Meeting Col. Tigh (actor Michael Hogan) was a real pleasure. Along with meeting Sean Astin and Edward James Olmos, it has been a great event.
Check for pics and updates on my experience at DragonCon at http://twitter.com/bigcreekbill
As you browse, read and share the many articles, our hope is that you may find this site an encouragement to your faith and Christian life.
We were created to worship. And we are to worship God with every aspect and area of our lives - presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
The bride of Christ can often times be difficult and messy - but it is Christ's beautiful mess - to which He is the head and chief cornerstone.
Our faith comes out from a rich heritage and history. It was during the formative years of our faith that creeds, confessions, traditions, and liturgies were developed. These practices and traditions recaptured will not only anchor us but move us forward in our faith.
There is freedom in the gospel as it proclaims that in Christ we are sons and daughters of the King. The importance is learning to preach those truths to our heart and life everyday.
In Tampa, Florida, one of the cities that comprises the megalopolis known as the Tampa Bay area, home to Busch Gardens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and only minutes from beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast of Florida (oh, and this author's stomping grounds, too), a local politician is giving credit to Facebook for his recent win in the primaries for the local County Commission.
On Facebook, the crowd is still very young, with an average age of 22.96 as of this February. Typically, the youth vote, although coveted, could not be counted on thanks to low turnout of young voters at the polls. However, this small time local election may prove to be one of the first examples of the huge impact Gen Y can have on the political process.
Now that many members of Gen Y are of voting age, their sheer numbers can no longer be ignored by politicians. The biggest generation since the baby boomers, Gen Y has been poorly characterized by some as lazy, unfocused, and self-centered - a generation that would just as soon stay home with mom and dad than go out and climb the corporate ladder. While it may be true that Gen Y has the good financial sense to maximize their time in rent-free accommodations, they are certainly proving themselves the opposite of lazy when it comes to involvement, be it social involvement, community involvement, or political involvement. Considering this recent "Facebook-powered" win, it could be that this generation is all talk and all action, too.
Is the church forward thinking enough and leveraging these new technologies for the Kingdom of God? I am sure that mileage varies on the answer to that question. Some churches like Lifechurch.tv are cutting edge while others are stuck with flannel boards. How about your church?
[The Dead Sea] relies on many small tributaries, but its main supplier of water is the Jordan River. Population growth in the region means more and more water is being diverted from its path towards the Dead Sea to other uses such as irrigation and drinking water. Evaporation, which makes the sea special by keeping salinity high, is also putting the Sea at risk, and the hot, arid climate and practices such as mineral extraction only exacerbate the rate of evaporation. Without an ample supply of water from the Jordan, the water level is dropping at an alarming rate (an estimated 1 meter per year).
As the shoreline recedes, sinkholes and mud are left behind. The scenic beauty of the area is scarred; getting to the water proves more and more difficult; tourism suffers. If this trend continues, the allure of the Dead Sea will be lost for future generations.
(Disclaimer: This book review is not intended as an endorsement of any political candidate)
We are coming to the end of the Democratic National Convention and Denver. And no matter what you might think and believe politically, the fact is that we have witnessed a historic event. For the first time in the history of our country, a major political party has nominated an African-American as their party’s candidate
Even though Barack Obama has received overwhelming acclamation and support, many people are still wondering, who is this man? And one of the key issues being asked is Barack’s faith. Stephen Mansfield in his newly released book, The Faith of Barack Obama, attempts to address that question. Mansfield has written an honest and balanced account of Barack’s faith addressing the many questions and concerns people have about Barack’s life and faith.
Knowing a candidate’s faith is essential. According to Mansfield, the book is written in the belief “that if a man’s faith is sincere, it is the most important thing about him, and that it is impossible to understand who he is and how he will lead without first understanding the religious vision that informs his life.”
