By / Aug 7

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss a massive explosion in Beirut, North Carolina pausing reopening, Kenya canceling school, Hurricane Isaias, mail delays, Kanye West, and UConn canceling football. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece by Jason Thacker with “What a new AI system reveals about our hopes for technology,” Josh Wester with “How can we find truth in a world of confusion? Resting in our reliable Savior,” and Ashley Newell with “What your family can do to stand for orphans: Using our gifts for the good of others.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Dean Inserra for a conversation about life and ministry.

About Dean

Dean Inserra is the founding and lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Dean was called to start a church in his hometown of Tallahassee when he was the Student Body President at Leon High School. He is passionate about reaching the city of Tallahassee with the Gospel, to see a worldwide impact made for Jesus. Dean graduated from Liberty University and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He holds a M.A. in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is pursuing a D.Min from Southern Seminary. Dean is married to Krissie, and they have two sons, Tommy and Ty, and a daughter, Sally Ashlyn. Dean likes baseball, wrestling, and the Miami Hurricanes. He believes Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback, and that everyone who disagrees holds the right to be wrong. You can connect with him on Twitter: @deaninserra

ERLC Content


  1. At least 135 killed, thousands injured after massive explosion rocks Beirut
  2. Thousands march in Berlin to protest COVID-19 restrictions
  3. North Carolina Will Pause Further Reopening Until September To Start The School Year
  4. 260 employees in Georgia’s largest school district have either tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed
  5. Kenya’s Unusual Solution to the School Problem: Cancel the Year and Start Over
  6. Isaias Live Updates: Tornadoes Are a Threat as Storm Charges North
  7. Mail delays are frustrating Philly residents, and a short-staffed Postal Service is struggling to keep up
  8. Republican operatives are helping Kanye West get on general election ballots
  9. UConn becomes first FBS team to cancel its football season
  10. NAMB church planting director Mark Clifton posted this on social media right before we started recording
  11. The Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular in New York City has been canceled


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By / Aug 7

It was life as usual on Tuesday evening in Lebanon’s capital city when a massive explosion ripped through the city—overturning cars, throwing people across the room, shattering windows and doors for miles around. One hundred and thirty-five people were found dead, while thousands more were injured and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. 

We would soon learn the cause—2,750 tons of highly explosive materials caught fire at the city’s port. We would also learn about the ongoing negligence of officials to safely dispose of or export these explosives before a tragedy like this occurred.

You may have heard that the Lebanese people are angry and raging at the government. And it’s true that some are. But as I walked into the scene of the tragedy today, I saw a different story all around me. Hundreds of citizens have picked up shovels and brooms and showed up to help. A teenage girl offered me bottled water, a stranger extended his afternoon snack, an older man insisted I take a sack of bread, and a church group burst into worship together as they took a break from shoveling glass out of a hospital.

I found myself thinking that there are always stories of redemption if you get close enough to the tragedy to see them. The Lord has not abandoned us. These moments lift my spirits and lift my eyes to Lord, for all of our help comes from him. 

In light of the Lord’s heart for redemption and restoration, here are three ways to pray for Lebanon right now.

Pray for daily bread

This catastrophe happened as Lebanon is already on the brink of economic collapse. Due to mismanagement of finances, the country has been experiencing daily power cuts, a lack of safe drinking water, and limited public healthcare. These, among other things, led to a nationwide revolution starting last October and continuing until today. COVID-19 shutdowns then put the struggling economy on its knees. Since October, the Lebanese pound has lost 75% in value and the unemployment rates are soaring.

In short, we were preparing for famine before this happened. Now this blast has taken out the port, which was the main import source of food for the country. Collateral damage was 85% of Lebanon’s grain silos, making things like bread and pasta even scarcer.

Pray for peace

Lebanon has been a chessboard for proxy wars since its inception and is also no stranger to civil war. Tensions are high right now within the country and without. Blame has been cast, accusations have been vehemently denied, and rumors are swirling around. The threat of war stands at the door.

Pray for wise council and wise decisions made by leaders. Pray that the voices of peace will be louder than the voices of dissension. Pray that the plans of wicked men would be thwarted. Pray that love would be stronger than vengeance.

Pray that the gospel would bring hope

As I watched people working together to rebuild today, I wondered if more was being rebuilt than brick and mortar. I wonder if God could use this tragedy to bind people together in unity. There are many Christians here, willing to be boots on the ground, to stand in the heat and hand out water bottles and pray with people; willing to shovel glass and sweep sidewalks; willing to share the hope of a God who has not abandoned us.

Pray that we will have wisdom to see what God is doing and join him. Pray for supernatural hope and joy to continue to bubble up in our own hearts. And pray that the Spirit will move in this land again and reveal Jesus to weary hearts and minds.

