Friday, August 29, 2008

Women Victims of Sexual Misconduct in Churches

A national survey shows more than a quarter of Christian women personally have experienced sexually inappropriate behavior, and one-fourth who experienced it said it happened in a church or ministry setting. Not all incidents reported fall under the legal definition of sexual harassment. The simple legal definition of sexual harassment is "unwelcome attention due to one's gender." Fifty-three percent who have experienced inappropriate behavior say they do not plan to report these instances to avoid stirring up controversy. Frank Sommerville, nonprofit attorney and CPA, says churches need to recognize sexually inappropriate behavior can and does occur in churches, and policies must be established to prevent and respond to instances of misconduct. "Juries tend to award larger damages to victims of sexual harassment within churches because they think a church should be a safe place. Churches ignore this topic at their peril," says Sommerville. To learn more about the survey results and resources on preventing sexual misconduct, visit and


My thoughts:
More than 25%?!?! Yikes, we really need to give this some thought and attention as Christians. Men need to step up to the plate and keep their hands off, comments in check, and hold others accountable. There is no place for this behavior, especially NOT THE CHURCH!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ELCA stays neutral in sexuality statement

There is a train wreck on the horizon for the ELCA. What's the root cause you ask? Abandoning foundational Biblical principles. When pragmatism and tolerance out-rank the Truth of the Word you have abandoned what it means to be followers of Christ.

You can read the full article at the Star Tribune.

Bishop Peter Strommen of NE Minnesota (Duluth) said:
"After many years of study and conversation, this church [the ELCA] does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships,"
Have you tried reading the Bible on this subject Mr. Strommen? It is pretty clear. If you are unable to discern the clear teachings in scripture, how on earth are you going to lead people in your denomination? This from a BISHOP! If Martin Luther read that he'd probably puke then punch you in the throat. What exactly is it that you are studying for all these years?

Further down in the article:

People on both sides had hoped the report would endorse their position. Its neutrality left them feeling mutually frustrated. Mark Chavez, director of the World Alone Network, which opposes gay ordination, thinks the bishops will try to avoid taking a church-wide stand.

"They're preparing the way for a local option on blessing same-sex relationships and ordaining practicing homosexuals," he said.

But gay-rights supporters weren't happy with the language, either.

"This draft merely tolerates rather than celebrates the presence of same-gender families in the church," said Emily Eastwood, executive director of Lutherans Concerned/North America. "If the church wishes to hold persons in same-gender relationships to the same ethical standards as heterosexuals, then the church must offer the same standards of support and benefit."

Celebrate? Blow the dust off your Bible - GOD DOES NOT CELEBRATE SIN. Yikes!

Do we love the people who are GLBT? 100% - without question. We love them just like we love the guy cheating on his wife, or the rapist, or the drug addict, or the lady with the porn stash, or the person who is "just borrowing" money from their office. They are fully children of God, and they are as deserving of God's grace as I am. Is celebrating a sinful lifestyle loving? No! Not in the least. As we are gracious, we must also be truthful. They cannot be separated. God is loving, but he is also righteous.

The salt has lost it's saltiness in many places in the ELCA.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jesus Saves - Something to Chew On

Who, in your life, needs Christ…but for some reason you have been unwilling to invite them to church…or even begin a conversation with them about Jesus?

Why? What’s holding you back?

I once heard Brad Cooper ask the question,
"If you REALLY believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ then why in the world would you show up at church every single Sunday without a carload of people who need Him?"

--Perry Noble quoting Brad Cooper

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Donald Miller's Prayer at the Democratic National Convention (DNC)

I for one think Donald Miller rocked the prayer tonight at the DNC. He wasn't the original person chosen, but he filled in admirably. Represented well. This is not an endorsement of the DNC/Democrats, just a congrats to Donald Miller for a job well done.

Donald Miller's prayer at the DNC tonight:

Please join me for the next few moments in our Benediction.
"Father God,
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room
create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves,
because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for
widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing
to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices
rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet
next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to
those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather
than struggle.
Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children
an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need
your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world?
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the
average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world?
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as
we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America
even greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life
against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.

