Archives For Culture

Around-the-Horn[1]How To Recognize A Spirit-Filled Church
Are only some churches Spirit-filled? Or all of them? Or partially filled? What’s the difference between a Spirit-filled and non-Spirit-filled church?

Mark Zuckerberg Covers His Webcam.  Should You?
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, recently shared a picture of himself celebrating a milestone: Instagram now has five hundred million active users each month. There was Zuckerberg in his office holding an Instagram-like frame in front of himself. The picture would have been unremarkable and quickly forgotten but for this: Astute observers noticed that his laptop was on the desk behind him and that he had placed tape over the camera and the microphone. Those are small but significant details.

Character in Leadership – Does It Still Matter?
In the coming weeks, we are going to be learning a great deal more about the presidential candidates. But it’s also increasingly true that we’re going to be learning a great deal about ourselves as evangelical Christians in America. Perhaps we had better brace ourselves for what we’re going to learn.

7 Lies We Tell Our Children
We all lie to our kids. Sometimes it’s on purpose and for what we deem a good purpose. Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help.

5 Reasons Your Teenager Needs to Know Theology
The world can be really confusing for teenagers. We’re coming of age in a shifting moral landscape, where the most pressing challenges and culture’s loudest critics are ever changing and perpetually conflicting. We see scandals and sound-bites, terrorism and Trump, new sexual ethics and harsh racial tensions, and we wonder, “How am I supposed to think about all this?”

It’s Time To Talk: 10 Reasons You Should Break-up With Joel Osteen
Yes we know, he makes you feel good . . . and he’s sooo nice. But let’s be honest: he’s not good for you.

California’s Religious Liberty Moment Coming to A State Near You
From Ed Stetzer: The California legislature is poised to consider legislation that could destroy the ability of numerous faith-based colleges and universities to pursue the mission for which they were created.

Serving in Church When Your Spiritual Gift Isn’t Changing Diapers
The consumer mentality of church members and church-goers is not unique to my generation. It can be found in nearly every demographic in almost every church. Where I most often see it, and where I am most often guilty of it myself, is in the area of service.

 

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One of my favorites.  Sorry (for me) to see his passing.

From Geoffrey Himes in the Washington Post,

When Ralph Stanley died on Thursday at age 89, we lost more than the last surviving founding father of bluegrass. We lost one of our last links to a pre-television America.

He was a short, gaunt man in a white cowboy hat and gray suit, his features seemingly chipped from granite with a stony gaze to match. When he sang “O Death” at Wolf Trap in 2006 as part of the Great High Mountain Tour, Stanley’s scratchy high tenor made the Grim Reaper sound like an acquaintance of long standing. This traditional lament had revived his career when he sang it in the Coen brothers’ 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” but Stanley’s ghostly vocal made clear that the song was older than that movie, older than the whole history of talking movies.

Even in the 21st century, there was an echo in his voice of 19th-century mining and lumbering (his father worked in an old-fashioned sawmill) and of the 17th-century songs that immigrants from the British Isles brought to the Appalachian Mountains. It was in the southwest corner of Virginia, in Dickerson County under the shadow of Clinch Mountain, that Ralph Stanley was born on Feb. 25, 1927. Together with his brother Carter, two years older, Ralph learned the eerie harmonies of a cappella Sacred Harp singing in church and the spry rhythms of old-time string-band music at dances.

Read the rest.

Around-the-Horn[1]Garrison Keillor: Bob McDonnell and Rolex Christians
Jesus didn’t wear a Rolex. He did not hit up the Pharisees for thousands of shekels so the apostles could have rib-eye steak and a 35 B.C. cabernet at the Last Supper.

Pope Francis Denounces the Prosperity Gospel
via Vatican Radio: [The Pope] criticized the so-called “theology of prosperity”— according to which “God shows you that you are just if He give you great riches,” saying those who follow it are mistaken. The problem lies in being attached to wealth, because, as the Pope recalled, “You cannot serve both God and riches.” These become “chains” that “take away the freedom to follow Jesus.”

Feeling Good vs Doing Good
 “What prompts people to rally around destructive policies? The answer, I think, is that many people make up their minds on the issues of the day not according to the facts, but according to how it makes them feel about themselves.”

Majority of American Christians Do Not Find Bible Reading and Church Attendance as Essential
When you imagine “a week in the life of a Christian” you might imagine a church visit, an occasional Bible reading before bed, and some community involvement after school or work. However, this is not likely the case, if American Christians act in accordance with what they find essential to their faith.

