Tag Archives: Christianity

The Gospel: More Beautiful Than You Think – Intro

I’ve always been taught that the word “gospel” means “good news.” If that’s true, if what we Christians proclaim to the world is such good news, why is it that Christianity has developed such a negative public perception in today’s culture?

I’m sure there are many answers to this question, but I suggest that one contributing factor is that we Christians have done a poor job of communicating this good news.

Maybe that’s because we don’t even quite grasp how good this good news really is. We’ve bought into some popular notions about God and heaven that sound kind of right, but have really only served to dull the beauty of who God is and what He has done.

A survey by U.S. News & World Report in 1997 asked Americans who they thought was most likely to go to heaven.

65% said Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson were “very likely” to go to heaven when they die.

79% believed Mother Teresa would “very likely” make it.

But there was one person who had a higher percentage than even Mother Teresa. Can you guess who? That’s right. It was the person taking the survey.

Over 80% of the people taking the survey felt it was “very likely” that they would go to heaven.

Yes, I know this survey is 20 years old, but do you really think it’s changed much?

There are some very basic assumptions shared by many people, even many who claim to be Christians. These assumptions have become embedded in our minds. They sound right.

I’d like you to watch a short video clip. In August of 2004 a couple of my friends took a video camera down to Fountain Square in Cincinnati at lunch time to see how people would answer three questions…

Now, you should know that Cincinnati has a strong Roman Catholic heritage, and is a fairly conservative city in comparison to most U.S. cities of its size. Also, it’s hard for me to believe, but this video is 13 years old! If we were to make this video today I imagine the results would probably be fairly similar, except I think we would encounter more open hostility to Christians and Christian beliefs, even in conservative Cincinnati.

I suggest that one contributing factor to the hostility our culture has to Christian faith is our own misunderstanding and miscommunication of these very basic points.

In the video, you heard a variety of answers but three general trends can be detected:

God is tolerant.

He is the white-bearded grandfather in heaven.  He understands that nobody is perfect so he accepts people because they try hard and do their best.  Sure there are some folks that he could not accept, like maybe Adolph Hitler but if you are sincere and do your best he will accept you.

The other two go hand in hand with the first – it’s a package deal.  If you believe the first the other two tend to follow close behind…

People are basically good.

This is why God can be tolerant of our shortcomings.  This is why God loves us – because of our goodness.  Our imperfections really aren’t all that important because our basic goodness can outweigh whatever badness there might be.

People can and must earn God’s favor.

Since God is tolerant, and we are basically good, it is possible for us to earn God’s favor. In fact, if we want to go to heaven that’s what we must do.

We want to believe these things. Maybe you do believe them.

But, if you think about it, Christianity doesn’t really make any sense if these things are true. I mean, why would Jesus have to come and sacrifice His life for us if God will accept us because of our “goodness”?  If God is tolerant, why go to such great lengths to cleanse us from our sins?

In fact, I believe these seemingly good and right beliefs have undermined the church’s witness and have contributed to much of our culture’s rejection and animosity toward Christians and Christianity.

They make the “good news,” …well, not so good.

In the next few weeks I want to challenge each of these assumptions. To look at each one and compare it with what we read in scripture. This isn’t about proving people wrong. It’s about showing them how truly, and amazingly beautiful Christianity really is!

Stay tuned…

Lloyd


Go here for part 2.

Monday Picks ~ 6-26-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Church of CrossFitJulie Beck
A woman makes an intense face while doing a deadlift during a CrossFit workout.CrossFit is his favorite example of a trend he has noticed: how, in the midst of the decline of religious affiliation in America, and the rise of isolation and loneliness, many ostensibly non-religious communities are “functioning in ways that look a little bit religious,” he explained…

As institutional affiliation decreases, people have the same age-old desires for connection, relationships, connection to something bigger than themselves.”

…meditation groups, adult summer camps, fandoms, and even fitness communities at specialized gyms like CrossFit or SoulCycle are stepping in to fill some of those needs.


Loving the People You Love to HateJared C. Wilson
Here’s how you know if you hate something someone has done or if you actually hate that person, according to [C.S.] Lewis:

The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible?


