Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The #1 thing bringing people here is an article I wrote in October of 2008 on the effects of porn. I'm hoping to cycle back to this article in 2010 and update with more thoughts and info.
The #2 item would be Grace Driscoll - wife of Pastor Mark Driscoll. Grace Driscoll on the role of women in Ruth is tops among posts where I have mentioned her. When the Driscoll family went to Australia was the #2 post mentioning Grace Driscoll.
Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA comes in just behind his wife. I've mentioned Pastor Mark a ton of times, and I figure Grace Driscoll gets more hits because there isn't 15,000,000 links to her and things she's said/written. My post where I put a photo from the Desiring God Ministries Pastor's Conference in 2008 where it looked like John Piper was punching Mark Driscoll still brings the most "Mark Driscoll" traffic to my site. When Mark Driscoll was on Nightline with Deepak Chopra and I posted about it, it brought a lot of traffic as well. My post on Mark and Grace Driscoll's practice of devotionals with their children brings more traffic under the "Mark" category than the "Grace" category.
In the oldies but goodies category my post on How to prepare a sermon (from Josh Harris) still drives a ton of traffic to my site, and has done so for over 4 years. I spoke about ministry burnout in 2006 and that also brings a lot of traffic in.
People searching for info on the most liberal cities in America and most conservative cities in America are frequently landing here as well.
My recent posts on the Black & Decker Firestorm 18v system and my hunt for a better battery charger is really hot at the moment.
People seeking info on church salaries and how much pastors make keeps bringing people by this site as well.
The last group that brings in a lot of traffic are my many references to Pastor Bob Merritt and Eagle Brook Church. My recent mention of Eagle Brook looking to add new campuses to their church and Pastor Bob Merritt's response to a newspaper article talking about this brought a lot of recent traffic.
It will be interesting to see what 2010 brings. I am excited for it! Blogging will likely be light around here for the next 10 days as I wrap up year end things, finish projects, and celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Another great option is the reading plan that comes in the ESV Study Bible. There you will find a plan to read through the whole Bible in a year.
And one final recommendation is The Daily Bible which give you daily readings, but goes a step further. It puts the Bible in chronological order which really makes for some great reading if you are looking for something different. I found it fantastically useful to see the Old Testament arranged chronologically, it really opened my mind to what was going on when and where.
But whatever you choose, you need to have a plan or you will never do it. Make 2010 the year you read through the Bible (again?!?!), you won't regret it!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Of those who celebrate Christmas, 81 percent believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to earth to die for our sins and 72 percent say Jesus was born to a virgin.
Among all Americans, whether they celebrate Christmas or not, 82 percent say the person known to history as Jesus Christ actually walked the earth 2,000 years ago. Only three percent say he did not and 15 percent aren't sure.
Last year at this time, 64 percent of Americans said they planned to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, while 27 percent planned to celebrate in a secular fashion.
(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It is a VERY good book. My Master's of Divinity concentration was in the area of transformational leadership. I love to study leadership and I really enjoy learning how to lead well. This book teaches that, but only from the opposite perspective. It is a stark contrast to any other leadership book I've ever read. Tim Irwin focuses in on how not to lead by examining five people who crashed and burned spectacularly in the business world. There is a lot to learn from that which can be transported into my church world. Irwin writes with great clarity cutting to the marrow in identifying the breakdown in each leader he examines.
Those who are infamously chronicled are Robert Nardelli, Carly Fiorina, Durk Jager, Steven Heyer, Frank Raines, and Dick Fuld. I had heard of all but one of these people, and each failure teaches some important leadership lessons. And the book would be outstanding if that was all it was, but Irwin doesn't stop there. He gives you a framework for self identification as well - helping you to see if any of this is going on in your areas of influence and leadership. He then closes out the book with some sage advice for how not to become one of these flame-out failures.
I seriously think this is a must read if you are in a position of leadership, there is much to be mined here!
As a very interesting aside, this book is one of what Thomas Nelson Publishing calls Nelsonfree. What that means is that when you purchase this book you not only get the print copy, but you get full access to digital copies in a couple of formats (so you can put it on your Kindle, Sony Reader, or in a .pdf for your computer). You also get access to the digital audio files of the book for your listen pleasure. This is an incredible bonus in my opinion, and I hope they continue to offer books with these options and that it would put pressure on other publishers to do the same. I'd gladly pay a couple of dollars extra for every book I get (and that is a sizable number of books) to have access to the same resources. Great value added idea by Thomas Nelson Publishing!
You can purchase this book from Thomas Nelson directly, or Amazon.com also carries it (I get most of my books from Amazon).
From the Publisher:
Book DescriptionVibrant stories of well-known execs who failed spectacularly as senior executives of major corporations.
Bob Nardelli, Dick Fuld. What do they have in common? Both were execs in huge corporations and resigned under less-than honorable circumstances. What derailed them? During Nardelli's tenure as CEO at Home Depot, he collected a tidy $240 million while his company's stock stayed flat as that of its biggest competitor, Lowe's, doubled. It's hard to tell what sunk him in the end: was it stockholder disgust or his hardnosed and autocratic style? He was ousted in 2007.
Fuld was the last CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., which led America's banks into bankruptcy in 2008. Employees were left with nothing in their hard-earned retirement accounts, and no severance packages at all, while stockholders fared no better.