You Are Not Your Sexuality
It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.

You never forget a pile of amputated limbs. Or, at least, Walt Whitman never did.

ddayThis grisly sign of war was one of the first sights that greeted Whitman in 1862, when he went to the Civil War battlefield at Fredericksburg, to look for his wounded brother George. As he later recounted it, he saw “a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands, &c.,” a pile so large he described it as “a full load for a one-horse cart.”

For Whitman, this heap of limbs became a representative image of the Civil War, which he imagined as unnaturally cutting off states from the nation. Indeed, the fragmented republic and its piecemeal human bodies weighed heavily upon Whitman, who carried with him the memories of countless amputations and deaths he had seen while volunteering in the military hospitals.

As we approach Memorial Day, a day whose origins lie in the American Civil War, we have an opportunity to reflect on how and why we remember the dead. Walt Whitman offers us his own answer, emerging from his own confrontation with the terrible violence and the human cost of war. For Whitman, memorializing the war in his writing allows him to both recall and “re-member” the broken bodies of the fallen—and in doing so, to act out a kind of healing for them and for their country.

Read the rest.

Around-the-Horn[1]Judge Dread :: More Madness on the Road to Serfdom
We should all reflect on the significance of this case because it has far-reaching legal and cultural implications. Can one not hold public office in the United States now unless one is committed to the latest ideological fad, regardless of whether that fad is actually relevant to one’s work? Could one be a public school teacher—or a teacher of any government accredited school for that matter—without subscribing ex animo to whatever the creed of the day happens to be? And where will this end? Given the Unholy Trinity’s ability to defy democracy and transform our world according to its own tastes, are private persons any safer in the long term than public employees?

The Moral Revolutionaries Present Their Demands: Unconditional Surrender
Now that the moral revolutionaries are solidly in control, what is to be demanded of Christians who, on the basis of Christian conviction, cannot join the revolution? The demands have now been presented, and they represent unconditional surrender. The latest terms of surrender were delivered last week by Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Devotional Theology: An Introduction
Looks like a good, practical series: “In recent years, however, there have been extravagant measures taken by women to try to “get more” of God; to hear from Him; to know Him better. Some of these efforts have ranged from painfully shallow to downright heretical. From the fallible, presumptuous words of Jesus Calling to the dangerous practice of contemplative prayer, eager Christian women everywhere are desperately seeking to know God better. However, the one thing we’re lacking is the one thing that’s sitting right under our noses—the Word of God; and further, a right understanding and application of it.”

What the Transgender Bathroom Debate Means for You
A very good article from Russell Moore: “In the meantime, what should the church do? First, we must bear witness to the goodness of what it means to live as creatures, not as self-defining gods and goddesses.” 

The Vanity of Conspiracy Theories and the Banality of Real Evil
Now that the Republicans are a handful of delegates away from nominating an ostensible conspiracy theorist* to be their candidate to lead the free world, it’s worth recalling this insightful post by Carl Trueman from  a few years ago. . .

What is the Internet’s Favorite Book?
Which is the better book: War and Peace or installment one of The Hunger GamesIf you ask a book reviewer or look at any of the “Best Book” lists compiled by  critics, you would say War and Peace. But what if you asked everyday readers on the Internet?

 

 

Around-the-Horn[1]The Rise of the Anti-Culture
Carl Trueman has a nice article over at First Things addressing the Christian’s inability to engage culture, not because the culture war is lost, but because culture as we have thought and spoken of it has collapsed: “For to engage a culture there must first be a culture to engage. And, as the ever-incisive Anthony Esolen has pointed out on numerous occasions we no longer have a culture. What we really have is an anti-culture.”

Seeing Christ in All of Scripture
I was visiting a LifeGroup last night and a man who had grown up in the faith made a comment that I (we) often hear at SA, “I have read the Bible my whole life and I have completely missed what you (and the other clergy) see in the text.  And once you say it, it’s so obvious I can’t believe I’d never noticed it.” So, how do we see what we see in Scripture?  Here’s an exceptional resource from Westminster (a free download – and worthy of discussion in your LifeGroups) to help you along in understanding Scripture.

Youth Ministry in a Secular Age
A great read for all parents – and those in church leadership.

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance
God-bless Kristof, he usually gets around to telling the truth.  It may take him a decade or so, but he gets there.  Hard to believe he’s just recognizing this reality, but having recognized it – and now written about it – took guts.

