Saturday, September 10, 2011


Comic Art

Sadly, in this case, artist attribution proves impossible to find

This is actually pretty funny

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Friday, September 09, 2011


Good Start - Keep Going

Joe Boyd @ MMI:
If you are someone who has been wounded, mistreated or scorned by the Church, I submit the following to you as an apology. In the final analysis, it is all I really have to give you.

I ask your forgiveness for the ongoing corruption of the church at large since the early days of the church, for I believe that it is a sin to use the church for personal or political gain.


I ask your forgiveness for every sidewalk and soap-box preacher who has so much as cracked upon a Bible with anger or pride in his heart, for I believe that it is a sin to misrepresent the character of a loving God.


I ask your forgiveness for every misspent dime that was ever placed in an offering plate, for I believe that it is a sin to waste an old lady’s tithe.


I ask your forgiveness for every sin of every priest, pastor, minister, reverend, teacher, elder, deacon, pope, nun, monk, missionary, Sunday school teacher, worship leader, and for every Christian who has ever come into your life for any other reason than to love you. If any of us came to you and hurt you, we are the ones at fault. On our behalf, let me say that I am very sorry. It’s not who we are supposed to be.

And lastly for me. I am no better than the rest. I am no role model. I’m misguided. I get confused a lot and I have hurt people in my misguided attempts to be “Christian.” I have not always loved God or the people around me. I am ashamed of me much of the time. I am ashamed of my people who have hurt you.But I am not ashamed of the gospel. I am not ashamed of the good news that God has come near to you and is right now available to you through Jesus. I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is power from a loving God who can save you. He can save us. All of us. Even us Christians.
Now - how do we do church differently so that we handle better all those situation he describes? Seeking forgiveness is the best possible start, but reconciliation can only come when we use the forgiveness we gain to do better.

The first thing I can think of is to make this confession and begging of forgiveness a daily activity. But this has to be more than words - I have many good models of individual humility, but how to make a humble institution?

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, September 08, 2011


Whining and Secrets

David Foster @ MMI:
It has been my privilege to lead churches since I was 18 years old. I have watched both movements and movers move on and off the scene. The American church landscape has been painted, erased and painted over many times, yet in all these years and in the passing of all that time, I’ve heard almost nothing about, what I consider to be, the American church’s dirtiest little secret.

The church’s dirtiest little secret is not the scandal of flock fleasing pastors jetting around at their church’s expense. Nor is it the outrageous salaries or even the oft expected and oft over-enjoyed sex scandal and subsequent fall from grace of a once revered leader.

No, the real scandal of the American church is something much deeper, and more pernicious than any of those tragic, isolated events. And I do mean isolated, because they are a very small percentage of what really goes on day in and day out, week in and week out in the hundreds of thousands of Christian churches all across this country.

No, the real dirty little secret in the American church is that we regularly, relentlessly, and without mercy beat-up, chew-up and spit-out our leaders.
Now I found that an excellent beginning because I believe it to be true. Entrepreneurial Christian professionalism, whether it be in independent, churches or the para-church tends to be a highly competitive, dog-eat-dog environment. It generally does not develop leadership, it hazes it. So I settled in for a good post.

But then this came along:
You’d have to be blind, deaf, and stupid not to notice the long line of, once effective and admired, leaders limping toward the exits. It was Peter Drucker who once said the four hardest jobs in America — not necessarily in this order — are President of the United States, a university president, a hospital CEO and a pastor. Amen, but for those called to it, we at least don’t expect to be shot in the back by our own team?

Why isn’t anyone talking about this? Maybe it’s because those who talk about church leadership, no matter whether they’re founding pastors or high-ranking staff members, have one thing in common: we’re all employees of our churches–leading without real power. Pastors have the responsibility to lead their church to growth with none of the power to actually do so.
Whine, whine whine, whine, whine. Come on guy, that's not the issue - there are two extraordinary fallacies in those paragraphs.

