Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Moral Relativism Dead, But New Culture Arises


Many conservatives still drag out the old bogeyman when they want to scare the masses and rally the troops. But the prevailing thought of the second decade of the 21st century is not like the mid-to late-20th century. Law, virtue, and a shame culture have risen to prominence in recent years, signaling that moral relativism may be going the way of the buggy whip.

You can read the rest.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Suicide Bomber Kills 65 as Taliban Targets Christians Celebrating Easter at Pakistan Children's Park

K.M. Chuadary/AP
A suicide bomber targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday at a children’s park in Pakistan’s second-largest city, killing at least 65 people and wounding hundreds more.
The Taliban-linked attack in Lahore comes one year after two suicide bombers targeted Lenten services in the city’s largest Christian neighborhood. While the final death toll of Christians and non-Christians remains to be tallied, today’s attack will likely be the deadliest assault on Pakistan’s Christian minority since the symbolic bombing of Peshawar’s All Saints Church in 2013.
You can read the rest.

Friday, March 25, 2016

What Happened on Good Friday

HT: Justin Taylor

With help from the ESV Study Bible, here’s an attempted harmony and chronology of the words and actions of Jesus in the final week of his pre-resurrection life . . .

You can read the rest.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Passover is for Christians, Too

Tim Sackton/Flickr
HT: Michelle Van Loon

One of the youngest head rabbis in Reform Judaism, Moffic leads Congregation Solel in Highland Park, Illinois. Of the three main branches of Judaism in the US—Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform—his takes the most progressive approach to a Torah-honoring lifestyle. Reform Jews are most open to social justice issues, interfaith families, and learning from Christianity, he said. “It is a Judaism at home in America.”

During Holy Week, we often reflect on Jesus’ own Jewish traditions as we commemorate the Last Supper and his death, burial, and resurrection. With Passover still a month away (April 22-30 this year), I spoke with Rabbi Moffic about why he thinks Passover belongs to Christians too.

You can read the rest.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Would Judas Do?

HT: Marshall Segal

Jesus had taught his disciples, including the one who would betray him, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). No one. Not Judas. Not you or me.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lament Over Brussels


The curious thing about Europe in general, and Brussels in particular, was how seriously they took airport security in those far off days. Whereas in Bamako, when you were trying to board a plane, they would shove your luggage through a prehistoric scanner and hope for the best, if you were flying to Europe, you would certainly be stopped on the Tarmac so that the flight attendants could personally and meticulously examine everything you had, before you got on board. While America was still under the illusion that anybody could just walk up to the gate and say hello or goodbye, in Belgium, I would be descending the long escalator, waving desperately and crying, miles before any of the real airport began to appear.
So it seems, the centers of all my formative mental furniture have been bashed and assaulted by ISIS and its tentacled arms–Bamako, Grand Bassam, Paris, Brussels. If I was more of a narcissist, I would think they are out to get me.
Except that they don’t really care who they get, they just want death and destruction everywhere. They want violence and chaos. They are Lamech, boasting about killing a child over a trifle, calling for their wives to sing a song for their glory.
But this is Holy Week. And the chaos of human sin is what’s on the menu.
You can read the rest of the meditation.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Myth of Pagan Easter Origins

HT: Gene Veith

There was no fertility goddess named “Eostre,” just the Germanic name of a month.  Non-Germanic languages call the holiday some version of “Pascha” for “passover.”  Why Easter eggs [to mark the end of the Lenten fast] and Easter rabbits [a symbol for life widely used in ancient Christian art].

You can read more.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Irish Setting of St. Patrick's Prayer

Saint Patrick’s Breastplate is a Christian hymn whose original Old Irish lyrics were traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick during his Irish ministry in the 5th century; however, it was probably actually written later, in the 8th century. It is written in the style of a druidic incantation for protection on a journey. It is part of the Liber Hymnorum, a collection of hymns found in two manuscripts kept in Dublin.
Here’s a terrific musical setting from Ireland.

You can read more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Five Questions Muslims Ask Christians

HT: David W. Shenk

Understanding between Christians and Muslims is of great importance in the global community. As a result of recent events in Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, France, Belgium, and the United States, there is fear and confusion. Christians who are interested in grasping why recent events have taken place, and how to understand Muslims, will need to look beyond the sound bites of the evening news or the internet, and consider this important subject more deeply. 

You can read the questions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Prayer for Super Tuesday


Dear Heavenly Father,
With humble hearts we thank you for our nation, our political representatives, and our freedoms. We especially thank You for the freedom we have to seek Your face when our hearts are heavy. On this Super Tuesday, many Christian citizens’ hearts are heavy.
Too often, Lord, we elect certain political representatives because we misplace all our hopes in personas of strength and empty promises to care for our daily needs rather than place our trust Your capable hands. Forgive us.
Today we pray for Your wisdom today as many of us go to the polls to vote for a presidential nominee. Specifically, we ask for You to help us to make wise, prudent decisions for the sake of our nation. Help us recognize the importance of our choices and also the serious consequences our decision can have on others abroad.
We also lift up President Obama and his family. Please grant the President wisdom and courage to uphold our Constitution. Help him and his family navigate the next several months as they look toward a new season of political and personal life.
Please be with our eight Supreme Court justices as they make complex legal decision that impact the entire nation. We lift up the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. Please help our 535 elected officials to lead with truthfulness and righteousness. We also pray for our state houses, local courtrooms, and public school systems. We specifically pray that our local administrators will acknowledge You and Your authority and goodness.
Finally, Father we thank You for the grace and mercy you’ve shown in our own lives. Thank You for concerning Yourself with our big problems and our smaller ones. Give us strength and courage to be public witnesses for Your glory this day.
In Jesus precious name,
Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2016

