- Flashy funerals for young victims of violence unsettling
- Iraqi Christians seek refugee status in Kurdish north
- Life as monk equals constant temptation
- Catholic guidelines on Gays
- "The Nativity Story" opens December 1st
- Young adults leaving church
- FEMA forbids sharing gospel by churches helping Katrina victims
- Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope admit obstacles to cooperation
- Muslim scholars call for end to female genital mutilation
- Unsafe abortions cause 68,ooo deaths per year
- Women priests could save Church of England
- US works to build Muslim trust
- Evangelicals less keen on politics
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Read the full BBC article about Jews in Iran. You may find interesting information that contradicts the opinions of many Westerners.
- Iran in maps (land, cities, ethnic groups, population, etc.)
- Percentage of women in Universities heralds social change
- Uncovering Iran - BBC Radio series
- Iran - Wikipedia profile
Friday, November 24, 2006
Despite actions to reduce gasses that deplete the earth's ozone layer, scientists have discovered that the at the current rate, it will take about 60 years to heal. Of course, if countries and corporation let their worship of money overcome their worship of God and protection of God's earth it might never happen.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
we bow our heads in prayer
for all the ways you've blessed our lives
and for Your loving care.
We thank You for the hands
that prepared our special treat
and pray that You will bless all those
who have no food to eat.
Forgive us of our sins
and keep us close today.
And bless this food You've given us.
In Jesus' name, we pray.
[Adapted from a Thanksgiving prayer by Betty Jo Mings]
Friday, November 10, 2006
A cool feature of the methoblog is that it lists the "Latest UM Blogposts" from the blogs in the MethoBlog Roll. It takes about an hour or so for a new posting to appear; this new feature is a really great service. Thanks, Jay!
So if you want to keep up with the Methoblogosphere, check out this new blog service linked in the "Methodist and other blogs" section in the right column here.
On the other hand, the Southern Baptist Convention in June of 2006 passed a resolution denigrating environmental activism and warning that it could create divisions among evangelicals. And James Dobson has said that evangelicals should stay focused on anti-abortion actions and combatting gay marriage.
Yet a pastor af The Vineyard USA was one of 86 evangelical signers of letter urging all Christians as well as the government to combat global warming.
It was a Republican, President Nixon, who supported air and water protection, protection of endangered species, and created the Environmental Protection Agency.
A 2006 Pew Research Center survey found that 66% of white evangelicals believed there was good evidence that God's Earth was getting warmer and 32% blamed human activity for the warming.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The posting addresses several issues. For example, at Annual Conferences, "There are racial minorities, there are the non-gray-haired minorities, and there are the skinny minorities. It's pretty obvious why our health care costs are skyrocketing."
Several interesting comments have been left at the post.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Seven dioceses in the U.S. have refused to accept her authority. Her call for healing and wholeness is therefor totally understandable.
Good ways to wade in the water of Sermon Cloud is to check out the most popular sermons today, "Most amens for the week", month, or best sermons ever. Scroll to the bottom of the home page to see a category listing.
The Sermon Cloud "swicki" on the right shows which search terms (tags) are most popular on the site.
Pastors can syndicate, podcast, and publish sermons online - assuming that they are courageous and confident enough.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
The show also addresses some advantages of gay males of the animal kingdom raising young.
The museum hopes to de-mystify homosexuality in humans. "The more you know..."
Friday, October 27, 2006
"But if you think that there must be some ultimate explanation for the improbable leaping-into-existence of the harmonious, biofriendly cosmos we find ourselves in, then the God hypothesis is at least rational to adhere to, isn't it?" says reviewer Holt.
Dawkins views ideas as memes that "reproduce" by going from person to person (brain to brain). Dawkins, who coined the term meme, claims that religion memes spread because parts of our brains "misfire". Though "Good Samaritan" acts are positive, they are an abnormal accident he feels.
Holt, in his lengthy and excellent review, makes several good points about the quality of Dawkins' reasoning. He says that Dawkins fails to comprehend how hard it is to deal with philosophical questions about religion. You may find the review better reading than the book.