One - that you are there to lead a church to growth. Wrong! You are there to lead a church to Christ, growth will be a by-product of that actually happening, but it is not the point.

Secondly that is is about power. I beg your pardon, but God Himself set the example in that regard:
Phil 2:6-8 - who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The church is supposed to be a very different place from the rest of the world. The leadership paradigm given to us by Christ and the apostles is quite different from the power-driven, competitive paradigm under which we operate in other environments. To whine for the worldly way of doing things is to miss the point entirely.

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Biblical Lands Illuminated

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Deep Friendship

Ron Edmundson on true friendship:

That's good stuff, and I cannot disagree with a single word, but I will say that ir strikes me as a bit trite.

I have been blessed with some true friends in my life and there is something deeper than can be summed up in such words. There is, frankly, a supernatural element to it - the Holy Spirit at work.

As the peace of Christ passes all understanding so does the bond He can forge between people.

Which causes me to wonder why it is that we are so reticent to discuss the supernatural nature of things? Edmondson invites us at the conclusion of his post to pay tribute to our good friends. I hope I do not need to, I hope they know who they are. But I would like to pay tribute the God who makes those friendships possible.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011


When Preaching Gets Personal

Dan Gilgoff:
Thou shalt not be required to financially support your church – but you should anyway.

That’s the upshot of a new informal survey of evangelical leaders finding that less than half believe that the Bible requires church members to tithe, the practice of giving at least 10 percent of one’s income to the church.

The survey, conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) among its 100-member board of directors, found that 42% of evangelical leaders believe the Bible requires tithing, while 58% do not.
First the theology, then the practicality.

I think one should give away 10%. Not necessarily to your local congregation, and taxes don't count. In the end tithing is not about supporting something - it's about sacrificing to God. You're allowed to support a lot of God's work in a lot of different places, put it needs to total up to something seriously sacrificial, like 10% of gross.

Now to the practical - if these survey results are to be believed, the amount of preaching I hear about tithing is way out of proportion to the convictions of the preachers. Wonder why that is?

The reason should be obvious, and I think a preacher that preaches on tithing when his/her convictions may be slightly different needs to do a bit of self-examination. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:
1 Cor 9:11-19 - If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the {food} of the temple, {and} those who attend regularly to the altar have their share with the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things that it may be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all {men,} I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
I think we could get by with a lot less preaching about tithing. If we teach selfless, sacrificial living, I think the money thing will take care of itself. Not to mention it's really hard to teach selfless, sacrificial living when you are begging for your own paycheck!

God provides. My financial life is testament to that fact. I certainly have not earned what I have been rewarded with. I'd like to see more churches rely on God and less on begging. I think the results might be interesting.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, September 05, 2011


The Hard Work of Being a Friend

Lara Blackwood Pickrel @ Thoughtful Christian:
Friends have always been important to me, and at the same time, friendship has often been difficult.


I'm beginning to understand that friendships aren't "just" friendships. Friendships (and the work of cultivating them) are a form of spiritual discipline, just like prayer or scripture reading or mindful eating. When I don't pray, my spirit suffers. When I don't spend time reading the Word, my spirit/mind become impoverished. When I don't eat mindfully, my spirit/body become stressed and broken. And when I don't practice the art of friendship, my spirit begins to turn in on itself.
How many of us think of friends as "resources" of some sort? They are who we turn to when we need help. To whom to they turn? Then there is the issue of "differently yoked." It often seems like in a friendship there is one person that seems to bear the burden of making it work - does all the inviting, thinking of things to do, etc. If you are that person, do you grow resentful of that fact?

I really like this idea, friendship is in fact a resource, but not the resource we think. It is a resource to teach us selflessness - which is in fact the thing we need to learn most.

It is often easy to just stay at home, not reach out and find ways to occupy myself. It is easier than reaching out, not to mention the fact that I can feel sorry for myself that no one has bothered to call and ask me if I want to do something.

BUt that is the time I most need to reach out, because it is not about me.

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