Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Pope's U.S. Visit According to GetReligion

I think GetReligion has some helpful insights for everyone in interpreting any type of "religious event" in the news, and they recently wrote a summary of their coverage of Pope Francis's first visit to the United States.

The pope has come. The pope has gone. Now it is time for mainstream journalists to tell us what it all meant, to show readers the big picture and to reveal larger truths about what Pope Francis said and, maybe, even about what he should have said.
There's more to this process than news, of course.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Worship in a Selfie World

HT: Stephen Miller

. . . selfie type of worship constantly tries to infiltrate our churches, causing us to value sentiment over substance, emotional hype over emotional health, or musical preference over meaningful proclamation.

When the content of our songs and prayers are saturated with me-centered themes and thoughts, we are buying into the lie that worship is about us. To be sure, our faces are in the frame, but they are a spec of sand on the beach of a vast ocean of beauty and holiness. To focus on the spec would be silly, if not outright madness.

You can read the rest.

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Son is 3

Three years ago, my pregnant wife and I dropped off our daughters at a friend's house to spend the night, because the doctor told my wife that our son was coming. I told the "back-up" worship team that they were on this weekend. Yet, we spent the night at our house by ourselves and nothing happened. We drove to the hospital in the morning, thinking that something might happen. (I almost left my car's gas cap at the station). Thankfully, they let us stay at the hospital.

Later that day, a little after 6pm, my son was born. And now he's 3 years old. I've already written about his name.

I love my son and how boy-ish he is. He playfully runs, hits, throws and shouts more than both his sisters. I like how he follows me and looks for additional men to look up to when we're at a family reunion or at church. As he grows, I pray I can teach him with God's wisdom.

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Angry Birds" Movie Trailer

We've had movies based on books, TV shows, cartoons, video games and even amusement park rides and now . . . apps.

At least it isn't a reboot.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I Shout My Son's Life

Almost ten years ago, I was 19 years old, a freshman at Georgetown University. I was doing the last thing any woman with a bright future in front of her wants to do: sitting in a bathroom stall in the basement of a dorm, staring down, blankly, at a test. Positive.
I’d be lying if I said I felt a rush of anything. There wasn’t an immediate slew of thoughts of what I’d lose, nor some surge of maternal happiness you see portrayed in pregnancy test commercials. Just stillness. The beginning of a four-week journey of introspection.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dead Christians vs. Misspoken Politicians

My newsfeed says a Republican candidate said something about Islam and the Presidency.
Since the GOP fellow is a decent man and what he said was clumsy and wrong, my guess is the media will hound him into an apology. He should apologize. We will feel better, because a hurt will have been healed and a harm averted to some future candidate for President. This is a problem created on American media with the help of American media by a media driven personality and so American media finds it infinitely more interesting than dead Middle Eastern Christians.
After all, one off the mark comment about a hypothetical Islamic candidate is much easier to deal with than the death of one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Christians in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon face the worst situation since the Middle Ages. They are being displaced, robbed, raped, and murdered.
But a Republican candidate said a thing that nobody should defend about a candidate who does not exist.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stories With an Ending

HT: Samuel James

The last decade of the American film industry has been unparalleled in its repetition, reliance on twice (and thrice) told tales, and shameless appeals to nostalgia and familiar fables. The phenomenon is not merely of recycled plotlines or predictable stores, which are features of any art form and can be just as healthy as obnoxious. Rather, the Hollywood of the previous 20 years has fixated almost exclusively on sequels, reboots, and remakes. What audiences are getting from their cinematic storytellers isn’t merely like what they’ve seen before; in a many cases, it’s exactly what they’ve seen before.

You can read the rest.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Recent Western Debate Through African Eyes

HT: John Azumah

The African understanding of biblical authority, sex, marriage, and sin may strike my American liberal colleagues as backward and superstitious. Reflecting on the fact that the PC(USA)’s approval of homosexual practice puts her at odds with her African brothers and sisters in Christ, Susan R. Andrews, moderator of the 215th General Assembly of the PC(USA), observed, “They [African Christians] are kind of in their adolescence/young-adult stage of moving out into their own independence, yet still figuring out how to be in relationship with us as their parent church.” This paternalism is sadly typical. The “inclusive” West operates with an invincible belief in its superiority. Africa is “behind.” It’s not coincidental that “Westernize” is often used as a synonym for “modernize.”

While teaching in the United States, I have become concerned about the ideological character of America’s fixation on sex. Gay ideology has become very powerful in many Western countries, and is now backed by governments, big corporations, the judiciary, and the entertainment and sports industries. Ironically, as gays and lesbians “come out” daily in the West, those who adhere to biblical teaching are retreating into the closets. Choice is deified, yet a kind of totalitarianism seems to be emerging in Western societies in the name of gay rights. I do not want it exported to Africa.

