Tag Archives: Church

Tuesday Picks ~ 7-18-2017

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

This is how it’s supposed to work…

He’s My F*cking Pastor!Gary Liederbach
http://static1.squarespace.com/static/557884bae4b06e95d28f8cfe/576ab449440243082a91e68e/59691795d7bdceddc9d28631/1500266044939/preacher.jpg?format=1000wMy morning office is the Waffle House… Chuck is a man who comes frequently to the WH.  He is a “rough” and crude man in his late 50’s.  He cusses allot and gives the waitresses and customers a hard time and is sharp with them when he is “in that mood.”  Chuck walked back into the WH, saw me sitting in “his chair,”  walked up to me and said coldly “Hey mother F*%ker you are in my seat!”  I turned to him and before I could say a word the two waitresses who were standing there almost jumped over the bar and verbally attacked Chuck.  One said, “Now you listen here you mother F&%ker this man here is a f*#king man of God and if you ever talk to him like that again I will kick your f*cking @ss!!“ The other waitress jumped in, “ Ya you d#ck, he is my f*cking pastor! What the f@ck is wrong with you.!”  Show some f@cking repect!  The waitresses high fived each other and one said to the other. “Sword of the spirit b#tch!”  And Chuck turned and walked out.

I sat there and processed what had just happened!  First, the waitresses have never come to an ODC gathering, though I have invited them many times.  And I never told the waitresses I was their pastor.  But because of my coming into the WH four or five mornings a week and talking, listening, and praying with them it appears that is how they saw me…


Why Attending Church No Longer Makes Sense
Carey Nieuwhof
attend churchIncreasingly, I’m convinced there’s no point to merely attending. You drive all the way in to connect with three or four songs, hear the message and then head home. All of that you could almost do by yourself in a much more convenient way. Slip on Spotify and grab the message via podcast or on demand and boom, you’re covered…

We now live in a culture that’s drowning in options and has 24/7 access to anything Christian.

In fact, I can think of only two compelling reasons to go to church anymore…


SandwichesAlan Jacobs
Image resultYou learn a lot about people by noting what trivial things they obsess over, and today’s David Brooks column is a perfect example. Let me be really clear about this: people are freaking out about The Sandwich Bar Anecdote for one major reason, which is that they know the rest of the column is dead-on accurate and they’d prefer not to think about what it tells us about our social order…

Brooks writes, “Status rules are partly about collusion, about attracting educated people to your circle, tightening the bonds between you and erecting shields against everybody else.” This is true, and true in very important ways; and the intuition that such rules are always in play can make people uneasy or angry when they think such rules are being enforced against them. If you can’t acknowledge this you’re just being willfully blind.


First day of work at the zoo…
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Zits – Click image for a larger view.

The Way

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“It’s possible to claim the name Christian without being Christian at all – that is, without following Christ.
Jesus is far more than a theological icon to believe in;
he is a person to follow.
He is not just the truth; he is the way.
But those who follow Jesus are constantly in danger of getting lost,
for we live in a culture that stands in huge contrast to Jesus…
Jesus shows us how to live this gospel-based life,
but he doesn’t give us a how-to manual.
Rather, the local congregation,
the company of praying men and women,
is the primary place where we discover the way of Jesus.”

Eugene Peterson
The Jesus Way Study Guide

Tuesday Picks ~ 7-11-2017

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

Nothing new here, but sometimes a fresh reminder is needed…

Why Is It Important to Be Part of a Local Church?
Dan Reiland
Church has changed a lot since I was 18, but the essence is the same. The methods are radically different, but the message is the same. The current culture is dramatically different, but the human condition remains the same.

We need Christ, and we need each other, that truth won’t change. The Church is the greatest force on earth to that end.


Ten Thousand Reasons For a Thousand Tongues Forever and EverJamie Brown
The best kind of worship leading – all across the musical, denominational, and liturgical spectrum – is the kind of worship leading that saturates the congregation at every service with fresh reminders of the reasons why God deserves praise.


