Monthly Archives: December 2009
The reversal of morality when it comes to food and sex:
In just over 50 years, in other words — not for everyone, of course, but for a great many people, and for an especially large portion of sophisticated people — the moral poles of sex and food have been reversed. Betty thinks food is a matter of taste, whereas sex is governed by universal moral law of some kind; and Jennifer thinks exactly the reverse. …
Ed Stetzer shows us how Protestant pastors spend their time:
The data points to some interesting work patterns. 65 percent of pastors surveyed work 50 or more hours a week, with 8 percent saying they work 70 or more hours. “Meetings and electronic correspondence consume large amounts of time for many ministers, while counseling, visitation, family time, prayer and personal devotions suffer in too many cases.”
In this Baptist Press article, one of my former professors, Radu Gheorghita explains why he is an amillenialist (after having memorized the whole book in Greek):
“I believe the most attractive aspect of this school of interpretation is that it matches the characteristics of the apocalyptic genre of the book of Revelation, a literature rich in symbolism, imagery and similes, a genre chosen by John to venture into the spiritual territory which Paul himself chose to avoid (2 Corinthians 12),” said Gheorghita, who recently took two years to memorize the entire Book of Revelation.
The Top Ten SBC Stories of 2009
Of interest to my Romanian readers… …
The Gospel Provides the Questions: Why Contextualization is Not Enough
9 Examples of the Internet Changing Our World
How a Reformed Church Overthrew Communism in Romania
The State of the Blogosphere
Contextualization Goes Both Ways
The Blind Side: A Pro-Family, Pro-Adoption Movie
7 Reasons I’m Thankful for My Wife on our 7th Anniversary
My 10 Favorite Reads of 2009
A New Kind of Church – Aubrey Malphurs (Summary / Critique)
Book Notes: God in the Whirlwind / Choosing to Cheat / The New Shape of World Christianity
Desiring the Kingdom – James K. A. Smith
Book Notes: Ford County / Fearless / That Hideous Strength
Christ is Born
“We Lepers” – An Unusual Christmas Meditation
A Beautiful Word from Augustine on the Incarnation
New Endorsements for Holy Subversion
Excerpts from Holy Subversion
O Lord, Come and Save
Stir Up Your Power, O Lord
Open Us to the Sea of Your Mercy
My Brother’s Paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer
Notable Items from Decembers Past
My wife and I rarely get to watch movies in the theater. We live in a town with just one small theater (two screens) that only has matinees on weekends. Life with two small children doesn’t afford us much time for the cinema. If I remember correctly, we only watched three movies this year.
But in between Christmas shopping and celebrating our anniversary a couple weeks ago, we made time for The Blind Side.
I had heard about this film from critics who labeled the film “schmaltzy” and “sentimental”. I had also heard from evangelical Christians who were excited about the film’s portrayal of a Christian family as decent and respectable. Knowing the storyline included a cross-racial adoption, I couldn’t wait to see the film for myself.
Most of the elite movie critics hated The Blind Side. Some called it “curiously devoid of drama or suspense” (as if real life is always action packed). Others said it was “an uninspired sports story” (even though the sports aspect is not the central theme).
Expected to be a holiday season “sleeper,” The Blind Side defied box office expectations, ignored the critics, and slowly rose to #1. It’s a family-friendly, feel-good film – the kind that usually does well this time of year.
Here are some of my thoughts about the film. (Caution: a few spoilers follow!)
First, I was pleasantly surprised at the respectful portrayal of the Touhy family. I’m used to seeing Christians portrayed as self-righteous and hypocritical, so it was refreshing to see a …
World magazine lists the top ten news stories of 2009.
Michael Kelley on two kinds of New Year’s Resolutions:
There’s a huge difference. One is centered on sweat; the other is centered on faith. One lifts up the power of humanity; the other lifts up the power of God. One is about me; the other is about the gospel.
Tim Keller on creation, evolution, and Christian laypeople:
Keller considers three main clusters of questions lay people raise when they learn of anyone teaching that biological evolution and biblical orthodoxy can be compatible. Keller offers some ideas on how to provide responses that take these concerns seriously.
Pre-modern, Modern, and Post-modern: What do they mean for evangelicals?
How about we take a both/and approach instead of an either/or approach? Let’s be static in the right ways and cutting-edge in the right ways.
Yes, we realize that Postmodernism is relativistic. That’s bad. But Modernism, through its absolute adherence to science and secularism, often kicks God out of the picture, and that’s pretty bad too.
