Flotsam and jetsam (7/26)

discipline slip

Good Reads

  • We Are All Virgins Now: This obsession with virginity measures so many of the wrong things, asks so many of the wrong questions, delivers so many of the wrong answers.
  • A Religious Legacy, With Its Leftward Tilt, Is Reconsidered: a growing cadre of historians of religion are reconsidering the legacy of those faded establishment Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, tracing their enduring influence on the movements for human rights and racial justice, the growing “spiritual but not religious” demographic and even the shaded moral realism of Barack Obama — a liberal Protestant par excellence, some of these academics say.
  • 10 Theories That Explain Why We Dream: The study of dreaming is called oneirology, and it’s a field of inquiry that spans neuroscience, psychology, and even literature. Still, the plain fact is that the reasons why we dream are still mysterious. But that hasn’t stopped scientists from coming up with some pretty fascinating hypotheses.
  • Why Online Pornography is Being Blocked in the UK—and Why It Should Be in the U.S. Too: American Christians on both the left and the right are frequently criticized for allowing their political beliefs to be shaped more by the culture than by the Word of God. Too often such complaints are overstated since the principle underlying their political position can be rooted, however obliquely, in Scripture. But the support for unlimited access to pornography, distributed freely in every home with an Internet connection, is not a cause that any Christian should tolerate, much less support.

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Use Your Analogies Wisely

stuffed animal toy analogy metaphor preachingAnalogies are tricky. Used properly when preaching, they illuminate. But they can also mislead. That’s because every analogy has the ability to say more than we want. If my daughter says that I’m a bear, she may only mean that I’m big and cuddly. But someone could hear that analogy and conclude that I sleep a lot during the winter, mark my territory by leaving big claw marks on nearby trees, or eat hikers when I get bored. If she’s not careful about how she’s using the analogy, people could walk away with all kinds of weird ideas.

Every analogy is an opportunity for both insight and confusion.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/24)


Good Reads

  • 9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Struggle with Prayer: John, a leader in a church I assisted as a consultant, admitted to me what I’d heard before from seminary students and church leaders alike: “Dr. Lawless, I don’t always pray like I should. I know better, but prayer isn’t easy.” I’ve heard something similar so many times that I’ve begun asking for more details.
  • Why Productive People Take Better Notes: The idea is to create your own repository of knowledge. With luck, you’ll continue to be awesome into your 80s–and if you’re recording and organizing your knowledge from now until then, you’ll have a mighty base of understanding.
  • Rebuking the Romance Prosperity Gospel: At best the Romance Prosperity Gospel is hazardous. But I may go so far as to call it wicked. What else can describe the claim that “God makes this promise to you” when He has not made that promise?

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Last Update

Warrenville (250x166)We’re here! For those of you keeping track, we left our home near Portland just over a week ago, spent several days driving across the country, and arrived safely at our new home in Warrenville, IL last Monday. (According to Google, the picture on the right has something to do with Warrenville. We haven’t actually seen this bridge, but it looks cool.) The movers showed up right on time and it looks like everything arrived relatively unharmed. (We’ve only found two casualties so far, neither of which were serious.) And with five days of unpacking under our belts now, we are well on our way toward settling in.

Thanks for all your prayers as we navigate this transition. If you’re still looking for things to pray about, here are some of the major items still on the table.

  • The Girls: They’re both managing the transition just fine, though we did have our first bout of homesickness last night from our youngest daughter. Right now I think they’re both just a little bored, stir crazy, and wanting to hang out with some other kids.
  • A New Church: I hate looking for a new church. I’d rather just find the closest church and go there. But unfortunately it’s rarely that simple. We’d like to find a church as quickly as possible so we can all start to settle in there as well. So we’re hoping that this won’t drag on too long. But we’ll see.
  • Settling in at Wheaton: This week I’ll actually start spending time at Wheaton. I need to move my books, set up my office, and most importantly, start getting to know the faculty and administration.
  • Writing: It’s been months since I was able to write with any kind of regularity. And now I need to get back on track (especially since I now have deadlines for a couple of books that I should probably start working on).

As I said in the title, this will be my last update about the transition. (Unless I change my mind, of course. I do that a lot.) I’ll let you know if anything major changes. Otherwise we’ll just plug along in our new home and wait to see what God has in store for us here.