(HT: Resounding Truth)

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Is America Underpaid?

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Half of Americans Say They Are Underpaid

Gallup Poll results of telephone interviews with 557 American adults, 18 years and older, employed full- or part-time, conducted Aug. 7-10, 2008, showed that 51 percent of Americans feel they are underpaid for the work they do. Forty-six percent feel they are paid about the right amount, while three percent feel they are overpaid.

Middle- and lower-income Americans are more likely to say they are underpaid. Sixty-two percent of those making less than $75,000 a year say they are underpaid compared to 38 percent of those making more than $75,000 a year. Surprisingly, the difference between men and women on this measure is much smaller, with 47 percent of men and 55 percent of women saying they are underpaid.

There is little difference by race or by education in perception of
being underpaid. Fifty-one percent of both whites and non-whites say
they feel underpaid. Similarly, 49 percent of those with high school
educations or less say they are underpaid, compared to 52 percent of
those with at least some college education.


My thoughts:

There are certainly a good number of people who are underpaid. I am uncertain that it is 51%. How often is our perception of "being paid enough" dictated by our spending habits? With a nation in debt - prior to the housing market collapse - how much of this is simply people not being able to make ends meet because of bad financial decisions and thereby thinking they aren't paid enough? The study doesn't go into that, but it would be interesting to be able to dig deeper. I would also like to see a split between urban/rural as well as regions of the country.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Boston Day 3

Still really liking Boston. Great downtown. We went back down to Quincy Market for lunch yesterday and then on down to the Boston Harbor. Honestly, we didn't realize we were that close to the ocean! I'm in the blue in the photo above.

Been in the classroom the majority of the day all week. Not a lot of chance to explore. Last night I stayed up until 2:00AM talking theology with Tony Rambo. I may have found a kindred spirit in the NACCC. He gets it, and I appreciate that.

We're doing a walking tour of Boston this afternoon, so maybe I'll have some more photos. I didn't bring my good camera, so I am limited to whatever fits in the chintzy lens of my cell phone.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Boston Day 2

Sunday I flew from Minneapolis to Boston. I then entered into the adventure that is the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (Boston's mass-transit). I took the silver line from the airport, to the red line, to the green line, and then 20 stops later at the end of the line found myself discombobulated and somewhat lost. I had directions, but having never been here before they weren't completely clear to me. After a bit of wondering and sheer dumb luck I ended up on the correct street, where I walked up a hill to where we are staying for the week - the Walker Center.

For the week we are studying Congregationalism and Covenant Theology. The classes are at the Congregational Library at 14 Beacon Street in downtown Boston. Our primary instructor is Dr. Steven Peay. 14 Beacon Street was the "office" for Ally McBeal.

Cool things:
-I'm becoming a pro at the "T" which is what Boston calls its subway system.
-I am sitting 5 feet from a chair from Jonathan Edward's office. While it's not a particularly impressive chair, it is cool nonetheless.
-We just looked at one of the first copies of the Eliot Bible - the Eliot Bible was the first Bible printed in the Americas.
-We looked at 1 of the 3 first copies of the Cambridge Platform
-We got to look through the stacks in the rare book room yesterday. We didn't get to go into the "cage" where the most valuable and rare books are housed. Books dating to the 1500's are housed in that cage, some of the earliest copies of some of the Pilgrim and Puritan fathers.
-Downtown Boston is pretty cool. Old and new mixed everywhere.
-Had lunch yesterday at Union Oyster House - really good eats! I had some Clam Chowdaah that ranks top 3 of chowder in my life.
-Had the best Mac & Cheese of my life @ Union Street Restaurant, Bar & Patio - 4 cheese pasta with white truffle oil over the top - for dinner last night. It's was a sports bar at the Newton Centre Station off the Green Line in Boston. Go North, turn left to the end of the block, turn right and go to the Union Street side of the block (1 block North) and you'll find it just around the corner to the right down an alley.

