Tag Archives: Church

My Picks for Wednesday 1-20-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

A Kenyan Muslim man who refused to give up Christians
to Islamist militants has died from his wounds

Omar Mohammed
“The militants tried to use what has become a signature tactic of their Somali-based group: separating Muslims from Christians and killing the latter. This time, Muslim passengers refused to cooperate.

‘We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone,’ Salah Farah, a Kenyan teacher who was on the bus, told the Daily Nation after the attack. ‘As we argued, they shot me and the boy.’”


What Have I to Fear?Dan Darling and Micah Fries
What Have I to Fear“Naiveté is no virtue, so we are not in favor of Pollyannaish disengagement. But Christians must be willing to ask themselves some hard questions. Is irrational fear driving our cultural and political engagement more than it should? By angry public statements in support of the candidates they prefer, are Christians demonstrating a gospel-shaped view of the world and of the future? When Christian theology is communicated in the language of fear it distorts the very words of the Bible. Love for our neighbors must overcome the temptation to abandon a Christian ethic in pursuit of political victory.”


The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem
Albert Mohler
“We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches.

This generation must get deadly serious about the problem of biblical illiteracy…”


Is Amazon’s First Brick-and-Mortar Bookstore the Future of Retail?
Pini Yakuel
Is Amazon's First Brick-and-Mortar Bookstore the Future of Retail?“Amazon Books is now open for business in Seattle. The floor is hardwood and the shelves and displays are weighed down by beautiful, physical books. It looks and smells like any ordinary bookstore.

But make no mistake. It’s anything but. Amazon’s new store is the digital economy’s coming full circle — flipping the model to tie together online and offline in a whole new way. It’s establishing land-based business on ecommerce prowess, and modeling the methodology of the next generation of retail.”


Life was hard back then…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/before-instagram.jpg
Source: Wrong Hands

What I Learned By Growing Up In a Small Church

Church-700x465I’ve served on the staff of three churches in my career as a minister. Each one is what I would consider a large church: multiple staff, multiple services, etc.

But my formative years were spent in a much different environment. I grew up in a small church. I think our attendance peaked at about 200. Maybe 250 on Easter.

We only ever had one minister.

Well…one at a time.

What I mean is, my family was part of this church from the time I was in 1st grade until I graduated high school and I can remember at least five ministers. Do the math. That’s a new minister about every other year!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this church was either very hard on ministers or we were just very bad at choosing someone who would stick around.

Dorothy and June were the pianist and organist respectively, and they could never seem to agree on a tempo. I considered their music a success if they ended at the same time. Don’t misunderstand me, I loved these women immensely. I believe the time I spent at Dorothy’s home around her piano with my best friends had as much to do with my spiritual formation as any single thing I can think of.

I learned a lot at this small church.

Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the things I learned…

Books of the Bible in order. (Along with their divisions.)

That sounds from the back row are always heard by your dad, regardless of where he sits.

That you’re not invisible to the preacher, regardless of where you sit.

How to sing.

All the words to:

Spring Up, O Well
Walkin’ on the Heaven Road
(Guys: “Praise God, glory, Hallelujah!”)
Climb, Climb Up Sunshine Mountain
(I never understood that song)

We Are One In the Spirit
I’m Really Livin’
(along with all the motions)

That it’s impossible to laugh at inappropriate times without being noticed. (This one took a while.)

How to have real relationships with people of other generations.

That preachers are people, too.

That every adult was allowed to discipline me.

The joy of pot luck dinners. (Also: whose casseroles to eat and whose to avoid.)

The finer points of excelling at “Sword Drill.”

I’m sure there’s more.

I wouldn’t trade my years at this small church for anything. Apart from my family, I credit the people there with giving me a spiritual foundation that has endured.

Lloyd

Was this your experience? What can you add? If you grew up in a small church, use the comment section to share what you learned there.