Flotsam and jetsam (7/22)


Good Reads

  • Young Evangelicals Are Getting High: The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place and race; a historic rootedness; something greater than themselves; ordained men who will be spiritual leaders and not merely listeners and buddies and story-tellers.
  • Why Do We Keep Saying Boys Are Easier? Our seemingly lighthearted comments about the “ease” of sons and the “difficulty” of daughters, though, are steeped in a troubling worldview.
  • The Wyatt Earp Myth: Earp’s story is thus fundamental to American culture—but it is not the story with which we are familiar. It is not about the redemptive power of violence, but the redemptive power of the media.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/19)

eyes bigger than stomach (500x442)

Good Reads

  • You Talk Too Much. You Need to Listen For Content: Most people listen to win the interaction.  “Where’s that one word in their response where I can pounce on it and I can crush you like a bug?” But when you have a dialogue with somebody who listens for content,  they’re asking you clarifying questions.  They’re interested in your content.
  • 6 Pillars of a Christian View on Suffering: Ever since the ancient revolt, suffering has been woven, with perplexity and pain, into the fabric of human experience. We all live and move and have our being amid Eden’s wreckage. Affliction and evil—universal as they are real—haunt us, stalk us, plague us.
  • What Does Preaching Do to Your Brain? Is it possible that pastors could use the findings of neuroscience to somehow alter their preaching and, in doing so, get the people in the pews to grasp the theological truths they are trying to communicate?
  • The Six Types of Atheists: Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who still observe some religious traditions.

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Travel Update….Almost There!

saying goodbye to Multnomah Falls

Okay, just a quick update from the road. Moving day (July 10) couldn’t have gone better. The movers showed up just before 8:00, loaded up, and drove off around 3:00. (It was a little weird watching someone drive off with almost everything we own.) We had originally planned to leave the next morning, but we decided just to hit the road that afternoon. So we loaded up our camping gear, had an early dinner with family, and were on the road by 6:00. After a gloriously sunny drive up the Columbia River Gorge, we pressed on to Spokane and collapsed in our hotel room, which I booked en route, just after midnight. A long day, but a good one.

Since then, we’ve spent two nights in Yellowstone (got soaked the first night), one night near Mt. Rushmore, and one night at a random hotel along the freeway. (We were supposed to camp again, but we wimped out.) Along the way, we have visited (or at least driven through) 2 national parks, 2 national forests, 2 national grasslands, 1 national memorial, and 3 state parks. I asked my girls what they thought about the trip so far, and here are the highlights.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/15)

Good Reads

  • Why Pastors Should Blog: Pastoral ministry, rightly conceived as a Spirit-led vocation, begins with the personal development of a pastor. The Spirit’s vocational assignment for pastors includes the life of the mind. The pastor is first a Christian who is, like any other follower of Jesus Christ, committed to the deepening of the mind.
  • 9 Things That Have Replaced Traditional Outreach in Churches: There is a direct connection between the demise of traditional outreach and the decreasing effectiveness of reaching the respective communities. Spending time in someone’s home was a highly effective connection that usually led to other relational opportunities. But, as noted, this type of outreach is highly problematic in most communities. What’s the solution?
  • How secular is Europe? A tale of two cultures: Secularisation can be understood negatively or positively: as a move away from traditional levels of public and private participation in religion, or positively as the adoption of an alternative set of values and beliefs that owe nothing to religion.

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Just for Fun

  • The Definitive Guide To The British Royal Succession. (I’m not entirely certain why so many people outside the UK are fascinated by the British royal family. But I still thought it was interesting to finally see how all the various family members are related to one another.)

A Prayer for Sunday (Jane Austen)

jane austenA famous British author, Jane Austen was also a dedicated Christian who was actively involved in various ministries and often published explicitly Christian poems and prayers. She is, of course, best known for her many novels. Although many of these books are now viewed at the popular level as merely interesting glimpses into an earlier time, Austen intentionally wove Christian themes into all of her novels, making her one of the most influential Christian authors of all time.

Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817. In honor of her amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from her. It’s a bit longer of a prayer than I normally post, but it’s still well worth reflecting on.

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What Are You Going to Do Today?