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Recent discoveries have placed the biblical city of Bethsaida closer to shore where Peter and Andrew left their nets to follow Christ.

After recent headlines announced that archaeologists in Israel had uncovered the Church of the Apostles, questions followed. What church is this? And what do these findings tell us about the days of Jesus and his earliest followers?

The world’s attention has turned to a small excavation on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a project I have been involved with as the academic director since the beginning. Our findings have rekindled the debate about the location for Bethsaida, the home of Peter, Andrew, and Philip referenced in John 1:44.

Every year millions of Christians travel to the Holy Land in their desire to visit places mentioned in the Bible. They journey from Dan to Beersheba with Bibles in one hand and cameras in the other. Not long ago, no one knew about these places. Yet, today signposts proclaim each location to pilgrims: Caesarea, Megiddo, Capernaum, and more. How did all this happen?

The rediscovery of the land of the Bible has been a slow process that began in earnest in the middle of the 19th century, once European and American travelers could make the trip. Mark Twain famously recorded his visit to the Holy Land in Innocents Abroad (1869). His impressions were not altogether favorable:

We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent, mournful expanse. … A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. …We never saw a human being on the whole route. …There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

Edward Robinson, a scholar from Union Theological Seminary in New York ...

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Working with at-risk and abused women led SBC teacher Ann White to fill an unexpected need.

For years, author, speaker, and Bible teacher Ann White felt a burden to help at-risk women come to know the love of Jesus. Through her work in local American prisons as well as low-income communities in Southeast Asia, White saw a deep need for greater accessibility to Scripture.

As the founder of Courage for Life, an organization dedicated to “strengthen, equip, and empower the world for Christ,” White’s passion to share the good news of Jesus led her to take on a project that’s time had finally come: an all-female-voiced audio recording of Scripture.

The Courage for Life (CFL) Bible is the first audio version of the Word recorded solely with women’s voices. It features a diverse group of female voice actors reading the New Living Translation. While the New Testament portion launched this year, White is currently fundraising to help finish recording the Old Testament. She spoke with CT about why the female-voiced Bible speaks to both sexes and how CFL plans to reach inmates across the country.

My first thought when hearing about your project was, “This is so long overdue!” Part of me couldn’t believe this hadn’t been done already.

That was my first thought!

Why did you choose to record the New Living Translation, in particular?

In working with local missions in our own backyard, whether it’s women in homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, safe houses, or incarcerated women, their reading levels are very low. We chose the New Living Translation because it’s a great translation for the women we work with. Even when you take a printed book to someone who doesn’t read a lot or struggles to read, they’re really intimidated by the Bible.

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“The insistence in the EFCA that you must be premillennial is in conflict with our strong value of unity in the gospel.”

Ed: What was the EFCA’s history with premillenialism? It seems that premillenialism was disproportionally important to the Evangelical Free Church. Why?

Greg: An exclusive premillennial view had not been the Free Church view historically. However, in our more recent history, the merger between the Swedish Free Church and the Norwegian-Danish Free Church occurred between 1946-1950. The emphasis on a pretribulational and premillennial view of Scripture, specifically in the EFCA, was connected to Israel being reborn as a nation, which happened in 1948.

Arnold T. Olson, who served as the merger chairman of the Committee in Unity and the EFCA’s second president (1951-1976), said a number of times that the EFCA came into being “for such a time as this.” In other words, this is, at least according to Olson, the primary reason for and unique role of the EFCA denomination.

Olson writes in This We Believe, 1961,

There was seemingly no interest in the possibility of Israel’s being reborn and restored in Palestine and such other signs as might indicate that the return of Christ was nearer than ever. It is only in recent years that the renewed cry, ‘Behold, He Cometh’ has been heard in the land. Therefore it does not fall in the same traditional category as the rest. [Those issues in our Statement of Faith (SOF) in which we are silent, those doctrines which through the centuries have divided Christians of equal dedication, biblical knowledge, spiritual maturity, and love for Christ.]. The Free Church was born in this revived interest and assurance. It has been convinced that these are the last days and that it was brought into existence ‘for such a time as this.’ The view reflects the ...

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What does it look like to be the Church while members wrestle with their faith?

Just yesterday one of my friends shared a sign that her local YMCA posted which stated this:

We welcome all sizes, all colors, all genders, all beliefs, all religions, all types, all people, EVERYONE. Welcome to the YMCA. You are safe here.

The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in London in 1844 in response to poor social conditions arising in urban centers at the end of the Industrial Revolution. These young men met for prayer and Bible study.