Uncool things:
-Everyone in Boston smokes. I think I saw a pigeon spark up a heater on the way into downtown this morning. Butts everywhere, smoke everywhere. I feel like I'm in Europe with this many people smoking
-Subway system is undergoing a huge face lift. Currently it is very run down, tired looking, and under repair/replacement all over. Should be done in 2009
-The Walker Center where we are staying is lacking in accommodations, and isn't the cleanest either (I'd call it dumpy chic - a professor called it New England Shabby).

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wild Goose Chase - By Mark Batterson - Book Review

If you look in my right hand side bar, you'll find a link to Mark Batterson's blog Evotional. While I haven't (yet) met Mark in person, I have been learning from him through his blog for a few years now. Mark pastors National Community Church, a multi-site church in Washington DC. They are a theater church.

Last summer I read on vacation Mark's first book In a Pit With A Lion On a Snowy Day. So when Mark offered free pre-release copies of his second book- Wild Goose Chase - I jumped at the chance to review it. I'm not paid for this review other than a free book. I will be giving away a free copy of this book to a reader of the blog. See the bottom of this post for details on how to get my extra copy.

With all that said, I recommend this book. I think it is better than his first book, which was no slouch on it's own.

On the surface, I like this book better because it is more readable. It has a better flow, and story lines that capture my imagination far better than In a Pit did. My reaction to Wild Goose Chase after 50 pages was that there was a lot here that would preach, and the rest did not disappoint. The book is filled with quotable line and ideas I plan on stealing.

I read a lot of books, and for better or worse, I am probably more cynical than your average pastor. I stayed engaged throughout the book, and feel that I have grown from some of the ideas that Mark develops.

One of the key passages of the book, an idea that much of the rest of the book is built upon is found on page 16. There Pastor Mark says:

I'm not convinced that your date of death is the date carved on your tombstone. Most people die long before that. We start dying when we have nothing worth living for. And we really don't start living until we find something worth dying for. Ironically, discovering something worth dying for is what makes life worth living.
Good, clear, hard words from a man who is passionate and isn't afraid to share that passion with the world. Christ is made known through this book, and the greatness of God is on full display.

The book is clearly targeted for believers, so don't go looking for a lengthy apologetic or anything of that sort. It is not that book. But what it is, it does good. This would make for a great small group book, or a book to read as a whole church. If you need an infusion of the Holy Spirit, if you need to recapture some of that adventure of following Christ, this is a great place to start!

If you would like to purchase this book, Amazon has a great price on Wild Goose Chase <--click here!

On getting yourself a free copy of this book: Leave a comment on this post sharing how you are growing, or would like to grow in your experience of the Holy Spirit. From the comments I will choose a winner of the book (make sure I can track you down if you leave a comment!). I'll ship or deliver the book at my cost.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Criag Groeschel's Franciscan Prayer from 2008 Willow Creek Leadership Summit

from Swerve, Craig Groeschel's blog and the blog

Franciscan Prayer (read at the 2008 Willow Creek Leadership Summit)

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Sermon - Rethink: Sowing - Mark 4:3-9

My sermon from yesterday is posted on our church's web site. It was a good sermon. When I asked my wife for constructive criticism, she had none. That's a first. Maybe I should quit preaching, I've reached the mountain top! Or maybe not.

The sermon was on the Parable of the Sower, and I stuck to my text for about 75% of the time. I cut a bit of the ending (as posted) and added some other stuff there and in a few other places, but the posted version will give you the gist of what I was saying.

I will not be preaching the next two weeks. Our church will survive quite well with the incredibly gifted Brenton Balvin filling in for me. Brenton is a better preacher than me, so if you are looking for a good church the next two Sundays, check him out! My philosophy is that I want the best possible person to fill in when I'm gone. Even if they rock it better than me! I want my sheep to hear the Truth, to be challenged with God's Word, and I trust that will occur.

This coming Sunday I fly out to Boston for a week for a course called The Boston Seminar. Below is the reading list for this course. It's a boat load! There is one other reading beyond the below that didn't make it on the list, so you know what I'll be doing the rest of the week! Every spare moment from now to take off will be consumed with reading. I've gotten a good start on it, but will have to remain focused to get it all in.