The Climbing TreeManuel Luz
At the risk of sounding heretical, I think many Christians make too big a deal out of finding out God’s will. They pray about what job to take, or what vacation to go on, or how to handle a particular situation. And praying about these things are good and very necessary, really. But I think that our God cares more about who we are becoming in the process of doing, than in the doing itself.


Open carry…
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Bizarro

Weekend Picks ~ 6-23-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Easy “Wisdom” of CynicismDerek Rishmawy
Image result for cynicism…default cynicism isn’t the same thing as biblical discernment. Discernment seeks out truth and falsehood. It sees as much as it sees through. Ironically enough, being too cynical can make you undiscerning, rendering false judgments, leaving you open being deceived, not positively, but negatively.

In other words, being “wise as a serpent”,  is a lot harder than thinking everybody’s a liar all the time.


The Unwritten Law That Helps Bad Cops Go Free
David French
http://c1.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/philando-castile-shooting-police-must-display-reasonable-fear-b.jpg?itok=Qap7QuSvOfficers aren’t omniscient, and they can only react to the facts as they perceive them. Absent corruption, incompetence, or malice, most officers are going to make reasonable choices in high-stress situations.

Some, however, will fail, and it’s imperative that juries understand that not all fear is reasonable, and some officers simply (and wrongly) panic. Perhaps some have unreasonable fear because of racial stereotypes. Perhaps some have unreasonable fears for other reasons. Perhaps some have a brutal habit of escalating force too quickly. But every officer must uphold the rule of reason, a rule that compels a degree of courage, a measure of discipline, and a tolerance for risk that is inherent in the job that they’ve chosen.

The vast majority of officers are up to that challenge. A few are not. They must be held accountable. Justice demands no less.


I absolutely love this piece from Amy Medina…

Surprise! We Need to Learn from Christians from Other CulturesAmy Medina
It’s easy for us, as foreigners, to come to Tanzania and point out what they are doing wrong.  Those deficiencies pop up to us broadly and clearly.  But I wonder, what if a Tanzanian Christian came to the States and was given a voice in the white American Church?  What deficiencies would be glaringly obvious to him? …

The truth is that every culture–including every Christian culture–has blind spots.  We have our hierarchy of sins and our hierarchy of godliness, and we know we are right and no one can say otherwise.

But that is dangerous.

I think sometimes western Christians assume they have the trump-card on what Christian culture should look like….but why?  What if an African (or Asian, or South American) Christian holds to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, uses solid principles of interpretation…and yet comes to different conclusions and applications?  Is it possible that they could be seeing things that we’ve missed because of our own culture’s influence?

This is why we were created to need each other.  And in a country as diverse as America, I wonder why it is so rare that white Christians grasp that truth.  Don’t we realize that we are missing out when we refuse to bring other cultures, other colors, other languages into our church conversations?  Don’t we realize that even in that refusal is a major blind spot that we will be held accountable for?


And now for something completely different…

The History of Pews Is Just as Terrible and Embarrassing as You’d ImagineLuke T. Harrington
https://christandpopculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/img_0110_small.jpeg…seating in churches didn’t really become a thing until parishioners got bored enough to wish they were sitting down—that is, about the time of the Protestant Reformation. In order to emphasize how not-Catholic we were, we began to jettison everything from our worship: confessions, creeds, communal prayer, a weekly Eucharist—basically everything except long, boring sermons. And when your “come to church” sales pitch is essentially “Listen to me yammer about Jesus for several hours!” the response is predictably going to be “Uh, can I at least sit down for that?”

And so, the pew was born…


Got your tickets yet?
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/upcoming-summer-concerts2.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 6-20-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Don’t Take for Granted the Fragile Blessing of Civility
Trevin Wax
LightstockA civilized society uses persuasion and argument to make a case and will not tolerate those who engage in violence toward opponents on the other side of the political aisle.

But what if we are at the precipice of losing this hallmark of civility?

Recent developments should trouble the heart of anyone who loves liberty…

I would be the last to compare our recent political violence with Nazi fascism or Communist tyranny.