The story of the fallen CEO has become a cultural fixture: veering off course with the force of a train careening off its tracks, leaving fiery wreckage and devastating injury throughout the organization. These executives are often the smartest and most respected individuals in their industries, with glittering resumes and histories of successful leadership. Yet they astonish us by driving the train dramatically off course, blinded by unchecked power and arrogance.
Dr. Tim Irwin believes that these leaders suffer from failures of character that are common to each of us—even the most capable individuals. Deficits in authenticity, humility, self-management, and courage become more dangerous as we take on more leadership, and can cause us to ignore glaring signals that might otherwise save us from catastrophic demise. Derailed chronicles the collapse of six high-profile CEOs and the factors that drove their downfalls, finding that derailment actually happens long before the crash and can be avoided. Tim Irwin explains the character qualities that are essential for successful leadership and tells us how to cultivate them so that we can avoid derailing our own careers.
“A must read for those in and for all who aspire to leadership. Shelves are full of how-to books listing various formulas of what-to-do for success. Missing is a closer look at what-not-to-do to avoid derailment! Irwin fills this vacuum with his analysis of corporate leadership failures. He’s hit a home run identifying those primary pitfalls experienced by well known business leaders that resulted in their dismissal. We all can learn from this insightful study and copies should be required reading for all corporate officers.” —Ron F. Wagley; Chairman, CEO, & President, Transamerica Insurance (ret)
"CEOs are the new royalty. Sometimes these anointed kings are generous, insightful and use their power wisely. Other times they fall prey to the same hubris and tone deafness that felled the kings in the golden ages. There are useful lessons here for everyone, crowned or not." —Seth Godin, Author, Tribes
Monday, December 21, 2009
The next thing is to update the new computer. There are always newer drivers and Windows updates that need to be added in. Then I start adding programs, and again adding the updates for those. Office being one of the worst offenders - I think I saw Service Pack 883 last night.
Then you have to configure everything back to your liking - or as close as possible. Currently, one thing that is annoying me is the space between icons on my quick start bar. I have nine icons for programs I regularly use on my Windows XP bar, and in that same amount of space in Windows 7 Premium I can only fit five icons/programs. I'm hoping to find a way to change that. Thus far I've come up empty.
Once all the configurations have been beaten into submission comes the file transfers. Moving all your old stuff onto the new drive. This wouldn't be so bad if all the old stuff was in one place, but for me I have half a dozen or so thumb drives, 3 computers and a hundred or more CD's and DVD's to go through. That is honestly one of the modern miracles of external storage drives - they are now big enough that you can just put it all there and not have to deal with this any more.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
In particular, Best Buy® (the country's dominant electronics vendor) and other retailers like Walmart®, who increased their electronic sales when Circuit City® went out of business earlier this year, are benefiting from the trend. Computers, high definition TVs, DVDs, Blu-ray players, digital cameras, video games, handheld media players and cell phones are flying off the shelves.
Retail expert Brit Beemer from America's Research Group says that electronics have virtually tied toys as the top Christmas-gift item for the first time in more than 25 years. In a survey conducted last weekend, 30 percent of consumers cited electronics when asked what kind of gift they were buying most often. Toys were mentioned by 30.8 percent of respondents. Last year, only 23.7 percent answered this question with electronics.
The main reason for the jump in consumer electronics sales seems to be price. According to the NPD Group, a market-research firm, the average LCD TV price was down 22 percent on Black Friday. Notebook-computer prices dropped 26 percent. Netbooks, the lighter, more portable cousin to traditional laptop computers, also saw a drop in price. Camcorder prices fell 33 percent. Most of these deals have extended beyond Black Friday or have been re-offered starting this week. [Yahoo! News]
Thursday, December 17, 2009
“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it–admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism–all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
- D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
(via Timmy Brister)
One Day Only | Limited Seating
What does it really mean to love? What does love look like in singleness, dating or marriage?
Invest one day in learning the love-lessons that the Bible's Song of Solomon has to teach us. In this special engagement conference, Mark Driscoll reveals an Old Testament understanding of Biblical sexuality with current cultural clarity. Learn to celebrate God's gift of love in all of life by walking through this timely series.
Mark's message is honest, challenging, redeeming and very practical. Critics have found the Song of Solomon Conference to be incredibly informative, understandable and relatable... and yes, incredibly funny.
January 30, 2010
9am - 4pm
Doors and Registration at 8am
Saint Paul RiverCentre
Tickets $63.50 per person / $120 per couple
(Price includes lunch, and all ticket fees)
Tickets on sale today at 8:00am
More Info >>
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Dear Church Leader:
You may have seen the recent article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press/Press Publications that focused on Eagle Brook's plan to add a multi-site church in both Blaine and Woodbury. We were surprised and even disappointed that some of the information in this article was misleading and based on some faulty assumptions. We are uncomfortable with the attention this article has created because it grates against our desire to lead with humility and be a church that works with other churches. Our desire is to partner with all of you as we all try to accomplish the great commission of reaching people for Christ and growing them in their faith. We are not in some kind of contest to see how big we can get. Therefore we felt it necessary to clarify a few things:
- Eagle Brook is not poised to become the second-largest church in the nation. We're embarrassed that this statement would even be made. The writer of the article made assumptions about our future growth that is not accurate or even realistic. We dream of reaching many people for Christ, but have no goal to see how big we can get. Our commitment to God is that we will remain willing and available to do whatever he asks of us. We humbly pray that God will use every church to reach people in the Twin Cities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we consider you to be a partner in this great mission.