Boston Seminar Reading List

Downloadable articles

The Cambridge Synod and Platform

The Covenant of Grace and Puritan Thought- Office will mail you a copy upon request

Towards a Ministry of Accountability: Why we should credential ministers and why we are afraid of it

Fellowship: The Neglected Focus of the Congregational Ellipse

Breaking Covenant: The Tensions in American Congregationalism that Resulted in the UCC Merger Conflict

Controversy in American Congregationalism: A Historical Perspective on Theological Issues at Stake in a Twenty-Year Struggle

Professional Code of Practice

From Call to Settlement

We Covenant with the World and With One Another

Books to Purchase- Click on link to take you to the bookstore

The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism

The Shaping of American Congregationalism

Yet More Light and Truth… Congregationalism, Covenant, and Community

Congregationalism: The Church, Local and Universal

The Congregational Way of Life

The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics

A Past with a Future

Symposium V. The Church... Born for a Time Like This

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Chino Latino - tried something new tonight!

We ate at Chino Latino tonight with a friend who wanted to take us out for dinner. My first time there, and I was thoroughly impressed with the food. The atmosphere left something to be desired, but the food was totally worth the wait. The waitstaff was helpful and had good recommendations.

We ate:


mesquite-smoked Pacific swordfish tossed in citrus dressing and served with a pile of crunchy tortilla chips and creamy guacamole


a gaucho-sized portion of spice-rubbed beef tenderloin, Brazilian herb-marinated chicken and spicy chorizo sausage served churrasco style with chimmichurri and molho apimentado.


grilled corn with queso fresco, lime juiceand cayenne pepper


Wok Glazed Green Beans

Pad Thai Noodles

Fried Rice with Guacamole

The Argentine Roizio platter was out of this world. The tenderloin was tender and juicy, and the side of rub that you can add to it made it fantastic. The Chicken was juicy and flavorful. The weak spot of the platter was the Chorizo, and even that was decent, though I've had better.

The Elote was so good, that I'm tempted to go back and order a couple just for myself. The Wok Glazed Green Beans are fantastic. I've tried for a long time to make green beans in a similar way, and now have found perfection. I will have to abuduct their kitchen staff next time I try to make my similar green beans. Though I would give a bit more of a hot kick to mine.

If you are looking for some interesting and tasty cuisine in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, I reccommend this place whole heartedly. Just know that it is deafingly loud, very crowded on weekends, and the wait for a table can get very long.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mark and Grace Driscoll taking their kids to Australia

I'm assuming that as I write this that Mark and Grace Driscoll, along with their 5 children, are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in an airplane. They will be in Australia until September on a combination speaking tour and vacation.

Pastor Driscoll is a brave man, I'm pretty sure I'm not up to the task of 20 hours in flight with 5 children on my plane, let alone 5 of MY children WITH me!

From the Mission & Vision Blog for Mars Hill Church:

Grace and I are at the airport headed out with the Fab 5 (aka our kids) for a 20 hour flight to Australia. We will spend three weeks vacationing there in Sydney. The kids are really excited to see the Sydney Opera house, hold a koala, and go to the world’s oldest amusement park.

After three weeks, poppa daddy (that’s what the kids call me) will preach about 30 sermons over the course of 11 days. Anyone wanting to join us or pray for those events can check out most of the public events here. Thankfully, most of the events seem to have filled up and we’re pushing 6,000 in the Sydney Entertainment Center for the Burn Your Plastic Jesus event. If you want to pray for one event, please pray for this one. The week we arrive Chris Rock is headlining there and so Grace and I are going to see one of my favorite comedians. A few weeks later I am preaching from the same stage and hope to see God fill the room to its’ 10,000 seat capacity and see many people meet Jesus. Tickets are on sale here.

This summer I will spend about 80 hours on airplanes as there is a lot of travel. But, my friends at have loaded my MacBook Pro up with so much amazing study material that I can stay caught up on writing and researching on the road and for that I am deeply grateful. We’ll miss everyone back home in Seattle, and look forward to seeing our friends at Mars Hill Church again in September.