But I mention these examples because they took place in advanced, civilized nations where such violence would have, at one time, been considered unthinkable. Citizens overlooked the small but growing number of signs that led to these disasters. For this reason, we must recognize the seriousness of this present moment.

…There is no room for partisanship on this question; it is every American’s patriotic duty to oppose any justification for violence against one’s political opponent.


Why Refusing to Resolve Conflict Hinders Prayer


In case you’ve heard something from someone who wasn’t in the room where in happened…

Southern Baptists and the Alt-Right: On Being in the Room Where it HappenedNathan Finn
Because I was there, I’ve been disappointed at some of the musings, pontifications, and even insinuations of those who weren’t there, including both secular media and armchair quarterbacks who were offering misinformed assessments. At no point and in no way was the resolutions committee being “soft” on the Alt-Right or other forms of white supremacy. At no point were Southern Baptists debating whether or not we ought to denounce these demonic impulses. At no point did Steve Gaines or anyone else force Southern Baptists to do something they didn’t want to do. At no point were Southern Baptists wringing their hands over how we would look in the media if we didn’t do something. At no point were we trying not to offend Trump voters—or any other voters, for that matter. None of that happened, and folks who suggest it did are either speaking out of ignorance or out of malicious intent, period.


Ripple Effect…
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Bizarro

Weekend Picks ~ 6-9-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

We’re Not in a Civil War, but We Are Drifting Toward DivorceDavid French
http://c5.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/americans-left-right-liberal-conservative-democrats-republicans-blue-red-states-cultural-segregate-flag.jpg?itok=5uhAnuJYIf we seek to preserve our union, we’re left with a choice — try to dominate or learn to tolerate? The effort to dominate is futile, and it will leave us with a permanently embittered population that grows increasingly punitive with each transition of presidential power. There is hope, however, in the quest to tolerate. Our Constitution is built to allow our citizens to govern themselves while protecting individual liberty and providing for the common defense. It’s built to withstand profound differences without asking citizens or states to surrender their strongest convictions. We can either rediscover this federalism, or we may ultimately take a third path — we may choose to separate.


It’s true. Without a high level of self-awareness and and discipline, talent can limit a leader’s success…

The Curse of Talent for Young Ministry LeadersEric Geiger
I have heard several pastors and counselors wonder aloud about the hidden dangers of peaking early in ministry, of becoming super influential at a young age.

It is not only a phenomenon in local church ministry, however. Jennifer and Gianpiero Petriglieri have conducted extensive research on people who have been labeled “talented” in their careers and fields and discovered that those who have been assigned the talented title often quit early or struggle deeply because of the expectations placed on them. The blessing of being called a high-performing individual can easily become a curse.

While it is impossible to sum up all that goes wrong in the heart of a ministry leader who has been called “exceptional” or “an amazing leader,” here are three dangers “talented” ministry leaders face, three dangers we all must guard our hearts against…


Tim and I seem to be thinking along some similar lines. I wrote a piece yesterday called Faith vs. Certainty. It’s not the same, but it seems related…

Faith: the difference between doubt and indecisionTim FallTo choose doubt as a philosophy of life
is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
(Yann Martel, Life of Pi.)

The Bible draws a distinction between doubt and indecision, and the quote above from Life of Pi helped me see why: Doubt can be useful as it brings us closer to God, but if instead we use doubt as a means of avoiding movement at all then it’s not really doubt but indecision…

God is not bothered by our doubts when they bring us to him…


Another look at the recent exchange between Senators Bernie Sanders and Chris Van Hollen, and Russell Vought concerning Vought’s Christian faith and how it “disqualifies” him from public service…

All Roads Lead to ExclusionAaron Earls
path decision choiceIs it intolerant and bigoted to say some religions are wrong?

As was recently demonstrated in a senate confirmation hearing, some people assume the answer to that question is yes…

…In essence, Sanders and Van Hollen are telling billions of religious individuals around the world they are wrong about faith and salvation and the senators are right.

And they are asserting that only those who hold their specific religious beliefs are worthy of holding public office. That’s quite an inflated view about your religious opinions, no?

You are telling 54% of the American population they are wrong about faith and salvation and because of that mistaken religious belief they are ineligible to serve in politics. Who’s intolerant now?