- Though we have cleared the hurdle of city approval for our Blaine campus, we have many other hurdles yet to clear before construction can begin. The article gave the impression that the project is a done deal. It's not. We continue to explore options for funding and design, none of which are finalized. We remain hopeful for a Fall 2010 opening - and the city approval was a major step forward - but we aren't locked in yet. We had wanted to hold back on announcing anything until everything was finalized, but the paper beat us to the announcement. For that we apologize.
Our great hope is for God to use all of our churches to effectively spread the Gospel throughout the Twin Cities and surrounding areas; none of us can do this alone. This article put the emphasis on the wrong things, and frankly it makes us uncomfortable. We apologize if this article created any mistrust between us.
Eagle Brook Church
Once that was taken care of, I realized I was abnormally hungry. So I dug through the cabinets in the kitchen and found a box of A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles. These are microwavable noodles, so I thought I would give them a chance. They are surprisingly tasty! I got a real nice mouth warmth on the first bite that is still lingering 10 minutes after eating. The flavor is excellent! I am very impressed. The only thing that was not perfect is that due to the microwave the noodles get a bit gummy, but that is a very minor detail. I would also add more peanuts, but I understand that is a personal preference as well as a cost saving measure by the company. I'll be buying more of these for sure. 4 minutes in the microwave and top it with some protein and you'd have a great supper.
I don't watch much television, and when I do I generally avoid the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). For many years TBN has been dominated by faith-healers, full-time fund-raisers, and self-proclaimed prophets spewing heresy. I wrote about the false gospel they proclaim and the phony miracles they pretend to do almost two decades ago in Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. See especially chapter 12). I had my fill of charismatic televangelism while researching that book, and I can hardly bear to watch it any more.
Recently, however, while recovering from knee-replacement surgery, I decided to sample some of the current fare on TBN. From a therapeutic point of view it seemed a good choice: something more excruciating than the pain in my leg might distract me from the physical suffering of post-surgical trauma. And I suppose on that basis the strategy was effective.
But it left me outraged and frustrated—and eager to challenge the misperceptions in the minds of millions of unbelievers who see these false teachers masquerading as ministers of Christ on TBN.
I'm outraged at the brazen way so many false teachers twist the message of Scripture in Jesus' name. And I'm frustrated because I'm certain that if these charlatans were not receiving a large proportion of their financial support from sincere believers (and silent acquiescence from Christian leaders who surely know better), they would have no platform for their shenanigans. They would soon lose their core constituency and fade from the scene.
Instead, religious quacks are actually multiplying at a frightening pace. One thing I discovered to my immense displeasure is that TBN is by no means the only religious network broadcasting poisonous false doctrine around the clock. The channel lineup I receive includes at least seven other channels whose schedules are filled with false teachers and charlatans. There's The Church Channel, Daystar, GodTV, World Harvest Television (LeSEA), Total Christian Television, and several others. Some of them feature blocs of family television programing and a few fairly sound teachers who provide moments of escape from the prosperity preachers. But all of them give prominence to enormous amounts of heresy and religious claptrap—enough to make them positively dangerous. And TBN is singularly responsible for kicking that door open so wide.
The continued growth and influence of TBN is baffling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the thick aura of lust, greed, and other kinds of moral impropriety that surrounds the whole enterprise. A long string of scandals involving notable charismatic televangelists between 1988 and 1992 should have been sufficient reason for even the most credulous viewers to scrutinize the entire industry with skepticism. First came the international spectacle of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's moral, marital, and financial collapse. That was followed closely by the revelation of Jimmy Swaggart's repeated dalliances with prostitutes. Shortly afterward, an episode of ABC's Primetime Live exposed clear examples of deliberate fraud on the part of three more leading charismatic televangelists. Those incidents were punctuated by a score of lesser scandals over several years' time. It is clear (or should be)—based on empirical evidence alone—that preachers promising miracles in exchange for money are not to be trusted. And for anyone who simply bothers to compare Jesus' teaching with the health-and-wealth message, it is clear that the message that currently dominates religious television is "a different gospel; which is really not another" (Galatians 1:6-7), but a damnable lie.
TBN is by far the leading perpetrator of that lie worldwide. Virtually all the network's main celebrities tell listeners that God will give them healing, wealth, and other material blessings in return for their money. On program after program people are urged to "plant a seed" by sending "the largest bill you have or the biggest check you can write" with the promise that God will miraculously make them rich in return. That same message dominates all of TBN's major fundraising drives. It's known as the "seed faith" plan, so-called by Oral Roberts, who set the pattern for most of the charismatic televangelists who have followed the trail he blazed. Paul Crouch, founder, chairman, and commander-in-chief of TBN, is one of the doctrine's staunchest defenders.
The only people who actually get rich by this scheme, of course, are the televangelists. Their people who send money get little in return but phony promises—and as a result, many of them turn away from the truth completely.