Five “Fake News” Stories That People Believe about Early ChristianityMichael J . Kruger
There is quite a bit of “fake news” out there regarding the person of Jesus, the origins of the church, or the development of the Bible . Even though such “news” as no factual basis, it is believed by an uncomfortably large number of people.

So, here is a sampling of some of the leading stories…


Important for any leader, and really any human relationship…

One of My Biggest Ministry MistakesDarryl Dash
ConflictNobody likes conflict, and if you do you have other issues we need to discuss. But when we avoid conflict, we hurt relationships and damage the church.

Don’t like conflict? The best way to get more conflict is to try to avoid it.

Pastors don’t have the option of avoiding conflict. Run into the issues you most want to avoid. Don’t make the mistake that I did. Call a meeting, close the doors, and refuse to leave until you make progress.


Hemingway Spoilers…
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Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 7-6-2017

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

The ‘Church’ of Facebook?Alex Duke
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/church_facebook_1200_700_c1_.jpgI’m deeply thankful for Zuckerberg’s desire to leave the world better than he found it. I’m even more thankful he sees the need for humans to connect to communities and even institutions in order to do so. His intuition about our need for relationships is exactly right…

But with all its grandiose plans to change the world, this kind community sets a remarkably low bar for us as humans in relationship; it’s strictly opt-in, strictly self-directed, strictly un-real, and available only for a few…

Real churches on the other hand—they’re hard…

And though it sounds quaint, these real churches are also actually here. They exist in space and time, and they’re filled not just with second-hand stories but with open-armed bodies that we’ve collapsed into after yet another miscarriage, yet another “no” after a job interview, yet another unexpected death. What’s more, these churches are open to all—no e-mail address or internet connection required—and they make known their beliefs to the world through sounds more magnetic than the dull whir of a modem or the clickety clack of a keyboard. These real churches simply sing and preach and pray—and in it all we find something far grander than even man’s most optimistic hope to change the world. We find the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10).

Can you believe such a thing is within our reach?


Why Trump’s Vengeful Tweeting MattersDavid French
http://c4.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/donald-trump-mika-brzezinski-vengeful-tweets-degrade-american-political-culture.jpg?itok=z-88D5QXWords still matter, and the president’s words are often reprehensible. Even those who say, “Talk to me about what he does, not what he tweets” know this to be true. How can I tell? Because these same people incessantly point to liberal words and are unceasingly outraged by liberal tweets. Indeed, they often act as if a random news anchor’s comments are somehow more consequential than the president’s. I know. I see the clickbait everywhere.

A conservative can fight for tax reform, celebrate military victories over ISIS in Mosul, and applaud Trump’s judicial appointments while also condemning Trump’s vile tweets and criticizing his impulsiveness and lack of discipline. A good conservative can even step back and take a longer view, resolving to fight for the cultural values that tribalism degrades. Presidents matter not just because of their policies but also because of their impact on the character of the people they govern. Conservatives knew that once. Do they still?


On CoastingDarryl Dash
CoastingI’ve seen plenty of average preachers who’ve applied themselves and become competent preachers. And I’ve seen some gifted preachers apply themselves and become excellent. The ones I worry about the most are the gifted preachers and pastors who’ve decided to coast.


Simultaneously funny and sad…

NPR Tweeted the Declaration of Independence on July 4 and Some People Flipped Out
Every year, NPR reads (and lately, tweets) the Declaration of Independence to celebrate the Fourth of July. It’s a time-honored tradition but, this year, for some reason, a truly depressing number of people took it the wrong way. The Declaration was, of course, a call to arms—a rallying cry to overthrow tyranny and establish a new government in its place.

Given that modern American culture is wildly politicized and all too often poorly informed, it’s perhaps not surprising that a lot of people interpreted the tweets as a publicly funded media outlet encouraging citizens to rebel against President Donald Trump.


