Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Elder Orphans

HT: Gene Veith

As the Baby Boomers move into old age, a new problem is emerging. Many of them chose not to have children.  Now large percentages of the elderly will have no children or other family members to care for them.  As it is, 60% of the residents of nursing homes have no regular visitors.  These isolated old folks are being called “elder orphans.”
You can read the rest.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy 150th to the China Inland Mission!

HT: Don Sweeting

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the China Inland Mission byJames Hudson Taylor (1832-1905). Taylor was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China and founder of this mission. He spent 51 years in China.
On June 25, 1865, Taylor knelt on a beach in Brighton, England and cried out to God asking him to supply skilled, willing workers to bring the gospel to the inland provinces of China.
Think of it.  At the time there were less than 300,000 Christians in all of China, and they were mainly located in coastal cities.
Christianity came to China in the earliest centuries AD, then later through Nestorian missionaries in the 7th century. Then Catholic Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries came in the 1200s. But it was with the Protestant Evangelical missionary efforts of the 1800s that efforts expanded from converting the elite to reaching the masses.
You can read the rest.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hymn for Distraught Church Choir Directors

There aren't any distraught musical directors of any kind at my church, but I thought there might be some readers out there who would enjoy these new lyrics to the tune of "Immortal, Invisible."

Any other interesting new lyrics to hymns you would recommend?

HT: Unknown

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A God Who Wants Us

HT: Trevin Wax

If Billboard ranked church songs, “Jesus Loves Me” would probably be #1 on the preschool chart. From the time kids can put two sentences together, they’re singing about Jesus’ love for them — love we learn about in the Bible, love that overcomes our weakness, and love that welcomes the “little ones” who belong to His family.
When the renowned theologian, Karl Barth, was asked to summarize his whole theology in one sentence, he replied: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Profound truth expressed in simple words.
Unfortunately, we can sometimes get so familiar with just the statement of God’s love that we miss the bigger picture of how this love is expressed.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weak and Unashamed

HT: Abra Carnahan

I can’t think clearly today. My whole body is sore. My head hurts. I’m not sure how I’m going to get through today without fainting. I have so much I need to be doing right now, but it is taking everything I’ve got just to stay upright and awake. Tests came back indicating anemia — again. That explains the exhaustion and it is a good excuse to splurge on a steak dinner this week.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'Inside Out' and the Gospel

There's yet another positive review of Pixar's 'Inside Out.'

I'll have to see it. I admit I was never too excited about the synopsis, but then again I didn't think I'd enjoy a story about a fish journeying across the south Pacific or an old man attaching hundreds of balloons to his house and traveling to South America with an annoying wilderness explorer kid.

Random fact: Four of the five emotions are played by popular NBC characters, two of them from The Office.

HT: Jeremy Pierre 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Where Did All the Christian Music Go?

It's amazing how subtly it all happened. I think this is a very good analysis, even though I somewhat miss CCM of the 90's . . .

HT: Samuel James

Friday, June 19, 2015

Watch All Six "Star Wars" Films At Once

Oh wow. Here I was introducing them to my kids one film at a time. Silly me.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Exciting Church Stuff

HT: Bob Kauflin

Not too long ago a friend who leads the music in his church mentioned to me that his pastor wanted their meetings to be more exciting.
Webster’s says exciting means “causing great enthusiasm and eagerness.” Certainly, nothing should cause greater enthusiasm and eagerness than meeting with the church to recount what God has done to save us from his wrath through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. All our sins are forgiven! We have been adopted into God’s family! Jesus has triumphed over sin, death, and hell! We are new creations! We are part of God’s  unstoppable, unchangeable, unrelenting plan to have a people on earth who will display his glory, truth, righteousness, love, and compassion!
What can be more earth-shattering, soul-shaking, and EXCITING than rehearsing and reveling in those realities?
You can read the rest. Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Team Full of Believers

Andre Iguodala won the NBA Finals MVP award last night as his team, the Golden State Warriors (led by Chicago Bull emeritus Steve Kerr), won their first championship in 39 years. During the post-game ceremony . . .

