Flotsam and jetsam (2/24)
- WSJ offers another take on the extended adolescence of men in their 20s.
Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This “pre-adulthood” has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it’s time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn’t bring out the best in men.
- Patheos is starting a new series on preachers dialoging with other preachers.
Just as each writer must find her or his own voice, I believe each preacher must find her or his own way into the call of preaching. However, we don’t do it alone. The most healthy preachers know they are always in conversation with their congregation, their local community, the world, the books in their library, those closest to them, their own lives. They know that throughout these conversations, scripture winds its wisdom, prophecy, incongruities, humor, and stories.
- Jason Goroncy offers a pastoral reflection on the Christchurch earthquake. (Here are some pictures of the devastation.)
In the face of death, suffering and grief, what the Jesus community is given to know and to hope in and to proclaim is the word of the cross and resurrection. We have no other word!
- Kyle Robert offers a troubling look at evangelical attitudes toward national budget cuts.
The study, as reported in a recent online Christianity Today article, reveals that the category evangelicals are most willing for the government to cut is economic assistance for global poverty. Fifty-six percent of evangelicals preferred to chop from the federal budget aid for the world’s poorest people. The next highest choice, at 40 percent, was economic assistance for the unemployed. As the CT article notes, evangelicals were more supportive of decreasing spending in these areas than were other Americans. Evangelicals were much more reticent, on the other hand, to cut terrorism defense and military defense. In fact, 45 percent of evangelicals favored increasing spending for military defense, a percentage well higher than non-evangelicals (28 percent).
- Here’s a way to win a set of N.T. Wright’s books on Matthew.
- And here is Nerve’s list of Oscar best-picture winners ranked from worst to best.
Preaching about Sex
A seasoned pastor that I know preached a sermon this weekend on a biblical vie of “sex.” And he mentioned that whenever he preaches on sex, people come up to him afterward and comment on how hard it must be to preach on sex. Somewhat bemused, he usually comments that it’s a whole lot easier and more fun that preaching on a lot of other issues that he needs to address.
Although we live in a sex-saturated society, we still find it incredibly uncomfortable to talk about sex in church. One of my greatest frustrations in my years as a youth pastor, was the number of parents who would grow outraged if I spoke too directly about issues of sex and sexuality to their children. I always wanted to say, “Look. You’re kids are already talking about sex. Wouldn’t you prefer for them to talk about it in church?” Sadly, I’m afraid that some of them would have said “no.”
Brandon Smith recently posted the following promo video for a series on sex. And it certainly presents a number of compelling reasons that we need to learn how to speak openly about sex in church. You may not think that it’s appropriate to do so from the pulpit or in mixed audiences. Fine. Where are you talking about sex with the people in your church? Because I guarantee that they’re talking about it and struggling with it in other contexts. So, why not face it head on in the one place where they can learn to understand sex h way God intended?
If you have preached or taught about sex in your church, I’d be very curious to know how it went. Any insights or lessons learned for others?
Flotsam and jetsam (the very overdue edition)
- The New York Times reports on a recent gathering of scientists who met to discuss what and where the Garden of Eden might have been – kind of – in “A Romp Into Theories of the Cradle of Life.”
Darwin speculated that life began in a warm pond on the primordial Earth. Lately other scientists have suggested that the magic joining of molecules that could go on replicating might have happened in an undersea hot spring, on another planet or inside an asteroid. Some astronomers wonder if it could be happening right now underneath the ice of Europa or in the methane seas of Titan.
- Scot McKnight has begun a series on Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa prove — not contend — that students are not learning what they should, professors are not doing all they could, administrators are not focused on education enough and, as if that weren’t a glassful, society is and will continue to suffer is something isn’t done about it.
- Fred Sanders offers a fascinating look into pop culture with “Born This Way (so Raise Your Glasses, All You Fireworks).“
Three hit songs in the last few months have pushed the same message: You are awesome. You’re awesome just the way you are, even –no, especially– if you don’t fit in.
- Brian LePort offers his thoughts on what “rapture” means in 1 Thess. 4:17.
My take on the passage is that it refers to our meeting Christ in the air to welcome him to his earthly rule. If this is a “rapture”, fine, as long as it is not confused with the popular idea.