Friday, October 20, 2006
The Christian employee is suing. The linked article also includes comments, like a blog. The British Airways action is being blasted, even by a self-avowed "hard-line Atheist".
Though the airline has in the past been accused of trying too hard to be politically correct, this anti-Christian action seems to be the opposite of "correct," politically or in any other way. Such discrimination has no place in the workplace.
While discrimination and persecution against Christians is not uncommon, we tend to think that it doesn't happen in "the civilized world". Guess what? It does. Sometimes it is the result of misinformation by the perpetrators. Sometimes it is purely malicious. Wherever such persecution happens, we need to combat it with facts and, when necessary, legal action.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Access the sneak peek at http://www.umc.org/; click the "sneak peek" image banner link (in the center middle of the page) to preview the site.
Following the short introductory video, select one of the links to new features. After checking out a new feature, feel free to select the "Feedback" link. UMComm is actively seeking comments in order to make the final site better meet visitors' needs when the site "goes live" in January 2007.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
- Vatican readies an ancient necropolis for public viewing (USA Today)
- Pope to Islam: Request to revise and extend my remarks (USA Today)
- Evangelicals embrace pop culture, technology (USA Today)
- Church of England criticises British government's "multi-faith society" (Christianity Today)
- Americans growing wary of religion in public life (Christian Science Monitor)
- Only 60 percent of New Orleans churches are functioning (Religion Today)
- What will church look like? (Religion Today)
- Guide to religions of the world (BBC)
- Religious Movements
Sunday, October 08, 2006
One of the suggested factors that might result in that dire future, the article says, is a "pervasive culture of cynicism about religion." Perhaps that's a logical result of some events over the past several years that relate to religion and our society's ethics:
- Clergy molesting children.
- Clergy found stealing from their congregation.
- Clergy being prosecuted for multiple affairs with church members.
- Clergy seeming to spew hateful, hurtful language from the pulpit and for broadcast by the media.
- Clergy causing strife within a church
- Corporate leaders thinking nothing of harming their employees' pension funds.
- Political leaders and candidates claiming compassion but encouraging hate.
- Church leadership "looking the other way" and violating copyright law.
- Churches with a General Fund in the negative by over $10,000 and with leadership refusing to even acknowledge a problem.
American business ethics used to be respected and thought of as a model for European businesses. That's pretty much an "old story" now. European business was guided by the general sense of ethics within the culture, not that of religion. In the past, America was guided by the ethics of religion; we didn't have the same cultural sense of ethics that was not attached to religion. So as the number of people "strong in the faith" declines in America, we can expect more severe ethical problems in our society.
When churches, clergy, and church members are seen to act more like any other unethical institution in the land, it's no wonder that teenagers see hypocrisy and fail to identify with the church. Yes, nobody is perfect, but perhaps we Christians should try a bit harder to "clean up our act" before we blame someone else for declines in church membership.
If the projected trend turns out to be accurate, might our future culture values look more like those of ancient Corinth? Perhaps we need another Paul to help energize us, pull us together, and turn us around (that's what repenting is all about, after all).
Monday, October 02, 2006
In addition to information akin to manuals, there are some religion-related how-to's. Here are a few to get you started ... How to:
If you have a great "How to", consider adding it as a WikiHow.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
The site includes Bible text, commentary, Hebrew words, and multimedia resources such as sound for word pronunciation, for example "apophthegma". You can even choose to have the text read to you in Hebrew or English!
The general page layout is in four panes -- menu, Bible text, commentary, and Hebrew word explanations.
Friday, September 29, 2006
- The American Heritage Dictionary defines a Steering Committee as, "A committee that sets agendas and schedules of business, as for a legislative body or other assemblage."
- A business planning company describes a Steering Committee as, "A cross-functional executive group that sets overall parameters and provides high-level project guidance by interaction with the project leader, milestone status review and approval of resource requirements."
- The Government Accounting Office defines an Executive Steering committee as, "The top management team responsible for developing and sustaining the process management approach in the organization, including selecting and evaluating reengineering projects."