How Not To Pray Like A Pagan

HT: R.C. Sproul

Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:7 that we must not regard prayer as some kind of magical incantation, for that is how pagans pray. They recite certain phrases over and over again, with no understanding of what the words mean. In these contexts, prayers are used as mantras, with the hope that they will change the environment or the circumstances in which a person lives. New Age thinking is filled with this type of thing. Jesus did not commend such exercises as godly forms of prayer; rather, He linked the use of vain repetitions to paganism.

You can read the rest here.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday Fun: Church Sign for this Week

HT: Ed Stetzer

Again, some sentences you don't want to put next to each other.

Have a great weekend! Don't forget to set your clocks forward one hour Saturday night!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fame and Self-Esteem

What makes a human life worth living? How do I know I am someone?
Our culture has a peculiar addiction to the belief that fame is actually the answer to that question.  How many Twitter followers do you have? We don’t like to admit it, but we really do care about that. It is a signal of my importance. It is a confirmation of what I sense internally must be true: that I am not just an ordinary person, but truly extraordinary. I was destined not just for success, but for renown.
Ever since that parenting classic Your Child’s Self-Esteem by Dorothy Briggs was published in 1970, we have raised children to believe that they are not just valued, but special. And if I am special, then – well surely everyone else ought to be able to see this too? If I grew up with the sound of my own personal cheer  squad (we used to call them "parents") then will I not expect more of the same as an adult? Haven’t I learnt that applause is the sweetest reward of all? That it is the sure sign of my worth? 
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Small Vs. Big Churches: The Family Feud We All Lose

Passions run high when discussing local church dynamics and how church size impacts a church’s effectiveness. [Andy] Stanley was visibly passionate in the video when he talked about the best way to engage the next generation.
But Stanley’s remarks were offensive, as he rightly admitted. He went after people in smaller churches by claiming their intentions and motivations are wrong.
But the question here is not about intention; it’s about methodology. Stanley assumes that highly targeted, age-segregated environments are the best way to engage the next generation. He didn’t question that assumption; instead he questioned the intentions of people who go to smaller churches. That’s what prompted the family feud.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Serving God at Fast Food

An encouragement for all those who are "under-employed" or unfulfilled.

I pull my car into an empty spot in the K-Mart parking lot that lies just behind our store. Glancing at the clock, I say to myself, You’re pushing it, bro. Regardless, I stop to take a deep breath before heading inside. A thought begins to cross my mind. I attempt to rebuke it, but instead I think it anyway.
This is not what I thought I’d be doing at twenty-seven…
You can read the rest

Monday, March 7, 2016

Post-Adulthood

This recent Washington Post article highlights an idea foreign to the majority of us living in Western culture. Dr. Bill Thomas contends, “…there is a ‘third’ phase of life beyond adulthood that can be as rich as either of the phases that came before.” This idea has implications for the church – if only we have ears to hear.
For those interested in nurturing spiritual growth and development throughout every phase of life, and some of those who work with aging populations, these words are more affirmation than revelation. But since too many see old age (mid-sixties and up, with a hazy division between “young-old” and “old-old” hitting at about seventy-five) as a slow, Depends-dependent slide toward decay and death.
You can read the rest.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lent and Pretzels

The salty, twisted treats that we call pretzels have their origin, it is thought, in a seventh-century European monastery—according to lore, either in southern France, northern Italy, or Germany. Allegedly a monk invented them by shaping scraps of leftover bread dough to resemble arms crossed in prayer over the chest. (Think upside-down pretzel.)
During the Middle Ages the church’s fasting requirements for Lent were stricter than they are today, forbidding the intake of all nonaquatic animal by-products, including eggs, lard, milk, and butter. Because pretzels could be made with a simple recipe that avoided these banned ingredients, they soon became associated with the season.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sure You Want Justice Now?

Lightstock
HT: Don Carson

When we suffer, which we will, there will often be mystery. Will there also be faith? 
In Christian thought, faith is never na├»ve or gullible, but rather relies on the strength of its object. Faith that depends on a God who is a cruel tyrant or cheap trickster will be bitterly disappointed in the end.
When Christians think seriously about evil and suffering, one of the paramount reasons we’re certain God can be trusted is because he sent his Son to suffer in our place. The One for whom we live knows what suffering is about—not merely in the way he knows everything, but by experience. 
When we’re convinced we’re suffering unjustly, however, we may cry out for justice. We want God to be just and exonerate us immediately; we want God to be fair and mete out suffering immediately to those who deserve it.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Charity vs. Empowerment

The desire and motivation behind providing charity come from a good place.

We desire to see communities lifted out of poverty. We hope to provide relief to those afflicted by man-made or natural disasters.

While the intentions behind charity may be good, the West’s charity efforts are outdated and have harmful effects on the poor.

In order to change the harmful patterns of the past, we should instead look toward more practical steps for partnering with the poor in the future.

You can read the rest.