Whether all roads lead to God is a different discussion, but, even if Sanders and Van Hollen don’t want to admit it, all roads do lead to exclusion.

Vought is saying to Muslims, “I disagree with you religiously, but I’ll protect your rights.”

Sanders and Van Hollen are saying to Vought, “I disagree with you religiously, so therefore I don’t believe your rights are worth protecting.”

Which one of those is actually intolerant?


Reaching the Next GenerationAlvin Reid
Reaching the Next GenerationWhen it comes to the next generation, I’m sure of two things:

1) We aren’t too effective today at reaching (or keeping) the next generation.

2) The Gospel still works powerfully in any generation.

How do we share Christ effectively to a generation not impressed by the Church today? Here are five ideas…


The language of snacks…
Calvin & Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 6-6-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

Our First JobDarryl Dash
Reading BibleWe tend to focus on roles, skills, and techniques. They’re important, but they’re not our first job. Our first job is to cultivate a heart that’s seeking after God…

Every morning we begin the process of waking up again. We wipe the sleep from our eyes, splash water on our faces, and move from grogginess to engagement at our own particular speed. The same is true of our souls. Every morning we need to wake up our souls again to the grandeur and beauty of God, and make it our pursuit to follow him…

Our first job is the one we often forget: to cultivate a heart that’s seeking after God. Everything else flows from that.


Serial Killer Released After Explaining Murder Was Only 3% Of What He Did -Babylon Bee
“My client’s opponents are determined to label him a ruthless killer, as if that’s all he does. In actuality, homicide was really only 3% of his daily activities during the decade in question…”

“He even held a job during the entire time in question, providing valuable services to society, which his accusers completely overlooked,” the attorney added.


Six Attitudes That Kill Evangelism in the Church
Thom Rainer
…why are our churches less evangelistic today?

That question could be answered from a number of perspectives. But one of the key explanations is simply an attitude problem. There are several dangerous and debilitating attitudes in churches that are killing evangelism. Here are six of them…

I have seen churches make dramatic turnarounds when just one person decided to be radically obedient to the Great Commission.

The question should not be: “What about them?”

The question should be: “What about me?”


Why C. S. Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’ Received Bad ReviewsTrevin Wax
LewisBBCtalks-firstprintingLooking back at these reviews, there is a delicious irony in the fact that Lewis and Mere Christianity are still read today, while most of his critics who charged him of being “out of date” are forgotten. Those who believed they were at the vanguard of newest biblical scholarship and modernist trends in theology have now been surpassed by other movements and are largely ignored by most churches throughout the world.

Meanwhile, Lewis’s legacy lives on. Why? Because Lewis had learned to see through the “chronological snobbery” that overtakes so many scholars…

True to form, the chronological snobs sneered at Mere Christianity, just like their descendants sneer at traditional Christian beliefs today–everything from our belief in miracles to our reaffirmation of Christianity’s distinctive sexual ethic. But, as Dean Inge has said, those who marry the spirit of one age are always widowed in the next.

That’s why we, like Lewis, don’t have to “dig in.” We can simply stand, smiling, trusting in the power of truths that have stood the test of time, knowing the gospel will go forward in faith while the heresies will go out of fashion.


Do as I say, not as I did…
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Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Weekend Picks ~ 5-12-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Three great soundbites that make terrible theology
Matt Fuller
Punchy sound bites are great—they’re memorable and help us get some things clear in our head. Jesus often used punchy sentences without any nuance: “If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.” Yet most of us recognize that if we turned that sentence of great preaching into an absolute statement, then there would be a lot of Christians stumbling around without any eyes.

There are other very helpful sound bites that often get used in church. They are good preaching and make a helpful impression upon us. But, again, we don’t want to turn them into absolute statements or our faith will similarly stumble. Let me mention three common ones related to sin…


Ever wonder what your worship team sees?