These all seem to clearly indicate that a Steering Committee or Executive Steering Committee does not get "down in the weeds" in regard to the organization's activities. The members of a Steering Committee don't "mess with" the committees of a church, for example. Rather, like the rudder on a ship, a Steering Committee "steers" the organization in a direction that will be of most benefit to the organization.
Thus, a Steering committee should not be an excuse to bypass the normal Administrative organization and decision-making process of the organization. A Steering Committee should concern itself with long-range, broad-brush planning actions. Sometimes a Steering Committee may be formed when the group would be better organized as a Task Force or Project Team.
A recent posting there, "What some pastors and theologians don't like about the emerging church ", lists 13 types of complaints of these pastors and theologians. The gist of the complaints seem to imply that they are what many would refer to as fundamentalists or very conservative Christians. What's the view from the rest of Christendom?
Some related links:
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
He points out that even growth in the Southern Baptist Convention is stagnating. He also warns that Christianity in general is in trouble in America. He further cautions that part of the decline may be caused by unrelenting attacks on the United Methodist Church and other mainline denominations by organizations such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy and the Confessing Movement.
Joel's posting attempts to clarify the differences among "liberalism", "liberal social positions", and "liberal theology." Some people with a conservative theology can and do support liberal social positions, for example.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state." It would be mighty hard to be the conscience of the country if clergy could not speak about the country's rights and wrongs.
The IRS is examining whether sermons at the church violated laws that pertain to non-profit religious organizations. This action follows in the shadow of a prior year's uproar about a Pastor and congregation that voted out members who didn't support President Bush. The Pastor later resigned.
Read what the current fuss is all about:
- All Saints’ Rev. Bacon Takes On the IRS (TruthDig)
- "If Jesus debated Senator Kerry and President Bush", Rev. Regas'2004 sermon
- "Neighborly love is never neutral", Sept. 2006 sermon by Rev. Bacon
Related links in this blog:
The "Faith in Public Life" blog picked up part of this posting and several others in a more in-depth posting. Faith in Public Life postings usually also include videos.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Some call the "infallibility"of the Pope into question. But those who do so may misunderstand the meaning of papal infallibility. Every act of the Pope is not considered infallible, only his ex cathedra teachings. So Popes as well as Presidents can "blow it" and show lack of good judgement. "Is the Pope Infallible?" asks Daniel Enberger's article in Slate magazine. "Only when he says he is", the subhead reads.
Other comments to "Pope 'Deeply Sorry' for His Offensive Remarks" point out that the Pope's remarks, no matter how well intended, were poorly chosen and serve only to encourage the extreme religious right in their mistaken belief that Islam is more violent than Christianity.
Europe experienced religious wars, the Crusades were by Catholics, and millions have been killed in the Americas in the name of religion. The blog postings even point to morally bankrupt practices of early California missions.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
She says that some people are simply attracted to what is new, flashy, easy, convenient, and socially fulfilling. "Some churches," she says, "both mainline and other, can grow for [the] wrong reasons."
In his speech, Rev. Hickman reminds us that John and Charles Wesley were Anglican priests to the end of their lives. At that time, Anglicans were considered the opposite of Catholics in terms of liturgical formality. Today, Anglicans are considered one of the more traditional Protestant denominations.
Rev. Hickman also mentions liturgical subcultures within the United Methodist Church, including:
- Free church
- Other ethnic groups
- International cultures
He also says that contemporary worship challenges liturgical traditions. This can be a serious obstacle for a church striving to draw new members from the surrounding community. If a church leans toward traditional but the community around them prefers a more contemporary worship experience, the going will be tough.
Often, though saying they want new members, church members may resist any change to "their" church. To complicate matters, most pastors have a preferred style of worship. They may be between a rock and a hard place if their preference doesn't match that of the community they want to serve. One way to research the demographics and preferences of people in your church area is to sign up for the free membership at Link2Lead. Then check out the Percept studies' data for ZIP codes in your church's vicinity.
In the late 60's, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren saw a crisis in worship. Official hymnals and books of worship, which had recently been changed, were already seen as out of date. There was a widespread call for more contemporary worship, focusing on contemporary music, a less formal style, and more openness to creativity.