 

 

My Picks for Wednesday 1-13-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

This is Jamie Brown’s response to a very interesting study I shared here. I encourage everyone involved in leading people in worship to think think deeply about these things…

Feed My Sheep:
My Response to the “Waning of the ‘Worship Wars’”

Jamie Brown
1“This is the question that every single pastor and worship leader needs to ask themselves. Moving forward, if the results of the National Congregations Study are right and worship in the 21st century will be marked by informality, contemporary music style, and movement away from the expressions of the past (all of which happens every century, by the way), we have to decide if the congregation’s engagement in worship is integral or incidental.”


The Not-So-Quiet Quiet TimeColin Smith
quiet time
“In the past, what Evangelicals meant when they talked about having a quiet time was a regular time of Bible reading and prayer. Christians, rightly, through the centuries, believed that God speaks to us through the Bible and that we speak to him through prayer.

But as large parts of the church have drifted away from the Scriptures, many people have latched onto the idea that we can listen to God simply by being quiet.

It has become common among Christians to think that listening to God means being quiet and listening to our own hearts. But here’s the problem with that:

God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8).”


God’s Cleaning His House…the ChurchD. A. Horton
God’s Cleaning His House…the Church“God is cleaning house in the American Church. Through current events dealing with ethnicity, race, and systemic oppression, He is exposing our dirty laundry (the systemic segregation in our churches, interpersonal networks, and theological formation) because He loves us.

Specifically, in Evangelicalism, polarized interpretations of publicized crisis moments are being put on display for the world to see. They’re watching our dismissive, hateful, and pithy interactions online and attributing our sinfulness as outcomes of the gospel we claim to share a common view on.

Although things are bleak and challenging, we, as a movement, are not without hope…

It is for this reason I want to challenge us to employ three practices that will put us on track to steward the timeless message of the gospel during the muddled times we inhabit.”


I wrote a plea along these lines to my fellow Christ-followers about this several weeks ago…

The “Other Side” Is Not DumbSean Blanda
Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not.

It’s impossible to consider yourself a curious person and participate in social media in this way. We cannot consider ourselves “empathetic” only to turn around and belittle those that don’t agree with us.

On Twitter and Facebook this means we prioritize by sharing stuff that will garner approval of our peers over stuff that’s actually, you know, true. We share stuff that ignores wider realities, selectively shares information, or is just an outright falsehood. The misinformation is so rampant that the Washington Post stopped publishing its internet fact-checking column because people didn’t seem to care if stuff was true…

Institutional distrust is so high right now, and cognitive bias so strong always, that the people who fall for hoax news stories are frequently only interested in consuming information that conforms with their views — even when it’s demonstrably fake.”


The shocking truth behind most selfies…
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Bizarro-01-10-16-WEB.jpg
Source: Bizarro – Click image for a larger version.

 

 

Teamwork & Selfish Indulgence


Now that my emotions about the Bengals most recent play-off game disaster have more or less faded, I’ve had time to reflect about the game a bit. Just so you know where we’re headed here (or, more accurately, not headed), I’m not writing this to blast the officials’ lack of consistency or to compare and contrast the unsportsmanlike play of both teams. I think all that stuff was on full display Saturday evening.

Instead, what I’m thinking about this morning is more along the lines of an observation about teamwork. One of the lessons that jumped out at me was the surprising and powerful impact one player’s selfish indulgence has on the end result of the whole team’s effort.

Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones are arguably two of the most gifted defensive players in professional football. They play with skill and passion. Every team needs that. But when a player takes his focus off the team and begins to indulge himself and his own desires, the whole team suffers. A hugely important game is lost. Indeed, the whole community pays the price to one degree or another.

It’s easy to revile a professional athlete for blowing his cool and costing his (our) team the game. We have high expectations of these guys. And I suppose we have a right to these expectations considering the money we pay them.

But, here’s the question I’ve been pondering: Do we have the right to same high expectations of ourselves considering the grace that we’ve been given?

So here are a few questions to consider:

What happens when a preacher is more concerned with being loved than with leading?