Barack’s story of faith isn’t typical of the American experience. For instance, if Barack ascends to the presidency he will be the first American president to do so having not been raised in a Christian home. Instead, he spent his early years under the influence of an atheist mother, a step-father’s folk Islam, praying at the feet of a Catholic Jesus, and influenced with a humanist’s understanding of the world that sees religion merely as a man-made thing.
In Barack’s adult life, his spiritual journey toward Christianity also defies pattern and refuses to fit in a clean theological box. Although his coming to faith typifies the pattern and process that many Americans have journeyed. He came to faith not so much to join a religious tradition, but rather to find belonging among a people. In Barack’s memoir, Audacity of Hope, he describes his religious conversion as such, “it came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”
Barack’s beliefs are tailored to and reflect the diverse religious experience of America. For Barack, “Christianity is but One religious tree rooted in the common ethical soil of all human experience.”
Within the book, Mansfield effectively addresses the lingering questions of Barack’s brush with Islam and whether or not he is a secret Muslim. Mansfield’s answer is a unequivocal NO. Also Mansfield dissects and seeks to understand the religious soil of Trinity United Church of Christ and Jeremiah Wright, the environment where Barack’s faith first took root. Mansfield discovered from first hand experiences Trinity’s a mixture of both good and bad. According to Mansfield, his experience transcended more than just the couple of Jeremiah Wright bombastic video clips on YouTube that have come to define the religious culture at Trinity.
Barack not only forged and developed his faith during his adult years, but he also allowed his faith to intersect his political life. What became distinct of Barack Obama was that he unapologetically brought his faith into the public square and within Democratic politics. Mansfield writes about Obama’s speech to Jim Wallis’s progressive Sojourners organization, “With the speech’s tone of moderation, its welcome of faith into the public square, and yet its insistence that people of faith conduct themselves in public debate according to democratic values, it became what Obama had intended: a call to reform, a redefinition of religion’s role in American political life. Soon, his words were debated on cable news programs, heard by tens of thousands on YouTube, and argued fiercely on Web sites from every political perspective.”
Mansfield’s book takes a fair and balanced tone to the discussion of Barack’s faith. Mansfield is honest with some of the lingering questions and concerns that still swirl around Barack, especially concerning Barack’s view of abortion and his voting record on partial birth abortion.
As you take the time examine both candidates this election year, I would encourage you to pick of a copy of The Faith of Barack Obama, and take the time to get to know a facet of a man that you may have not have already known.
I thoroughly enjoy the creative material that comes out of Rob Bell’s grace-filled and artistic brain. Even when I disagree with him, there is no denying he is tapping into a deep well of truth and riding the wave of a new movement of the Holy Spirit which the church, especially in America, so desperately needs.
Rob Bell, and until recently, Don Golden have been doing this together at Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, and undoubtedly this book comes out of some of their ministry together. This third of the Bell books, this time with collaboration from a partner in ministry has the same bite and passion as the first two, but mostly missing are the personal stories and anecdotes which peppered Velvet Elvis, and Sex God. This book is all business, and it is God’s business the writers are about. Whether the Evangelical world wants to hear this or not, these authors feel it needs to do so desperately. This book deserves a thorough review.
The RTS Newsletter reports:
RTS/Orlando closed Wednesday and Friday of last week due to strong winds and flooding rains from Tropical Storm Fay. Remarkably, on Thursday night a water leak in the Pamplin Chapel set off the seminary’s fire alarm. The Orlando Fire Dept. responded and found a large roof leak and water pouring into the instrument Room. RTS/Orlando Director of Operations Christina Greenawalt, her husband Dale and the Maintenance Supervisor Gary Miller drove through the worst night of the storm to check on the seminary. They quickly moved instruments out of the room, and positioned tarps to prevent further damage where possible.
A very expensive projector used for chapel was a total loss, the ceiling tiles were heavily damaged and the carpet was soaked. They are not sure about the organ as the electronics of the organ were wet as well. In another building, the seminary’s main hallway to the faculty conference room was damaged by another water leak. Also three a/c units were damaged by water infiltration in the control cards and water leaked into the bookstore. The storm brought approximately 10+ inches of rain to the area with more excessive amounts in the surrounding areas flooding many homes and streets. The Florida Disaster Recovery Fund assists in situations such as these. If you wish to assist the storm victims, click here to give to this fund. You can also assist the seminary by donating here.
