I missed the presidential debate last night. But that’s okay because I got all the Obama/Romney action I needed from this one, little video. This is accreditation week at Western Seminary, so I’m stuck in meetings all day. But this at least helped things get started on the right note! Thanks to Matt Mikalatos for sharing it.
- I’m Not Busy! I’m so busy. You’re so busy. We’re all so busy—so busy that we can’t possibly fit one more thing into our schedules, or one more relationship into our lives. That’s life in North America, or perhaps just life in the twenty-first century.
- Should We Baptize Upon Profession? Our context is probably closer to that of John the Baptist in Matthew 3 when he called the Pharisees and Sadducees to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance”. In contexts where false professions seem to be running rampant, or when it’s beneficial to profess Christ, it is necessary that we be very cautious about not giving someone false security.
- Just How Many Facebook Friends Do You Need? Twenty-somethings spend hours each day keeping their social networks going. But a thousand BFFs just may be a few hundred too many.
- Do Faithful Christians Take the Bible Literally? I know of no serious, Bible-believing Christian who actually takes the Bible literally. I doubt you do either. And if there were any at our Bible-studies or Sunday schools, all would look at them as either an uninformed simpleton or mentally unstable.
But C.S. Lewis had a very a different perspective. According to him, worship is like dancing: practice makes perfect. And introducing new elements into the dance simply distracts the dancers and diverts their attention from what they’re supposed to be doing: worship.
So here he is warning against novelty and change in worship. Check it out and let me know what you think. Should we avoid “novelty” in worship?
It looks as if [pastors] believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain — many give up churchgoing altogether — merely endure.
Have you ever played the game “one of these things is not like the other.” You look at a bunch of objects, and you try to figure out which one doesn’t belong. Six apples and an orange. That’s easy. An apple, a tomato, a cucumber, and a carrot? That’s a little trickier. (You could say it’s the apple since people think of the other three as vegetables. But I’m thinking it’s the carrot since apples, tomatos, and cucumbers are all scientifically classified as fruits.) And on the game goes, each time asking you to figure out when something doesn’t belong.
That’s a fun game to play with fruit. It’s dangerous with people. When we start sorting people into those who belong and those who don’t, we’ve made a tragic mistake about what it means to be made in the image of God.
- In Changing Neighborhoods, Black Churches Face an Identity Crisis: Fifty years after “white flight,” a new population shift is emptying the pews of African American congregations.
- Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain: Exposure to nonstop negativity actually impairs brain function. Here’s how to defend yourself.
- Introducing New City Catechism: Historically catechisms were written with at least three purposes. The first was to set forth a comprehensive exposition of the gospel—not only in order to explain clearly what the gospel is, but also to lay out the building blocks on which the gospel is based, such as the biblical doctrine of God, of human nature, of sin, and so forth. The second purpose was to do this exposition in such a way that the heresies, errors, and false beliefs of the time and culture were addressed and counteracted. The third and more pastoral purpose was to form a distinct people, a counter-culture that reflected the likeness of Christ not only in individual character but also in the church’s communal life.
- Is the Sabbath Still Relevant? How else can we find quietness of heart in today’s world? If anyone has a more biblical (and more immediately beneficial) place to begin, I’m open. But raising hermeneutical objections to the Sabbath principle doesn’t in itself actually help any of us.
As the pastor in Zurich, Huldrych Zwingli led the beginning of the Protestant reformation in Switzerland, and, along with Martin Luther, was among the most important of the early reformers. Although Zwingli and the reformation in Zurich have not shaped Protestantism to the same extent as Calvin’s later efforts in Geneva, he still stands as one of the giants of the Reformation.
Zwingli died at the Battle of Kappel on October 11, 1531, a casualty of the early struggles between Protestants and Catholics. In his memory, today’s prayer comes from a portion of the liturgy that was used in Zwingli’s church.
Minister: Glory to God in the Highest.
Men: And peace on earth.
Women: And good-will to men.
Men: We praise and exalt Thee.
Women: We invoke and adore Thee.
- Skeptics Are the New Religious: In my experience, most skeptics today are not dogmatic atheists or jaded cynics, though some are. Most are seekers.
- Our Criminal Evangelical Silence: We all know that the dark ages are upon us again here in Africa. It is almost like a dark blanket that is slowly surrounding the land. People who know absolutely nothing of the core values of evangelical Christianity—the new birth, repentance and saving faith, justification and holiness, etc.—have hijacked evangelical Christianity in Africa. Even the term “born again” is being peddled without an iota of the meaning that Jesus had in mind when he used the phrase in his talk with Nicodemus. These are dark days indeed.
- Denying Advice You Don’t Like: Transformational leaders don’t start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a future they’d like to create instead.
- Why Catechesis Now? In the evangelical Christian world today the practice of catechesis, particularly among adults, has been almost completely lost. Modern discipleship programs are usually superficial when it comes to doctrine. Even systematic Bible studies can be weak in drawing doctrinal conclusions. In contrast, catechisms take students step by step through the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer—a perfect balance of biblical theology and doctrine, practical ethics, and spiritual experience.
Sometimes a simple simple comma or period isn’t good enough. Maybe you just wrote something brilliantly snarky, but you’re concerned that people will miss the subtleties of your sarcasm. Or perhaps you want to ask a rhetorical question, but you don’t want people to mistake it for a more mundane interrogative. With the current system, you don’t have much of a choice. Just slap a period or question mark at the end and pray that people are paying attention. Our punctuation options seem remarkably limited.
I suppose the day may come when these functions will be filled by the ever-growing universe of emoticons, and we’ll sprinkle our writings with smiling, winking, and smirking little faces. That terrifying future probably isn’t too far off.
Or we could adopt some of these handy little punctuation marks. I’ve commented before on the fabulous percontation point, which lets you signal that rhetorical question, and the much-needed exclamation comma, for those times when you get really excited in the middle of a sentence. But here are some other punctuation possibilities.
- The Challenge of the Gospel against the Cult of the Self: We are in a place and time of growing evangelistic opportunity and obligation. Our secure, wealthy and beautiful region is alive with people. Many of these people know nothing about Jesus and they need to hear about the way to eternal life. We are here for them. It is as simple as that.
- Why C.S. Lewis Is Wrong on Marriage: Tolkein vs. Lewis on whether Christians should enact laws enforcing a Christian view of marriage.
- As Protestants Decline, Those with No Religion Gain: ”Protestant” is no longer America’s top religious umbrella brand. It’s been rained out by the soaring number of ‘Nones’ — people who claim no faith affiliation. (See also Ed Stetzer’s comments in The Rise of the Nones.)
- Toward a theology of Church Unity: For the past hundred years, church unity has largely been a liberal concern. At times the concern has been an admirable reminder, or a necessary rebuke, that our unity cannot be merely “spiritual.” At other times, unity has been a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon conservatives who don’t share the same doctrinal latitudinarianism and ecumenical pipe dreams. “Unity” has become a byword among evangelicals, especially those in mixed denominations who can be shamed into silence by the mere whisper of the word.