29 July 2011

Why Do Youth Stay in Church?

We've talked about why youth leave the church on this blog several times (here, here, and here).

But why do they stay?  Jon Nielson gives this review and three critical points about why...every youth pastor in the country ought to reflect on these points, even if briefly.

1. They are converted.
2. They have been equipped, not entertained.
3. Their parents preach the gospel to them.

How Could God Ask Abraham to Sacrifice His Son?

I've heard this one thrown around a lot of different ways, and most often as a criticism of God and His character.

Nancy Guthrie has a very good post on the Gospel Coalition blog today- "How Could God Ask That?"

Here's a quote-  "Why would God ask Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice? Is God trying to teach us that we should be willing sacrifice what is most precious to us? No. This story is not recorded to inspire sacrifice to God. Instead, it paints in vivid colors the sacrifice of God. The point of this story is not to convince you that you must be willing to sacrifice to God what is most precious to you, but rather to prepare you to take in the magnitude of the gift when you see that God was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to him—his own beloved Son—for you."

Kinda changes the perspective, no?

26 July 2011


This guy is impressive.  No, I'm not talking about his impressions...memorizing that much Shakespeare is impressive!

22 July 2011

"Romantic Pornography"

Catchy title, not what you think.

The Gospel Coalition blog ran this article by Betsy Hart today.  It was a very interesting look at another way culture tries to influence our children, particularly our girls, away from the biblical model of dealing with one another gracefully.  Yes, we know how culture pulls at boys.  But are we aware of the ways it tries to influence our daughters?

Here's a quote-

"Mainstream culture tolerates this insidious expectation for men to act like women. Any doubts? A married couple goes to a counselor, Christian or otherwise. The husband is steeped in sexual porn and dissatisfied with his wife. Is there a chance the counselor is going to encourage the wife to act more like the women her husband finds attractive online? Of course not.

Now let’s say she’s steeped in romantic films and dissatisfied with her husband. There’s an almost 100 percent chance the counselor will encourage the fellow to be more romantic and sensitive. Which might be a fine thing, except that typically it will be “sensitive” according to his wife’s definition, even if that’s not what he is wired for."

That's just a teaser...read the whole thing...it is worth the time.

21 July 2011

More, "I Feel..."

I just read this blog post over on Housewife Theologian.  I wish I had it a couple days ago when I was writing the first installment of, "I Feel...".

Dorothy L. Sayers

Read Amiee's post, and pay particular attention to the Dorothy Sayers quote in the middle.  It is a good synopsis, though written before much of the I Feel movement, of why I Feel doesn't cut the mustard.

Good stuff.

20 July 2011

Some More on Age-Segregation in the Church

I've posted on this topic, age-segregation in the church, in both April and August of 2010.

Now, Tim Challies has posted this very interesting review of a movie made by a group opposed to age-segregation in churches.  Its a great example of how to take a good idea and add an 'ism' and make it a bad philosophy.

It is also clear from the comments posted after Tim's article that a lot of people think the division of the church by age is a bad idea.  I agree.  But dividing the church over a division in the church is also a bad idea.  Making age-integrated church an exclusive thing, with no separate programs ever for kids, teens, moms, middle-aged vegetarian lego-lovers, etc., is a form of legalism* that will be as destructive, long-run, as teen-exclusive worship services have been in the recent past. 

It was also a nice eye-opener to me about how things I say could be taken to an extreme, even unintentionally.  We all have a bit of that fundamentalist thought pattern rooted into us, even liberals, and I'm no different.  So I hope what I've said about this in public isn't so extreme as to make it a test of faith or fellowship.  Its not.  It is important, but not a test of faith or fellowship.

All things in moderation, as they say.

*Legalism- making firm prohibitions where there are no biblical prohibitions...R. C. Sproul's definition.

19 July 2011

"I Feel..."

I've noticed a trend lately (past few years or so) that is a reflection of our society, and not a good one, I fear.  While it isn't all that new a phenomenon, it may be growing.  I was grading position papers (essays, essentially) for one of my online courses, and noticed an uptick in how often the word 'feel' is used when cognitive processes are intended.  Instead of writing, "I think..." or, "I believe...", the students more and more write, "I feel...".

Now some of you might find this innocuous and my pointing it out to be a bit picky.  But it is a reflection of how our society emphasizes emotionalism over rationalism; pleasure over principle.  I read a recent survey (sorry, lost the link) where a bunch of folks were given an ethical dilemma and asked how they'd solve it given no other information.  A large majority picked, "the solution that would make them happiest".

I've heard some complain that this is a symptom of what they call, "The Chickification" of culture.  Maybe, maybe not.  Its true that women express emotion more readily and more often than men (in general).  But its not true that men are without emotion.  I don't find in general that women are less likely to use cognitive processes to solve problems, though I can't say I always understand the cognitive process they do use. (I hope I'm not being unfair to my wife here!)  What I find to be true is, certain people use emotions to make decisions and certain people don't (at least, not as much).  In other words, our ability to think and reason, and how we are taught to do these things, is more important than our gender, though gender has an effect.