Are we not faced with these same challenges today? Is your church and pastor prepared for change? Accepting of change? Welcoming of and not intimidated by change?
"The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at once."
People who believe they accomplish more by multitasking may just be tricking themselves by getting the false impression of efficiency from the fact that they completed several tasks. But they probably could have completed all the tasks in a shorter period of time if they had concentrated on one at a time.
Microsoft suggests several multitasking problems. Among them:
- Interruptions plague longer-term tasks. They hamper concentration and task progress. Users often can't determine which interruptions to handle immediately. This makes it difficult for users to maintain current task flow.
- People often set aside tasks while waiting for something like an email to arrive or even a phone call.
- People have trouble getting back on task after shifting their attention away.
Multitasking problems have even crept into churches. For example, one pastor had a habit of shouting over the last hymn as we closed the worship service. But paying attention to his words meant paying less attention to the words of the hymn. If a hymn is important enough to sing, it is important enough to concentrate on. We should pay more attention to the words (text message) of hymns, not less.
Even church staff members need to focus on one task at a time as much as possible. Acting against that goal are an always-open email program or email notifier, an open instant messenger (IM), Constant visitors, phone calls, etc. So help your church staff focus. Help lessen interruptions to their tasks and they'll get more done in the same amount of time.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
"Discipleship Journal's" article, "The power of encouragement", deals with encouraging people to come to Christ. But that article also started me thinking about empowering a congregation to carry out God's work.
A wise and well-liked pastor at a prior Methodist church told me that Methodist pastors should not be dictators in the churches to which they are assigned. Rather, they should empower, equip, and encourage the saints of the church to do God's work. Pastors who adopt that philosophy strive to leave churches with lay leadership that is better and stronger than when they arrived. That isn't likely to happen if the local "leadership" is spoon-fed tasks, seldom sees suggestions adopted, or is seldom allowed to act on their own ideas.When pastors change at churches, congregation members and the church's leadership need to be flexible enough to allow for some changes. But Pastors also need to make allowances for a congregation that is not exactly like the one they left. A pastor in another state relates that a Candler School of Theology faculty member once said,
"There are only two things that Pastors should change the first six months they are they are at a new church -- their address and their underwear."
While that was obviously intended to be humorous, it contains wisdom. It is very helpful if pastors get to know church members, traditions, and the reasons behind practices at the new church to which they are assigned before they start suggesting changes, especially major ones.
Sometimes it seems as though Methodist pastors forget that they are only temporarily assigned to a church. The members continue; pastors change. So pastors, go easy about making dramatic changes that may prove harmful to relations with the congregation or ultimately to the Body of Christ at that church.
Working with the church's leadership will prove more beneficial to all concerned than butting heads. A church where authoritarian clergy -- no matter how good the clergy members' ideas and skills -- allow little or no participation in decisions just sets up the church for future failure when that clergy member moves to a new assignment. Church leadership needs the opportunity to actually lead, not just follow.
"Progress however, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step." — Samuel Smiles
How well is your church doing at preparing your leaders to continue leading after current clergy members move on? How well is your church doing at empowering, equipping, and encouraging the saints?
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Though Scott, a member of the clergy, associates such problems with the church membership, these same unity challenges pertain to all people associated with a congregation, clergy included. None of us are immune to the sins of pride or arrogance (for example), though some people do better than others in staving off these diseases of the soul.
His posting ends with a reminder of the invitation to Communion ... love, repentance, and peace.
Some are saying this is a breakthrough that solves the debate; others say it solves little and raises more concerns. Stem cells hold great promise for treating major diseases.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Here's another interesting quiz: Which Religion is the right one for you?
Also remember that people, imperfect people, make up these quizzes. The results depend heavily on the knowledge and quizmaking capability of the author. Just take a quiz for the experience. If it starts you thinking, so much the better.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Roman society's bankrupt morals included the practice of "exposure" -- placing unwanted babies on the hills and letting "the Gods" decide their fate.