Interviewer: In what way did your sacrifice of coming off the bench embody the spirit of this entire group?

Andre: We got a team full of believers. We all go to chapel right before every game. We all believe and we all say God has a way for you. A purpose for you. This is my purpose, and I accepted it. We got great teammates. Steph? I want to be like Steph when I grow up. Just a God-fearing man. Great guy.

You can read more about Andre Iguodala's faith here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tribute to Elisabeth Elliot

As a fellow Wheaton alumnus and someone that grew up walking by Saint and Elliot Halls, (poorly) did my gym class mile-run at McCully Field, and produced a church play honoring these missionaries (with the help of The Savage My Kinsman), we need to be thankful for the example of Elisabeth Elliot.

One of the most influential Christian women of the 20th century, Elisabeth Elliot, has died.
Elliot, the Christian author and speaker whose husband, Jim, was killed during their short-lived but legendary missionary work among unreached tribes in eastern Ecuador in the 1950s, passed away Monday at 88, according to reports. She had been suffering from dementia. She wrote two books about her husband’s martyrdom and the years she and her newborn daughter spent living among the Aucas, the tribe that killed him. Her Through Gates of Splendor ranked No. 9 on CT's list of the Top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. The book became a bestseller, as did Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testimony of Jim Elliot.
You can read the rest.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Knowing God Exists

HT: John Mark N. Reynolds

It is an odd thing to be called on to defend something you think you know. It is disturbing at first, because it makes you simultaneously wonder about your own mental clarity and that of your questioner. Why would he ask such a question? Isn’t the truth of the matter obvious?
Unfortunately, there are few things we believe that some other person, seemingly rational, cannot doubt. After a bit of reflection, the doubts of others about my beliefs are less disturbing because it is a chance to exercise wonder. Not surprisingly, it iswonderful to wonder and a chance to wonder why I think God exists has proven an excellent opportunity for healthy Socratic doubt leading to a sense of His presence.
I am thankful for the process.
You can read the rest.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Transparent Church

Perhaps the request for more transparency in the Church has finally been heeded and answered?

You can see (or see through?) more photos.

HT: Gijs Van Vaerenbergh

Thursday, June 11, 2015

How Listening is the Most Loving

HT: Chelsea Patterson

As Christians, we should constantly be planning how we can love and serve one another better. My current home of Washington D.C. is a place where everyone has an opinion on every thing, and is more than willing to share it with anyone that will listen. (Sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not!) I love to read books and articles on how to be a better conversationalist, how to influence people, and how to make an impact people.
The principles are simple, yet challenging to actually put into practice…
Listen to people.
Engage people’s hearts.
Seek to understand people.
Find people interesting.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cross and Crescent Conference

HT: Mack Stiles

This summer, the same team that was at CROSS from the Arabian Peninsula will sponsor a conference on Islam and the Middle East. We’ll share stories during seminars, testimonies, plenary sessions, and Q&A of how God has worked through our team. It’s a lot like CROSS, only I’ll do the rap (just kidding!)
Anyway, the event will be Aug 4-6, in Louisville, KY at Southern Seminary.
We want to educate, equip, and encourage Christians to reach out to their Muslim friends; it’s our hope to reduce fear and increase bold gospel witness to Muslim people in neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools. We’re calling it the “Cross and the Crescent” Conference. Even if you don’t particularly end up in the Muslim world, the Muslim world is coming to us, so we need to be ready.
Overall our focus will be on the lessons we’ve learned by living in a majority Muslim context that are transferable to a local church or ministry context in America. And because we want this to be a refresher to CROSS, we will talk about missions in general, too.
You can read more. I pray this will be informative and helpful. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Six Wrong Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning

HT: Tony Reinke

Reason 1: Novelty Candy
Reason 2: Ego Candy
Reason 3: Entertainment Candy
Reason 4: Boredom Avoidance
Reason 5: Responsibility Avoidance
Reason 6: Hardship Avoidance

You can read the explanations, etc. Thoughts?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Meek Inherit the Earth - Bad Prediction?

