- 3-in-1 potty, step stool and trainer seat
- Truck design made just for boys
- Rewards child with real truck sounds
- Bonus stickers included (to reward the child with!)
Friday, December 31, 2010
1. The proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near the Ground Zero site.
2. The earthquake in Haiti that sparked relief efforts by many faith-based groups.
3. Pope Benedict XVI is accused of delaying church action against pedophile priests in Ireland, Germany and the United States.
4. The rise of the Tea Party movement, which is seen by some as a return to political prominence for the religious right.
5. President Obama signs the health-care reform bill which will impact many faith-based groups. Pro-life organizations are concerned that the legislation will provide funding for abortions.
6. The role of homosexual clergy among mainline congregations continued to be a hot topic in 2010. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA votes for the fourth time to lift the ban on noncelibate gay clergy. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America suffers scores of defections after its 2009 vote on the issue. The Episcopal Church is asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury to take a lesser role in the Anglican Communion after a lesbian assistant bishop is ordained.
7. The economic slump was an ongoing challenge for churches and ministries. The Crystal Cathedral declares bankruptcy. The Lutheran publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, drops its pension plan. The Seventh-day Adventist publishing arm removes top executives.
8. Bullying draws attention with several suicides attributed to it. Religious groups strongly condemn it, but some see it as having religious roots, especially in regards to homosexuality.
9. The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey released by the Pew Forum offers some surprising findings, including that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons had the highest correct answers to general questions about religion.
10. Convening for the first time ever without a Protestant in its number (six Catholics and three Jews), the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the Kansas church that loudly protests at funerals of servicemen. Earlier in the year, the Court allowed a cross to remain at least temporarily on National Park land in the Mojave Desert. For the complete list go to 2010 Religion Stories of the Year.
(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I'm excited for what 2011 has in store. I'm blessed to not have to preach the next two weeks with the more than capable Brenton Balvin filling in for me both weeks. By the way, if you need someone for pulpit supply, I'll put you in touch with Brenton - he's very capable and widely available for preaching engagements.
Then in just under a week we have our 5 year wedding anniversary. I think I have something planned my wife will really enjoy, I just hope it doesn't kill me! If you don't hear from me on Facebook after December 31st, you'll know I met my tragic end bringing joy to my wife.
And while this is our son's 2nd Christmas, it's really the first one he's able to participate in. Earlier tonight he got to open a few gifts, and has discovered he really enjoys that process. Tomorrow should be fun!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The three places in the nation with the highest median household income are all in Virginia, according to census data released Tuesday, while those with the highest rates of poverty are in four American Indian reservations, all in South Dakota.
The Virginia counties of Fairfax and Loudoun and the city of Falls Church had the highest median income, the data said, which spans 2005 to 2009. Falls Church was the highest at $113,313, up by 17 percent from 2000. The lowest median income was in Owsley County, Ky., at $18,869.
Of the five counties with poverty rates higher than 39 percent, four contain or are in reservations in South Dakota. The fifth, Willacy County, Tex., is on the Gulf Coast.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
By Mark Driscoll - from the Washington Post.
'Tis the season . . . for parents to decide if they will tell the truth about Santa.
When it comes to cultural issues like Santa, Christians have three options: (1) we can reject it, (2) we can receive it, or (3) we can redeem it.
Since Santa is so pervasive in our culture, it is nearly impossible to simply reject Santa as part of our annual cultural landscape. Still, as parents we don't feel we can simply receive the entire story of Santa because there is a lot of myth built on top of a true story.
So, as the parents of five children, Grace and I have taken the third position to redeem Santa. We tell our kids that he was a real person who did live a long time ago. We also explain how people dress up as Santa and pretend to be him for fun, kind of like how young children like to dress up as pirates, princesses, superheroes, and a host of other people, real and imaginary. We explain how, in addition to the actual story of Santa, a lot of other stories have been added (e.g., flying reindeer, living in the North Pole, delivering presents to every child in one night) so that Santa is a combination of true and make-believe stories.
We do not, however, demonize Santa. Dressing up, having fun, and using the imagination God gave can be an act of holy worship and is something that, frankly, a lot of adults need to learn from children.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
At the 1:47 mark you'll see a tree light up on the left hand side of the video (watch full screen!). That tree stands next to the Federal Building. Just a few days prior it stood in my parents' front lawn! That tree was planted by us in 1980, and concludes its life in a very beautiful way - as a reminder of CHRISTmas.