- Rod has started what looks like a fascinating series on Firefly & Theology. (If you’re not familiar with Firefly, it was an outstanding scifi series on Fox that sadly only made it through one season, though it was later made into a movie.)
- The Gospel Coalition has launched a new resource on Preaching Christ in the Old Testament that looks very interesting.
- And, here’s an explanation of how to win at rock-paper-scissors every time.
Flotsam and jetsam (2/9)
- Kevin DeYoung offers The Four Indispensable Qualities of Good Preaching: veracity, clarity, authority, and authenticity.
These four qualities are indispensable to good preaching, but some are more indispensable than others. The farther you go down the list, the harder the traits come. But the good news is it’s the top of the list that matter most.
- Scot McKnight asks, Are Denominations Broken?, and shares a letter calling for radical transformation in the PC(USA).
To say the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is deathly ill is not editorializing but acknowledging reality.
- Daniel Kirk engages the controversy surrounding new translations of “Son of God” that are more acceptable in muslim cultures.
If the phrase “son of God” is tantamount to blasphemy to Muslims, is it acceptable to translate the phrase differently into Arabic in the name of making the gospel known?
- Patheos is adding another new blog, and this one looks like it could be very interesting. Evangelical Crossroads features Mark Russell (Asbury), Allen Yeh (Biola), Michelle Sanchez, Michelle Stearns (Mars Hill), and Dwight Friesen (Mars Hill). (HT)
- Stuart comments on a new report estimating that there have been 270 new Christian martyrs every 24 hours over the last decade.
- Protests in Egypt continue to escalate as the US increased pressure on Egypt to end the emergency law.
- And, here’s a list of 102 words that we can thank Shakespeare for.
ProBlogger on how preparing sermons is like writing blog posts
Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger and former minister, explains why he thinks preparing sermons is like writing blog posts. Along the way, he explains his process for preparing posts/sermons and offers some thoughts for improving your own process.
Flotsam and jetsam (2/1)
- Mark Almie asks, Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?
Why were so many churches “requiring” a pastor to be married? Jesus wasn’t. Paul wasn’t. Almost all pastors were single until the time of the Reformation. Is it wise to “require” that our Evangelical pastors be married? Is it biblical?
We must teach [Baptist] views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them.
- A Slate.com article explains how economic factors contribute to the crisis in Egypt.
Any number of political and social factors underpins the current unrest in Egypt—and as always, economics figures in. The upheaval has shined a light on two serious problems facing the country: Most jobs pay too little, and most food costs too much.
- The January 2011 Biblical Studies Carnival is up, with Jim West at his snarkiest best.
- Paul Helm offers some quotes from Calvin on preaching.
- Joel Watts is giving away a copy of James McGrath’s The Only True God.
- At least a million people rallied across Egypt in continued demonstrations. And Sarah Topol offers a view of the crisis from the streets.
- And, here’s a list of 7 Myths Mythbuster Proved But We Still Can’t Believe They’re True. My favorite: you really can stick your hand into molten lead without injury…briefly.
Flotsam and jetsam (1/20)
- Peter Wallace comments on the future of preaching, as he observed it at the second annual National Festival of Young Preachers.
I have seen the future of preaching, and it’s a beautiful thing.
- Andy Naselli offers some interesting quotes from Carl Trueman’s new book The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.
When Mark Noll declared that the scandal of the evangelical mind was that there was no mind, he meant to criticize the lack of cultural and theological engagement among evangelicals. I agree there is a scandal involving the evangelical mind, though I understand the problem in the exact opposite way. It is not that there is no mind, but rather that there is no evangelical.
- Russell Moore describes how he would explain the kingdom of God to a 15 year-old.
The kingdom of God, then, is the good news that the right rule of God, and the right rule of man—a rule our ancestors Adam and Eve lost—have come together in the right rule of one right God-man: Jesus of Nazareth. In his sin-resisting life, his wisdom-saturated teaching, his demon-exorcising power, his substitutionary, conquering death, and his justifying, victorious resurrection, Christ is king.
- Michael Jensen argues for an epistemology grounded in trust and the Gospel.
As Wittgenstein demonstrated, we cannot live, even at the level of everyday life, without trusting. And yet trust is a theologically ambivalent starting point for a theory of knowledge because of the persistent untrustworthiness of human beings after the Fall. Not only have the noetic effects of sin crippled our perceptions, they have given us reason to doubt the motives of others.