If the scheme seems reminiscent of Tetzel, that's because it is precisely the same doctrine. (Tetzel was a medieval monk whose high-pressure selling of indulgences—phony promises of forgiveness—outraged Martin Luther and touched off the Protestant Reformation.)
Like Tetzel, TBN preys on the poor and plies them with false promises. Yet what is happening daily on TBN is many times worse than the abuses that Luther decried because it is more widespread and more flagrant. The medium is more high-tech and the amounts bilked out of viewers' pockets are astronomically higher. (By most estimates, TBN is worth more than a billion dollars and rakes in $200 million annually. Those are direct contributions to the network, not counting millions more in donations sent directly to TBN broadcasters.) Like Tetzel on steroids, the Crouches and virtually all the key broadcasters on TBN live in garish opulence, while constantly begging their needy viewers for more money. Elderly, poor, and working-class viewers constitute TBN's primary demographic. And TBN's fundraisers all know that. The most desperate people—"unemployed," "even though I'm in between jobs," "trying to make it; trying to survive," "broke"—are baited with false promises to give what they do not even have. Jan Crouch addresses viewers as "you little people," and suggests that they send their grocery money to TBN "to assure God's blessing."
Thus TBN devours the poor while making the charlatans rich. God cursed false prophets in the Old Testament for that very thing (Jeremiah 6:13-15). It's also one of the main reasons the Pharisees incurred Jesus' condemnation (Luke 20:46-47). It's hard to think of any sin more evil. It not only hurts people materially; it deludes them with groundless hope, deceives them with a false gospel, and thereby places their souls in eternal peril. And yet those who do it pretend they are doing the work of God.
That's not all. Almost no false prophecy, erroneous doctrine, rank superstition, or silly claim is too outlandish to receive airtime on TBN. Jan Crouch tearfully gives a fanciful account of how her pet chicken was miraculously raised from the dead. Benny Hinn trumps that claim with a bizarre prophecy that if TBN viewers will put their dead loved ones' caskets in front of television set and touch the dead person's hand to the screen, people will "be raised from the dead . . . by the thousands."
Ironically, one doesn't even need to be an orthodox Trinitarian in order to broadcast on the Trinity network. Bishop T. D. Jakes, well known for his rejection of the Nicene creed in favor of oneness Pentecostalism, is a staple on TBN. Benny Hinn has repeatedly attempted to revise the doctrine of the Trinity in novel ways, notoriously teaching at one point that there are nine persons in the godhead.
And yet evangelical church leaders typically show a kind of benign tolerance toward the whole enterprise. Most would never endorse it, of course. They may joke about the gaudiness of the big hair and tawdry set decorations on TBN. Ask them, and they will most likely acknowledge that the prosperity gospel is no gospel at all. Press the issue, and you will probably get them to admit that it is a dangerous form of false doctrine, totally unbiblical, and essentially anti-Christian.
Why, then, is there no large-scale effort among Bible-believing evangelicals to expose, denounce, refute, and silence these false teachers? After all, that is what Scripture commands church leaders to do when we encounter purveyors of soul-destroying substitutes for the true gospel:
The overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain (Titus 1:7-11).
Those who remain silent in the face of such grotesque lies may in fact be partly responsible for turning people away from the truth. Consider the testimony of William Lobdell, religion reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who once considered himself a devout evangelical Christian, but after doing a series of investigative reports on the moral and doctrinal cesspool at TBN; then "finding that his investigative stories about faith healer Benny Hinn and televangelists Jan and Paul Crouch appear to make no difference on the reach of these ministries or the lives of their followers, he [gave] up on the beat and on religion generally."
All those who truly love Christ and care about the truth have a solemn duty to defend the truth by exposing and opposing these lies that masquerade as truth. If we fail in that duty because of indifference, apathy, or a craving for the approval of men, we are no less guilty than those who actively spread the lies.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.
In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.
As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”
Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment.
The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. www.markbatterson.com
This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah, but I would have purchased it anyhow! You can find out more on their website at - http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601421319
I have previously read and/or reviewed Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, and I read Mark's blog regularly.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Product Features and Technical Details
* 2.0GHz Intel Core2 Quad Q9000 Processor (6MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB)
* 4 GB DDR3 RAM (2 Dimm), Max supported 8 GB
* 500GB (7200RPM) SATA Hard Drive, LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD±R/RW with Double Layer Support
* 17.3" Diagonal HD+ High-Definition HP LED BrightViewWidescreen Display (1600 x 900); ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650 (M96) with up to 2.8 GB total available graphics memory with 1 GB dedicated
* Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, *Up to 4.5 Hours of Battery Life
Processor, Memory, and Motherboard
* Hardware Platform: PC
* Processor: 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad
* System Bus Speed: 1066
* Number of Processors: 4
* RAM: 4 GB
* RAM Type: SODIMM
* Size: 500 GB
* Manufacturer: Portable
* Type: Serial ATA
Graphics and Display
* Graphics RAM: 1024 MB
To go along with that I am getting a new mouse - HP Wireless Comfort Mobile Mouse (Espresso)
Up until this point I have been using my own personal laptop and an old mouse that I got in the late 90's. My personal laptop was purchased about 5 years ago to see me through Seminary. It did that well, but I have now literally worn through the plastic case in places from my use, and it is increasingly becoming unreliable. The power button doesn't always work, and both the fans and the hard drive are beginning to make noises. I honestly never expected it to last this long, but it has been a work horse for me - it's a Compaq Presario R3030.