Read with a critical mind, though. The author makes some assumptions that may not be valid. One example is the assumption about translating Galatians 5:19-20 and Revelations 21:8 to imply an anti-abortion stance. The NIV Bible translation has an Evangelical bias, yet neither its study notes nor the NIV Bible Commentary mention either of these passages as relating to abortion.
So use reason with your reading. Reason is one of the four legs of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral "stool", after all.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Saturday, August 12, 2006
"Protestant churches, which initially kept liturgical forms and music that were consistent with Roman liturgics, gradually saw many of the forms change over time as theology and doctrine itself changed in Western Europe." ( Protestant Liturgics)
Likewise a "liturgical" worship service was originally associated with the type done at Catholic Churches, complete with censer, lots of vestments and other accouterments, plus many rituals — a formal atmosphere. In that light the Methodist Church would be seen as non-liturgical. As culture has changed, however, the terms "high church" and "liturgical" have seen different use. Church members now use these terms to describe their worship service in relative terms.
The Heisenberg uncertainty principle applies a bit here. We can describe and discuss exactly what we currently do in worship and try to apply a label, but by the time the debate is done, the momentum of our culture can make that label suspect. We need to always consider trends in our culture when deciding where we are and where we want to go in terms of church and worship style. When I was a child I sang as a child (classical, including some in Latin). OK, I was a teenager, but you get the point. Today, that same style of music in worship seems ancient to me ... an anachronism ... out of place in time.
Our current western culture uses several different ways to label our churches and worship services:
High church <---------+---------> Low Church
Liturgical <---------+---------> Non-liturgical
Liturgical <---------+---------> Evangelical
Traditional <---------+---------> Contemporary
Very formal <---------+---------> Very informal
- Vestments - more vestments, robes, and gowns worn means more formal.
- Additions such as altar, formal chancel area, candles, use of acolytes, fancy goblets and plates for Communion, and the presence of an oversize Church Bible.
- Standing for the reading of the Gospel (but not the Old Testament, of course).
- Use of the "Liturgical Psalter", as the Methodist Book of Hymns calls it.
- Congregational singing of responses during reading of the Psalter.
- Rigid order of worship.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Monday, July 31, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
- "True" inspirational stories
- Pleas to help sick or dying kids
- Email petitions dealing with some aspect of religion
- Tales of abductions
Don't be duped. If you don't have first-hand knowledge about the story, check out the alleged "facts" before you spread them around.
Global warming will affect people's jobs and the way we live. But some are still in denial -- like those tobacco company "scientists" claimed that smoking cigarettes didn't cause lung cancer. Right!
Friday, July 14, 2006
The Bible Verse Toolbar adds one more toolbar row, which I loathe, but if you want the verse and can tolerate the decreased vertical window space, go for it.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
- Does use of technology by some churches amount to idolatry?
- A Barna Group 2000-2005 study of Protestant churches showed that the percentage using large screen projectors has jumped from 39 to 62!
- Digital images can add emotion to the worship service and heighten the worship experience. Images can stress particular points during a hymn or sermon.
- Technology makes young adults feel more comfortable in church.
- Some church experience is even virtual -- virtual church, online prayers.
- Some churches worship technology, but others are giving it the cold shoulder and may suffer as a result.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
- The tech industry dumps pollutants into our groundwater.
- Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) used on "regular" monitors are the most hazardous components.
- The U.S. alone tosses out about 250 million computers each year!
- Re-use. Donate old computers and peripherals when possible.
- Recycle. Some manufacturers accept returns, but they usually also charge you for shipping. That's an aggravating, but return the stuff when you can. You can already recycle printer cartridges through manufacturers and some vendor stores.
- Change habits -- use LCD or plasma monitors, for example. As these increase in clarity and decrease in price, it's a very viable option.
- Encourage companies to offer a recycling policy for old computers, monitors, and the like and to build the price of recycling into the item's cost.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
This pitch may backfire says Brin. After all, to be complete, there are several ID theories. Surely the ID proponents could not object to teaching all the alternatives:
- Guided evolution. (A lot of scientists hold to this one.)
- Intelligent Design of Intelligent Designers (IDOID - a Mormon view?)