What happens when a guest services volunteer is more concerned with being appreciated than with creating a welcoming atmosphere for the first time guest?

What happens when a worship leader is more concerned with being seen as cool and seeking his own platform than with growing a church that worships?

What happens when a children’s ministry leader is more concerned with building a respected and imitated program than with the families under his/her care?

What happens when an elder is more concerned with his standing among a specific constituency than with the spiritual flourishing of the whole church?

What happens when a church musician is more concerned with demonstrating his/her skill than with serving?

What happens when a church member is more concerned with his/her own comfort and preferences than with meeting the needs of others in the church and in the community?

We know what happens.

The whole team suffers. An eternally important game is lost. Indeed, the whole community pays the price to one degree or another.

Lloyd

My Picks for Tuesday 1-12-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Having been a staff member at three different churches over 35 years I can name people on either end of this spectrum…

Two Opposite Errors Committed by Church Staff
Eric Geiger
Little_country_church_Cedar_Valley_near_Winona,_MN
“I have seen two polar opposite errors from those who lead a ministry in a local church.

1. Being overly focused on your area

Some staff make decisions for their ministry area without much or any regard for the whole. They identify with what they are leading, but not with the church as a whole. They want to mooch from the resources, the people, and the support of the church without contributing to the whole. The staff members care only about their team, and not the overall team to which they belong. They may be perceived as highly effective but are equally as divisive.

2. Being overly focused on the whole

There are some staff that want to speak into every church-wide decision, that are constantly evaluating the whole, and that are obsessed with every interaction and every word senior leaders mutter. Instead of executing their areas of responsibility well, these staff members act as internal consultants for everyone else.”


I also know people on both ends of this spectrum. Both are prideful and both can damage community…

2 Kinds of Pride that Crush Biblical Community
Michael Kelley
download
“Whether we refuse to carry another’s burdens or whether we refuse to have ours born, the root is the same: I’m too good for this.”


This is great! Please don’t miss this excellent column. Why is it always so “shocking” when Christian institutions of higher learning are discovered being Christian?

Let Wheaton and other Christian colleges be Christian
Timothy Larsen
Capture“The media does not go into coverage overdrive every time a monk is disciplined for allegedly breaking his vows. Is it not time that journalists just accepted the fact that Wheaton College is an evangelical Protestant covenant community of higher education and stopped being “shocked, shocked” every time a case arises regarding what the standards of faithfulness are or ought to be in this community?”


Reader’s digest…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/abridged-classics.jpg
Source: Wrong Hands

My Picks for Thursday 1-7-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Do you believe in common grace?Ray Ortlundjpg17897_“Now and then a commenter asks why I post music videos that are not devoted to God.  Most inquiries are courteous.  A few are not.  In any case, here is my answer.

I  believe in common grace.  John Calvin taught me that it is God who lavishes giftedness on his human race.  We may therefore enjoy it wherever we encounter it, with gratitude to God

…One thing I love about the gospel is its promise of the new heaven and new earth.  In eternity, God will not delete all the culture-creating we’ve done throughout human history; he will redeem it.”


A lot of statistical information to consider here…

The Waning of the ‘Worship Wars’Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
The Waning of the 'Worship Wars'“More evidence that the worship wars are fading: holding multiple services in order to accommodate different worship styles is less common, according to NCS…When congregations do have more than one service, they’re less likely to separate them by traditional and contemporary worship styles.”


Finding Forgiveness After My AbortionGarrett Kell
One of the events the Lord used to awaken me was the abortion. Through his Word, he showed me I wasn’t the good person I thought I was. Rather, I was a person so in love with myself that I agreed to end my own child’s life in order to keep my life going in the direction I wanted.

But this is where the gospel shines light into the darkness with rays of life-giving hope. Isaiah 53:4 says of Jesus: “He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” God’s Son stepped down from his throne of glory to enter into our world of perversion and absorb the punishment we deserved. He was pierced for my transgressions so I could be guiltless. He was crushed for my sins so I wouldn’t stand condemned. He was punished so I could know peace with God.

