Thursday, June 26, 2014

1 Corinthians 13 in Reverse

What if we looked at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 from the reverse angle? I think it helps us put so much of our pettiness and self-interest in stark perspective and shows love as that much more beautiful.
Impatience and unkindness is hatred.
Hate is envious and ego-centric.
Hate is arrogant and rude.
Hatred is insisting on one’s own way;
hatred is irritable or resentful;
it celebrates sin, and it mocks what is true.
Hate is whiny and thin-skinned,
thoroughly skeptical,
always pessimistic,
a born quitter.
But hatred ends . . .

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hillsong, Beyond the Music

Michael Keen/Flickr
As a worship leader, I enjoy and frequently utilize Hillsong's songwriting. They've written some creative music with deep, worshipful lyrics. I came to know their music when they led worship and workshops at Willow Creek's last arts conference in 2009.

Ed Stetzer provides a glimpse into the Australian megachurch, beyond the popular music, as it celebrates its 30th birthday. It's quite fascinating.

You can read it here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Differing Presbyterians

In light of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA)'s news-noted change in policy, Joe Carter wisely illustrated some key differences in theology and practice between the PCUSA and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). These are the two largest Presbyterian denominations in the States (and there are more . . .) and they have significant differences. Suffice to say, it's advisable not to make sweeping generalizations about Presbyterians.

I don't serve in a Presbyterian church myself, but I come from a line of family serving in the PCA, Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and a few other non-PCUSA Presbyterian churches.

You can read the article here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Word "Muslim" Hurts Resumes

Brad Wright, a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, recently wrote an article that appeared in ChristianityToday about an experiment in resumes. (This study was also mentioned in the Huffington Post). This experiment involved sending out resumes with very similar education/experience qualifications but vastly religious affiliations. The result of the study? Mentioning a religious affiliation (e.g. involvement in a religious college club) will decrease chances of a callback from a potential employer, particularly if it's a Muslim affiliation.

Religious discrimination still exists in the land of the free. And it's not just against Christians. Muslims and even atheists (ironically) also wrongfully suffer from religious discrimination.

You can read the whole story about the study here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Christians' New Guide to Literature

Literature lovers, take note!

Leland Ryken, whose How to Read the Bible to Literature helped inspire my passion for biblical studies, has written books with some informed and fascinating perspectives on the classics, including Shakespeare, Milton and Dickens.

Check it out here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Battle Between Colleges and Campus Groups Heating Up

A few more college administrations have imposed some difficulties for campus Christian groups, mostly because (as it seems) that Christian groups uphold lifestyle requisites for their leadership positions that are "discriminatory." Bowdoin is now a name joining Vanderbilt, and California State's decision is seen as a proverbial tipping point. This battle has made it to three Patheos blogs and the New York Times.

We all need to stay away from vague cliches, define our terms (e.g. "diversity," "discrimination," and "exclusivity") and realize that if you support religious freedom (no matter who you are), you're going to support something you're against.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Fun: Kids Got Raptured?

Good chuckles from Jon Acuff:

My brother-in-law Justin recently stayed with us for a few weeks while he finalized a move to Nashville. (Everybody is doing it, even Justin Timberlake from what I hear. If Nashville gets an ocean coast it’s game over for every other city in America. Also, North Carolina is in a lot of trouble if that happens now that I think about it.) 

One night, Justin (brother-in-law not Timberlake) noticed a pile of clothes from one of our kids on the floor that looked like this. (left) Realizing that most people, particularly good parents, don’t store piles of clothing on random floors, I quickly reassured him that we were not messy people. (Even though that collection of socks, shirt and shorts kind of looks like a starfish.) 

 I told him, “That’s not just a pile of clothes, that’s the rapture.” 

After quietly running the math of paying for a hotel versus staying with people who are not pre-trib but apparently “post-socks”, he asked, “What do you mean the rapture?” 

I said, “That’s what we call it when one of our kids changes into their pajamas and leaves a pile of whatever they wore that day exactly where they changed. It’s like they were raptured and have been taken up to heaven without that Disney shirt.” 

He laughed, but inside I started to quietly wonder, are we the weirdest Christian family ever? 

 Is it odd to yell upstairs to your kid, “Hey McRae? Did you really get raptured this time or are you in bed, wearing your pajamas? If it’s the second option, please come get your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper where they go. If it’s the first option, I am in significant trouble.” 

Now that I see it in writing, that is weird. 

We’re a weird Christian family. 

What about your family? 

What’s something silly like that you say or do?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thomas Kinkade, Kitsch, and Art Ad Hominem

When studying philosophy of the arts in college, I didn't really know who Thomas Kinkade was. Upon learning more, I of course recognized his work. It helped me to understand the term "kitsch." Either you love Kinkade or you hate him. There seems to be no middle ground for this very popular evangelical painter.

Two years after his passing, we're still finding reasons to talk about him, perhaps because family matters and lawsuits are still settling. But Kinkade's work certainly is a hot-button Exhibit A at the intersection of church and philosophy of the arts. Should evangelicals show undying support for a maker of kitsch who committed acts that scandalized recording artists and authors/speakers off of Christian bookstore shelves? That's just one of many big questions about the relationship between the American Church and Kinkade.


