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Flotsam and jetsam (6/28)

Good Reads

  • Christians Are Not Called to Have Amazing Sex: The fact that sexual compatibility does not matter to Christians when choosing a spouse makes the shocking and countercultural statement that sex is not our God. It indicates that we are willing to make a commitment to someone with whom we may be sexually incompatible, with whom we may never have good sex, because the purpose of marriage is not pleasure, but formation.
  • Sex Without Bodies: Christians cannot simply accept or reject “same-sex marriage” and think we have settled our sexual ethics. The LGBTQIA coalition has other challenges for the church.
  • Why the Biblical Languages Matter—Even if You Forget Them: Many students assume that the study of the languages is useless if the specifics are forgotten at a later point.   Indeed, this may be the biggest assumption in the mind of today’s seminary students. This assumption, however, is profoundly mistaken.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/26)

Good Reads

  • The Sexual Devolution: The statistics tell us that 70 percent to 80 percent of college-age students are sexually active, but what they don’t say is how numbing and sad much of that sex actually is.
  • C. S. Lewis, Evangelical Rock Star: To this day Lewis, who published the first of his children’s books about “Narnia” in 1950, remains deeply compelling for many evangelicals, more so than for Catholics and mainline Protestants. Why?

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/24)

Good Reads

  • Why I Don’t Hate the Word ‘Inerrancy’: I hate a number of things. Some of them are rather silly: soap operas, egg mayonnaise, cats. Some of them are deadly serious: sex slavery, adultery, cancer, human trafficking, abortion, racism. In a handful of cases, I even hate words: “moist,” “ogle,” and “pamphlet” are among the most odious. But I don’t hate the word “inerrancy.” In fact, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
  • How Much Time Do Pastors Spend Preparing a Sermon? Most pastors have workweeks much longer than we realize because of the invisible nature of sermon preparation. As for me, the results of this poll have caused me to pray even more fervently for my pastor. His work is long. His work is never-ending. But the work he does is vitally important.
  • Five Dangers of Unaligned Small Groups: Over the years I have been surprised to find out how many church leaders have a laissez faire attitude about what is being taught in small groups and Sunday school classes. Allow me to share five dangers of this “anything goes” approach.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/21)

Good Reads

  • The Fitness-Driven Church: Across the country, congregations are whipping members into shape with highly marketed, faith-based health programs. What’s right—and troubling—about the trend.
  • Think Inside the Box: Forget brainstorming: People are at their most innovative when they work within the constraints of what they already know.
  • Yes Church, We Still Need Seminaries: But the popular notion of seminaries as a place for training pastors and church leaders needs to be reexamined. Theological schools need to ask “How can we better serve the whole church?” Not just pastors, but people of all occupations who need deeper training in the faith?
  • How Reading Makes Us More Human: A debate has erupted over whether reading fiction makes human beings more moral. But what if its real value consists in something even more fundamental?

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/19)

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Good Reads

  • Why It’s Often Better to Say Less: It’s not that I don’t have thoughts about things. I have plenty of them. But these days as I edge toward my sixth decade, many of those thoughts simply do not need to be expressed. Most of my black and white firm opinions of my youth have faded to gray, and with the fading has come a quiet grace that doesn’t need to force its way out front.
  • Multisite Evolution: Obviously, not everyone does multisite the same way….I want to suggest one way I’d like to see become more common– regional multisites that are leadership development engines, sending out planter pastors and campus pastors (depending on the gifting and call of the pastor) to start churches or sites that reach lost people and develop more such leaders.
  • The Difference Between ‘Volunteering’ and Volunteering: the brute-force “volunteerism” I see from corporations and universities is about getting good publicity and the cheap high of telling yourself you did good, without putting yourself to much trouble. Granted, there is an element of self-congratulation in many volunteer experiences. But there’s also an element of self-sacrifice. Experiences that lack that element ought not to be called “service” or “volunteering.”

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/17)

Good Reads

  • Do You Need a PhD to Understand the Bible? When I say you need a PhD, I don’t necessarily mean that you yourself need to earn a PhD, much less several. But you will need multiple people with PhDs involved in the process.
  • Why Reconciliation Needs Justice: Therein lies the problem: so many of us want a reconciliation that looks like a happy-go-lucky Kinkade painting. We want a reconciliation that is tidy, cheery, uncomplicated and unrealistically bright. We want oppressed people to forgive us for a history of wrongs but we don’t want to pay for that forgiveness….In short, many of us want reconciliation without justice, much like we want the resurrection without the crucifixion.
  • Why Emailing Gives You A (False) Sense of Progress: Why do we fritter away our days responding to email, and then kick ourselves for not working on our most important creative projects? It turns out that there are actually some pretty good reasons. Number one among them is that responding to email gives us a sense of progress.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/10)

Good Reads

  • When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/5)

Good Reads

  • The Books Americans Are Reading—And What that Reveals About Us: It is not a surprise that so many practicing Christians report reading their primary sacred text from front to back. It is surprising that nearly a fifth of people who claim another faith than Christianity and nearly a tenth of people with no faith claim to have done the same.
  • Folk Theology: Twenty Urban Legends in Theology:  Folk theology describes beliefs, generally shared by a large group of people, which said adherents have rarely thought through in a critical way. These beliefs are normally inherited (passed on through rote teaching and tradition).
  • Read, Write, Worship: Finding God between the lines of literature: Reading can create an intangible sanctuary where all are invited, regardless of faith, to receive benedictions that send us back into our respective broken worlds with more courage, strength, and hope. Reading can be an invitation to turn, face God, and live.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/3)

Good Reads

  • Eager to Adopt, Evangelicals Find Perils Abroad: But the movement has also revived debate about ethical practices in international adoptions, with fears that some parents and churches, in their zeal, have naïvely entered terrain long filled with pitfalls, especially in countries susceptible to corruption.
  • It’s Not The Bible’s Fault. You Might Just Be A Bad Dad: as long as the narrative continues which articulates that men lack what it takes to nurture and raise children; as long as some argue that the cultivation of children is the domain of women only, we will continue to produce dads who believe they risk their “man-card” by trying.
  • Christians & Masturbation: Seven Perspectives: I wanted to get a diversity of perspectives in response to this question, so I contacted several folks whose opinion on matters related to sexuality I respect, and asked them this question: Is masturbation an acceptable component to healthy sexuality for Christians?

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/31)

Good Reads

  • 7 Ways to Boost Your Creativity: Creativity can seem innate, but like many things, it is actually a delicate balance of nature and nurture. In other words, creative thinking can be enhanced by external forces, and isn’t necessarily reliant on “good genes” or natural ability.
  • John Piper Got Rob Belled: Tribalism, from the progressive side. The side that talks against America’s Jesus and against tribalism. And there it is, lurking just under the surface. It reminds me of the book Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. All of the obvious Jesus’ stand out. The trendy Jesus, the churchy Jesus, the American Jesus. But just when you think you’ve found the right one, the genuine one, it is discovered that yours is imaginary too.
  • I’m Gay, but I’m Not Switching to a Church That Supports Gay Marriage: Moreover, celibate gay Christians can offer proof that friendship can be real love, and deserves the same honor as any other form of lovingkindness, caretaking and devotion….The cultural changes which would better nourish celibate gay Christians, then, would be good for everyone else as well.
  • Doubting Thomas: a patron saint for scientists? Dawkins is right that we are not supposed to admire Thomas’s refusal to believe, but he is wrong about the reason. Thomas’s behaviour really is a little irrational. What better basis for belief could he have had than the testimony of his most trusted friends? We all have to rely on testimony rather than first-hand experience for the vast majority of our knowledge.

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