Pray for the people of that area and the school as they recover from this storm.
(ht: In Light of the Gospel)
Why did you choose to accept the invitation?
Somebody calls you and asks you to pray, you do.
Where do you stand on issues like abortion and gay marriage?
Miller answered: The issue of abortion is a very sensitive one and it’s an important issue. I look at from a perspective of, what’s the best that we can do. As we elect a Republican House and Senate, and as we elect Republican leadership in the executive branch, we see very little changes on that issue. We’re electing someone who agrees with us on abortion, being sort of a tragedy in our country, and yet can’t get anything done. It’s kind of like saying, I want a pilot on my plane who feels this way about abortion, but he can’t fly the plane. The executive branch doesn’t have that much power, it has some power, but it doesn’t have much power.
You look at the reality of that and say, what can I do to defend the sanctity of all human life, including the living, and the marginalized and the oppressed and the poor? What can we do to better social conditions so that less women are put in situations where they feel like they need to have an abortion. What does looking at the issue holistically look like. I hope the Democrats will listen to those of us who lean toward pro-life and those changes can be made........Read the rest here.
A new nationwide survey of people's candidate preference conducted by The Barna Group some movement over the past two months, with Sen. Obama maintaining a substantial 43% to 34% lead among those who are likely to vote in November, with 5% selecting minor party candidates. That lead is a decline for Sen. Obama's since early June, when he led his Republican rival 50% to 35% among likely voters. In the past two months, more voters have gravitated to third-party candidates (5%) and a higher proportion is now undecided (up from 15% to 21%).
Sen. McCain has struggled to ignite widespread interest in his candidacy, as evidenced by the fact that a majority of just three out of the sixty voter segments studied would vote for him if the election were held today. In startling contrast, a majority of the likely voters from 16 voter segments would back Sen. Barack Obama. Among the segments in which neither candidate has majority support, Sen. Obama leads among 35 of those groups while Sen. McCain leads among only three.
The bright spots for Sen. McCain in the latest results are the support from evangelicals (among whom he holds a 61%-17% lead), the notable shift away from Sen. Obama among several key faith communities, and the increased share of undecided voters since the beginning of June. However, at this stage most of these realignments reflect a softening of support for Sen. Obama more than a surge of allegiance to the Arizona Republican.
“During this political process, my desire is to keep an open dialogue with both campaigns and talk about the issues that matter to my generation of Christians. If my praying on opening night at the DNC would be perceived as showing favoritism or incorrectly labeling me as endorsing one candidate over the other—rather than being the bridge-building gesture which I intended it to be—then I needed to rethink the decision.”
Reggie concludes with three things he believes the Apostle Paul would have all Christians consider when voting for candidates
In his letter to Titus, Paul offers forty-six crisp verses on theology, social ethics, and personal morality. The letter is a stunning tour-de-force on how Christians are to impact their pagan world. It includes thoughts, I think, that are worth lingering over in a political season.
- Henri Nouwen
When we are not afraid to confess our own poverty, we will be able to be with other people in theirs. The Christ who lives in our own poverty recognizes the Christ who lives in other people's. Just as we are inclined to ignore our own poverty, we are inclined to ignore others'. We prefer not to see people who are destitute, we do not like to look at people who are deformed or disabled, we avoid talking about people's pains and sorrows, we stay away from brokenness, helplessness, and neediness.
By this avoidance we might lose touch with the people through whom God is manifested to us. But when we have discovered God in our own poverty, we will lose our fear of the poor and go to them to meet God.