My View from the Worship TeamRyan Higginbottom
worshipI’m on the worship team at church, so when it’s time to sing, I’m looking out at the congregation. I see it all—the joy, the struggles, and the boredom. I’m reminded how Jesus welcomes all of us, that his body is made up of all sorts of different people…


Set aside a little time for this one. It is worth every second…

A Necessary Pairing: The Theology of Marriage and of Compassion Wesley Hill
wes-hill-horizontal.jpgI tell you friends, when I read that – when I encountered that way of thinking about things … that my calling was to see how God might want to take … this thing in my life that feels so central and so confusing, that God might want to take that and use it as the thing that would lead me to give myself away in love to my community – that was a paradigm shift for me. It caused me to begin to ask the question: What could a future look like as an intentionally celibate Christian, who wasn’t just living in an apartment off by himself eating frozen pizzas on Friday night, but who was devoting himself to a community, devoting himself to friendship, forming thick bonds of kinship with fellow Christians?

That was a revolution in my thinking – that my calling might not be to spend the next 20 years of my life in therapy trying to find the childhood moment where things went wrong. But my calling was instead to find that certain social role that only I can play…

… this is the challenge for you, to cast a vision – and it doesn’t have to be one vision; I think there are 100 different models that this could take for your students – but to cast a vision [for your students]: “This is what a hopeful future looks like for you. If you’re same-sex attracted, and you’ve tried everything, and you haven’t experienced one iota of change in your same-sex attraction, and you’re wanting to give your life to God in celibacy, that does not have to equal loneliness. That does not have to equal isolation. … There’s a life for you. There’s a future for you that doesn’t simply look like alienation from your fellow believers in the church who seem to be so fixated on the nuclear family.”


Powerful…

How does the church move the world?Mindy Belz
How does the church move the world?Dawlat Abouna is a deacon in St. George’s Church [in Baghdad, Iraq]. He had a library in his home where he kept documents tracing his Christian ancestry in Iraq to A.D. 1117. … I asked: How is your family? With so much turmoil, are worship services continuing?

Dawlat answered: “Oh yes! We have started two new groups here at the church—one to pray for our persecuted brothers in the north, and one to pray for our enemies.”

At St. George’s over the years, Islamic militants aimed crippling bomb attacks. The church built blast walls, planted hedges over them, and continues to hold services and to serve the community. Hundreds of mostly Muslim women line up to collect food parcels every month as part of one program.

In the United States we live in a time of political upheaval, social fracturing, and racial strife. Calling out one’s enemies has become high art. Checking into social media requires dodging a barrage of insults and ire. How many of us pause to pray before we post? How many of us pray for those who make our lives hard, whether they live nearby or far away? …

Over and over in the book of Acts we see the early church praying boldly, suffering mightily, thanking its persecutors for scattering its people, and doing it all over again. It may look as if the church is being pushed around, but in reality it’s how the church moves the world.


I’ve often wondered about this guy…

Why Doesn’t Anyone Preach on the Proverbs 31 Husband for Mother’s Day?Tim Fall
http://homewaresinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/relaxing-on-recliner-300x199.jpg

…here’s what yesterday was like for me.

9:00 – Got out of bed. I woke up earlier but my wife told me to sleep in because she had everything covered. I have so much confidence in her I just had to roll over and go back to sleep…


Tick, tock…
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Bizarro

Tuesday Picks ~ 5-9-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Future of Christianity May Be Different Than You Think
Trevin Wax
LightstockIt’s easy to think that the best way for Christianity to grow is to emphasize the palatable parts for a culture and avoid the offensive. But surely the last century shows us that the very claims that were most embarrassing to a scientific age became the most attractive elements of Christianity…

Strategically, it would make sense to shift the Christian vision of sexuality and marriage, wouldn’t it? Why focus on these embarrassing aspects of our faith? Why not deny the historic Christian teaching (as many revisionist theologies do, to align with the ideology of the Sexual Revolution), or at least downplay these teachings (as many pragmatic ministries do, to keep people from turning away)? Wouldn’t that remove obstacles that hinder Christianity’s flourishing?

No.

If the lesson from the last century is any indication, ground zero for explosive gospel witness is the place where we are most likely to run afoul of the cultural authorities.


Gospel of the Galaxy: What the Guardians Say About Modern FaithAaron Earls
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2While it is a lesser (though still extraordinarily fun) film than the original, Vol. 2 is both funnier and more emotional. It also addresses significant and deep topics (with it’s trademark wit and sarcasm).