I will have to secure a license for Microsoft Office 2007 and add to that Microsoft Outlook 2007 as well as a copy of Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate & VideoStudio Pro X2 Bundle so I can edit sermon and event videos and various photos that we use at church.
Forty Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day is a wonderfully insightful little book. Each of the "40 loaves" is a sermon-ette, a nugget of Biblical wisdom. The author poses a question in each segment that many people will relate to, questions related to life and faith. He then answers those questions with a combination of short stories, his personal life experience, and most importantly Biblical wisdom. Each segment is a quick read, and any of them can be read individually as needed. But I would encourage you to read them all. Struggle with the tough questions that are asked, like "Why do I want Jesus in my life?" or "Why is my life such a mess". Each segment is just a couple of small pages long, but each segment packs great faith shaping and Biblically grounded wisdom. I definately recommend this book, and I suspect I will be using it as a gift book in the very near future!
Why don’t I have more faith?
Why am I so bored with Jesus?
Why don’t I feel connected at church?
These are the types of questions the religious establishment often makes it uncomfortable, if not impossible, to ask. And by asking them, C. David Baker, author of Forty Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day hopes to start a conversation in people’s hearts, then with others, and ultimately with God. Many circles of Christianity have led us to believe that certainty and confidence are the proof of true spirituality; questions are discouraged.
But Jesus offered his followers an ongoing conversation—a relationship built around a free, open-ended discussion. Questions were encouraged. They were often impertinent, sometimes alarming, and the religious establishment was distinctly uncomfortable with them … just as it is today.
“40 Loaves is something of a collection of the kinds of questions I felt finally free to ask of myself and of my relationship with Christ,” says Baker. “It’s my belief that these questions are shared by many others who long for the freedom to simply ask them out loud. I hope this book becomes a platform that frees others to search their hearts more deeply and be fed with the Bread of life.”
Each “loaf” here is a big question that stimulates discussion, investigation, and contemplation; it will take hours—or days—to digest. Conversational, inviting, disarming, and real, 40 Loaves nourishes self-examination and offers validation for those who feel discouraged, guilty, or even shamed when the realities of their lives don’t match up with the ideals of the Christian establishment.
C. David Baker founded an award-winning business before redirecting his career to write full-time from his small farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is the author of eight books, including six novels, one of which was nominated for a Christy Award. He has contributed articles to the Christian History Institute’s international publication Glimpses, and to Christian Singles magazine. Baker has a Master’s degree in theological studies from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Learn more about this book at Random House Publishing.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
After doing quite a bit of looking at various Pack n Play option, this one clearly fit our need best. First, it is the largest among the normal pack n plays on the market giving our growing son more room to play in. Most of the pack n plays that I looked at are rated through 2 years of age, this one goes to 3 years. I suspect by the time he is three we won't be using it a whole lot, but it might still serve as a travel bed for our son at that age. The colors are bright with red, blue, yellow and green sides. There are various things (butterflies) for the child to play with sewn into the mesh sides. The butterflies are above where a child's face might press while sleeping, so there are no worries there. It does weigh 24lbs, but that really is only about 3lbs more than most of the other ones on the market.
Another thing I really liked is how all the reviewers raved about the simplicity of set up for this. When you have a screaming/crying child and you want it set up, you don't want some complex mechanism or multiple parts, and this pack n play is particularly simple to set up.
So some time in the next 7-10 days it should arrive and we'll set it up and give it a run. I'm excited to get it!
Friday, December 11, 2009
While previous research has suggested that between one-third and one-half of young people from church youth groups struggle with their faith after graduating from high school, a new longitudinal study is giving a more optimistic view of the impact of youth ministry.
The Fuller Youth Institute, which is governed by Fuller Theological Seminary, launched the College Transition Project in 2006 by studying 400 high school seniors during their first three years in college. Two to three years after finishing high school, former youth group students were asked, "Since leaving high school, what's changed about the way you view God?" They were given fourteen different types of responses to this open-ended question, ranging from "I don't think it has changed much" to "I have no more relationship with God" to "I have experienced God's faithfulness more deeply than I ever understood it in high school."
Interestingly, the top three answers that were chosen from the list all revealed positive changes.
- "I'm closer to God now"
- "God is bigger now than before"
- "Now I see that God is with me and for me"
An article released last week, Charting Students' Changing Views of God, which is the most recent analysis of the research, states that, "Overall, these themes reflect the positive changes of a greater integration of faith and everyday life, walking with God through problems, seeing God's character more clearly, and trusting God's love and grace more fully."
According to FYI, the research will eventually be translated into resources that can be used to help families and students better navigate the transition to college.
For further information about this ongoing study, and for its implications for ministry, visit the Fuller Youth Institute.
(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
Monday, December 07, 2009
Based on the most recent Pew Internet report, the median ages of some of the most popular social networks are:
Given that fact, how is your church using social media for ministry throughout the church (kids and adults alike)?