“Repentance and revival cannot start in the building behind me until it starts in the temple inside me. … Leadership starts with us, with our own hearts being broken for broken people.”—former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, speaking in front of the Capitol at TheCall
Can a digitally projected pastor lead a congregation, shepherd believers, create and expand a community? Or is this just business-minded religion run amok? In a blog post, one of Stanley's lieutenants compared the job of running a video venue to operating a franchise of another Christian-led business: Chick-fil-A. "Just like that Chick-fil-A owner/operator, I'm here in Nashville to open up our franchise and run it right," wrote Eddie Johnson. "I believe in my company and what they are trying to 'sell.' "
With video venues, ambitious pastors can think beyond their current geographic boundaries, whether it's across town, across the country, or even across international borders. Oklahoma City's LifeChurch.tv, which also holds services online, has churches in six states. Fellowship Church in Dallas bought out a struggling Baptist church in Miami for its first off-site location. Andy Stanley's North Point has 16 video venues, including a church whose members voted to defect from the Presbyterian Church of Canada last fall. He's gunning for a total of 60 by 2010.Read the whole article HERE
I always find it amazing how someone can tap into reservoirs of creativity and be able to turn a foam finger into a national icon.
In 1978 former high school teacher, Geral Fauss came up
with the #1 foam hand, since then it has become a universal
symbol for the phrase 'we're number one' and is among the
most popular pieces of US sports merchandising.
(read the rest of the story HERE)
One of the most incredible stories coming from the Olympics occurred during the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea. There was a young competitor there whose whole life had been in pursuit of an Olympic medal. The 1988 games represented his best chance. He was a Canadian named Lawrence Lemieux, and his event was in sailing. Off the coast of Korea, he was racing for the Gold. The sea was stormy and rough, but Lemieux was in second place with an excellent shot at first. Suddenly his attention was drawn aside by an overturned boat, and he saw a sailor draped over the hull, desperately trying to hold on. Another sailor was bobbing in the water. The tides and winds were pushing both men further out to sea. They were Olympians, too, and were competing in another event. The man who was draped over the overturned hull of the boat had cut his hand in the accident and was rapidly losing strength. The crewman in the water was drifting away from the boat and going down. Lemieux had a heart-rending decision to make. If he didn't stop to help the men, they would likely drown; but if he did stop and help them he would lose his lifelong dream of winning an Olympic Gold Medal. Well, it might have been a heart-rending decision, but it didn't take the young champion long to make it. He turned his boat toward into the screaming wind and paddled toward the desperate men. As he approached the man who was thrashing in the water, the man gasped, "Please help me! I can't last much longer."
"Grab onto my boat when I come past you," said Lemieux.
"I can't," said the man. "I hurt my back and I can't pull myself up into your boat." Lawrence leaned over and grabbed the man's vest and tried to haul him aboard, but the effort almost capsized the little craft. "Just try to hold on until we get to your boat," shouted Lemieux. Somehow he managed to navigate his boat through the crashing waves and he managed to rescue the other man as well. He held them both until a patrol boat arrived.
But the delay cost him any chance he had of winning an Olympic medal. He resumed the race, but finished in 21st place. In its place, the International Olympic Committee awarded him The Fair Play Award of the 1988 games in Seoul. And when he returned home, the members of Northwood Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington, had a special medal cast for him and draped it around his neck while the Canadian National Anthem was played. He told the congregation, "You spend your whole lifetime trying to achieve a goal, and my goal was winning a gold medal. I didn't win a gold medal, but I won something more valuable—the love you've shown me here today."
“For centuries our educational system has led us to approach Scripture as a silent text that you are to read and understand, and that is far different from hearing a story. … In a traditional service, the Scripture reading is time to take a quick nap. [With the storytelling approach], you don’t take a nap.”—Lynn White, minister at Eagle’s Landing Christian Church in McDonough, Ga., who participated in the recent National Convention of Biblical Storytellers that aims to enliven oral Scripture reading with storytelling skills.