A time lapse of two early holiday events in Sioux Falls, South Dakota that took place in late November, 2010
The original music was written and performed by my friend Liz Teel. The song is called "Gloria."
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
- Among all white voters who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, 78 percent voted Republican this year, compared to 70 percent in 2008 and 2006.
- Among voters who attend religious services at least weekly, 60 percent voted Republican, while only 44 percent of those who attend services less often voted Republican.
- Among voters with no religious affiliation, 66 percent voted for Democratic candidates, down from 72 percent in 2008.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
As a frequent customer of Amazon.com, I'd say this isn't censorship, but rather wisdom.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
- Polling usually shows that 40-50% of Americans attend church once a month. The real answer?
- Less than 20%. And that number is shrinking
- From 1990 to 2050, church attendance is expected to grow by 10 million people
- The population is expected to grow by 272 million people
- The church is China has grown from 200,000 to an estimated 120 million while facing intense persecution under the Communist regime
- In 1900, an estimated 9 million Africans were Christians
- By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 633 million
- 15% of American churches are growing but less than 5% are growing by new Christians
- In a recent five year period, 10,000 American churches disappeared
Monday, November 15, 2010
Gospel of John in reverse - An Advent Discipline
40 Days to Christmas beginning November 16
Day 1 - Chapter 21
Jesus' Appearance to Seven Disciples Who Were Fishing (21:1-14)
Jesus' Final Words to Peter (21:15-23)
Second ending to the gospel (21:24-25)
Day 2 - Resurrection Narrative - Chapter 20
First Evidence of Jesus' Resurrection (20:1-10)
Jesus' Appearance to Mary Magdalene (20:11-18)
Jesus' Appearance to Thomas (20:19-29)
First ending: The Purpose of the Gospel (20:30-31)
Day 3 - Passion Narrative
The Crucifixion and Burial Of Jesus (19:16b-42)
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Many people wonder what U.S. city is least churched. Areas with the largest share of unchurched adults included San Francisco (44% of whom had not been to a religious worship service in the last six months), Portland, Maine (43%), Portland, Oregon (42%), Albany (42%), Boston (40%), Sacramento (40%), Seattle (40%), Spokane (39%), New York (38%), Phoenix (38%), Tucson (37%), and West Palm Beach (37%), among 85 major cities studied by Barna Research Group based on 40,000 interviews conducted over the last 7 years.
By contrast weekly church attendance was highest among residents of Birmingham (67%), followed by Baton Rouge (62%), Salt Lake City (62%), and Huntsville (60%). In another approach to the same questions, cities with lowest share of self-identified Christians inhabited the following markets: San Francisco (68%), Portland, Oregon (71%), Portland, Maine (72%), Seattle (73%), Sacramento (73%), New York (73%), San Diego (75%), Los Angeles (75%), Boston (76%), Phoenix (78%), Miami (78%), Las Vegas (78%), and Denver (78%). Even in these cities, however, roughly three out of every four residents align with Christianity.
The cities with the highest proportion of residents who describe themselves as Christian are typically in the South, including: Shreveport (98%), Birmingham (96%), Charlotte (96%), Nashville (95%), Greenville, SC / Asheville, NC (94%), New Orleans (94%), Indianapolis (93%), Lexington (93%), Roanoke-Lynchburg (93%), Little Rock (92%), and Memphis (92%).
The research also pointed out some other interesting church engagement patterns. For instance, the markets with the highest proportions of Christians who attend megachurches (1,000 or more adult attenders) included Las Vegas, Orlando, Dallas, San Diego, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Houston. A similar pattern was discovered when it came to those who felt a “responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs.”
Evangelism was firmly endorsed by a majority of those residing in Birmingham (64% said they agreed strongly that a person has a responsibility to share their beliefs with others) and Charlotte (54%); residents of Providence (14%) and Boston (17%), among other cities, were generally least supportive of such faith-sharing activities.
David Kinnaman, who directed the research project for Barna Group, commented that “one of the underlying stories is the remarkably resilient and mainstream nature of Christianity in America. Nearly three out of four people call themselves Christians, even among the least ‘Christianized’ cities. Furthermore, a majority of U.S. residents, regardless of location, engage in a church at some level in a typical six-month period.”