Note: The linked article's title is a bit negative and uses a few PG-13 words, but it does show a balanced view of Kinkade's reception and posthumous family and legal matters.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Details of Church Family Reconstruction

A lot of big-time stuff is going on at Mars Hill in Seattle. We don't need to rehash all the past controversial statements and decisions from Mark Driscoll and the church's leadership, but it seemed, with Driscoll's seeming withdrawal from social media and mellowing demeanor, there were some unprecedented changes pending.

Then I read about this.

The author of this blog is obviously not comfortable with this approach to mediation and rebuilding of Mars Hill. How biblical is this cycle? How appropriate is this reconciliation and rebuilding process? It brings up the question of how church leadership (a whole group, not just an individual) should go about confession, reconciliation, etc. and how things should move forward. Should Mars Hill maintain their current confessing leadership and work to restore the attendance and culture that once was? Or should, for example, some leaders choose a form of church discipline or resignation for themselves?


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Decline of Fatherhood and the Male Identity Crisis

I found this powerful article from Psychology Today, as recently noted by QIdeas.

America is rapidly becoming a fatherless society, or perhaps more accurately, an absentee father society. The importance and influence of fathers in families has been in significant decline since the Industrial Revolution and is now reaching critical proportions.

Read the rest here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Day in the Ministry of Stand-Up Comedy

HT: Kristen Weber

I moved to Los Angeles at 21 because I wanted to write for Saturday Night Live. Armed with a journalism degree and a wardrobe that reflected my homeschooled upbringing, I loaded up my car and headed west. 

Almost 10 years later, I can safely say I’ll never write for Saturday Night Live. I now live in the Dallas area, but I still work in stand up comedy—writing and, more recently, speaking. I give private music lessons during the school year, which allows for some stability and flexibility with the up-and-down schedule of comedy. 

I’m a comedy nerd. I love the power of humor. It breaks down walls, puts people at ease, and delivers truth in a disarming way. I love laughing and making others laugh.

You can read the rest here.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Fun: 113-hour Road Trip

Who'd like to drive 113 hours to see glimpses of all the states of the continental U.S.? You may not get to see most of the skylines or shorelines of any of the major cities, but you do get to see a lot of scenery (especially once you get west) and each state's welcome sign, and that's fun, right?

For those of you planning on it, you might want to allow for a few extra hours on I-95 . . .

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Contending for the Faith" is More Than Doctrine

Trevin Wax quotes John Stott in interpreting Jude and 1 John in this naturally balanced yet challenging article on biblical living.

“Christianity isn’t just about what you believe; it’s about how you live.”
“You theological types only care about creeds and doctrines and believing the right things. But the Bible stresses Christianity as a way of life.”
“It doesn’t matter if you believe the Bible if you don’t do what it says.”
These are a sampling of complaints and critiques lobbed at gospel-centered believers and “theology” folks who take doctrine seriously. Sometimes, the critiques are on target. The best preachers and teachers would agree that Christianity involves both belief and obedience, faith and practice.
Ironically, when some of these critics are challenged for their advocacy of lifestyles and behavior outside the mainstream of historic Christianity, they rush to the creeds as a defense. They go from saying, “Christianity is more about what you do than what you believe” to saying “How dare you challenge what I’m saying about a way of life! I believe the right doctrines!”
You can’t have it both ways.
What’s needed today is a robust understanding of the Christian faith that recognizes the multi-faceted meaning of orthodoxy.
You can read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Better Than TV Dads

Are dads like the pathetic fools we see portrayed on television? Thankfully, the answer is "no." This article has some encouragement as well as some creative ideas for dads to connect with their children.

A Pew Research study showed that “almost all fathers who live with their children take an active role in their day-to-day lives through activities such as sharing meals, helping with homework and playing.” In fact, the amount of time Dads spend with their kids has nearly tripled since 1965 and 85% of dads spend more time with their children today than their fathers did with them.
This is great news. But, does it go deeper than the activities we do with our children? Is it more than the time we spend? What does a man look like? Our culture seems to say that it’s certain things we do—killing a deer, watching NASCAR, and drinking beer—that make us men, but this misses the point. It’s not what men and their kids do, necessarily: it’s being together, being there.
You can read the rest of the article here. (Warning: It discusses some PG-13 issues and terms).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Confessions of a Church Graphic Designer

Some fun stories and tips from a church graphic designer in the Bay Area. 

The church often seems to have a rocky relationship with visual arts. Many churches that value “the arts” do so because they aren’t confident that Scripture will draw people. They think that the Bible won’t sell on its own and that they’ve got to make things look cool, appealing, and relevant in order to attract people. On the other side are churches that stand confidently on the power of Scripture and sovereignty. With a sovereign God, they assume, it shouldn’t matter what the flyer looks like.

You can read the rest here.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Holistically Curing Poverty

We see poverty in the developing world and we ask—what can I do? So we send food, water, clothes. We sponsor children, build wells, start schools and go on mission trips; we wear wristbands, we sign petitions, we advocate. But what if the question that animates our activity is the wrong one?
What if instead of asking how we can alleviate poverty, we asked, “How do people in the developing world create prosperity for their families and their communities?” This sounds like a simple shift, but it can transform the way we think about poverty and the poorest among us because it takes the focus off ourselves and puts it where it belongs. People in need are not objects of our charity, they are subjects, and should be seen as the protagonists of their own development. Changing the question helps lead to an inter-subjective relationship.
Read the rest here.