So today, when I look back to what I did, I may still feel grief, but there is a comfort the Father of mercies gives in the midst of it. Not a comfort that says, “It’s okay, don’t feel bad,” but rather, “Do not fear, it is forgiven.”


I thought this next article was pretty insightful. Something worth pondering. Warning: It contains a little rough language which I felt was completely unnecessary.

You probably know to ask yourself, “What do I want?” Here’s a way better questionMark Manson
“If I ask you, ‘What do you want out of life?’ and you say something like, ‘I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,’ it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.”

 “Sometimes I ask people, ‘How do you choose to suffer?’ These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?
That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.”

Source: Bizarro

Is Your Church Too “Worldly”?

This is a little piece written by a long-time friend of mine, Dr. Tom Lawson. Tom is a professor at Ozark Christian College with a focus on the theology and history of Christian worship.

My Church Looks Like a Bar.

When people walked into First Christian Church on a Sunday morning not long ago, most of them were not prepared to see the newest fad in popular worship music sitting in the front of the sanctuary.  Some of them had enough musical background to know they were looking at a percussion instrument.  For a lot of people, the one thing they knew was it made their church look like a bar.

 The reason First Christian had caved to the world was the music the popular media blared out to the teenagers day after day.  You couldn’t even turn on a radio without having popular Christian music pounding out rhythms, while your kids kept begging you to turn up the volume.  Everyone knew if it wasn’t for the broadcast media, in fact, they’d have been able to keep the music they grew up with in church.  But now that wasn’t going to happen.

 Some would object.  They’d point out that percussion had no place in church.  And, the disgusting popular Christian music that needed these new instruments had no place in God’s House, either.  The church was supposed to be in the world, but, instead, there was the world sitting right there in church.  Sure, churches needed to change some things every now and then.  But, to many who stood there gaping at the front of the sanctuary, this visible emblem of a compromised church was one change too many.

 But, what could they do?  The pastor wanted it.  Most of the congregation was willing to live with it.  Some musically tasteless people probably even liked it.  But, even the traditionalists knew, you can’t turn back the calendar.  After all, this was 1934 and there was nothing to be done in this modern age, but to let that unwelcome monstrosity, the piano, stay.

It’s amazing to me how corporate worship practices have changed over time. It’s really nothing new, I suppose. Change in worship services, and music in particular, has been happening and causing conflict for hundreds of years.

In the early 1700s Isaac Watts wrote many hymns that are still familiar today…but at the time they were considered “worldly” by a lot of folks because, up until then worship music was limited to the Psalms. In fact, there were those who would stand up and walk out of a service when one of his hymns was sung.

One of his songs is “Marching to Zion.” I think he may have written the third verse of that hymn with those folks in mind:

“Let those refuse to sing, who never knew our God.
But children of the heavenly King may speak their joys abroad.”

In the 1800s it was Fanny Crosby. She was probably the most prolific hymn writer in history. She wrote over 8,000 hymns! In her lifetime, she was one of the best known women in the United States. In spite of her popularity, or maybe because of it, she received her share of criticism for her intensely personal and subjective content. Her songs were criticized for being “overly sentimental.” My point is that her music was new. It was criticized as “worldly”…and it changed how Christians worship.

My personal belief is that, generations from now, the songs of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Keith & Kristyn Getty and others will be part of that same heritage.

https://tableprepared.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/worship-band-lights.jpgThere are those who complain that the church of today has allowed worldliness to creep into our worship services. Now, when we Christians use the term “worldly,” what we mean is that we’re becoming too much like everybody else in the world who don’t follow Jesus. That we’ve lost what is distinctly Christian about the church.

It’s not a new criticism. And, the truth is, I agree. I believe that we have indeed allowed too much worldliness into our corporate worship gatherings. But it may not be for the reasons you think. We’re not worldly because we use lights, technology and modern music any more than the church was worldly when we started using the piano…or the electric organ.