Monday, November 01, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Joel Oster, a spokesman for the Alliance Defense Fund who is representing the woman, confirmed that ADF sent a letter to the state explaining that such housing rules don't apply to people living in their own homes and wanting to share their resources.
"[Tricia] is a single lady looking for a roommate. She is not a landlord. She does not own a management company. She does not run an apartment complex. She is a single person seeking to have a roommate live with her in her house," the letter said.
Oster also said that the government's actions blatantly violated her First Amendment rights to freedom of association and asked that the complaint be immediately dismissed. [CitizenLink.com, WorldNetDaily.com]
Friday, October 29, 2010
- Forty-seven percent of pastors who identify themselves as Democrat, strongly approve of the president's performance.
- Three percent of Republican pastors and 10 percent of Independent pastors strongly approve of the president's performance.
- Fifty-five percent of pastors who consider themselves evangelical, strongly disapprove of the president's job performance, compared to 34 percent of mainline pastors.
Friday, October 22, 2010
My book was provided free of charge via BookSneeze, but I am not paid for my review, and have sole authorial control over this review.
The first thing that I noticed was that similar to "How People Grow" this book rates high on readability. It is easy to pick up, follow, and to read for long stretches. As a reviewer, I try to read all the way through the books given to me, and read them thoroughly so I have a good feel for the materials, so readability is important.
Because I am in full time ministry, I was really hopeful for the content in this book. It is asking a big, weighty theological question. While many would not phrase it just like that, almost everyone of faith who has times of struggle contemplate something similar. As a pastor with a vast collection of books and resources, I found the book didn't cover a lot of new ground for me, but that is not a negative actually. What I really like about this book is that the material remains approachable for the average person, connecting real stories with real life in ways someone without an advanced graduate degree could absorb, learn from, and use. While I could nit-pick a few points here and there, and would personally have gone a bit deeper, those are tiny criticisms of what is overall a very solid book.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
(below is just a segment of the larger article, click through to see it all)
But it didn’t happen. The pastor in South Dakota owned a home. Everyone expected it would sell quickly, because the Lord had evidently called him to move. But after 10 months, the house still did not sell. And he could not afford the huge loss he would sustain by cutting the asking price. Killeen Bible Church briefly considered buying the house themselves and trying to sell it, but they decided against taking the risk.
Finally, the pastor and elders reached a mutual agreement in October 2009 to stop the process. The pastor in South Dakota stayed home and planted a church. Though their plans changed, everyone agreed that the sovereign hand of God had redirected them.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
During Catalyst Conference, Francis Chan discussed following Biblical simplicity.
This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord , have spoken!You should brag about the fact that you know God.
- Jeremiah 9:23-24
God answers prayer. But he doesn’t always answer prayer. The Bible says if you treat your wife with disrespect, He doesn’t hear your prayer. If you doubt, it is like you are being tossed by the waves of the sea.
A lot of times we just assume things are good. But there are plenty of times that God says, “Just stop it because I am looking at your life.”
Sometimes we need simplicity.
I know God, and He listens to me.Think about that.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
What is Clergy Appreciation Month?Clergy Appreciation Month is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication and multiple blessings provided by these special people. It is typically scheduled in October, but can be held at any time that is convenient for the church and the community. It is also important to remember that appreciation, affirmation and prayer support of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year.
Why is CAM necessary?The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments — the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.
Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are disappointed when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems depressed, lets us down or completely burns out.
That's why God has instructed us to recognize His servants.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
- Seventy-five percent believe that students should be able to speak about their faith at public school events.
- Seventy-five percent support the proclaiming of a National Day of Prayer by the Congress or the President.
- Sixty-one percent believe that the freedom to worship "applies to all religious groups regardless of how extreme their views are."
- Twenty-eight percent said that freedom to worship "never was intended to apply to groups most people would consider fringe or extreme."
- Sixty-six percent believe that the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The battle against the sexualization of our children
The American Psychological Association (APA) warns that this sexualization of girls is harmful to their self-image and healthy development. "[Girls are] experiencing teen pressures at younger and younger ages. However, they are not able to deal with these issues because their cognitive development is out of sync with their social, emotional and sexual development," the APA reported.