- Evolution of Intelligent Designers. (This one involves Black Holes!)
- Cycles of Creation (let's not forget Hindu and Mayan concepts)
- Panspermia (spaceships, anyone?)
- The Universe as a simulation
- We have been resurrected at the Omega Point
- ... perhaps you have a favorite?
UPDATE (7/21/06): I just had to check the original article date when I came across the Locusts and Honey blog's link to "Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity with 'Intelligent Falling' Theory". I was so sure it had to have been April 1st. But no ...
Monday, June 26, 2006
Our Savior preached a gospel of hope, a standard of love, and a focus on outreach to the poor and those looked down upon in society. Christ didn't "hang" with the wealthy or politicians, nor did he lust for power, as many who call themselves Christians do.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Here are a few of his points in one essay:
- Religious groups should not ally themselves with a political party.
- The early followers of Jesus were counterculture -- obviously apart from the norm.
- If you oppose abortion on religious grounds, you should also be opposed to torture and the death penalty. These are moral issues not just PR problems.
- The bible contains 2000 references to the poor and our responsibilities to the poor.
- The religious right seems to have allied itself with power and wealth, even adopting a so-called "prosperity gospel".
- The leaders of the religious right have adopted a language of militarism. They viciously attack anyone that does not agree with them. (Karl Rove would be proud.)
- The conduct of an evangelical "roll call of rogues ... makes Bill Clinton's adolescent dalliances pale by comparison".
- Leaders of the religious right seem fearful of pluralism, but pluralism is healthy. These religious extremists seem to want enforced religion -- their type and style done their way.
- Balmer would not make abortion illegal -- he'd make it unthinkable. That requires educating people at home and in church, not at school and not by law.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
While the computers to process the images costs about ten grand, support for the human rights groups using satellite imagery in increasing.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
People loudly talk into cell phones or seemingly into the air (headsets are getting more popular ... shades of the Cloud City security guy in Star Wars). They even interrupt talking with the sales person at a cash register to answer a call.
A USA Today article about this abysmal lack of common courtesy suggests that perhaps it's because this generation of parents have not taught their kids that good manners are important. Plus technology makes social multi-tasking easier, though comprehension may suffer.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
So ... creationists disagree with Pope John Paul, it seems.
If the quiz gets your thirst up about end times, consider a bible study of the Book of Revelation. Just be prepared to keep a commentary or two handy if (when) it gets a bit bewildering.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
"Temporary 'contemporary' worship" at Midnight Oil Productions challenges us to adjust our thinking. Dave, one of the MO guys, points out that people don't often listen to radio stations that play hymns, let alone old hymns. Are liturgical worship services in touch with the real world today? What do average people today want in a church worship experience? Are we filling their needs?
Jesus used stories from the culture of his day and related parables to that culture. He rejected the standard old style taught in the temple. Is there a message for us today in Jesus' actions and pattern of behavior? Dave says we should have a worship experience where our members would feel very comfortable inviting a neighbor of about any type.
As one of the 19 comments about the posting states, there's a missional aspect to worship.
The latest Nature Conservancy magazine addresses this thorny problem in " The Poverty/Conservation Equation ". The issue includes related articles, too, including "Does Conservation Matter to the Poor?" and "Is Poverty Relevant to Conservation".
Conserving God's world ... helping the poor ... are you part of the solution or part of the problem?
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Related Green Energy links
- Green-e - renewable energy certification program
- Green Energy News
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (federal government)
- The Green Power Network (U.S. Department of Energy)
Supplemental reading: Care of God's Earth
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Here are few links to get you started...
Monday, June 05, 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006
- Read the full sermon, "The Heart of Worship"
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
You're watching too much TV if...
- You know all the names of the characters on "Desperate Housewives" but you can't name the thirteen apostles .
- You can guess ending of a "Boston Legal" episode, but you don't remember how the New Testament ends.
- Your cable bill each month is more than your contribution to your local church.