HT: Sam Storms

It was Jesus, who said in Matthew 5:5, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
Needless to say, neither the editors of The Atlantic nor its readers nor the man who submitted this answer have any idea what Jesus is saying. But before we consider when this prediction will be fulfilled, and be fulfilled it will, it might help to think about what he means by the word “meek”.
Bobby Knight, former boisterous basketball coach at Indiana University, once said: “The meek may well inherit the earth, but they rarely get rebounds!” This comment reveals the common misconception of meekness: that it entails indolence, laziness, weakness of heart, a sort of mental and emotional flabbiness, perhaps a fear of expressing oneself forcefully, lack of aggression, a tendency to compromise when the truth is at stake. Others would identify meekness with a docile, dependent personality. None of this is true.
You can read the rest.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Pranks on Noah's Ark

Here's for a quick chuckle.

Can you think of any more ideas for pranks on Noah's ark?

HT: Cuyler Black

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How Do I Really Know I'm a Christian?

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Like John Stott (and others), I see 1 John as a letter about assurance, a brief book in which the Apostle John outlines (over and over) three signs that confirm what John already knows: namely, that the recipients of his epistles are beloved children of God.
  • The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God (5:11-13).
  • The second sign is moral. You should have confidence if you live a righteous life (3:6-9).
  • The third sign is social. You should have confidence if you love other Christians (3:14).
There is nothing original about these points. Stott calls the three signs “belief” or “the doctrinal test,” “obedience” or “the moral test,” and “love” or “the social test.” As far as I can tell from the commentaries I consulted, my understanding of 1 John is thoroughly mainstream. I made clear that “These are not three things we do to earn salvation, but three indicators that God has indeed saved us.” I also explained that looking for these signs was not an invitation to look for perfection. “Lest this standard make you despair,” I said at one point, “keep in mind that part of living a righteous life is refusing to claim that you live without sin and coming to Christ for cleansing when you do sin (1:9-10).” In other words, the righteous life is a repentant life.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Good Things Christians Have Done in Society

HT: Peter Enns

Christianity has fallen on hard times in popular Western culture. I get it.
Christians are known more for what they are against and for having perfected culture war tactics–and the grotesquely fearful and hateful versions of Christianity peddled by ambitious politicians doesn’t help the Christian image one bit.
There is plenty of bad press out there about how Christianity is more the problem than the solution to world problems.
You can read the rest. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why Do You Work?

Why do you work? I once heard a rather depressing answer that went something like this: “We get a job so we can buy our kids shoes, so they can go to school, so they can get a job someday, so that they can buy their kids shoes, so that they … ” In other words, work is meaningless. In fact, from this perspective life itself becomes rather meaningless—simply an endless cycle.

I’ve also heard it said that we work so that we can support ministries that do the real work—kingdom work. Now, I’m not opposed to giving to ministries. In fact, I think you can make a strong biblical case that we are obligated to do so. But I wonder if this fully captures the meaning of work.

So again, why do you work? I find the start of the answer in Psalm 104. Psalm 104 is a reflection on creation and maybe even a further reflection on the flood of Genesis 6–8. We see the psalmist poetically describing not just God’s creation of the earth and of all creatures, but we also see God’s intimate work in sustaining His creation and the creatures He made (vv. 1–13).

You can read the rest.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Does God Really Love You?

Your suffering is a great enticement to Satan. He and his anti-God federation are irresistibly attracted to persistent pain. Notice how he obsesses over Job’s misery. Notice how he shows up in the wilderness at the height of Jesus’s weakness (Matthew 4:1–11).
Satan is savvy enough to know that his lies are less effective during prosperity, so he waits until life is hard and we are more vulnerable (though he has plenty of weapons for our good times as well). Then, when he suggests that God does not love us, he suddenly sounds compelling. In other words, we need all our wits about us when suffering comes our way.
Does God love me? Am I suffering because I have done something to incur his displeasure? These can drift into questions about God himself. Is he good? Does he hear? Does he care?
Here are five possible ways to engage these questions.