Editor’s note: For the safety of this author, we cannot include a name.

By / Aug 7

On Tuesday, two massive explosions occurred at the port of Beirut, killing at least 135 and injuring thousands. 

The blasts occurred near highly-populated areas and tourist sites, damaging nearby landmarks, businesses, and homes, including Baabda Palace, the official residence of the Lebanese President. At least three hospitals were also damaged by the blast. Beirut’s governor says up to 300,000 people had been left homeless in the aftermath of the explosion.

While experts are yet to determine the official yield of the explosion, it is likely to be comparable to the Halifax Explosion of 1917, when a cargo ship carrying high explosives collided with another ship, resulting in the largest human-caused explosion prior to the atomic bomb.

The United States Geological Survey reported that the explosion registered a 3.3 magnitude, equivalent to a minor earthquake. Windows were blown out up to 15 miles away and reports suggest it was heard as far away as Cyprus, 150 miles away into the Mediterranean.

Where is Beirut?

Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, a country which is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, with Cyprus to the west across the Mediterranean Sea. Beirut lies on the coast, on a peninsula that extends westward into the Mediterranean Sea.

Beirut is one of the oldest cities in existence. The first historical mention of Beirut is found in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters dating from the 15th century B.C., around the time of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt (based on an early dating of that event). The city is one of the most religiously diverse in the Middle East. Although a slight majority are Muslim, about 4-in-10 people in Beirut identify as Christian. 

What caused the blast?

Initial reports blamed an outside attack or fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port. But Lebannese Prime Minister Hassan Diab blamed the explosion on 2,750 metric tons (about 6.06 million pounds) of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at a port warehouse for the past six years “without preventive measures.”

Ammonium nitrate is a crystal-like white solid which is made in large industrial quantities. The primary use for the material is as a source of nitrogen for fertiliser and to create explosions for mining. Because it is cheap to produce and can cause large blasts, ammonium nitrate has also been used by armies and terrorist groups around the world as an explosive.

Although relatively safe to handle, a large amount of material left unattended for long periods of time can begin to decay and become unstable. “The real problem is that over time it will absorb little bits of moisture and it eventually turns into an enormous rock,” says Andrea Sella, professor of chemistry at University College London. This makes it more dangerous, Sella told the BBC, because it means if there is a shock, it will spread much more easily. 

Why did the explosions produce a mushroom cloud if the blast wasn’t nuclear?

Mushroom clouds are mushroom-shaped clouds of debris, smoke, and usually condensed water vapor resulting. Although associated in the popular imagination with atomic and nuclear weapons, they can result from any explosion large enough to create a supersonic shockwave, which causes air to expand and cool rapidly, producing water in the form of a cloud. 

Experts note that the Beirut explosion lacked two hallmarks of a nuclear detonation: a “blinding white flash” and a thermal pulse, a surge of heat that burns human skin and produces fires within the blast radius.

Have there been similar explosions of ammonium nitrate in the past?

In 1947, a French ship docked in the port of Texas City, Texas, was carrying about 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate when it exploded. The result, known as the Texas City disaster, was the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history and one of the largest nonnuclear explosions. The blast created subsequent fires and explosions in other ships and nearby oil-storage facilities, resulting in the death of 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City Fire Department.

In 1995, domestic terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols used about 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer in a bomb used to destroy a federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City bombing resulted in the deaths of 168, and injured almost 700 others. 

More recently, twin explosions in the port of Tianjin, northern China, in 2015 killed more than 100 people, injured hundreds more, and wiped out large swaths of the surrounding city. Ammonium nitrate was one of the hazardous chemicals being stored at a warehouse where the blast occurred.

What is being done to help the people of Beirut?

Many evangelical ministries in Lebanon have been working to help the people of Beirut, reports Christianity Today. International Christian ministries are also mobilizing to provide help. For example, World Vision teams are in the area assessing the needs of the most vulnerable children, and a disaster response team from Samaritan’s Purse is preparing to deploy to determine how best to help the people of Lebanon. 

Numerous other international groups, such as the Red Cross, United Nations, and World Health Organization, have begun to help the local authorities respond to the tragedy. Foreign governments have also begun to provide assistance. Australia, France, and Russia have all extended offers of humanitarian medical assistance, as have Middle Eastern neighbors including Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE. President Trump has also said the United States “stands ready to assist” though no specifics were provided. 

As ABC News reports, Lebanon is currently in a position of severe financial difficulty, with the strain on the country’s healthcare system already exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Christians should be praying for the people of Lebanon and for churches in the area as they seek to minister to a hurting community.