The proliferation of sexual images also undermines a girl's confidence in her own body. In fact, research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women — eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.
Let's take a closer look at some of the cultural influences bombarding our daughters.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
A lot of this come from Stetzer’s book - Transformational Church: Creating a new Scorecard for Congregations.
Normal Church in America is under 100 in weekly attendance.
How is God working outside the walls of your church?
Ed Stetzer & Thom Rainer
Vibrant leadership, Relational Intentionality & Prayerful Dependence
Discern --> Embrace --> Engage --> Discern…
The “how” of ministry is shaped by the who/when/where of the culture.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
The bill would outlaw any government funds or contracts with religious organizations that do not agree to "refrain from considering religion or any profession of faith" when making employment decisions. According to the bill, it would affect "licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral counselors, psychosocial rehabilitation specialists, and any other individual determined to be appropriate by the Secretary."
A letter was sent to every member of Congress last week (Aug. 25) from several evangelical charities such as World Vision, the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Orthodox Jews that said the bill "would be catastrophic" to their religious freedom and to their missions to serve the needy. It asked lawmakers to reject any legislation that would "dilute the right of faith-based social service organizations to stay faith-based through their hiring."
"Stripping away the religious hiring rights of religious service providers violates the principle of religious freedom, and represents bad practice in the delivery of social services," said Anthony Picarello, general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The religious leaders say the religious hiring rights can be traced to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and even to the First Amendment of the Constitution. A unanimous 1987 Supreme Court decision also upheld the right of religious organizations to hire people of the same faith, ruling that the practice does not violate the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Interestingly, on Monday, Aug. 23, a federal appeals court ruled that World Vision, the Christian humanitarian giant, who signed and released the Aug. 25 letter, can fire employees who do not share its theological tenets. (See article below)
Another open letter was sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also urging him not to "dilute the right of faith-based" charities to "stay faith-based through their hiring." Many of the 100 signatories were presidents of small Christian colleges. [HuffingtonPost.com, CitizenLink.com, WashingtonWatch.com, Catholic News Service]
Court Rules in Favor of World Vision
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Monday of last week that World Vision, a faith-based relief organization, was free to hire and terminate based on its statement of faith. The case has been closely watched by religious organizations and nonprofits who receive federal funding. The ruling is a result of three World Vision employees who were found to have lied during the hiring process about specifics of their faith and were immediately released. The former employees are expected to appeal the decision. The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits religious discriminations; however the court ruled that World Vision was exempt from Title VII of the Act for "a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities."
Steve McFarland, chief legal officer for World Vision, was pleased with the ruling and said, "What's at stake is the religious freedom of every individual and church and para-church organization and faith-based organization in the country. Every member of Congress asks and discriminates against job applicants based on their political persuasion. Even Planned Parenthood asks where your politics are with respect to the sanctity of human life. You can call it the bad word 'discrimination,' but it's called 'free association.'" [CitizenLink.com]
(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)
Monday, August 30, 2010
The Gospel Coalition Council members Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris ask Francis Chan why he stepped down as senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, and what he plans to do next.
1. Relationship with God
2. Emotional Health/Self Image
3. Relational Ability
4. Marriage/Family Relationships
5. Personal Integrity
6. Vision/Philosophy of Ministry
8. Leadership Gifts/Ability
9. Entrepreneurial Organizer
10. Public Ministry Skills
14. Knowledge of Church Planting
16. Ability to Motivate Others
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Have you ever wondered why modern translations of the Bible don’t have certain verses found in the King James Bible? This can be a sensitive pastoral issue, especially in some regions of the United States.
I occasionally get requests for recommended resources on how to respond, and thought I’d pull together a few popular-level pieces in this post.