Modernism has a love for absolute truth, and that’s good. But Postmodernism (and Premodernism) are more receptive to spirituality and religion, and that can be very good if oriented in the right direction.
A multifaceted approach with regard to Premodernism, Modernism, and Postmodernism, is what we need.
Brief comments on three books that I have read recently:
Ford County: Stories
My Rating: *
I should have loved this book. I have always thought that Grisham’s best book was his first (A Time to Kill), which was set in Ford County, Mississippi. I also love short stories. So when I heard that Grisham was turning his attention back to Ford County and that he was trying his hand at short stories, my interest was piqued.
Unfortunately, Grisham seems bent on displaying the absolute worst side of Southern life. I didn’t even finish this book. The first story alone takes readers into some of the seediest sites of Mississippi. Grisham tries to be funny and to make a point, but he fails on both counts. Don’t waste your money.
Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear
Thomas Nelson, 2009
My Rating: *** 1/2
Max Lucado may not be the most theologically profound writer on the market, and his Arminian theological persuasion may cause readers of this blog to raise a Reformed eyebrow, but I believe evangelical pastors should read his books. Why? Lucado is a brilliant communicator. A master of words, Max knows how to paint pictures and get across his point in ways that anyone can understand.
Fearless may not be Lucado’s best book, but the power of his pen is still on full display. Fearless contains plenty of good illustrations and spiritual insight. The best chapter is the last, in which Max describes “fear of God.” He asks:
“How long since you …
An interview with Os Guinness: Where Have all the Evangelicals Gone?
Evangelicalism is primarily theological and spiritual; people who define themselves and their lives and their faith by the good news of the announcement of the kingdom by Jesus of Nazareth. That is the historical and theological definition, if it was only this miserable cultural business, I wouldn’t be an Evangelical.
Praying simple prayers:
This small insight has been really helpful to me. Instead of remaining silence because I don’t have the right words, I have found myself praying “Jesus, help me!” throughout the day.
Collin Hansen lists his top ten theology stories of 2009.
When it comes to making predictions about internet usage and blog-reading, I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet. However, in the past few years, I have noticed some recent trends in the blogosphere – developments that will probably become more pronounced as we enter the next decade.
Because each of these trends follows a logical progression, I suggest you read them in order.
#1. The Slow Death of a Large Number of Blogs
Back in 2005-07, blogs were popping up all over the place. Many people discovered that starting a blog is quick and easy. Few realized how difficult it is to maintain one.
Today, millions of blog start-ups still exist on the web, but much of the blogosphere is beginning to look like a graveyard. “Sorry I haven’t posted lately” is the first line of many a front-page post.
People who began blogging as a way of keeping friends and family up to date about their goings on have now discovered other avenues of communication, which brings me to point #2…
#2. The Turn to Other Social Media for Connection
Back in 2007, a college friend of mine took a road trip to Montana. I told him I wanted to see the pictures. He said, “They’re on FaceBook.”
My response: “I don’t have FaceBook. Can you send me the pics on email?”
His answer: “No. Get a FaceBook.”
I held out another year, but finally relented. I’m not the only one who eventually gave in.
In the past five years, we have seen an explosion …
How N.T. Wright Stole Christmas (and you should be glad he did):
As it turns out, Wright is no Grinch. He didn’t steal Christmas. What he stole was a false Christmas, a de-contextualized and apolitical Christmas. But we shouldn’t have bought that Christmas in the first place, and should have been embarrassed to display it so proudly on the mantle. Good riddance, and Bah humbug.
Chris Castaldo on the Catholics Come Home marketing campaign:
I haven’t heard too many proponents of the New Evangelization compare their efforts to the legacy of Loyola and his Society of Jesus; but for me, an armchair church historian, the parallel is striking. With this connection in mind, I would like to offer two words of caution: one for Catholics and the other for Protestants.
The Noughtie List: the 2000s in Review
Denny Burk’s Top Ten YouTube Videos from 2009
Our Father in Heaven,
Let your name be honored and set apart as Holy.
Please, we want your Kingdom to fully come to earth.
We want your will to be done here as it is already done in heaven.
We ask that you continue to give us food for our bodies
and provide for the physical needs we have.
We also ask that you forgive us,
and restore us to the right relationship with you that our sin has hindered.
We will forgive others like you have forgiven us.
Keep us from Temptation,
you know how weak we are.
Please spare us from the evil one in this world
who wants to kill steal and destroy.
You alone can do these things,
because you have the power.
It is your kingdom.
You are glorious!
You are eternal, unchanging God!
Bless your name!
So be it.
Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.
- Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1)