Sunday, December 06, 2009
1 Bag of Old Dutch Puffcorn
1 Cup of Butter (Not Margarine)
1 1/4 Cups of Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup of Light Corn Syrup
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
Preparation: Preheat oven to 250°F. Combine butter, brown sugar, and light corn syrup in a 2 quart sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until mixture has melted. Once mixture has melted add the baking soda. (Note: This will cause the mixture to foam) In a large roaster pan pour Old Dutch Puffcorn and pour caramel mixture over the Old Dutch Puffcorn and stir until mixed. Place in oven for 45 minutes, stirring at least every 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, pour on wax paper and break apart. Let cool and ENJOY!
The following post was first an email to a young church planter seeking counsel. He is planting a church in a rough area. Not a few of those who are getting converted have been living together, sometimes with children, sometimes for years, without getting married. His question, then, is what should be said to these couples where one of the pair gets converted, and the other, so far, does not. Should the advice be to get married? Or is that encouraging people to be unequally yoked?
The question you’re facing is really about what marriage is, according to the Bible. At various times, I’ve faced the same questions you are now facing. The following are some guidelines. Some of these depend directly on what the Bible says, and some belong in the domain of prudential wisdom that is itself shaped by the Bible.
(1) In the Bible, marriage is more than sexual union between a man and a woman, but it is not less. It also includes public commitment to each other in some public, legal, and culturally acknowledged way that sets this pair apart as husband and wife. In the nomadic culture of Abraham’s day, a part of the ceremony was for the groom to take his bride “into his mother’s tent” (so Isaac) — that was the equivalent of the wedding night. Under the law of Moses, if A and B sleep together, and if it is clearly not rape, the law does not say, “Oh, well, I guess that makes them married.” No, the dowry must still be paid (that was part of the public declaration of marriage under that culture), the two families are involved, etc. So today, if A & B have been living together in sexual intimacy for some time, but without benefit of public attestation (whether in a church or before, say, a justice of the peace), they are not really “married” in the full sense of that term (the sexual union is there, but not the public mutual commitment according to the laws of our day); but equally, if A & B take vows of marriage and then don’t sleep together, this is not fully “marriage” either.
(2) The right thing to do, in both cases, is usually (I can think of one or two difficult exceptions!) to finalize the other part. It is not to try to undo what has already been done! One cannot “undo” this sustained sexual, common-law, union. Thus to demand that a couple tear themselves apart after they’ve been living together for, say, five years, with perhaps a child or two, simply won’t do. What needs to be urged upon them is that they get “married” legally — i.e., publicly, according to the cultural standards of the state.
(3) But, someone asks, suppose that B has become a Christian, and A is still an unbeliever: isn’t going ahead with (the legal part of) marriage in danger of making them unequally yoked together? In response: (a) If A and B were fully married (i.e., legally, and in sexual consummation) when they were both unbelievers, and then one of them became a Christian, we would not say that this means they should break up. In fact, in 1 Cor. 7 Paul explicitly tells the Christian partner in such cases not to leave. Indeed, the Christian spouse is to be exemplary in conduct and grace, in the hope of winning over his or her family. The prohibition of being unequally yoked together, when applied to marriage, envisages two people who are not married in any sense. But if one person in a marriage of two pagans becomes a Christian, Paul never applies the “don’t be unequally yoked” command to break up a marriage that is already in place. In fact, as we see in 1 Cor. 7, quite the reverse. (b) So what’s the difference if A & B are simply living together, but not legally married? The difference, of course, is that they are not fully married as the Bible sees marriage; but they have well and truly started the process! They cannot undo what has been done. To pretend otherwise is foolish. The way ahead is to encourage the completion of the process, not the undoing of what cannot be undone.
(4) In most cases, the unbelieving partner will go along with this plan, if the matter is approached graciously, wisely, humbly. If not, then a new set of questions arises that is not addressed in your email.
(5) You may remember that in my first point, above, I included the options “whether in a church or before, say, a justice of the peace.” When A and B are both Christians, it is normal, in this country, for them to get married in a church, and then we speak of a Christian wedding. But it is important to see that, strictly speaking, marriage (despite the Roman Catholic Church), is not a sacrament to be reserved for Christians. It is a creation ordinance — that is, it is part of the plan of creation itself, something that God has ordained for man/woman pairs everywhere, not something that flows out of the life of the church and that belongs only to Christians.
In France, for example, all marriages must be performed before a civil authority. I see no objection to that; in fact, I think it is a good thing (even if it arose in France for bad reasons), for it clarifies issues. In France, where A and B are Christians, they will get married before the local civil authority, and then have a separate ceremony within the congregation — a ceremony that has no culturally-defined legal standing, but becomes an opportunity to remember how the gift of God that we call marriage is elevated and transformed when put within the framework of the gospel. We learn, for instance, of its typological connection with Christ and the church; we learn that apostasy and adultery have similar roots and condemnations; we learn that God himself dares to speak of the marriage supper of the Lamb; we are reminded of God’s wise provision of marriage, of the place and importance of children reared in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and so on.