Here is New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace:
The Greek text which stands behind the King James Bible is demonstrably inferior in certain places. The man who edited the text was a Roman Catholic priest and humanist named Erasmus. He was under pressure to get it to the press as soon as possible since (a) no edition of the Greek New Testament had yet been published, and (b) he had heard that Cardinal Ximenes and his associates were just about to publish an edition of the Greek New Testament and he was in a race to beat them. Consequently, his edition has been called the most poorly edited volume in all of literature! It is filled with hundreds of typographical errors which even Erasmus would acknowledge.Wallace highlights two examples, starting with Revelation 22:
In the last six verses of Revelation, Erasmus had no Greek manuscript (=MS) (he only used half a dozen, very late MSS for the whole New Testament any way). He was therefore forced to ‘back-translate’ the Latin into Greek and by so doing he created seventeen variants which have never been found in any other Greek MS of Revelation! He merely guessed at what the Greek might have been.Then 1 John 5:7-8:
For 1 John 5:7-8, Erasmus followed the majority of MSS in reading “there are three witnesses in heaven, the Spirit and the water and the blood.” However, there was an uproar in some Roman Catholic circles because his text did not read “there are three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.” Erasmus said that he did not put that in the text because he found no Greek MSS which had that reading. This implicit challenge—viz., that if he found such a reading in any Greek MS, he would put it in his text—did not go unnoticed. In 1520, a scribe at Oxford named Roy made such a Greek MS (codex 61, now in Dublin). Erasmus’ third edition had the second reading because such a Greek MS was ‘made to order’ to fill the challenge! To date, only a handful of Greek MSS have been discovered which have the Trinitarian formula in 1 John 5:7-8, though none of them is demonstrably earlier than the sixteenth century.Wallace explains that he and many other textual critics would personally prefer to retain these readings, but integrity demands that we go with the best available evidence:
It illustrates something quite significant with regard to the textual tradition which stands behind the King James. Probably most textual critics today fully embrace the doctrine of the Trinity (and, of course, all evangelical textual critics do). And most would like to see the Trinity explicitly taught in 1 John 5:7-8. But most reject this reading as an invention of some overly zealous scribe. The problem is that the King James Bible is filled with readings which have been created by overly zealous scribes! Very few of the distinctive King James readings are demonstrably ancient. And most textual critics just happen to embrace the reasonable proposition that the most ancient MSS tend to be more reliable since they stand closer to the date of the autographs. I myself would love to see many of the King James readings retained. . . . But when the textual evidence shows me both that scribes had a strong tendency to add, rather than subtract, and that most of these additions are found in the more recent MSS, rather than the more ancient, I find it difficult to accept intellectually the very passages which I have always embraced emotionally.
Friday, August 13, 2010
The U.N. adopted the UNCRC on Nov. 20, 1989. Twenty nations signed on to enforce the treaty by Sept 2, 1990. That number is currently 193 nations, with the exception of the United States and Somalia. Nations that ratify U.N. treaties are bound to adhere to them by international law. If the Senate approves of this treaty, the United States would fall under the jurisdiction of an 18-member panel that oversees children's rights in nations that are part of the treaty. Among rights threatened would be parents' ability to direct their children's spiritual upbringing, as well as what and when they learn about sexuality.
Sen. DeMint is in the forefront of opposition to the convention and has introduced a resolution (S.R. 519) that asks the Senate not to ratify the UNCRC, as it "undermines traditional principles of law in the United States regarding parents and children." Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is leading the charge for its adoption. So far, S.R. 519 has at least 30 co-sponsors. [CNSNews.com, CitizenLink.com]
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
It is easier to raise a baby than to raise the dead!
-many churches are flat to declining
-studied 324 churches
What principles from Comeback Churches could guide pastors and churches down the path of revitalization?
What are some barriers to spiritual growth?
-self-focused leaders and churches
-when it all about you it is hard to focus on Christ
-Experiencing God’s discipline
-past problems in the church keeping new people from coming
-Lack of radical faith/reliance
-can’t live off the faithfulness of people in the past
-Doing instead of being the church
-just going through the motions rather than living out faith
-Watering down the gospel/truth
-Distracted from our first love
-if the 50’s come back, many of our churches are ready to go!
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Friday, August 06, 2010
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science. We are excited about what they will develop next as we continue to create innovations with the potential to advance technology and the wider web.
Yeah, it taught you people still care about their privacy. It taught you that you are not the goose that lays golden eggs. And it taught you how NOT to roll out a new product. Google Wave fail.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
This is the review I have posted at Amazon.com.
I really wanted to like this album. But I'm not an uncritical fanboy, so I can't. Sure, I don't hate it, it isn't bad. But it isn't special like some would have you believe. Don't drink that Kool Aid blindly.
My favorite part of the album as a whole is the overall ebb and flow of pace and style that keeps it at least interesting and listenable. It is music you can put on while driving down the road, and then tune out while you think of something else. But that isn't what I want in my music. I want it to grab me, to change me, to make me feel something, but mostly all I get from this is indifferent meh.
