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The Zacchaeus Story: Salvation, Miracles and Activism

In this recording from some months ago, I teach at Kettering Jesus Army on what Zacchaeus’ story in Luke 19 implies for us when it comes to encountering Jesus, the supernatural and generosity for the poor. I also share some testimonies about miracles in our lifetime.

What I Learned During My Jesus Army Training Year

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Originally published at christiancommunity.org.uk.

Coming to the UK was a sacrifice. I had to leave friends and family behind in Sweden, including my girlfriend – now fiancée – Sarah. I had to say no to speaking requests and opportunities to do the things I love the most. I had to prepare and plan the community we want to start in Sweden from a distance, which is far from easy.

This is a price I have been willing to pay. The new friendships I’ve built with people here and the practical experience of community of goods have been invaluable. As David Janzen writes in his Intentional Christian Community Handbook: starting a community from scratch without at least one person having lived in community previously, is a very bad idea. Even the apostles had to be trained in community life by Jesus himself before they founded their Jerusalem community church (John 13:29, Acts 2:44-45).

What I had not expected was the amount of “giving” I felt compelled to do in contrast to “receiving”. As I’ve written before, I have not mainly been inspired during my Training year. Rather, I have focused on inspiring others.

I guess this is because I have a hard time being an onlooker when I notice stuff that can be improved! This has in most cases been welcomed and appreciated, of which I am grateful. (more…)

Why the Church Sucks at Teaching

Most churches teach in ways that are contrary to core educational principles that the schools use. And most of them never preach the Gospel either. How can we fix this?

“Acts 2 is the Solution”

Originally published at christiancommunity.org.uk.

Erika Akimana from Kigali, Rwanda, has been living in the New Humanity Mission Community since 1997, founded just a few years after the genocide. I interviewed her on what made her make such a commitment, and what a central African Christian community is like.

IMG_20170320_130731 (1).JPGWhat is your community like?

We are 16 adults and 16 children. Half of the adults live with me and my husband Rukundo in Kigali, while the others live in a community house on the countryside. We come from both middle class and poorer class backgrounds, sharing all possessions and praying together every evening. Since 2013 we have a business, selling porridge, which some members from the Jesus Fellowship recently helped us with.

Why do you live like this?

I personally grew up in a divorced family and was very unhappy, I wondered why there were so many problems in the world. People are selfish, some are rich and others poor, there are orphans and divorce. I wanted to stop these problems, but I didn’t know how. (more…)

My Message to the Jesus Army

After eight months, I’ve ended my training year at the Jesus Army and have moved back to Sweden. It’s been painful but also beautiful, and I have learned a lot. The JA leadership allowed me to share my thoughts at the Alive Festival at Northampton Jesus Centre, seven years after I had been baptised in the Spirit at a previous Alive Festival during my first stay at the Jesus Army. In the interview, I said that I really think that the Jesus Army should step up with their evangelism again and never lose the vision of resurrecting the Jerusalem church (Acts 2) with charismatic gifts, community and evangelism combined.

The Funny Apologist

Andy Bannister is a funny apologist. His book The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (Monarch, 2015) combines intellectual sharpness with witty humour as he deals with the ideas of modern atheism. As director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and Adjunct Speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Bannister has a lot of experience in defending the faith. We got to talk to him about his ministry and ideas.

What made you integrate humour in your apologetics?

Over the 20 years or so that I’ve been involved in Christian ministry (most of it focused on reaching sceptics) I became frustrated with the fact that so many really great books explaining the Christian faith never find their way into their hands of atheists or agnostics. Most evangelistic and apologetic books are simply read by Christians. Now on the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with that: Christians need to be equipped to share and defend their faith. But I wanted to write something that would actually be read by sceptics. The question was how.

Then I came across a quote by C. S. Lewis. Asked why he had taken up writing fiction (like the Narnia books) Lewis explained that too often the front entrance to people’s minds is guarded by “watchful dragons”: things like cynicism, pride, and poor arguments. But story and imagination could let you “steal past those watchful dragons”. That was a revelatory moment for me: maybe I could use a whole different approach, something completely fresh, to engage with atheism. And that’s what The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist does—but rather than creep past the dragon, it uses comedy and wit to tickle the dragon’s nose, so that whilst it’s busy laughing, we can bring truth in through the front door. (more…)

Heidi Baker: A Girl Who Changed My Life

This is a segment from Heidi’s message at Awakening Europe in Stockholm, October 2016. She tells about a young Mozambican girl who taught her how to love even one’s most cruel enemies. This is what Christian nonviolence looks like!

How to Save a Church Movement from Extinction

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Originally published at Jesus Army.

Andreas Ehrenpreis is not a well-known name in church history, but what he managed to do is truly astonishing. Born 1589 in Illingen, Germany, Andreas was brought up as an Anabaptist – a persecuted, radical Christian movement that emphasised faith, peace and justice. At seven years of age, his family joined a Hutterite community in Morovia, modern-day Czech Republic.

The Hutterites had been founded by Jakob Hutter (1500-1536) as a church that believed that community of goods is something all Christians should practice. However, as Andreas Ehrenpreis was commissioned as a minister of the Word in 1621, things had changed drastically.