Evangelist Todd Bentley, who last week unofficially left the Lakeland Outpouring to continue similar meetings around the world, announced to his staff yesterday that he and his wife, Shonnah, are separating. According to the Lakeland Ledger, Bentley filed for separation despite the couple having been in marriage counseling for several months. Bentley and his wife, who have three children, are Canadian citizens and under Canadian law are required to go through a nine-month separation period prior to divorce. On Bentley’s ministry’s Web site, a letter written by the Fresh Fire Ministries board of directors stated that “there has been no sexual immorality on the part of either Todd or Shonnah, nor has there ever been. Undoubtedly the pressures and the burden of the Outpouring, which approaches 144 days on Aug. 23, have helped to create an atmosphere of fatigue and stress that has exacerbated existing issues in their relationship. We wish to stress however, that the Outpouring is not ‘to blame’ for the current chain of events and that in effect we have no interest in blaming anyone, but rather we deeply covet your prayers for Todd and Shonnah and for Fresh Fire Ministries during this time.”First of all, the point of this discussion is not to discuss Todd Bentley's ministry or the validity of the outpouring that took place in Florida- that is entirely another discussion all by itself.
"I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be sped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little."
Perhaps God sometimes allows us to dream dreams of what he wants us to do, not necessarily so that we can fulfill all of them -- that might just make us proud and self-satisfied -- but so that we will take the first steps toward fulfilling them.
And perhaps those first steps (as they appear to us) are in fact the key things that God actually wants us to do. Paul may not have got to Spain. That didn't matter; the gospel got there fairly soon anyway. What mattered then, and has mattered enormously in the whole history of the church, is that, as part of his plan to go to Spain, he wrote Romans. We should never underestimate what God will do through things which we see as small steps to a larger end.
"While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves - blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very thing he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him."- A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1993), 85.
The Work Research Foundation is a think tank located in Hamilton, Ontario. According to it’s website,
“The Work Research Foundation’s mission is to influence people to a Christian view of work and public life. We seek to explore and unfold the dignity of work, the meaning of economics, and the structures of civil society, in the context of underlying patterns created by God.”I would encourage you to read an article entitled The Daily Practice of Public Influence written by WRF senior fellow Jonathan Wellum, who is the CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Canada’s largest private mutual fund company, AIC Limited. In the article Wellum writes:
Over the last number of years, one of my frustrations as a Christian in the Reformed tradition is the lack of involvement in the public square on the part of those who call themselves Calvinistic or Reformed. As a way of correcting this, let me start with three basic presuppositions we need to operate on as we go out into the public square.
I am going to assume the cosmological principle-the sovereignty of the triune God over the whole cosmos in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible. Thus, all of life, including culture, must come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and absolutely nothing is to be extracted from the rule of God. Second, I think we need to emphasize that we are utterly dependent creatures and that all of life is moving forward based on the purposes of God and His sovereign will. Thus, if we are to maximize our influence for Christ in the public square then our purposes should reflect God’s purposes and our values should reflect God’s values. Third, bowing to the Lordship of Christ means living under the authority of God’s Word completely. When Francis Schaeffer talked about the uniqueness of Christianity, he stated that “Christianity is not a series of truths in the plural but rather truth spelled with a capital T - Truth about total reality, not just about religious things.” Biblical Christianity is truth concerning all of reality and the intellectual holding of that truth and then living in light of that truth.
USA Today recently analyzed the shifting demographics of the 2007 U.S. Census estimates and uncovered some significant shifts in age and race since the 2000 census. Highlights from their analysis on race include:
The rapid growth of minorities is a dramatic influence on a community’s culture. And therefore it is important to learn how your own church's community is shifting. As well as you must learn what you must do to stay relevant and reach out to this changing culture (and not merely flee from it).
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(ht: Light of the Gospel)
- Ajith Fernando
- Bill Mounce
- Bruce Waltke
- Chris Wright
- Clint Arnold
- Craig Blomberg
- Daniel Wallace
- Darrell Bock
- Gary Burge
- John Walton
- Lynn Cohick
- Mark Strauss
- Miles Van Pelt
- Tremper Longman
- Walt Kaiser