Some of the tracks really seem like they are trying to hard to be different. There is nothing wrong with different, but being different just to be different almost never works out unless your name is Beck.
1. The Suburbs - solid start, creative and catchy.
2. Ready to Start - R.E.M. does this better. So did The Cure.
3. Modern Man - It's like they stole it from 80's Devo and modernized it. Not bad!
4. Rococo - I like the rich musical sound, but the vocals don't add to it.
5. Empty Room - U2 meets Bjork. Not bad, but not great either.
6. City With No Children - U2 does this so much better.
7. Half Light I - Modern Pink Floyd - really good!
8. Half Light II (No Celebration) - Kinda Faith No More cross with INXS - and I really like it!
9. Suburban War - a modern take on acid rock? Wanted to like it, but can't.
10. Month of May - This one should be really high energy in concert, but doesn't seem to translate on the album.
11. Wasted Hours - Love it! Catchy, makes you want to air strum along.
12. Deep Blue - This is the rich sound like Rococo, but I like it much better. The vocals add to it here. Probably my favorite track.
13. We Used to Wait - Like the lyrics, you can keep the music.
14. Sprawl I (Flatland) - Good emotional "feeling" song. Easily blends into the background of life.
15. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) - Ace of Bass? ABBA? Really?
16. The Suburbs (continued) - Like Neil Young might sound today if he were 35 years younger. And that's a good thing. Great end to the album.
Monday, August 02, 2010
Taking a Break From the Lord’s Work
By PAUL VITELLO
Published: August 1, 2010
The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.
Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy.
But while research continues, a growing number of health care experts and religious leaders have settled on one simple remedy that has long been a touchy subject with many clerics: taking more time off.
“We had a pastor in our study group who hadn’t taken a vacation in 18 years,” said Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, an assistant professor of health research at Duke University who directs one of the studies. “These people tend to be driven by a sense of a duty to God to answer every call for help from anybody, and they are virtually called upon all the time, 24/7.”
As cellphones and social media expose the clergy to new dimensions of stress, and as health care costs soar, some of the country’s largest religious denominations have begun wellness campaigns that preach the virtues of getting away. It has been described by some health experts as a sort of slow-food movement for the clerical soul.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C., ruled that printing the national motto, "In God We Trust," on U.S. currency is constitutional and does not violate the Establishment Clause. Self-avowed atheist Carlos Kidd claimed U.S. currency violated the separation of church and state. Kidd demanded that the government "destroy or recycle all circulating currency, and replace it with new currency without religious inscription." The court wrote, "It is quite obvious that the national motto and slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion." [Liberty Counsel]
Saturday, July 31, 2010
For the study, 2,967 adults were interviewed in May of this year. Of that group, 810 were either currently unemployed, or were jobless for at least some period of time since December of 2007. Those who had been unemployed for at least six months had experienced higher levels of "major change" in their lives as a result of the recession than those who had been unemployed for less than six months.
The study showed several areas of life that are impacted by a long period of joblessness.
* Family finances: Not surprisingly, those who had been unemployed longer (six months or more) saw more of a decline in their family income, with 56 percent seeing a decline compared to 42 percent who had been unemployed for less than three months. Even those who had not had any break in their employment reported a 26 percent drop in their household income in the past 18 months.
* Relationships: Strained family relations and loss of contact with close friends were reported at a higher rate by those who had been jobless for six months or more.
* Career goals: Over four-in-ten (43%) of the long-term unemployed said the recession has had a "big impact" on their ability to achieve their long-term career goals.
* Emotional impact: Those who had been unemployed for longer periods of time were more likely to report that they were struggling with such issues as loss of self respect, doubt about being in the right career, lowered expectations and feeling pessimistic about the future.
For the complete report visit Pew Research Center.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit against the university on Keeton's behalf on First Amendment grounds. ADF is litigating a similar case at Eastern Michigan University and has successfully resolved a case at Missouri State University.
According to ADF, university faculty said Keeton's beliefs are unethical and incompatible with the counseling profession, saying it would hinder her "ability to be a multi-culturally competent counselor, particularly with regard to working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning populations." According to court papers, when Keeton asked why her biblical ethical views would disqualify her competence as a counselor, and how her Christian convictions were any less acceptable than those of a Buddhist or Muslim student, Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, an associate professor who oversees the school's student education and discipline, responded, "Christians see this population as sinners."