In America (and most Anglo-Saxon countries), when a marriage takes place within a congregation (and usually in a church building), the minister officiating is acting partly as a minister of the gospel and partly as a licensed official of the state. That is why it is not legal for anyone who chooses to do so to officiate: there must be some sort of legal standing. Fair enough; I can live with that. But my point in the case you are talking about must not be hung up on whether the legal marriage ceremony takes place in a church building under the jurisdiction of a minister, or under the jurisdiction of a justice of the peace. It will be clear by now that I do not think the minister is sinning if he legally joins A and B together, where they have been living together for some time and where one of the two has now become a Christian. But equally, if the unbeliever in this case is willing to get married, but not within the context of the church, fine — encourage them to get married, and be sure you attend the ceremony and applaud them. There does not have to be a minister in order to be “done” properly. We have no interest in preserving the vestiges of medieval Catholic theology of marriage.
(6) Earlier I mentioned a couple of exceptions. Let me take up only one. Suppose A and B are 19 and 18 years of age respectively. Suppose they have both been sleeping around for some time. Suppose B now becomes a Christian. Is she (or he) now morally obligated to marry the last person she (or he) has been with? I doubt it. What is required is the kind of deep repentance that turns from such sin and pledges celibate living until genuine marriage. Obviously you could then conjure up hard cases where you are uncertain if what you are facing is one of these exceptions or not. If the principles are clear, a great deal of prudential wisdom may nevertheless be required in the application of the principles.
I hope these reflections help. If you need to follow up with me, please do not hesitate to do so.
D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
In 2007, Darrin Patrick (Lead Pastor - The Journey) spoke at the Seattle Boot Camp on "Preaching the Mission." Here is an excerpt from his talk where he explains the steps of sermon preparation that are to follow meditation - exegesis and application.
Questions preachers should ask themselves during these stages of sermon preparation are:Exegesis – Discerning the meaning of the text
- What does the text say?
- How did the original audience here this text?
- What does this mean for me?
- What does this mean for the church?
- What connection is there between original audience and my audience?
- What sin keeps us from doing the text?
- What principles can I extract from the text that will speak to my audience?
- How is Jesus the hero?
You can hear the full version of Darrin Patrick's Preaching the Misson here.
Friday, December 04, 2009
"That's the wrong statement," said Sen. Ruben Diaz, a conservative minister from the Bronx, who led the mostly Republican opposition. "You should carry your Bible all the time." [The Associated Press]
Thursday, December 03, 2009
For example, the "rules" remind school administrators, employers and city officials that:
- Public school students' written or spoken personal expressions concerning the religious significance of Christmas (e.g., T-shirts with the slogan, "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season") may not be censored by school officials.
- Neither public nor private employers may prevent employees from decorating their offices for Christmas, playing Christmas music, or wearing clothing related to Christmas merely because of their religious content, so long as these activities are not used to harass or intimidate others.
- Government entities may erect and maintain celebrations of the Christmas holiday, such as Christmas trees and Christmas light displays, and may include crèches in their displays as long as the purpose for including the crèche is not to promote its religious content and it is placed in context with other symbols of the holiday season as part of an effort to celebrate the public Christmas holiday through its traditional symbols.
Click here for the complete list of rules. The Rutherford Institute is a civil liberties organization that provides free legal services to people whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.
(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Young pastors or seminarians often ask me for advice on what kind of early ministry experience to seek in order to best grow in skill and wisdom as a pastor. They often are surprised when I tell them to consider being a 'country parson' -- namely, the solo pastor of a small church, many or most of which are in non-urban settings. Let me quickly emphasize the word 'consider.' I would never insist that everyone must follow this path. Nevertheless, it is worth thinking about. It was great for me.
Many young leaders perceive that the ideal first ministry position would be a position on the staff of a large church with an older, mature pastor to mentor them. The limits of this model are several. You can't teach a younger pastor much about things they aren't actually doing. And in a large church they aren't a) bearing the burden of being the main leader, b) leading a board of elders, c) fund-raising and bearing the final responsibility of having enough money to do ministry, d) and doing the gamut of counseling, shepherding, teaching, preaching. In a smaller church as a solo pastor you and only you visit the elderly, do all the weddings and funerals, sit by the bedside of every dying parishioner, do all the marriage counseling, suspend and excommunicate, work with musicians, craft and lead worship, speak at every men's retreat, women's retreat, and youth retreat, write all the Bible studies and often Sunday School curriculum, train all the small group leaders, speak at the nursing home, work with your diaconate as they try to help families out of poverty, evangelize and welcome new visitors to the church, train volunteers to do some (but not all) of all of the above tasks, and deal with the once-a-month relational or financial crisis in the church. No amount of mentoring can teach you what you learn from doing all those things.
Some will be surprised to hear me say this, since they know my emphasis on ministry in the city. Yes, I believe firmly that the evangelical church has neglected the city. It still is difficult to get Christians and Christian leaders to make the sacrifices necessary to live their lives out in cities. However, the disdain many people have for urban areas is no worse than the condescending attitudes many have toward small towns and small churches.
Young pastors should not turn up their noses at such places, where they may learn the full spectrum of ministry tasks and skills as they will not in a large church. Nor should they go to small communities looking at them merely as stepping stones in a career. Why not? Your early ministry experience will only prepare you for 'bigger things,' if you don't aspire for anything bigger than investment in the lives of the people around you. Wherever you serve, put your roots down, become a member of the community and do your ministry with all your heart and might. If God opens the door to go somewhere else, fine and good. But don't go to such places looking at them only as training grounds for 'real ministry.'