Emotions always have some impact on decisions, and indeed are a necessary part of the cognitive reasoning in coming up with a solution.  But when logic is disregarded in order to do what feels best, poor decisions are often the result.  This is true whether the decision maker is a man or a woman, even when the display of the emotions are handled differently.  Emotional considerations are important in making decisions, but facts are critical.

As for my students, I've considered posting in my grading rubric that I'll take off a point every time the word 'feel' is used (unless it is referring to a sensory input, of course), but that might be too harsh.  I don't know if I have time to comment on it every time it happens, or if I did, how much a difference it would make in society.  I suppose every little bit helps.  I've always believed (not felt!) that part of my job as a professor is to teach people how to think, not just what to think, and to teach people to communicate what they think effectively.  (Say what you mean, mean what you say, etc.)

More philosophically, I wonder how much less a political issue we'd have with things like government control of health care, or so-called gay marriage, or the reality of hell (as a recent hot topic) if people primarily thought instead of felt about the issues.

A Few Tidbits

This was a good summary of the CJ Mahaney 'fiasco' that occurred last week.

Here is a great synopsis of the decline in numbers in the Southern Baptist Convention in the past couple years.  I think it is spot on for the most part. Having been a member of several SBC churches in the past 20 years, some of which had some of these specific problems, I agree with the conclusions of the author.

Michael Kelly posted this picture of someone's re-creation of Middle Earth (Tolkien) in Legos.  I love Legos.

In the spirit of the 'Darwin Awards', here's one of the risks of being a copper thief.

13 July 2011

The Finished Work of Christ in Our Lives

Here is a great post by Dane Ortlund over on the Gospel Coalition blog.  It is a story of how Francis Schaeffer realized (pun intended, but you won't get it until you read the post) the importance of the gospel in our lives.

08 July 2011

Dan Phillips Needs 'Influencers'

If you have some influence over what certain people read, Dan Phillips needs you.  You might even get an advance copy of his forthcoming book in return.

Even if you don't, and you want to see how a blog should be illustrated, check out Pyromaniacs at the above link.  (No, I don't know how they do it, and no, I don't have time to figure it out...this blog will remain primarily text.)

270th Anniversary

It was today, July 8th, 1741, that Jonathan Edwards preached what some have called the most famous sermon (or the greatest sermon) ever preached on American soil:  Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

I wonder how that sermon would go over in one of our megachurches today?

05 July 2011

The Christian and Education (Homeschool, Private School, or Public School?)

Tim Challies has written this post about homeschooling versus public schooling, and of course the post elicited quite a few responses, including some nasty ones.  A lot has been written on the subject of how Christians should see to the education of their children, and much of it has been polemic.

I think the solution to the problematic question is rather simple.  It goes something like this- if you raise your kids with mostly biblical imperatives and few biblical indicatives (in other words, with mostly the law and little of the gospel), sending them to a public school would be a very bad idea.  If you raise them focused on the gospel (the indicatives), not sending them to public school would be a very sinful idea.

I understand there will be exceptions based on locale.  Our own kids have attended both private Christian schools and public schools.  When they were in second grade in Rio Rancho, NM, and the secretary's lesbian partner came to the office and sat in her lap while they made out, we decided that private school might be important in that locale.  When we lived outside St. Louis, MO and here in Canyon, TX, the public schools have worked fine.  So in general, I think kids raised on the indicatives of the gospel will approach their secular world (still as sinners, of course) with the right attitude of being witnesses of their Lord and savior first rather than serving themselves.  Of course there will be mistakes.  But learning to live in a secular world will be fraught with mistakes no matter which direction you choose for them, and this way (living in light of the indicatives of the gospel) will give them a much better path and foundation to choose what is right based on what's in their heart rather than because it's the cultural thing to do.

 There's a spectrum somewhere between the tiger mom and the dad in, 'A Boy Named Sue' where raising kids works best.  But I don't think it's a narrow line nor hard to find.  I do think we are all prone to extremes one way or the other, however, and that's what makes raising them difficult.

02 July 2011

Murdering to Cover Up Lies

I just found an interesting account in 1 Samuel that I don't remember ever noticing before.  If I understand the story line correctly, it is telling us that Uriah wasn't the first time David committed murder (or at least killed) to cover up another sin.

In 1 Samuel 27:8-12, David has gone to live with the enemy, the Philistines in Gath with Achish.  While there, David was given Ziklag as a town and place to live along with his followers.  According to 1 Sam 27:8, David made raids against the various Canaanite tribes in the region and lied to Achish about where he had made raids.  When Achish questioned David, David lied and told him the raids had been in Judah or against other parts of Israel (1 Sam 27:10).  Then verse 11 gets pretty graphic:  "David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath..." (1 Sam 27:11).

This raises a lot of questions about God's purpose and how much leeway David had on his way to becoming king of Israel.  I've got some study and some thinking to do to figure it all out, especially how this points to Christ.

But it is clear that the events surrounding Bathsheba were not the first time David had used violence to cover up his actions.