Historic Status Updates…
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Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Wednesday Picks ~ 7-5-2017

It’s the day after Independence Day, (aka the 5th of July). I suppose this is the reason I came across several well-written and challenging articles on the subject of Christianity and patriotism…

Let’s begin with this prayer by Scotty Smith…

No Matter the Political Temperature, Living as Servants, not CynicsScotty Smith
http://trinitynews.ie/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/praying-hands.jpgHelp us, as well, to live and love to your glory–no matter our passport, the political atmosphere, or how pleased or disgusted we are with the government. Instead of being cynics, may we be servants and intercessors; instead of withdrawing out of disgust, may we be engaged with hope and kindness; instead of seeking judgment on our government, may we seek its peace and prosperity; instead of throwing political grenades, may we seek love mercy and work for justice in our communities.


Can Patriotism Become Idolatry?Zack Hunt
https://storage.googleapis.com/relevant-magazine/2017/07/patriot.jpgI’m not sure there is a clearly defined moment when patriotism becomes idolatry because it happens in such subtle ways, but you definitely know it’s occurred when you stand in the front of your sanctuary and contemplate where to move the stars and stripes so as not to offend anyone during worship.

Unfortunately, that struggle is not unique. I can’t count how many pastors have told me they leave the American flag in their sanctuaries simply because they’re afraid of the vitriol that would be unleashed by some of their parishioners if the flag moved. I’m left dumbfounded every time I hear that story from yet another pastor somewhere in America.

How far have we fallen as a Church, how lost are we in patriotic idolatry that we’re worried about offending people if we remove a symbol from our sacred space that demands our allegiance to something other than the God we’ve come there to worship?

God bless America?

How about God save the Church?


I Love You, America, But Not Like ThatBrian Zahnd
Flickr_-_USCapitol_-_Apotheosis_of_Washington,_War (1)Yes, America, I love you…but not like that. Not in the way of supreme allegiance and unquestioned devotion. You see, my heart belongs to another. I’m a Christian and I confess that Jesus is Lord. The Savior of the world is the crucified and risen Son of God, not “We the People.” The gospel is the story of Jesus, not the American story. I know your 16th President claimed that America was “the last best hope of earth,” but it’s simply not true. The last best hope of earth is Jesus, not you…

…America, I’m one of your citizens. And I love you like a sister. I’ll seek the common good. I’ll gladly pay my share to help provide for education, infrastructure, healthcare, emergency services, and everything else it takes to live in a civilized society. (I’d like for you to spend a lot less on bombs and killing machines, but I understand that’s not up to me.) Yes, America, I love you like a sister. But not like I love my Lord. Not like I love God. I cannot love you like that. I cannot pledge unconditional allegiance to you. But I can promise to be a good citizen by attempting to love my neighbor as myself.


Thank God for the Idea of AmericaKevin DeYoung
It has often been said that America was founded upon an idea. The country was not formed mainly for power or privilege but in adherence to a set of principles. Granted, these ideals have been, at various times in our history, less than ideally maintained. But the ideals remain. The idea persists.

If one sentence captures the quintessential idea of America, surely it the famous assertion contained in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Almost every word of this remarkable sentence, 236 years old today, is pregnant with meaning and strikingly relevant…

There’s a reason the Founding Fathers did not wax eloquent about safety and security. It’s because they believed freedom and liberty to be better ideals, loftier goals, and more conducive to the common good.

Caps lock…
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Bizarro

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.

Thursday Picks ~ 6-22-2017

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

I Am the Center of the UniverseJared C. Wilson
greg-rakozy-76863I can only come to one of two conclusions about my frustration over this inevitable fact of life: either I am the center of the universe and you all don’t know, or — I am not the center of the universe and I am upset that you all know.

I wake up this way. I bet you do too. We wake up in self-sovereignty mode. Then we get frustrated because we keep running into people who think they’re the center of the universe. It’s frustrating.


