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Flotsam and jetsam (6/5)

Good Reads

  • 10 Things Every Christian Should Know about Islam: Islam is a fast-growing religion, especially in the Western world. Christians increasingly need to be aware of Islam and, most importantly, how to engage its adherents with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are 10 things I learned about Islam during my 20 years as a missionary in a Muslim-majority country.
  • Church Thieves: Her last day on the job should not have involved handcuffs, but that’s the way it played out.  The church secretary for a tall steeple church a small town was put in the backseat of the police car and taken away.  Her crime? Stealing from the church.
  • It’s too early to write off the lecture:  For as long as the lecture is regarded as better than internet-based learning, it will survive on a substantial scale. And wherein lies its superiority? An interesting question. It is live. It is real. It is put on with you in mind, even if you are one of a large crowd. You experience it with other people. And, perhaps the clincher: it takes place in a university, bursting with life and interesting people who will inspire you in unexpected ways.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/3)

Good Reads

  • Beware of Beauty Overload: The Adaptive Eye of the Beholder: The harmful side effect for guys … is this: Real women … do not look as attractive once the mind has been calibrated to assume the centerfolds are normal. And for guys in relationships, exposure to beautiful photos undermines their feelings about the real flesh-and-blood women with whom their lives are actually intertwined.
  • The New Theist: How William Lane Craig became Christian philosophy’s boldest apostle.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/1)

Good Reads

  • How to make a baby with 3 people’s DNA: The U.K. is slowly winding its way toward approving a controversial in vitro fertilization technique that combines three people’s DNA in one embryo — making what some journalists are calling a “three-parent baby.”
  • The Gospel According to ‘Me‘: The booming self-help industry, not to mention the cash cow of New Age spirituality, has one message: be authentic! Charming as American optimism may be, its 21st-century incarnation as the search for authenticity deserves pause.
  • How Not to Help Someone Who Is Hurting: We are in a cultural moment that is obsessed with FIXING. With magic diet and lifestyle changes that promise, when implemented, to make us a whole new, better person.

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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.