Fast forward to today and what you have in the YMCA serves as something of a model for us as followers of Christ. Over the past few weeks we have read as well-known Christian leaders have publicly share their struggles in the Christian faith. Although painful to read for a multitude of reasons which cover both their own struggles as well as the church’s witness and actions in our world today, we need to be clear on one thing, and that is this:

What these men are saying in public, thousands, perhaps millions, are wrestling with in private.

Faith is, as Scripture says, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Not a month passes when I don’t wish I could tangibly see Jesus—to sit side-by-side with him and have him wrap his arms around me, to hear his response to my concerns of our day—the railing injustices, the out-of-bounds verbal comments, the hopes that die daily in the hearts of so many because of life circumstances. And I weep.

We are living in a time when our faith is tested frequently. It is no longer possible (if it ever was) to gather in a holy huddle, fingers in ears, humming “La, la, la.” Doing so is anathema as a world around us cries out for justice and peace and kindness and love—something ...

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A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy sues his former employer for religious discrimination after it wouldn’t accommodate his request to not train a female officer one-on-one.

A former North Carolina sheriff’s deputy may be the first to file a lawsuit alleging he faced discrimination for his commitment to the “Billy Graham Rule.”

Manuel Torres, 51, claims in a federal lawsuit that he requested a “religious accommodation” from the Lee County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office, where he was employed from 2012 to 2017, after he was ordered to train a female deputy. The training included “the requirement that he spend significant periods of time alone in his patrol car with the female officer trainee.”

A deacon at East Sanford Baptist Church in Sanford, North Carolina, Torres “holds the strong and sincere religious belief that the Holy Bible prohibits him, a married man, from being alone for extended periods of time with a female who is not his wife,” according to the lawsuit filed July 31 in US district court.

The practice of not being alone with a member of the opposite sex other than one’s spouse is called the Billy Graham Rule in honor of the late evangelist, who adopted the policy early in his ministry to avoid temptation and accusations of sexual immorality. While some say the practice demonstrates integrity and protects marriages, others claim it can be discriminatory.

According to Torres’s lawsuit, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office allegedly vacillated between granting and denying the requested accommodation for weeks before terminating Torres “without an explanation.” Torres also claims a colleague “failed to respond” to his call for backup at a “multi-vehicle accident in an unsafe area” because of the requested accommodation.

Howard Friedman, a University of Toledo law professor who ...

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UPDATE: Trump administration upholds Title X funding cuts for abortion providers.

Update (August 19): After a court of appeals ruled in favor a Trump administration policy barring federal funding for clinics that offer abortion referrals, Planned Parenthood announced on Monday it will withdraw from a government program that offers low-income women reproductive healthcare.

Title X currently provides 1.5 million women with contraception, pregnancy tests, and STD screenings. It does not fund abortions.

“The news that [Planned Parenthood is] refusing to accept taxpayer funds to target vulnerable women is a good thing for women's health,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life in a statement. “...Women who need true healthcare will have their needs met by authentic and eager healthcare providers across America."

While policy previously restricted the federal government from covering abortion costs, the new rules go even further in not allowing the funds to go to any clinic that also makes abortion referrals.

Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups have spent months in a legal battle against the tighter rules. In a tweet, Planned Parenthood wrote that it serves 40 percent of patients in the Title X program.

Since Trump’s inauguration, the Department of Health and Human Services has once again enabled states to withhold federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and rescinded an Obama administration memo warning states against blocking Medicaid funding for providers that offered abortion.

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Pro-life evangelicals are celebrating another move by the Trump administration to cut federal funding for abortion.

According to reports, the White House is expected to announce new regulations prohibiting Planned ...

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We can take pride and joy in the historic, biblical view of human sexuality.

Over the last five years, an increasing number of believers have changed their stance on sexual ethics and slipped from the grounded banks of orthodoxy into the current of the times. Several public figures, in particular, have come out as “affirming” and brought thousands with them. Those of us with a historic, biblical view feel at times defensive or discouraged, and our posture—quite understandably—is one of “holding our ground” against theological erosion.

In the midst of this tumult, we risk losing sight of what the church has to offer: not just a critique of false teaching (although that’s needed) but an alternative model, a bold vision of how orthodoxy enables deep, well-ordered love. As we encourage others to “stay on the bank,” we have the privilege of pointing them toward a picture that reveals God’s purpose for human sexuality.