According to the filed complaint, "She has stated that she believes sexual behavior is the result of accountable personal choice rather than an inevitability deriving from deterministic forces. She has also affirmed binary male-female gender, with one or the other being fixed in each person at their creation, and not a social construct or individual choice subject to alteration by the person so created. Further, she has expressed her view that homosexuality is a 'lifestyle,' not a 'state of being.'"
The Remediation Plan required that Keeton attend "diversity sensitivity training" toward working with GLBTQ populations, plus the faculty sought to change her beliefs by assigning her remedial assignments to increase her exposure and interaction with gay populations by attending such events as the Augusta Gay Pride parade, then writing about her feelings after being there.
"A public university student shouldn't be threatened with expulsion for being a Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that's exactly what's happening here. Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform," said ADF senior counsel David French. "Abandoning one's own religious beliefs should not be a precondition at a public university for obtaining a degree. This type of leftist, zero-tolerance policy is in place at far too many universities, and it must stop. Jennifer's only crime was to have the beliefs that she does."
Anderson-Wiley told Keeton that she had a choice of standing by the Bible or by the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics. Keeton chose the Bible. [CitizenLink.com, American Family Association, The Washington Times, ChristianPost.com, WorldNetDaily.com, Family Research Council]
Garden season is in full bloom. Any gardener worth their petunias knows the secret to good growth is the right fertilizer. Water is just H20, and the Sun provides its energy, but fertilizer turns plain dirt into something special where life can grow.
One of the most common sources for this black gold comes from a compost heap. If you aren’t familiar with the composting process, you take all your organic scraps and pile them together, and then wait for them to rot and decay. The smell of a compost site can be stomach churning in its stench. Sometimes I think marriages are a lot like a compost heap.
Most marriages accumulate a lot of stinking, rotting junk from the past - broken promises, unfulfilled expectations, cutting words, acts of betrayal. A marriage is the perfect location to build a compost pile of pain, anger and frustration. We bring up the old smells, and as they age, they stink worse. We hold onto past hurts and dwell on injustices. You don’t want to get down wind of a lot of marriages!
Do you believe in miracles? I do. And I think there is a miracles waiting to happen in all those compost pile marriages. No matter how bad they smell. If you handle your compost pile properly, you know they can produce some of the richest, most fertile soils and fertilizers on the planet. You take something that was dead and to be discarded and watch God give life to it, using it to grow something new and beautiful.
Everyone who has been hurt in a relationship needs to take those pains to the compost heap, especially those of us who are married. Bring it to God, and watch Him heal, liberate, and breathe new life into something that was once a stinking decaying mess.
Colossians 2:13-14 says: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.
If you are a Christ follower, He has done that for us, and if your spouse is a believer He has done it for him or her as well. But if we are to turn our compost pile of a relationship into fertilizer for something far greater, we must allow that same forgiveness to flow through us into the other person as well. We must take our pains, the offenses, and dig them up with a shovel and spread them at the feet of the cross. Leaving them there for God to work as only He can. He is in the business of taking things that are dead and giving them new life.
If you would like to know more about First Congregational Church you can visit us on the web at http://WasecaChurch.org or join us for worship at 10 a.m. each Sunday, visitors are always welcome!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Fanny Crosby was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 despite being blind since her infancy. She wrote so many hymns that she would often publish under pseudonyms because some publishers didn't want too many of her songs in one hymnal.
All the way my Savior leads me
- All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
- All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
- All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I pastor a small church in a small town in Southern, MN, and this book spoke to me like few others have. My summary of it would be "He's saying everything I've experience, only far better than I could've said it."
From first page to last, Shannon O'Dell writes in a compelling way, challenging all rural pastors to aspire for something great. To not let the fact that because you are in a rural area to limit your creativity and passion for spreading the news about Jesus.
The first attraction of the book is simply that you have someone else who has been there and can relate to your experience as a rural pastor. But the book moves you far beyond this with some excellent ideas on how to push through the "traditional" way of thinking.
From the book:
Four Most Difficult Decisions for a Rural Pastor (pg 38):
1. To pastor in rural America...with low incomes, low resources, and low expectations
2. To reach the lost and unchurched (Most people say they want to reach the lost...until they do and the church starts changing!)