My own pathway of personal development began with nine years of being the pastor of a small church in a small town. This equipped me well for church planting in New York City, because, when you start a church, you must be a generalist, not the specialist that large churches create. I repeat -- I am not proposing that everyone follow the same course. Being a 'country parson' is not the right move for everyone. But for some it is.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
In October 2008, Mars Hill Church hosted a Biblical Parenting Conference with Dr. Tedd Tripp, who presented biblical teaching on topics from formative instruction to corrective discipline. Listen to streaming audio or watch video by clicking on the links below.
Session 1: Helping Kids Understand Authority – Tedd Tripp
Session 2: Helping Kids Understand the Heart – Tedd Tripp
Session 3: Overview of Corrective Discipline – Tedd Tripp
Session 4: Giving Kids a Vision for God’s Glory – Tedd Tripp
Session 5: The Call to Formative Instruction – Tedd Tripp
For more on parenting, check out these resources:
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp
- Instructing a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp
- Pastor Dad, free e-book by Mark Driscoll
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
With all of the time, money and effort that parents and churches invest in the spiritual growth of children, we find ourselves often wondering if there is really any statistical connection between childhood faith and adult religious commitment. A recent study by the Barna Group provides new insights into the age-old question.
The survey asked adults to think back on their upbringing and to describe the frequency of their involvement in Sunday school or religious training. The researchers then compared these responses to the current level of faith activity of these adults.
More than 80 percent of adults remembered consistently attending Sunday school or some other religious training before the age of 12. Seven out of 10 adults (69%) said they attended such programs weekly.
About 70 percent also recalled going to Sunday school or other religious programs for teens at least once a month. Half (50%) indicated they had gone to such teen programs at least once a week when growing up.
In connecting childhood and teen engagement with adult spirituality, the Barna team used four elements of adult religious commitment: attending church, having an active faith (defined as reading the Bible, praying and attending church in the last week), being unchurched, and switching from childhood faith.
"Those who attended Sunday school or other religious programs as children and teens were much more likely than those without such experiences to attend church and to have an active faith as adults," concluded the report. Fifty percent of those who attended such programs as a child said they have attended a worship service in the last week, which is slightly higher than the national average and much higher than those who did not attend such programs as children. Among those who frequently attended religious programs as teens, 58 percent said they had attended a worship service in the last week.
Being unchurched or changing from one's childhood faith were also correlated to early-life spiritual experiences. The study asked if people had the same faith perspectives today as when the were children or whether they had ever significantly changed their views. Twenty-two percent of those who recalled frequent religious attendance as children had changed their faith views from those held as a child. Among those who attended religious programs as teens, 21 percent had changed their core faith views.
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, noted, "It is important to clarify what this research does and does not indicate. First, correlation does not imply causation. This means that the research does not prove that spiritual activity as a young person causes spiritual engagement as an adult. In fact, the research confirms the pattern that many students who are active in early life disengage from their faith as they get older. And people's recollections of childhood activities are only one limited way of understanding faith durability. ... [However,] it provides clarity that the odds of one sticking with faith over a lifetime are enhanced in a positive direction by spiritual activity under the age of 18."
(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
We dedicated our son, Justice, last Sunday at First Congregational Church of Waseca, MN. Both sets of grandparents were there for this which was really nice. Special thanks to Mr. Al Judd for helping with the ceremony and issuing the charges!
Hunger relief advocates came to Congress last week and painted a bleak picture of a country struggling to meet an increased need for food assistance at a time of high unemployment. Soup kitchen workers are seeing new faces in line and charities are taking more calls for help.
"In our 42-year history, we have never witnessed a demand for our services like we are seeing now," said Josh Fogt, public policy manager for Northwest Harvest in Seattle — Washington state's largest food bank. The organization receives more than 2,500 visitors on busy days, up from a peak of 1,800 early last year, Fogt told members of the House Ways and Means Committee. "Hunger relief is truly a growth industry and we are increasingly being asked to do more with less."
Charities and nonprofit groups called on lawmakers to give people tax incentives to donate to charities, expand federal nutrition programs and spend more on programs to help people prepare for work. The congressional hearing on food banks followed an Agriculture Department report that more than one in seven households struggled to put enough food on the table in 2008 — the highest rate since the agency began tracking food security in 1995. That's about 49 million people, or 14.6 percent of U.S. households, counted as lacking the food for an active, healthy life. The 17 million households represented by these figures is up from 13 million the year before.
In October, the Catholic Charities of Central Texas' food pantry fed 2,637 people — its largest monthly number, the agency reported. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada saw its number of food bank clients double from July to September, compared with the same period last year.
Candy Hill of Catholic Charities USA said local agencies are getting more requests from first-time clients. The Catholic Charities office in Youngstown, Ohio, is getting 70 calls a day for help with food and utilities — up from 100 a month last year, Hill said. "It will not only take government being our partner, but it will also take all of us — corporations, philanthropy and individual donors — to solve the extreme problem of hunger in our country today." [The Associated Press]
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Intro to the The Manhattan Declaration:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
- the sanctity of human life
- the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
- the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.Preamble
Christians are heirs of a 2,000year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.
While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire’s sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.
After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the 16 th and 17 th centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce’s leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.
In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.
This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes – from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.
Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.
You can find the whole document HERE.
I signed it, and would invite you to consider doing so as well.