Although the prohibitions of Scripture look to many like loveless, heartless “don’ts,” these commands grow out of a positive vision of human flourishing. Ask almost any same-sex attracted, abstinent Christian and they’ll tell you this vision requires imagination, sacrifice, and even suffering. But they’ll also tell you that it comes with freedom—not the freedom of libertinism but the freedom of aligning with the divine design for human intimacy. We publish their testimonies year after year because we believe their lives manifest the hardwon goodness of following God’s Word.

Church history offers another witness. For over 2,000 years, the church has been teaching a robust biblical anthropology, and we take seriously the cumulative weight of that teaching. The Holy Spirit, too, adds to the image. ...

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When my immigration status jeopardized my college goals, I discovered my true identity.

The summer of 2009 was one of the scariest times of my life. I should have been excited about heading to Northwestern University on a scholarship. Instead, I struggled to sleep. As a first-generation Chinese immigrant with a precarious immigration status, my future rested on my academic performance. I didn’t have safety nets if I fell short.

I was born in the historic city of Nanjing, China. My family was not particularly wealthy, but we were established in society and considered an “intellectual” clan.

“Nothing is more important than learning,” declares an ancient Chinese saying, underscoring the pervasive Chinese belief that education is foundational to self-development and success. That pressure is heightened by intense competition among millions of students vying for limited spots at Chinese universities and prestigious universities abroad.

In fourth grade, I immigrated to the United States to join my mom, who had moved there five years earlier in 1994. My mom struggled to learn English in her 30s, but she persisted and completed a master’s degree. Her education helped her land a job immediately after graduating, which led to a dependent visa for me. She did it all for me, and I wanted to make her proud.

After overcoming significant language and cultural barriers, I caught up in my American school and began to excel. I wasn’t the smartest kid around, but I studied hard to honor my family. I thought that if I got good grades and got into a good college, then a good life would follow.

My mom and I came from an atheist family, but by God’s grace, we experienced biblical hospitality and heard the gospel from a few Americans who ultimately led us to Christ. Still, while I pronounced ...

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A new study suggests that both men and women who seek spiritual intimacy view the Bible more literally.

Sociologists have long suggested that Christian women are more religious than men, but Blake Victor Kent wondered if this discrepancy has something to do with gender differences and intimacy.

A former pastor who grew up in the evangelical church, Kent took interest in how gender roles were articulated abstractly but then lived out differently. He saw a disconnect. For example, he noticed that some evangelicals draw firm theological boundaries around formal leadership but then allow women to lead informally all the time.

During graduate school, some prominent research on gender caught Kent’s eye and made him wonder if sociologists were missing part of the story. A study by John Hoffmann and John Bartkowski found that women are more likely than men to view the Bible as the literal Word of God. The authors viewed this result as a comment on female social standing in the church, a woman’s way of asserting her faith in a culture that won’t accept her leadership. But Kent thought it might have more to do with a person’s belief in the simple biblical truth that God is near us.

There are some differences in how men and women relate to God, which Kent argues could be cultural. His analysis, however, found that men and women who experience an intimate relationship with God are more likely to have a literal view of the Bible.

Kent, now at Harvard Medical School doing postdoctoral research on religion and health, recently published this passion project along with Christopher Pieper, a colleague from his alma mater, Baylor University. Their study compared men’s and women’s answers on the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey on two sets of questions: how intimate they feel with God and how they view the Bible

Kent ...

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Not in my view. Just the opposite.

Last year, upon the unveiling of our archives (we are in the process of making every issue digital going back to our beginning), I rehearsed some high and low points in our editorial history. Regarding the latter, I noted that we had, at best, a mixed record during the civil rights era. At a recent conference, I bumped into Paul de Vries, president of New York Divinity School, who was quick to disagree with my assessment. It’s not often I welcome someone telling me I was wrong, but when he explained himself, I was glad he did. I asked him to write a piece for us. No, this doesn’t mean we got everything right and we have nothing to apologize for, but it does show that God has been able to use even a flawed vessel like CT. –Mark Galli, editor in chief.

Far too frequently the evangelical community is criticized for having “missed” the civil rights movement. Too often I read of people bemoaning how their church denomination or publication “failed” its members or readers on racial justice. These depressing statements are stated as matters of fact, while listeners and readers simply assume the expertise of the writer or speaker.

But what if we asked people of that era, especially those directly involved in the civil rights movement at the time?

The comments of Mark Galli, the editor in chief of Christianity Today (CT), particularly caught my attention. In an editorial on November 27, 2018, Galli commented that “CT’s greatest essays of old still speak today.” On this he is correct. However, Galli then added, “But on civil rights we failed our readers.” At the time, I sent him a letter contradicting this claim of failing readers. Galli has since asked me to expand ...

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