Community was not practiced the same way as before – people usually laid aside money for themselves and stored various luxuries. Some bought weapons to defend themselves against persecutors, despite the church’s official, pacifist stance. As the Mennonite Encyplopedia puts it, “moral slackening was observable everywhere”. (more…)

The Jerusalem Project: Starting a Christian Community from Scratch

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Originally published at PCPJ.

The Jerusalem Project is based on the radical idea that biblical followers of Jesus should live like the followers of Jesus in the Bible. Specifically, we don’t think that the community of goods that Jesus practiced with his disciples (John 13:29) and that they then continued to practice in the apostolic church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-45), was a mistake or has gone obsolete. On the contrary, since Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and the apostles are the foundation of the church (Eph 2:19), we believe we should live like them.

Most Christians would agree that the apostles has ultimate authority on who Jesus is, what he did for us and what he wants us to do for him. In fact, this authority is so great that the words they or their associates wrote down in letters and books are considered to be the Word of God!

That’s basically as much authority one can get.

But if they have this much authority, shouldn’t we view their lives and works as expressing God’s will as much as their words? Not that they would be sinless, but they had spend a lot of time with the sinless Son of God. He had taught them not only doctrines but practices, not just orthodoxy but orthopraxy. And so, they continued to heal the sick, preach the Gospel and have everything in common just as Jesus had trained them. (more…)

Bring Forth the Apostles and Prophets!

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In Ephesians 4, Paul describes the five ministry gifts that will lead to the church:

But to each one of us was given grace according to the gift that Christ measured out … And he gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. They would equip the saints for the work of service to build up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the adult population of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:7, 11-13).

In my Swedish house church, we once looked at this passage and realised that not only are the apostles and prophets extremely rare in the West, but when they still show up, we become terrified. Especially if they dare to call themselves apostle or prophet. This probably stems from the prevalence of cessationism in Protestantism, which elevated teaching as a major component of church life while prophecy and apostleship were viewed as obselete.

Today, most European churches have abandoned cessationism, and many realise that the Bible does not limit the title “apostle” to the twelve guys closest to Jesus. Yet, we have incredibly difficulties using the terms apostle and prophet. We look with skepticism when, for example, Christians from Africa are not afraid to liberally use these terms for describing their leaders. (more…)

A Culture of Hospitality

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For the last couple of years I have been spending a lot of time helping the homeless. I have taken them into my home, helping them get a job, taking their children to school and arguing for their rights and dignity in the media. I’ve protested when they have been mistreated or deported and I’ve celebrated God’s victory over Satan with them on street parties. Also, I’ve been frustrated with them over the fact that most churches and Christian homes won’t take them in.

There are four million homeless in Europe and eleven million empty houses. Not only that, their are at least 14 million evangelical Christians who could easily fit the homeless into their living rooms and guest rooms. The Bible emphasises that hospitality is something all Christians should engage in:

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:13).

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2).

(more…)

Christian Climate Change Deniers Don’t Make Any Sense

It seems like most American white evangelicals either believe that man-made climate change is a hoax or that it isn’t important. But why is Christian climate change denial even a thing?

Can Science Prove Miraculous Healing?

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Previously published at Jesus Army.

Elijah Stephens is a former Vineyard pastor and spiritual coach belonging to Bethel Church in Redding, California. Since 2015, he has been working on a documentary about medically verified miracles. Micael Grenholm asked him a few questions.

WHAT is a medically verified miracle?

That is a good question. When it comes to miracles, we are talking about when God enters the world and does something. What makes something a miracle is God’s activity.

This is why you can’t study miracles scientifically, but what you can do is to find cases where people have prayed and there’s “before and after” medical evidence. For example, a person has a tumor, one day there is prayer, the next day the tumor disappears.

What you want to do is to corroborate miracles with medical evidence. So that’s what we’re attempting to do with the movie; finding cases where miracles have been corroborated by medical evidence. (more…)

Recently on a Jesus Army conference, I shared the brief testimony of a new friend of mine who was recently saved and healed from what seemed to be demonic suppression.

The Hunger Argument for Veganism

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When people hear veganism, they think about animal rights activists or people who care for the environment. It is less known that skipping meat and dairy also is the single most effective thing one can do to fight global hunger.

My fiancée Sarah and I recently talked about this in MennoNerds video (above), and last month, Sarah contributed to PCPJ with an article on the hunger argument for veganism:

I have discovered that few things are so controversial among Christians and met with such incomprehension (and ignorance) as veganism. “Do you eat only salad?” is a question I often get, or “you don’t eat wheat flour, right?” Not to mention all the extremely hilarious meat jokes (sarcasm intended). But I have discovered that most times people have preconceptions about what it means to be vegan and the reasons behind it.

When I tell people that I’m vegan, most assume that it is due to the animal ethics. And to be honest, it was probably how it started. Twelve years ago, I became a vegetarian because I loved animals, and felt like a hypocrite towards them when I ate meat. But over time I began to think about whether this really was a sufficient reason. As a Christian, I believed that humans have been appointed to manage creation and that we have a higher value than animals. If an animal’s death would be the prerequisite for human life, it would be a morally acceptable thing to do (as it turns out this is not the case today, as I will explain below). (more…)

The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

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