The Guardians are forced to deal with their pasts, including the mistakes they’ve made and the relationships that are still damaged. In the midst of this depth, there are threads that connect to how modern culture views faith and salvation…

So if the film draws from the biblical message, what does the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 want to say about the gospel? …


I found this fascinating…

The Long, Hard, Unprecedented Fall of Sears
Kim Bhasin & Lance Lambert
http://www.joesdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/shop-your-way-sears.jpgIn 1989, Sears Roebuck & Co. ruled America as its biggest retailer. It loomed over rivals from a perch high above Chicago, inside what was once the world’s tallest building—one bearing the company’s name.

The fall from that height may finally be nearing an end.

Over the course of almost three decades, the company experienced what industry observers described as one of the most monumental collapses in business history…

“The Sears catalog had an even bigger impact in 1900 than Amazon has had today,” said Robert Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University and author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Like today’s e-commerce powerhouse, the Sears catalog provided shoppers more choice than ever before, and at lower prices…

Searching for parallels of Sears’s fall through business history, Gordon could find none.


I just learned about fidget spinners a couple days ago from my grandson, so this time line of how it came to be caught my eye…

How Fidget Spinners Became a Hula Hoop for Generation Z
Alex Williams
One “horrible” summer in 1993 Unable to play with her daughter Sara, then 7, because of her myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder that causes muscle weakness, a Florida inventor named Catherine Hettinger invents a prototype of a fidget spinner as way to bond with her daughter…

March 31 [2017] Lest you be confused, the fidget spinner is not just a child’s toy for grown-ups. Children love them too, according to The Boston Globe, as fidget spinners have apparently supplanted recent fads like bottle-flipping and homemade slime as a teacher nuisance. “When we got back from Christmas break, a couple of kids had them, then a couple more kids had them, and then they were definitely en vogue,” one New Hampshire schoolteacher said…

May 5 [2017] Ms. Hettinger still has not seen a dime from any of this…


Sign of the Times…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.

Monday Picks ~ 4-17-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Stop Using Your Personality Test as a CrutchMichael Kelley
Are you an otter or a golden retriever? Are you a “D” or an “I”? Are you an “ENTJ” or “INFP”? Are you a green or a red? …

These can be very valuable tools…

Unfortunately, though, personality tests can go very wrong in one simple way:

Your personality test is not a license to be a jerk.

We might tend to think it does. After all, we might reason, God has made me this way. Yes, I know my personality is a bit abrasive, but that’s because I’m this color or that animal or this combination of letters.

And yet if you’re a Christian, knowing your personality is not your end game….

This is because holiness is our goal. Self-knowledge is not.


5 Bad Excuses for Not Giving to Your ChurchArt Rainer
Consistently giving to your church is a big step in your financial health.

It is also the first step…

Often the excuses for not giving are based on a misunderstanding of Scripture or a misunderstanding of their church…

If you are not giving to your local church, take some time and consider how God talks about generosity in the Bible. Talk to your pastor about it. And get involved.

Don’t miss out on financially participating in your local church. Financial health doesn’t end with generosity, it starts with generosity.


The Cross vs NostalgiaSamuel James
To make the Passion an object of our nostalgia—to see in it only the value of our grandfather’s generation, the benefit of a “Christian nation”—is to spit upon the cross itself. It is said that in the United States are millions of “Easter and Christmas” churchgoers, those who make time in their secular existence for two hours of hymnody a year. Oh, if only these Americans could see in their holidays the blood and the gore and the evil! If only they could see the gospel in its visceral reality, and not in its Thomas Kinkadian counterfeit.

If they could–if we could–we would not look at Good Friday with nostalgia. But we would look at it, and, if God is merciful, we might never look away.


An ethical question from the near future…

Will Editing Your Baby’s Genes Be Mandatory?
Conor Friedersdorf
Designing a baby, or editing the genes of an unborn child, strikes many as risky, unseemly, unnatural, unethical, or likely to lead to a dystopian future of one sort or another. Still, I predict that within my lifetime, the United States will arrest, try, and convict some parents for refusing to edit the genes of their child before he or she is born…

…it seems likely that gene editors will gain the ability to safely prevent some awful diseases, and that the holdouts who fear or morally object to their methods will dwindle more and more with every passing year.

