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The complexity of the situation even presents a challenge to Jewish Christian unity.

Among Christians in America, Israel can be viewed as a fulfillment of prophecy, a democratic ally in a region of chaos, or an occupier oppressing stateless Palestinians. How to choose?

Given that 2 out of 3 US evangelicals have a positive perception of Israel, according to LifeWay Research, perhaps a better question is: How should evangelicals identify with the issues Israel faces?

Fortunately, there is a useful interpreter. “If the Christian community wants to understand Israel from a believing perspective,” said Jamie Cowen, an Israeli lawyer and a believer in Jesus, “going through Messianic Jews is best.”

However, the complexity of Israel divides even Messianic Jews in attitude toward Palestine, as illustrated by debate this year over an interview provocatively summarized as supporting ethnic cleansing.

“The only rights the Palestinians have are squatter’s rights,” Paul Liberman, executive director of the Alliance for Israel Advocacy (AIA), toldThe Intercept. He described how the lobbying arm of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) was pushing for a shift of US funding from UN–administered Palestinian aid ($364 million in 2017) to an Israeli-led effort offering money to relocate from the West Bank. The goal: eventual annexation of the territory in a one-state solution with fewer Palestinian citizens, maintaining Israel as a Jewish state.

First adopted by the MJAA in 2015, the idea reverberated within Messianic Jewish circles once TheIntercept highlighted efforts to harness evangelical influence in Congress and the White House.

“It is not a removal. It is an opportunity for a much better life,” said Joel Chernoff, CEO of the MJAA. “But the demographic ...

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Instructions for publishers.

Dear Publisher,

Each year, Christianity Today honors a set of outstanding books encompassing a variety of subjects and genres. The CT Book Awards, along with our “Beautiful Orthodoxy” Book of the Year, will be announced in December at christianitytoday.com. They also will be featured prominently in the January/February 2020 issue of CT and promoted in several CT newsletters. (In addition, readers will have the opportunity to participate in a marketing promotion organized by CT’s marketing team, complete with site banners and paid Facebook promotion.)

Awards Categories:

  1. Apologetics/Evangelism
  2. Biblical Studies
  3. Children & Youth
  4. Christian Living/Discipleship
  5. The Church/Pastoral Leadership
  6. Culture and the Arts
  7. Fiction
  8. History/Biography
  9. Missions/The Global Church
  10. Politics and Public Life
  11. Spiritual Formation
  12. Theology/Ethics
  13. CT Women*
  14. The “Beautiful Orthodoxy” Book of the Year**

*Learn more about CT Women at https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/.

**Beautiful Orthodoxy is the core philosophy guiding CT’s ministry. It describes a mission, across all our publications, to proclaim the truth, beauty, and goodness of the gospel in a gracious, non-antagonistic tone. Learn more about the cause of Beautiful Orthodoxy from CT editor Mark Galli, in this essay and this interview .

CT Women and Beautiful Orthodoxy are special add-on categories. Books nominated in these categories must have first been nominated in one of the other main categories. (They will be eligible to win more than once.) The add-on fee is $15 for either CT Women or Beautiful Orthodoxy, or $30 for both.

What and How to Submit:

To be eligible for nomination, a book must be published between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019. We are looking for scholarly ...

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“True restoration focuses on destroying the sin, not destroying the person.”

Ed: Greg, why is restoration so hard?

Greg: I think restoration is hard because there initially is the shock of the exposure of sin. There is shame in the pastor, the leaders, and the church. The process of repentance is long and the wounds to the church are deep.

Ed: What did you say to Darrin in the process?

Greg: Early in the process we talked about who was affected, who was hurt by Darrin’s choices and his sin. We wanted to make sure that he fully understood the consequences of that sin in other people's lives.

I have been part of several restorations and I have seen many pastors who are confronted about their sin not understand the root of it. We asked Darrin to come clean, to really meditate on and figure out, with counselor’s help, what had happened in this situation.