You can read the rest.

Friday, September 18, 2015

This Week's Church Sign

Wait, what?

Maybe it should say, "We love people who are feeling hurt"?

Another example of how a little grammar can help in some situations.

Have a great weekend!

HT: Mark Gungor

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Congolese Symphony

Drew Hinshaw/WSJ
Motor-scooter mufflers, truck horns and loudspeakers blared outside the walls of a church hall here, but inside there was only the rumble of a timpani. The Kinshasa symphony orchestra was about to rehearse.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Value of Monogamy

HT: Andy Stanley and Andrew Walker

The value a culture places on monogamy determines the welfare of its women and children. Women and children do not fare well in societies that embrace polygamy or promiscuity. In the majority of cases, sexual freedom undermines the financial freedom of women. Sexual freedom eventually undermines the financial and emotional security of children.

You can read the rest. Thoughts?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rosh Hashanah (Belated)

HT: Michelle Van Loon

The Jewish feast cycle and the Christian calendar each offer an on-ramp into the intersection of time and eternity. If you attend a non-denominational congregation, your church may focus primarily on Christmas and Easter along with non-holiday holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Church Picnic Day. If you attend a liturgical congregation, you’re likely familiar with the rhythms of the Church calendar, which recounts the story of Jesus’s life through a yearly cycle of observance. If you have a Jewish background or attend a Messianic congregation, you recognize the distinct cadence of the Leviticus 23 feast cycle and historical holidays of the Jewish calendar.

You can read the rest.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Where Were You?

HT: Kevin DeYoung

I was in my final year at Gordon-Conwell. It was a beautiful morning–sunny, deep blue, not a cloud in the sky. I had an early morning class on that Tuesday. Maybe it was Minor Prophets, something with Hebrew I think.
I made the short walk across campus to my dorm room and picked up the phone. I had to check with my church. Something about a bulletin announcement or the preaching schedule. The church was in between pastors at the time, and I was helping out with some of the scheduling and some of the preaching. As it turned out, I was glad not to be preaching the next Sunday.
My friend on the phone asked me what I thought about the plane that had just crashed into the Twin Towers. I had no idea what he was talking about. This was 2001. I didn’t own a cell phone. I had no t.v. in my dorm room. Most of the time I went to the computer lab to check my email. We hung up the phone and I decided to figure out what had happened–probably one of these prop plane accidents. Didn’t John Denver die like that a few years ago?
You can read the rest.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thoughts from History Channel's "Alone"

HT: Trevin Wax

It is not good for man to be alone, God said in Genesis 2. The History Channel may disagree, after considering the success of their reality survival show.
In Alone, ten men seek to outlast each other in the wilderness of North Vancouver Island in order to win $500,000. They are isolated from civilization with a limited number of supplies. Day after day, they must fend off bears and cougars, scrounge up enough food to sustain themselves, and endure the relentless wind and rain. They have no camera crew; they film themselves and the various projects they undertake as they try to survive.
Alone is one part-Survivor, one part-Man vs. Wild, and one part-Blair Witch Project. Which is to say, there’s more than enough suspense and drama to keep you coming back for more.
What I found most interesting was the delicate interplay of immanence and transcendence in what the men express on camera. At various points in the ordeal, the men reveal their worldviews, but they do so in ways that illustrate the tensions and inconsistencies in their view of humanity and our place in the world.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Some Advice to Christians in College

HT: David Mathis

They call it “the bubble.” It’s the perception that your campus, however big or small, college or seminary, is cozily quarantined off from the surrounding world. Life is different when you’re safe “in the bubble.” At least for now, you’re protected from the real world and the suffocating responsibilities that being an “adult” will one day bring.
True, the realities of campus life and being a full-time student often produce a sense of disconnectedness from society. College and grad students aren’t always the sharpest on keeping up with what’s happening outside the bubble.
But while there may be some truth to the bubble experience, it can be unhelpfully deceptive and give way to a crippling lie: that campus life isn’t real life. My race hasn’t started yet. School is just a scrimmage; the real thing begins after graduation. This is one of the most important myths to dispel for the Christian student.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ten Counterfeit Jesuses We Should Not Worship

HT: Daniel Darling

1. Guru Jesus
2. Red Letter Jesus
3. Braveheart Jesus
4. American Jesus
5. Left Wing Jesus
6. Dr. Phil Jesus
7. Prosperity Jesus
8. Post-Church Jesus
9. BFF Jesus
10. Legalist Jesus

You can read his explanations. Interesting list. Thoughts?