Supplementary reading: Stewardship of possessions
Monday, May 29, 2006
"Just as it is somewhat terrifying to realize that many people’s primary understanding of the final days of Christ, of the crucifixion and atonement, came to them courtesy of Mel Gibson, so is it equally frightening to think that perhaps The Da Vinci Code, in all of its mass-media splendor, may be some people’s foundation for understanding Church history or Christian belief." -- Mark Gudgel
Friday, May 26, 2006
But that's not all. Warmer air means less snow, including on snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro. By 2020, Kilimanjaro could have a bare top, and that's just the good news, Harte says.
A related issue is soot (black carbon particles). Liquid and most solid aeosols actually cool the air mass under them, but soot soaks up heat and warms the air mass . Diesel engines produce soot. Outdoor fires produce soot. Global warming will increase the amount of wildfires. Many nations are trying to encourage use of diesel in vehicles.
Carbon dioxide is the number one cause of global warming, yet soot doesn't stay aloft as long as carbon dioxide. So reducing soot has a faster cooling effect, though CO2 emissions need to be reduced drastically. The Kyoto Protocol is a great step forward, but Kyoto ignores black carbon problems. Does anyone see the problem here? Is delaying action on climate change a foolhardy gamble?
"An Inconvenient Truth", a film about the impact of global warming, has started playing in select theaters. Watch for it in your area.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
So maybe "gimme that ol time religion" is more for singing than following?
Saturday, May 20, 2006
- Climate cycle matched to biblical prophecy
- Rare scrolls reveal early biblical writing
- Evidence of David and Golliath?
- Ancient prostitutes went unpunished
- John the Baptist cave part of complex
- St. Paul's tomb found?
- Shroud of Turin over 1,300 years old
- Young Jesus visage gleaned from shroud
- Seal may bear early image of Jesus
- Coptic texts give new twist on Jesus
- Catacombs links Judaism, Christianity
- Did monks dabble in Alchemy?
I hate to say it, but the Web site for the General Commission on United Methodist Men is a very old FrontPage style with hover buttons and slowly displays on my screen despite the cable modem's ample speed. Is this just one more indicator of not being "with it"?
- Read Rev. Hollon's Larry's blog article, "UMM and UMW"
Friday, May 19, 2006
So if you really want to avoid inappropriately using Christ as a last name, perhaps you could say, "Jesus the Christ".
Here are some favorite "ReligiToons":
Children's Ministry Magazine got over 2000 responses to a poll about the topic. Slightly less than half favored keeping children in the main worship, while a bit more than half preferred a separate worship experience for children.
Read opposing comments on "Where should Children Worship?" by two children's ministers.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The QuizFarm site has an interesting theology quiz. I scored highest as an Emergent/Postmodern Protestant. Here's the description for that group:
You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
Do these really honor God? Read the whole " Indecent Exposure" article.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
- Heritage Sunday (the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church)
- Worship resources (GBOD)
- The evangelistic impact of Heritage Sunday
- 50th Anniversary resources - worship bulletin inserts (GCSRW)
- Worship planning helps for May 21, 2006
- Interview with Rev. Dr. Maud Keister Jensen, first UM woman to receive full clergy rights
- General Commission of the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW)
- Women Bishops in the United Methodist Church
- Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)
- Women in the Wesleyan tradition: A Bibliography (PDF file)
Friday, May 12, 2006
A big reason for shunning online sermons, some Pastors have told me, is that they fear that serving up Sunday sermons on the web just entices some people to skip attending church on a few Sundays when they might otherwise attend. To help lessen that temptation, Gateway waits a few weeks before adding the sermon online. On May 12th, the April 23rd sermon was the latest posted, for example.
Here's another thought -- people who'd skip church if the sermons were online might skip church anyway. In that case, having sermons online might just reach them with a spiritual message they'd otherwise miss. The up-side of adding sermons online is that the pastoral message reaches more people -- affects more lives. That's what the sermons is for, right?
In fact, consider adding a condensed sermon outline just above the text. It helps people mentally prepare to read the text. So don't hesitate -- archive those sermons online. Reach out into the world!