Beyond that, my role has been to encourage him that while his sin is bad, he is not, and that God loves him and that God has a future that is good. It's been two parts to the process. First, let's acknowledge it. Second, let's acknowledge God's grace in the middle of it as the repentance continues.

Ed: What does it look like to be a spiritual father?

Greg: I remember when I became a physical father for the first time. I didn't think I was ready, to be honest with you. I was just a young man and didn't see myself as a particularly great candidate to be a father.

I think spiritually it's the same. When I was asked to be a part of Darrin’s restoration and especially when he asked me to be his pastor, I knew what the responsibility was. I knew that it was very important in his process to have a father in his corner, especially in light of the difficult relationship that he had had with his father and that his father ...

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Can this season be one where I grow with God and with my neighbor?

Summer, wrote A. W. Tozer, is “the period of full power when life multiplies, and it is hard to believe that it can ever end.”

But summer’s lease truly hath all too short a date. So here at the beginning of the season, it’s worth asking: What do I really want this summer to be like? How can this season be one where I grow with God and with my neighbor?

That’s an invitation, not an imposition. Christian leaders who read CT can imagine as well as we can the early summer sermon they’re uninterested in hearing: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! … [I]t stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” It’s a wise (and inspired!) proverb, but the assumed application has always sounded unpleasant: Work harder for Jesus! Trade your summer rest for ministry!

Sure, some of us may need the proverb’s admonition to get up off our beds. But many CT readers are already fairly antlike in the summer: volunteering at Vacation Bible Schools, arranging summer mission trips and service projects, picking up the slack as fellow church volunteers travel… And for many Christians, summer is not mostly a time of recreation but of finding seasonal work to supplement a meager income.

The question we want to ask this June, then, is not: What more can you add this summer? Rather, it’s this: What are you looking forward to? What brings you joy about this season? And how can it be more of a blessing to you and to others? What provisions come in summer that can be harvested for a lifetime?

Perhaps you love summer’s longer days. Seize them! It’s much easier to start or rekindle a habit of morning prayer when awakened by songbirds ...

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“I've learned that pastors' wives and children usually end up as overlooked collateral damage in these scenarios.”

Ed: What was your initial response when Darrin's sin was revealed?

Amie: In short, I was completely shocked, furious, and absolutely devastated. It's difficult to describe the trauma that occurs when life as you know it instantly ceases to exist in a very public way.

I sobbed, yelled, prayed desperate prayers, and asked Darrin many painful questions. I barely ate or slept, stumbled through my daily life in a daze, and experienced crippling anxiety attacks and related physical symptoms.

It wasn't so much that I thought this could never happen to me, as most pastors' wives I know do fearfully consider this possibility. But I did hold some assumptions and expectations regarding what I thought it would look like if Darrin were to ever implode, and virtually none of those things held true when he actually did. I was blind-sided.

Ed: How have you seen Darrin change over the past two years?

Amie: The biggest changes that I've seen in Darrin have to do with him understanding and owning brokenness from his past, as well as the devastating effect of those unhealed wounds on his life, relationships, and leadership. I've seen him work incredibly hard to understand not just how he sinned against God and people, but why he did so, and to fully take responsibility for not just sinful behavior, but the broken patterns of thinking, feeling, and believing behind them.

The fruit I've seen as a result of this repentance is a much greater awareness of himself and his brokenness, significantly greater emotional attunement, both to himself and others, and a willingness to understand his sin and the pain he's caused without defensiveness or justification.

He weeps a lot more than he used to. He's much more patient with ...

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What the church can do when the world’s had too much of a good thing.

By August 27, 1859, New England railroad conductor Edwin L. Drake had been spending borrowed money for months, and it was running out. His steam-powered drill had bored 69 feet into the rock near Titusville, Pennsylvania, at the rate of three feet a day, and he had yet to strike oil. His employer, America’s first petroleum exploration company, had given up on him. When Drake and his crew went home for the night, they were already accustomed to being the punchline of local jokes.

The next day, one of Drake’s men spotted black liquid bubbling up in their well, and they began pumping it by hand into a washtub. What followed was arguably the most rapid economic and cultural transformation of the world.