3. To equip the church with accurate and healthy structure...changing laws, constitutions, and church policy as necessary
4. To remove "Holy Cows" to be more effective...such as pews, property, and people
Pastor O'Dell gives ideas on tackling all four of these issues, as well as many others, and does so in a readable non-Scorched Earth kind of way.
Any pastor can benefit from this book, but especially pastors of smaller and more rural churches.
Reading this book was like finding a kindred spirit to minister with, event though we are separated by many hundreds of miles. It was refreshing, a fresh wind in my ministry sails.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Yoda was right - "Do or do not....there is no try!"
July 13, 2010
by Chris Elrod
There are very few phrases that get my blood boiling more than someone saying they will try to come to church. It especially puts me in “punch you in the face” mode when it comes from a person that is an occasional church attender. They might as well just say, “I’m a big wussy that would rather feed my immaturity than to give God any kind of quality time. I have not grown up…I am a child…and you should spank my bottom like a toddler!” Try is such a stupid word. Anyone can try…at anything. Try is the word of a loser that has no intention of giving it their best shot and pulling out all of the stops to make it happen. Try is a word that appeases a tense conversation with no real commitment attached to it. When you use the word try in connection with church attendance…you just sound like an idiot. Either you will come to church or not….there’s no try. It’s not like you are fighting off terrorists, rabid badgers and 30-foot tidal waves to make it to church.
Let’s be honest…going to church in the United States in the 21st Century is not a real difficult task.
Click here for the rest of the article on Chris Elrod's site.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Many Christians suffer with unnecessary fears about sharing their faith. Once they finally get a conversation turned to the subject of the Gospel, however, most believers find that they're able to manage quite well. Much of the time the biggest problem is simply moving a conversation from small talk to "big" talk, the biggest subject of all—the Gospel. Here's a list of questions that can help. Some of them aren't original with me, though I don't recall where years ago I first heard the ones I've borrowed. I've found that the last one opens more doors for the Gospel in the widest variety of situations.
- When you die, if God says to you, "Why should I let you into Heaven?", what would you say? Are you interested in what the Bible says about your answer?
- If you were to die tonight, where do you think you would spend eternity? Why? Are you interested in what the Bible says about this?
- Do you think much about spiritual things?
- How is God involved in your life?
- How important is your faith to you?
- What has been your most meaningful spiritual experience?
- Do you find that your religious heritage answers your questions about life?
- Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs? If what you believe were not true, would you want to know it? Well, the Bible says . . . .
- To you, who is Jesus?
- I often like to pray for people I meet; how can I pray for you?
(HT: Don Whitney)
Monday, July 05, 2010
I'm inclined to day that the SCOTUS won't hear this and will leave it as a state issue. But I've been surprised before. What do you think?
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Saturday, July 03, 2010
According to a monthly poll released this week, 40 percent of evangelical leaders said they "socially drink alcohol." Many of them added that they only drink "in moderation," "on special occasions," or "infrequently." And they noted that they do so only with those who share similar views on alcohol consumption.
The poll was based on responses from the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals, including the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations.
Among the majority who said they did not consume alcohol, the common reason for abstinence was not because they believe it is sinful to drink. "Even though there is no prohibition on moderate alcohol consumption in Scripture, due to the many implications as an example to family and those I serve, I like Paul's words 'it is better not to' (Romans 14:21)," said Gary Benedict, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, according to the NAE poll.
Some denominations, however, do not allow leaders to drink. "[W]hile we understand one cannot defend [abstinence from alcohol] biblically, we have chosen to raise the standard for leadership in our movement," said Jeff Farmer of Open Bible Churches.
Others said they abstain from drinking because of alcoholism in the family, a desire to be an example to younger generations, or the affect alcohol addiction has on society. "Alcohol and its effects have been a major challenge in American society," said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
According to earlier LifeWay Research, 29 percent of lay people and 24 percent of senior pastors agreed that people should never drink alcohol. But, while 68 percent of pastors said reasonable consumption of alcohol is a "biblical liberty," just over half (54%) of lay people agreed. And, at the same time, 90 percent of clergy said a Christian drinking alcohol could cause other believers to stumble or be confused.[ChristianPost.com]