighting for Liberty and Virtue and The Tragedy of American Compassion. He’s also written 3,000 articles for publications including World, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. American.com describes him as “one of the country’s foremost evangelical thinkers and writers.”
Previously, Olasky was a professor at The University of Texas at Austin for two decades and provost of The King’s College, New York City, from 2007 to 2011.
Olasky earned an AB from Yale University in 1971 and a PhD in American culture from the University of Michigan in 1976. He has been married for 37 years and is the father of four sons.