The oil boom Drake triggered was accompanied by a flood of superlatives about the wonders, mysteries, and splendor of what was known at first as “rock oil.” Most immediately, Drake’s discovery offered America and the world affordable light. Kerosene—which could be made from petroleum—rapidly became the low-cost choice for lamp oil (its main competitor was pricey whale oil). Within two decades, kerosene had brought artificial lighting to city streets and to nearly every home in America.

Celebratory language continued into the early 20th century, as petroleum products found revolutionary new uses as lubricant and, eventually, as fuel for motor vehicles. Geologists, businessmen, politicians, poets, and songwriters speculated on what this new discovery meant for America and humankind.

Pastors and theologians weighed in, too. For Presbyterian minister S.J.M. Eaton of Franklin, Pennsylvania, the sudden profusion of drilling sites along nearby Oil Creek was not the result of chance. In Eaton’s ...

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My journey from the criminal underworld to the foot of the cross.

Six years ago—lost, broken, alone, and suicidal—I was the empty shell of a once-promising rugby player, shuffling around an exercise yard in a London prison. I was a man of extreme violence who had done seven stretches behind bars.

One morning around that time, I watched a flock of birds take off from a ledge outside my cell. Right then, I knew God was real—and that he had reached down to rescue me from the pit of hell.

A Ticking Time Bomb

As a child, there was violence everywhere I turned. My mother had been widowed by her first husband, abused for 20 years by her second, and deserted by my father (whom she never married) when I was eight months old. She and my two sisters surrounded me with love—I was the little favorite of the family. But she was also a harsh disciplinarian and liberally wielded what we called “the Allen stick” to keep me under control.

Throbbing with anger and resentment toward my absent father, I was constantly getting into scraps with neighborhood bullies, hoping to earn their respect. I was also abused several times: by a family friend, by a boy across the road, and by a man I can’t say much about because I’ve blocked the worst details from my memory.

I had some means of escape. Often I would skip school to go fishing or run off to the woods and dress up as an Army sergeant major, shouting commands at the other kids and exerting control to hide my inner pain. I loved sports and showed potential from an early age. And on Sundays, I would venture out on my own to attend church. At home I was fatherless and abused, but there I felt safe and at peace.

One morning, alerted by the shrieks of my eldest sister, I came downstairs to find my mother dead on the sofa, ...

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The apologist opens up about his battles with mental illness.

In public, J.P. Moreland is best known for battling in the arena of Christian apologetics. But privately, he has waged a personal struggle against occasionally debilitating mental illness. The longtime Biola University philosophy professor opens up about this side of his life in Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace. Eric L. Johnson, director of the Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling at Houston Baptist University, spoke with Moreland about the spiritual and psychological lessons he’s learned.

Finding Quiet is centered on the story of your journey of recovery from anxiety and depression. Tell us some of that story.

I was born into a family with a genetic predisposition, on my mother’s side, toward an anxiety disorder. I went through life with periods of anxiety, but in 2004, following my most stressful year as a professor, I had a complete nervous breakdown, complete with daily panic attacks and irrational fears. I was afraid when the phone rang, afraid to check my email. This lasted seven months, before therapy, medication, and other measures helped me regain stability. Then, ten years later, the same thing happened. By fall I was unable to teach my classes because I was completely dysfunctional. I couldn’t even let my grandchildren visit because it was too much stimulation.

After recovering once more, I began reading everything I could about dealing with anxiety, along with many books about spiritual formation. From this, I learned that anxiety was largely a habit—though of course not entirely a habit. So I began practicing habit-forming disciplines to help reprogram my brain, heart, and nervous systems, as well as my soul. It changed ...

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Jen Pollock Michel traces the paradoxical shape of Christian truth.

One Sunday not long ago, I was leading children’s worship in our church. During the weekly prayer time, we sat in a circle with the kids taking turns holding a cross that designates their moment to pray, either silently or out loud. I couldn’t help but smile at the “prayer face” some kids made when their turn arrived. Upon receiving the cross, they would scrunch up their closed eyes and assume a very serious demeanor. This was the posture they thought God wanted to see.