Restroom Laws and Jim Crow
In American, even the restroom has become a place for politics.

Donald Trump’s Feud with Russell Moore Reveals Evangelical Fault Lines
Trump would be hard-pressed to go after a finer man than Russell Moore.  This from TIME: “Donald Trump escalated his fight with Washington’s evangelical leaders on Monday by attacking the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm. “’Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!’”

 

A funny yet tragic video about how many college students today have been conditioned to disregard obvious biological indicators to identity. Logic and analogical reasoning are sorely lacking; so too the capacity to make factual determinations that deny manifestly false subjective claims.

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Around-the-Horn[1]8 Things Everybody Should Do Before 8 am
Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.  How do you move forward?

Stott Bowdlerized
Clearly the editor wanted to introduce a new generation to Stott’s beautiful book; his intentions were noble. But the project was a mistake. The Basic Christianity people are buying and reading today is a bad imitation of the original. The editor and publisher had no right to transform Stott’s book as they did, whether or not the author granted his permission.

Keeping the Faith In A Faithless Age: The Church as Moral Minority
“The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Preston Sprinkle on Grace, Truth, and Homosexuality
It is an understatement to say that the question of homosexuality stirs up controversy among Christians today. Every month, we see news of various denominations and churches either struggling to come to agreement or taking opposite sides on questions related to sexual morality, love, fidelity, and marriage.

Knox: The Life and Legacy of Scotland’s Controversial Reformer
Renegade. Reformer. Revolutionary. Five centuries after his birth, the influence of John Knox can still be felt right across Scotland. But who was this man? What did he do and why today is he both valued and vilified?

Pope Francis and The Shipwreck That Is Marriage In The Modern World
Imagine that there is an active Catholic layman named “Bob” and that his complicated life has included a divorce or two. But there is no one person named “Bob.” Instead, there are legions of Catholics whose lives resemble this case study described by Father Dwight Longenecker in an online essay responding to “Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family),” a 60,000-word apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis.

Watch: College Kids Can’t Explain Why A Short Man Is Not A Tall Asian Woman
An amusing and incredulous video.  This isn’t moral relativism, it’s a completely fact-free new moral code, one based entirely on consent and harm. Or, I should say, immediate harm.

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Around-the-Horn[1]

Getting Better By Not Trying Harder
It’s not our hard work that changes us, as if we were paying God back, it’s the Spirit of God within us, empowering us to do what God wills.

Gender Non-Conformity Running Roughshod Over Parents’ Rights
Excellent article from Carl Trueman at First Things: One objection that has been made a number of times to my criticisms of transgenderism is that, if someone want to change from their birth sex to the opposite, what harm does that do to me? Why should I worry if, to borrow from Jefferson, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg? That is true, and from that perspective I care as little about the issue as I do about what my neighbors may or may not be doing in their bedrooms after dark. That is part of what living in a free country means. What I do care about, however, is how the issue is being used to transform the public square, in particular to undermine parental and women’s rights.

Will Pope Francis Break the Church?
From Ross Douthat, NYT: The media are not deceived in thinking that Francis differs from his predecessors in substance as well as style. He may not be a liberal Catholic as the term is understood in an American or European context, but he has a different set of priorities than the previous two popes did. He reads the times differently, and elements of his agenda are clearly in tune with what many progressive Catholics (and progressives, period) in the West have long hoped for from the Church.

Keeping the Faith in A Faithless Age
From Albert Mohler: “The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Is Speaking Your Mind A Christian Virtue?
We live in an age where “speaking your mind” is considered a virtue and a hailed as a sign of good leadership. But is this trait something the Bible commends? Should Christians be known for “speaking their mind?”

Church in Hard Places
The Church is a display of God’s glory, mercy, and wholeness in the midst of a broken and hurting community. Churches in hard places often share common struggles: A lack of well-trained leadership; a lack of resources to equip workers in these communities; a sense of alienation from the broader evangelical church.

How Your Possessions Are Affecting Your Heart
It is not necessarily that my actions follow the desires of my heart. Instead, I find that my heart appears naturally drawn to the places where I have invested most.

Ann Voskamp Addresses Conference Via Translator
From the Babylon Bee: Ann Voskamp, author of the immensely popular One Thousand Gifts, spoke to a packed house last night at the Passionate Borderless Empowered Frontiers Without Borders Conference through her recently-hired translator, who is fluent in Voskamp-to-English.