Pastor Mark Driscoll
aka Poppa Daddy

So if you think of it, pray for Mark for his speaking that it would powerfully move forward the mission of Jesus in Australia. Pray also for safe and speedy travel, with happy quiet children!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Desiring God National Conference 2008 - An invitation

It's not too late to get signed up! I expect this conference to be fully sold out, so I might be camping out overnight to get a good seat :-) Below is a message from Dr. John Piper inviting you to the upcoming Desiring God Conference.

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God

An Invitation to
the Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 26-28
Minneapolis Convention Center

Dear Friends at Bethlehem and Beyond,

I'm writing to invite you to an unusual conference. This Fall's Desiring
God National Conference is one of the most extraordinary we have
conceived. Our expectations are very high that its effect will be
mind-sharpening, heart-humbling, mouth-seasoning,
backbone-strengthening, and Christ-acclaiming. Our theme is The Power of
Words and the Wonder of God.

This conference is an overflow of our amazement at the significance of
words. Think of it:

* the Son of God is called the Word (John 1:1)

* the universe was created with a word (Hebrews 11:3)

* all things are held in existence by Jesus' word (Hebrews 1:3)

* God reveals himself to us through his word (1 Samuel 3:21)

* Jesus healed and cast out demons with a word (Matthew 8:16)

* faith is sustained by words (Hebrews 3:13)

* we fellowship with God by the words of prayer

* we worship him through the words of song and confession and preaching

* our relationships are all sustained and nurtured by words

* we speak our love to each other by words; kings rise and fall by their

* politics and news and entertainment and business and education and
international relations and families and friendships-all are possible
because of words.

Language is God's idea. Words are his creation. They belong at the heart
of who he is. They have huge potential for good-and catastrophic
potential for evil.

The tongue, James says, is seemingly untamable. "With it we bless our
Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the
likeness of God" (James 3:9).

Every issue today-political, religious, educational, theological-relates
to the way we use words-thinking them in our heads and speaking them
with our mouths.

What would the world be like-the home, the church, the school, the
public square-if words were used the way Jesus used them? That is not an
easy question. We might be surprised.

We have asked Sinclair Ferguson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church
of Columbia, South Carolina, to set the stage with an exposition of
James 3:1-12. This text is astonishing in the power it attributes to the
tongue: "No human being can tame the tongue" (James 3:8).

Paul Tripp, who teaches at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and
counsels at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, has
written wisely in his book War of Words on the crucial place of the
heart in how we help or hurt each other with our words. "Out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). We hope to
love people better with our mouths because of this message.

Daniel Taylor, who teaches English Literature at Bethel University in
St. Paul, Minnesota, is a lover of stories and has written about their
power in his book Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our
Stories. This power is more pervasive than you may think and touches the
heart of the gospel.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has agreed to
tackle the knotty issue of tough and tender words, words in controversy,
words in confrontation, words like Jesus and Paul used when they called
people vipers and said, "If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be
accursed" (1 Corinthians 16:22).

Bob Kauflin, a worship pastor with Sovereign Grace Ministries, in
Gaithersburg, Maryland, just wrote the book Worship Matters: Leading
Others to Encounter the Greatness of God. He will help us explore what
happens to words when we put them with music and sing them. Why is the
Western world so filled with singing? Just turn the knob on your radio.
Hundreds of stations. And most of them are singing. What is this power?

The task I have set for myself is the question: "Is There Christian
Eloquence? Clear Words and the Wonder of the Cross." Paul said, "Christ
did not send me . . . with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of
Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Corinthians 1:17). Yet who can deny
the eloquence of Paul and others in the Bible? What is this? Should we
pursue it?

We will worship Christ together. We will think hard. We will pray. We
will meet people who are serious about their minds and their hearts and
their mouths. We will buy books. And I pray we will go home ready to
obey the words, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt"
(Colossians 4:6).

I would love to see you there.

Pastor John,
Preaching & Vision,
with David Mathis,
Executive Pastoral Assistant

More info is available at Desiring God's Web site:

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