- Ben Witherington discusses the “two swords” in Luke 2:28, explaining that Jesus was not endorsing the use of weapons – even in self defense.
From a grammatical point, it seems clear that this is the right interpretation of vs. 38 which simply says in the Greek “he said to them ‘Enough’!” It does not read “Two swords are enough”. What we have here is an idiomatic expression used to close off a discussion.
- Byron Smith points out a nice summary of the first lecture that Bruce McCormack has given in a series entitled “Abandoned by God: The Death of Christ in Systematic, Historical, and Exegetical Perspective.”
- Koinonia is giving away a copy of To Transform a City by Eric Swanson and Sam Williams.
- And, Mental Floss offers a list of Insurance Policies on 10 Famous Body Parts. My favorite is Gene Simmons’ tongue.
Flotsam and jetsam (12/1)
- Adam McHugh argues the need for A Counter-Cultural Quiet in Advent.
In our world, quiet is counter-cultural. I’m not only referring to quiet on the outside, but also quiet on the inside. In fact, it may be easier to shut out the external voices than it is to silence the internal noise. It’s often those inner voices, especially the unacknowledged ones, that compel us to fill our lives with movement and agendas and spending and eating. Our behaviors and hurry are echoes of our inner doubts about our worth. Sadly, in many ways the nature of our holiday celebrations reveal how incompletely we have embraced the actual message of Christmas.
- iMonk reflects on Living in the In-Between.
It can be frustrating living in-between. Any blessing, sustenance, attainment, contentment, or security we latch on to now is imperfect, incomplete, and temporary. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy the crumbs we taste now, it’s just to look at them honestly and identify them for the crumbs they are. And when we or others around us don’t even get to enjoy many crumbs at times, it casts a shadow on the whole enterprise.
- Brian McLaren discusses how to plan a preaching ministry around the “lifespan” of your congregation. HT
- Christianity Today wants to know if we should ban Christmas carols with bad theology.
- Koinonia is giving away a copy of Harry Lee Poe’s The Inklings of Oxford. The NLT blog is offering a chance to win two NLT study Bibles and some money for a ministry you nominate (HT).
- You can now download for free the audio and video from D.A. Carson’s 14-part series on The God Who Is There, an overview of the Bible’s storyline.
- And, Google’s new online bookstore should be opening soon. Whether it will be the Amazon-killer that people have suggested it could be, has yet to be seen.
Google Editions will have a significantly different sales model from most competitors, such as Amazon’s Kindle store or Apple’s iBookStore. Instead of purchasing books through a single online store, Google will let users buy them either from Google or from independent bookstores and then tie them to a Google account, which will enable them to read the books anywhere and on any device they please.
Morning links (9/15)
Okay, I finally got one too many comments from people who either couldn’t figure out what “flotsam and jetsam” means (originally a nautically term referring to the debris left after a shipwreck, it’s also used to refer to “odds and ends” in general), or who wondered if I’m just a big Little Mermaid fan (which, by the way, says more about you than it does me). So, I’m going to drop that title for a while and go with something that will hopefully be a little clearer. But, just in case there’s still some uncertainty out there, let me explain:
- “Morning” = that period of the day between when I wake up and when my coffee has finally kicked in.
- “Links” = those underlined/colored/highlighted words on the screen that take you places when you click on them.
Now, that we’ve taken care of that business, here are some links for this morning.
- William Black offers some critical reflections on speaking in tongues, coming from one who speaks in tongues. On the same subject, Diglot wants to know what people think about non-Christians who also speak in tongues.
- Calvin College cancels a concert by the New Pornographers over concerns that they were being associated with pornography.
- Michael Jensen gives a great summary of Barth’s understanding of 1 Corinthians 15.
- Here are some video interviews with Scott Rae on medical and business ethics. HT
- Kevin DeYoung continues to offer advice for theological students and young pastors.
- Jason reviews Paul D. Wegner’s Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching.
- James McGrath points out some videos of Wolfart Pannenberg and Gordon Kauffman speaking about God, Science, and Mystery.
- And, Bible and Interpretation has an interesting article on the excavation of Geshur, possibly one of the most important of the Canaanite cities. HT