Watching them reminded me of Jen Pollock Michel’s words in Surprised by Paradox: The Promise of “And” in an Either-Or World: “There is a great deal of polite praying in church. I am guilty of it myself. We are pious and solicitous with God. . . . Prayer seems to be a lot of saying what we think God wants to hear.”

As Michel observes, God wants to hear not our polite prayers but our rawest expressions of grief, complaint, and hurt. This is one of the surprising paradoxes her book invites us to explore—that prayers of lament can function as confessions of faith. While they may seem impolite and impious, they still involve faith. “Maybe mustard seed faith, maybe angry faith,” she writes, but a form of faith nonetheless.

These kinds of prayers are deeply biblical. Indeed, Michel points out that Scripture contains more psalms of lament than psalms of thanksgiving and praise. Even Christ himself, nailed to the cross, prays the words of Psalm 22:1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” As Michel puts it, “God did not simply author the songs of lament: he sang them.”

It is clear that Michel’s words on lament carry a deep familiarity with grief, suffering, and the ...

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It’s a serious problem among evangelicals. But fixating on it might be missing the bigger picture.

Porn appears to be overrunning Christian cultures. Some have quietly capitulated. Evangelicalism, however, has not. But conservative Christians are no longer on the offensive against “obscenity,” as they were in the 1970s and ’80s. Today, they’re in survival mode. That’s one lesson we learn from Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants, a new book from University of Oklahoma sociologist Samuel Perry.

Evangelicals have a dilemma on their hands. For good reason, Perry surmises, “there can be no truce with pornography.” But the battlefield’s casualty list is fast mounting, even while the enemy’s weaponry is becoming more powerful and sophisticated. What to do? Surrender? Desert? And what of the walking wounded—leave them to the enemy? The language of war pervades evangelical discussions of pornography because resisting its siren call is hard.

Addicted to Lust is about as close to a page-turner as you’ll get with a scholarly book. Perry gets the players and the tensions right. He’s fair. He knows the science can be biased because it’s conducted by scientists—humans—who often have a stake in the answers to their questions. While he seeks to avoid rooting for one side—a noble effort to remain an impartial observer—he nevertheless acknowledges that porn has not made the world “a more humane and equitable place.”

Perry and I agree that we have overestimated addiction to pornography. Genuine addiction interrupts daily life. It’s hard to make the case that a habit hidden for years applies here. When dad’s an alcoholic, on the other hand, everyone in the family knows it. Elsewhere ...

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“I had slowly stopped prioritizing my relationship with Jesus and made ministry my primary focus.”

Today, I want to introduce you to some friends.

I’ve known Darrin and Amie Patrick for a couple of decades. And, I’ve known Greg Surratt for a similar amount of time. I’ve preached for both of them at their churches and fellowshipped on many occasions.

Darrin and Amie Patrick planted The Journey Church in St. Louis in 2002. The church grew to thousands of people in six locations. Darrin was a founding leader in the Acts 29 network and has authored several books.As The Journey Church grew, Darrin’s platform grew faster than his character. (I don’t say that lightly or without his permission.) Over time, Darrin drifted from his relationship with God and forsook basic Christian character and leadership principles.In March of 2016 the elders of The Journey confronted Darrin about an emotional affair and a variety of leadership failures. This confrontation led the elders to fire Darrin.But the elders placed him in a restoration process.It’s been over three years since that failure and he has completed that restoration process. It would be a mistake to think that Darrin is now ‘back’ with a great story to tell. There is still pain here. Darrin is now leading with a limp that will be in his life from here forward.But, in a world of failures, it is good to see what happens when someone accepts their failures and grows from them.In this three-part series I interview Greg, Darrin, and his wife Amie. Today, we start with Darrin. I’d also encourage you to listen to Darrin’s talk, in his own voice, at Southeastern Seminary.Darrin is still not perfect, but he is restored to ministry. He and Greg talk about that growth in their new podcast, Pastors Collective, which focuses on being ...

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