Once they’re no more numerous or influential than, say, today’s Christian Scientists, the relevant politics will be quite changed. Holdouts who fear that gene editing is putting humanity on a slippery slope to disaster or who have religious objections…will conceive a child. If he or she is healthy all will be fine. But some holdouts will give birth to a child with a painful or fatal condition that could have been prevented.

People will get angry at those parents and seek to punish them.

Or at least that is the course I foresee.


TV Aerobics…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDQvWml0cy4yMDE3MDQxNF85MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 4-13-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Frances FitzGerald on how evangelicals lost their way
David Gushee
When religious folk get entangled with secular politicians in the political arena, the politicians always win. They have home field advantage. The earnest religious types get played. And the people in the pews start heading for the exits.

Faithful Christian discipleship does involve bearing witness to Christian convictions in public. But drawing the line between this dimension of Christian proclamation, on the one hand, and getting used by politicians, on the other, has proved very difficult for evangelical Christians since at least Billy Graham. It’s a sordid story, and it has shaped American religion and public life for more than a generation.


Pastor, Don’t Waste Your Exclamation Points
Jared C. Wilson
exclamation
Pastor, our people don’t usually get excited about what we tell them to be excited about. Have you figured that out yet? Instead, they get excited about what they see actually excites us.

This means we ought to steward our exclamation points wisely. If you’re one of those rah-rah guys firing on all emotional cylinders for everything from bake sales and the book table to baptisms and baby dedications, you create an equality between minutiae and missional milestones that can be disorienting, and ultimately dulling. But more directly, just remember that if everything is exciting, nothing is.


If you haven’t seen The Planet Earth it is simply amazing. It’s way beyond any documentary I’ve ever seen. It’s true that God is not present in the film, but it still leads me to worship…

Planet Earth II: Missing the Maker in the Majesty
John Stonestreet
There’s almost religious reverence and wonder spilling from every scene, as if the producers themselves know that a greater purpose lies behind the beauty of the things they see—as if they know that all of this living magnificence is more than the result of time, chance, and natural selection, but have no One else to credit…

As a feast for the senses, I can’t recommend “Planet Earth II” highly enough. But as an articulation of a worldview, it’s strikingly dissonant. In the face of so much majesty and order that cries out in testament to a Designer, modern man offers only empty personification, as if creation created itself.


 

Who Would Jesus Abort? Confessions of a “Christian” Abortion DoctorRussell Moore
BABY
Willie Parker is an abortion doctor. He says he’s not ashamed of that. Willie Parker also says he is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ. That one’s more complicated…

Parker is a kind of circuit-riding abortionist, spending time at various abortion clinics all over the South. The book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice is one part an autobiography, and one-part a political manifesto for the legality—and even the goodness—of abortion. Even as one who has to wade through all sorts of material assaulting human dignity, I found that I would gasp at the lackadaisical nature of Parker’s reflections…

To dehumanize the unborn child, to reduce the child’s mother to her ability to make “choices” about the life and death of others, is to dehumanize Jesus. In Christ, after all, God has “anthropomorphized” himself. And we are introduced to Jesus in the biblical story, just as John the Baptist was, as an unborn child (Luke 1:44). To keep doing his job, Parker must depersonalize the women and children he encounters. He must depersonalize God into an unblinking, non-judging cosmic abstraction.


Preparing to Preach on EasterDarryl Dash
170413
Preachers face temptations in preaching. I find that these temptations escalate around Easter. We face the temptation to impress, to rely on gimmicks, and to overcomplicate the message. It’s easy to focus on all the wrong things.

We should desire to communicate as effectively as possible. It’s not wrong to try to be clear and to improve our communication skills. It is wrong, though, to rely on our skills as the source of power, or to switch the focus to us from Christ…

Get out of the way this Easter. Don’t give into the temptation to impress. Keep the focus on Jesus.


The Boston Typewriter Orchestra…


The oppression of Earl…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.