Saturday, June 01, 2013


Comic Art

 John Cassaday
 Mike Perkins
 Scott Kolins
Stephen Sandowski

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Friday, May 31, 2013


Pray With Others - Old Others

Chaplain Mike @ iMonk recently shared Luther's morning and evening prayers from the Small Catechism. My father was raised Lutheran though a Presbyterian my entire life out of devotion to my mother. Regardless, the Small Catechism was a fixture in our home - not that Dad had to refer to it, he had it memorized.

Anyway, I found these prayers most useful, as I have many such written prayers and particularly the prayers of the older and ancient. First I am struck by the commonality between what I need prayer for now and what they prayed for hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. Our common humanity is a powerful and timeless bond.

But further I find such written prayers useful. They help me to pray when I have no words. They help me maintain a discipline of routine and periodic prayer when I would punt on a session for lack of knowing what to do.

Finally, such prayers serve to remind me it is not about me. They pull me out of myself, reminding me that it is about God and the other. So often my dryness in prayer is becasue I am thinking exclusively about me.

When I pray a prayer written by someone else, I remember to think about them, and others. That's a good thing to remember.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013


Megachurch and the poor

Skye Jethani @ Our of Ur:
If anyone knows how to ride out a scandal, it’s the Catholic Church; after all they’ve been at it longer than anyone else. This is not to diminish the remarkable contribution of Roman Catholics to both the history and current mission of the Church. But perhaps evangelicals could learn a few things from both Catholic successes and failures in this area.

The latest criticism to be leveled at Rome is that it doesn’t really care about the poor. It’s an odd accusation given the Roman Catholic Church has possibly done more for the poor than any organization in history. Still, no one can deny that the Roman Catholic Church likes gold-gilded furniture (almost as much as classic Bond villain Auric Goldfinger and the folks at Trinity Broadcasting Network). The Catholic eye for opulence has sparked this popular meme:


...the average priest receives only $20k per year in takehome pay. “And if you’re the Pope, not only does your salary suck, but you don’t get it until you’re dead. Popes get one gold, silver and copper coin for each year of service placed on their coffin. Blessed John Paul II received about $141 dollars.”


Also unlike the leaders of the Catholic Church, pastors of megachurches have not taken a vow of poverty. A recent survey found that the average senior pastor of a megachurch takes home $147,000 before benefits. The research also found that the average megachurch is suburban, with a budget over $5 million, and employs more than 50 full-time staff.

So, I’ll throw the question back at you. Given our culture’s growing sensitivity to economic injustice, including among younger evangelicals, how would you respond to accusations of hypocrisy against megachurches with costly facilities?

I have long thought that what megachurches are are excuses to employ large numbers of people. Of course, they are not ornate, that's simply because the money goes to payroll. (It's funny though how much money and payroll it takes to maintain a good European cathedral well. - but then those employees have to work with their - shutter - hands).

Here's the key question to my mind. Jethani talks about great churches being built to serve the community; I want to approach that from a slightly different angle. Many great old churches I have been in have evoked me. They have elevated my thought - even when empty. Yes, some are distractingly ornate, others ostentatious, but still there are some that I walk into and the beauty reminds me of God. I walk into a megachurch, never been in one where I had a contrary experience, and all I think about is the mundane - how many people does it seat, how many speakers in the sound system, etc. Also, in the heartland, I have driven past many an empty shell of a megachurch facility. The ones that failed, or heaven forbid got bigger. There is no community wide effort to preserve and maintain this megachurch. Many is the old church that still stands as a testament to God if not a house of worship. I betting old megachurches will rot of be turned into strip malls. So who serves the community?

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013


What's At Heart

In a great article @ 9Marks, Bobbie Jamieson:
In other words, a pastor’s job is to equip the church members to do ministry, to build each other up in maturity. To tweak Hansen’s image, a pastor’s job isn’t merely to fish for his people—though that’s certainly part of it—but to teach them to fish. And I’d suggest that a fitting litmus test for a pastor is how much joy he takes in others’ works of ministry, and how well he builds his ministry around that joy.


In light of this, pastors shouldn’t stockpile ministry. Instead, they should spread it around.


There’s a heart issue lurking here. Our pride can thrill at a ministry job well done—especially if that job is duly noted by church members. It takes real humility, therefore, to take the spotlight off yourself and shine it onto others. It takes genuine self-forgetfulness to enlist someone else to do something you could do better, for the sake of that person’s, and ultimately the whole church’s, growth in Christ.


What are some practical outworkings of this posture of joy in others’ ministry? Here are three.
Give Ministry Away
Affirm and Encourage, as Well as Critique
Think a Step Further Out

To his list of "practical outworkings" I would add one other - "Let them fail." Failure is a part of the learning process. Yes, it can reflect badly on "your church," but ten that's the problem really, isn't it? It's not your church - it's theirs. The short term ramifications of a failure like this will be more tan compensated for in the development of your people.

At bottom here is the point that pastors are not in business to build organizations, they are in business to build people.

Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013


God's View

Jon Bloom @ Desiring God:
Time and energy is money. And money is money. So when we want to get something done we typically want it done as efficiently as possible.

That’s why we are often bewildered when God gives us work to do and then allows the “inefficiencies” of trouble and opposition to consume so much time, energy, and money.
He then examines the issue out of Nehemiah:
This was a costly distraction. Productivity would have more than doubled with focused, rested workers. God gave Nehemiah favor with mighty Artaxerxes. He could have done the same with Sanballat and Tobiah. Why did he allow so much wasted time, energy, and money?

The truth is, he didn’t. In God’s economy none of these resources were wasted. He invested them in building something far more important and precious than a wall. He was building faith.

A rebuilt city and a faithless people would not please God (Hebrews 11:6). History had shown that a strong wall doesn’t save “unless the Lord watches over the city” (Psalm 127:1). So, as Nehemiah and the people worked to rebuild Jerusalem, God worked — through opposition — to build their dependent faith in his power rather than their own. It was the opposition that prompted Nehemiah to preach, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome” (Nehemiah 4:14).

God's perspective is quite different than ours. Our frustration is His tool. Often our obstacles are his objectives.

I wonder how different things would be if we embraced process rather than simply tried to get around it?

Some specific things would be harder and more difficult, but I wonder if the body has a whole might not be healthier. Imagine the world today if the Roman Catholic church had not driven Luther out, but rather embraced and worked with him?

Imagine the world today if the Protestant denominations had not split and split again and had worked through their difficulties and inefficiencies.

Imagine your local congregation if you had worked things through with trouble making couple X.

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Kitty Kartoons

Monday, May 27, 2013


We Remember

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The Promise

9 Marks reprinted a pastor's promise to his congregation:

Having been made an overseer by the Lord Jesus Christ,
affirmed as such by His Church,
and enabled solely by His grace,

I commit to live in a manner worthy of His calling,
loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind,
always on guard for myself that I maintain a testimony that is above reproach;

I commit to preach His Word,
standing ready in season and out of season,
never shrinking to declare to you the whole counsel of God,
reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with great patience and instruction;

I commit to shepherd His flock,
whom Christ purchased with His own blood,
exercising oversight with humility, leading by example,
and equipping His saints for the work of the ministry;

I commit to be found faithful as His steward,
looking to Christ alone for both judgment and praise,
that in all things He might have the preeminence;

And by His grace,
I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls
because He, the Chief Shepherd, spent Himself for me.
To Christ alone be the glory.


Would that every pastor made such promises.

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