Worldliness is not using the stuff of this world to accomplish God’s mission. We use bricks and mortar to build a church building. We use paper and ink to print Bibles. We use the telephone, email and social media to communicate with our congregation and with our community. This doesn’t make any of these things worldly.

Worldliness is a spiritual condition. It’s when our hearts and attitudes remain unchanged by the Holy Spirit.

What is it that makes Christians different from the rest of the world? How would people of “the world” recognize a group of Christ-followers?

Here are a few passages of scripture that speak to this question:

Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

I therefore…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Encourage one another and build one another up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 12:1-2)

These are the things that make the church uniquely Christian…and they have nothing to do with the style of music or the instruments played. Where in this world can you find these things?

If the church would concentrate on developing these attitudes we would banish worldliness from her gatherings.

Together let’s commit ourselves to practicing deference instead of demanding our preference.

Talk about not being “worldly”!

I believe a church like that would shine like a beacon to the “world” around her.

Lloyd

My Picks for Monday 1-4-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Dangerous ResolutionsPeter Mead
design 4“How easily I fall into the trap of decorating my life with Jesus.  I don’t wear Christian jewelry or Christian t-shirts so much, but perhaps I sometimes just decorate my busy life with Christian ornaments…

How easy it is to have “a righteousness of my own that comes from” . . . what I do.  I can make all sorts of effort to live a moral life, to learn and grow for the sake of ministry, to be a good steward of my life, my resources and my opportunities, but to do all of this with my eyes looking in the wrong direction.  I can be looking at myself, building my resume, or looking at the needs around me, and yet not be truly looking at Christ himself, my one great goal.”


Warning: Sarcasm ahead…

Worship Leader Resolutions: 2016Jamie Brown
1
“Happy 2016, worship leaders!

It’s a new year, full of new potential, new opportunities, new emails from that one person in your congregation (you know who I’m talking about), and new songs that will be old and forgotten by 2017.

I will be adopting these worship leader new year’s resolutions in the months ahead, and I (cue the octave jump) STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU DO THE SAME…”


No sarcasm here. If you are a worship leader who thinks deeply about what you do, this is for you…

Can We Sing Too Much About the Cross?Bob Kauflin
Can We Sing Too Much About the Cross?
“But people still ask, “Can we sing about the cross too much?” My short answer is no. At least, not if we’re going to be in line with heavenly worship.

But we can sing about the cross in the wrong ways. Here are four I’ve encountered…”


This is also an important question for church members, no?

Who is Us?Seth Godin

“When you build a tribe or a movement, you’re asking people to join you.

To become, “one of us.”

That means, though, you need to be really clear who ‘us’ is. Not just who am I joining, but what does it mean to be one of you?”

 


http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/bz-panel-01-01-16.jpg
Source: Bizarro

My Picks for Tuesday 12-22-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Dear God, I Don’t Want to Serve You This Way
Jeanne Harrison

“I imagined myself holding out a Christmas gift to God, only it wasn’t the present He wanted. It was the present I wanted to give Him, like buying your husband a weed wacker when he asked for golf clubs. Really, it was a gift for myself. Let me honor You by becoming a world-famous author! How about that? Let me do something big and impressive in my church. Let me put this college degree to use . . . You will be so glorified, I promise!


Jay Pathak on “Speaking of Jesus”Steve Cuss
Jay-_twitter“I’m amazed at the great lengths we go to to make people weird in the way they share their life with Jesus.” Jay talked about being a waiter at a restaurant when someone left him a ‘tract’ as a tip. “Why would you do this?” he asked the customer. The customer replied, “I don’t know, our pastor gave it to us….we have 20 of these and we have to get rid of them!” Clearly the people were in some version of an “evangelism class.” The goal of the class is getting people to share their belief in Jesus, but it actually pushed people away from following God because of how weird and unnatural this makes us.

But following Jesus is supposed to make us more human, more empathetic, so why do we do weird things when we’re representing Jesus, rather than be more human toward people?