This is an absorbing and inspirational story…

How One Deep South Church Left Segregation Behind
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/how-one-deep-south-church-left-segregation-behind-6.jpgElbert McGowan grew up five minutes from Trinity Presbyterian Church on the north side of Jackson, Mississippi. He passed by it daily. Never once did it cross his mind that one day he’d end up the pastor in that building. In fact, he never even considered entering the door.

That’s because the church was exclusively white, and McGowan is black…

One move, one church plant, and two pastors later, McGowan doesn’t just drive past anymore. He pulls open the church doors every day. He has an office and a desk with photos of his family. He runs the meetings; his kids run down the hallways.

And every week, he preaches to a congregation that’s one-third African American…

“What the Lord is doing in and through [this church] is nothing short of astonishing,” Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) chancellor Ligon Duncan wrote. “Only God could accomplish what has been done here.”


A Vision for AgingDarryl Dash
Flourishing old tree“The world’s ambition is to ‘stay young’; the Bible’s, to grow old fruitfully.”

When I was a student pastor, I met an aged pastor’s wife. Her late husband had been a legend in our circles. She was in her later years, and I was in my early twenties. After visiting her, I’d comment to Charlene that I thought she had a younger soul than I did.

Youth is more beauteous to the eye, says Charles Simeon, but age is more pleasant to the taste. That pleasantness is something to experience.


Coffee Evolution…
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Wrong Hands

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 ~ 6-16-2017

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

This is big, isn’t it? …

A Resolution Condemning White Supremacy Causes Chaos at the Southern Baptist ConventionEmma Green
It affirmed that “there has arisen in the United States a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic cleansing.” It identified this “toxic menace” as white nationalism and the alt-right, and urged the denomination to oppose its “totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples.” It claimed that the origin of white supremacy in Christian communities is a once-popular theory known as the “curse of Ham,” which taught that “God through Noah ordained descendants of Africa to be subservient to Anglos” and was used as justification for slavery and segregation. The resolution called on the denomination to denounce nationalism and “reject the retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries of the so-called ‘alt-right’ that seek to subvert our government, destabilize society, and infect our political system.”


Twenty Relics of Church PastThom Rainer
The question I asked was basic: “What did you have or do in your church ten years ago that you don’t have or do today?”

The top twenty responses were, for me at least, a fascinating mix of the expected and the surprises. They are ranked in order of frequency…


This is excellent. It’s also harder and more important than it sounds…

Your Child Is Your NeighborJen Wilkin
If you asked me the single-most important insight that has shaped my parenting, it would be this: Children are people...

Recognizing my children as my neighbors has impacted the way I discipline them, the way I speak to them, the way I speak about them to others. It has required me to acknowledge how quick I am to treat those closest to me in ways I would never treat a friend or a co-worker. It has helped make my children objects of my compassion instead of my contempt. I am better able to celebrate their successes without taking credit for them, and to grieve their failures without seeing them as glaring evidence that I’m a terrible parent. Recognizing my children as my neighbors has freed me up to enjoy them as people rather than to resent them as laundry-generating, food-ingesting, mess-making, fit-throwing financial obligations.

Except for the days that it hasn’t. And on those days, I must be reminded again what Scripture teaches about loving my neighbor, confess that I haven’t loved my child that way, and begin again. And Scripture provides ample help. Here are just a few “unlikely” parenting verses that point me back to neighborliness on the days that don’t go as they should…


Carey uses a lot of this article examining our current culture and you will likely find yourself bemoaning its deterioration. Don’t stop there…

7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel in a Post-Truth, Post-Fact CultureCarey Nieuwhof
post-truthThe Gospel is perhaps the very best antidote we have to the current cultural turbulence…

The Gospel:

is anchored in the idea that truth (and even love) is objective and available to all.

calls us to die to ourselves so that others may live.

values all people.

calls us to confess, to repent, and to put something bigger than ourselves above ourselves.

If the church starts to mimic culture in this seismic shift we’re seeing, we will tear ourselves away from the very thing that will save us.


Assisted Miming for the Blind…
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Bizarro