Flotsam and jetsam (1/21)

One of my favorite Calvin strips.

Good Reads

  • Chronicling Porn’s Damaging Effects: Last year, ExtremeTech ran a piece on some of the largest porn sites, to see how much traffic they generate, and the numbers they uncovered were simply staggering. One such site served over 100 million page views a day, which translated into 950 terabytes of data (most of it video) every single day… and this was only the second biggest porn site in the world.
  • A Fresh Look at Small Groups: Adult formation is the most broken part of the system. What the church has done is treat all adults the same. All adults are lumped together in terms of faith formation.
  • Why I Offer Clean Needles in Jesus’ Name: A clean needle is often that next teeny, tiny step forward. When the clients are met by volunteers who have walked the road of addiction and have emerged on the other side, a redemptive and profound connection emerges. As “sketchy” and misunderstood as this kind of work can be, it is undeniable that there is a redemptive element at work.
  • Five Reasons to Read the Heidelberg Catechism This Year: If you love the Heidelberg Catechism and have for a long time, read it again this year. If you learned the Heidelberg Catechism years ago and dismissed it as cruel and unusual punishment, give it another chance. If “Heidelberg” sounds like a disease to you and catechism sounds as thrilling as detasseling corn, try it anyway.

Continue Reading…

A Prayer for Sunday (Gregory of Nazianzus)

Keeping with the theme from the last couple of weeks, today’s prayer comes from the third of the great Cappadocian fathers, Gregory of Nazianzus. Like his friends Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus was a staunch supporter of Nicene trinitarianism and a leading theology of the fourth century. Indeed, his influence on Christian theology and worship was so great that is revered in the east as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs.

Although there is some question as to the exact date of Gregory’s death, it is likely that he died on January 25 in 389 or 390. So this Sunday’s prayer comes from him in memory of his amazing life.

Continue Reading…

Flotsam & Jetsam (1/18)

Sounds like fun.

Good Reads

  • Theology and Doxology: Theology that doesn’t make us sing has failed in its mission, no matter how correct it may be. Worship that doesn’t take us deeper into Christ has also failed, no matter how glorious the music or how applicable the sermon.
  • Church Tribalization: The staggering amount of choice and customization we encounter in daily life allows us to construct a reality that can be quite different from the realities of our neighbors. And when that combines with the ability to surround ourselves, whether virtually or in reality, with others who think and believe just as we do, we form our own tribes that, naturally, view the others with contempt and suspicion.
  • 10 Things I Guarantee You’ll Never Say: I love to drink mediocre coffee. No you don’t. Nobody does. Which is why when I have people over to my house, I serve the best stuff that I’ve got. Or I go get my hands on the best stuff I can find. All coffee is not created equal.

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (1/16)

It's a trap!

Good Reads

  • Are Babies Born Good? Where morality comes from is a really hard problem….There isn’t a moral module that is there innately. But the elements that underpin morality—altruism, sympathy for others, the understanding of other people’s goals—are in place much earlier than we thought, and clearly in place before children turn 2
  • Scientific evidence that you probably don’t have free will: (As with much popular science writing, the title of this one is overblown. But the article is still worth reading.) As the early results of scientific brain experiments are showing, our minds appear to be making decisions before we’re actually aware of them — and at times by a significant degree. It’s a disturbing observation that has led some neuroscientists to conclude that we’re less in control of our choices than we think — at least as far as some basic movements and tasks are concerned.

Continue Reading…

Questioning the Call

Sitting on the dock, looking out over the still, dark waters of the lake, I just knew. It wasn’t surprising; I’d been toying with the idea for almost a year. But now, after much prayer, and at the end of an especially meaningful retreat, everything was clear. My mind relaxed, the decision made: I was going into ministry.

I can still remember that easy certainty, the calm assurance that this was what I supposed to do. In hindsight, it’s a little surprising how quickly I set aside my other plans and launched into ministry preparation. At the time, though, nothing could have been more obvious.

Three years later, everything was different.

It was late, well after midnight, and the church was empty. All the kids had gone home hours ago. But I was still in my office, alone with my questions: Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing with my life? Why is it so hard? Why am I so drained? Am I cut out for this?

At first I was so sure. But now, just a few short years later, that quiet confidence eluded my anxious grasp. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t be here. Maybe I was never really called to ministry.

This is the beginning of my most recent post over at Christianity.com. Please head over there to read the rest.

How to Make Decisions Like Gandalf

Everyone needs a little help making difficult decisions at times. And who better to offer advice than Gandalf, the White Wizard himself? Now if I could just remember where I put my giant eagles.

HT Neatorama

Flotsam and jetsam (1/14)

Calvin and Hobbes

Good Reads

  • Ten Things Church Members Desire in a Pastor: I recently asked a few hundred laypersons to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. Though my approach was not scientific, these laypersons did represent over sixty churches.

Continue Reading…

A Prayer for Sunday (Gregory of Nyssa)

St. Gregory Nyssen cappadocian fathers saint GregoryOne of three great theologians to arise in Cappadocia (central Turkey) during the fourth century, Gregory of Nyssa, along with his brother Basil the Great and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus, was one of the leading theologians in the years following the Council of Nicea. Though his writings have not been as influential as his two counterparts, he is best known for his work on the Trinity, salvation, anthropology, and the infinite mystery of God.

Gregory died sometime around 395 AD and his feast day is traditionally celebrated on January 10. So, in his memory, today’s prayer comes from him.

Continue Reading…

Saturday Morning Fun…The Science of Productivity

Should you really watch a video about productivity on a Saturday morning? Maybe not. But at least it’s interesting.

Flotsam and jetsam (1/11)

Good Reads

  • Time to ditch ‘evangelicals’? A national survey found that 53 percent of college faculty have negative feelings toward evangelicals–more than any other religious group. Of Americans age 16 to 29, just three percent had a favorable view of evangelicals in 2007. Young Americans-raised in the evangelical heyday of the 1980’s and 90’s–identified the group’s top three traits as “anti-homosexual,” “judgmental,” and “hypocritical.”
  • Why I Changed My Mind about the Millennium: I distinctly recall the horror (trust me, “horror” is by no means an exaggerated term to describe the reaction I received) in my church when I made it known that I could no longer embrace a pre-tribulation rapture. More than a few were convinced that I was well on my way into theological liberalism! But when in the early 1980s I abandoned premillennialism in all its forms, public reaction was such that you would have sworn I had committed the unpardonable sin.
  • There’s More to Life Than Being Happy: Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. “It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.”

Continue Reading…