So here are the 4 things I do:
1. Share the life you actually have with Jesus, not a bunch of facts about Jesus.
2. Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, argue with someone.
3. When you love someone, you sacrifice money and time for them.
4. When you talk about life with God, just talk about Jesus.

Read the article for more explanation on each point.


Don’t just make your guests at church feel welcome. Surprise them!

Nine Surprises in Worship Services That Made Guests Return
Thom Rainer
Nine-Surprises-in-Worship-Services-That-Made-Guests-Return“In a recent Twitter survey, I asked respondents to share with me a singular event that impressed them in a church worship service. In fact, most of the respondents said they were “delighted” or “surprised,” and that the one event made them desire to return to the church. I am appreciative for all the responses. A pattern developed around nine factors. Here are some representative quotes around each of the issues…”


The NextSeth Godin
“Two hundred years ago, we had great-great-greats who lived in the dark, without much in the way of healthcare, commerce or opportunity.

Today, we complain that the MRI was chilly, or that the wifi on the transatlantic plane wasn’t fast enough or that there’s nothing new going on at the mall.

It’s human nature to recalibrate. But maybe it’s worth fighting that off, for an hour or even a day.

The world around us is uneven, unfair and yes, absolutely, over-the-top amazing.

Boring is an attitude, not the truth.

Possibility is where you decide it is.”


Holidays with loved ones…
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Click image for larger version.

My Weekend Picks 12-18-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

This piece on Hillsong NYC in GQ Magazine is fascinating on so many levels. It’s somewhat lengthy but I couldn’t stop reading. HIGHLY recommended…

What Would Cool Jesus Do?Taffy Brodesser-Akner
hilllsong-gq-0116-1.jpg“The book on Hillsong, however—the other book, lowercase b—is that they’re the real article: the world’s first genuinely cool church. “The music! The lights! The crowds!” begins an incredulous woman narrating a CNN segment on Hillsong NYC in smarmy CNNese. “It looks like a rock concert. And the lines around the block are enough to make any nightclub envious.” The chyron reads “Hipster preacher smashes stereotypes.” They call Pastor Carl a hipster—ABC actually said “hipster heartthrob”—and Carl says he doesn’t know what that means, and he wears a motorcycle jacket when he says this.

How can I fault someone who is more sincere about this one thing than I have ever been about anything in my life? But on the other hand, if there’s one thing that’s true about Christianity, it’s that no matter what couture it’s wearing, no matter what Selena Gomez hymnal it’s singing, it’s still afraid for your soul, it still thinks you’re in for a reckoning. It’s still Christianity. Christianity’s whole jam is remaining Christian.”


I’ve been enjoying this series of devotional thoughts based on some well known Christmas carols by John Fischer…

A Thrill of HopeJohn Fischer
th-3
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new glorious morn

“That’s why Hope is so thrilling. It’s unprecedented; unexplainable. There is no logical explanation for it. Why did God let things get so bad? I can’t answer that, but I can say that, for whatever reason He did, He broke in on it with something good. And that one event brought a hope nothing can conquer.”


I LOVE this:
“Sin is always an incomplete statement. Grace is the period at the end of the sentence.”

Let’s Stop Adding ‘Yeah, But’ to Simple Declarations of Grace
Karl Vaters
Let's Stop Adding ‘Yeah, But’ to Simple Declarations of Grace“I’m not naïve. I’m fully aware of the large and growing movement to normalize and excuse sin in our culture. But I refuse to let that stop me from living and speaking about grace in audacious, Christ-like ways.

Besides, every culture has tried to normalize sins. Different sins at different times. That was certainly the case in both the Jewish and Roman cultures of Jesus’ day.

That’s why Jesus preached a ‘yeah, but’ message too. But his message wasn’t ‘Yeah, there’s grace, but don’t forget sin.’ Jesus message was ‘Yeah, there’s sin, but grace is greater.’”


This seems timely…
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Source: Off the Mark