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Among other things, Mrs. Willing served as an officer in the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. "In many ways, she was Methodism's Susan B. Anthony, and was certainly Evanston's and Illinois Methodism's most famous woman in history." [Quoted at "The Des Plaines Methodist Camp Ground", by CDCGA -- cached at Google].
The mini-bio in the magazine is topical and timely, since with Heritage Sunday 2006 on May 26th, the United Methodist Church celebrates 50 years of full clergy rights for women.
- Professor recovers lost history of American women evangelists
- Empowered foremothers
- Social Holiness in New York City (scroll down to see the brief entry about Jennie Fowler Willing.
Friday, May 05, 2006
This posting came from the "Alas! and did my Savior Blog?" blog, penned by a young man preparing to go into pastoral ministry in the UMC.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Canada says the link between human activity and global warming is undeniable . Furthermore, a recent poll shows that 71 percent of Americans also believe that global warming is for real. An even greater percentage, 75%, want more Federal action on global warming. They are even willing to sacrifice to do something about it.
What is your church doing to protect God's earth? Are you part of the solution?
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
You can always come to this blog's web page to read the posts. That's my personal preference. But if you start subscribing to a "bunch o' blogs", the number of new articles may get large. One way to manage scanning them for what you really want to read is to use a " Feed Reader", which I've mentioned in prior posts.
Blog readers (a.k.a. feed readers or RSS readers) come in two basic forms -- web-based and ones installed on your PC. The web-based variety involves setting up an account at Google, Yahoo! or similar wites, then adding blogs to track. You log onto the Web site to see new headlines from the blogs in your list. The local install method gives you a program. When you run the program, many of which look similar to MS Outlook, you "subscribe" to blogs. The program then pulls down information about the blog postings and you read as you like.
Here are a few recently touted feed readers (blog readers):
Monday, May 01, 2006
Americans strongly favor increased government aid to the poor. According to a July 2005 poll conducted by the Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 69% of Americans favor providing more generous government assistance to the poor.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
His speech also mentions Bill and Melinda Gates' work as well as that of Bono. It also relates anecdotes of Russian President Putin and others.
The former president serves as UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery and works to help areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina. His foundation promotes the fairness and opportunity for everyone and works to lower the cost of HIV/AIDS medications and tests in the developing world.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
In "Aging Clergy: Where are the 30-year-olds", he points out that the number of clergy under 35 has plummeted from about 3,220 in 1985 to a lowly 850 now. He quotes a UMNS article. And he lays a good bit of the cause for that at the doorstep of weak or disappeared Wesley Foundation efforts.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Let's all grant that the Bible was written in a strongly patriarchal society. But let's also never forget that Jesus addressed God as Abba (Father) and that we hold God to be the reason Mary got pregnant. That does seem a tad male-like to me.
One key aspect that seems to go unaddressed in this personal pronoun issue is that churches have less men than women. Why would we want to deliberately structure language in a way that will be a turn-off to at least some men? Are we focusing on the wrong gender in our congregations when we jump on the gender-neutral bandwagon? Will that have a net result of reducing male attendance at United Methodist churches even more?
Personally, I assume that when we treat God as male-like it's more so that we can get a better grasp of the unknowable, coupled with the comfort of tradition. God may well be neither male nor female, in our meager understanding of human gender. I really don't care. God is God. I just cringe at stilted, unnatural phrases in my worship and Sunday School.
Pastors that have some need to avoid using personal pronouns for God have an obligation to those to whom they will speak to deliberately construct and then use more natural phrasings. How about, "May God bless this reading of the Word" for example. What would God think about that phrasing? I'm sure She'd be happy with it.
- Bishop James Swanson, Holston Conference, has some pointed comments about the decline in United Methodist (and other denominations') membership in his March 10th " Who really cares?" article. Bishop Swanson also has a blog, "SOARING - A Bishop's Blog ".
- Bishop J.L. Hopkins has an entry on a book he highly recommends, "Blood Done Signed My Name ".
- Bishop Coyner (Indiana) is quoted a long posting about pastoral appointments at the Hoosier Pastor blog (I like the pun!)
- Monday Morning with Bishop Jones (Kansas)
- The first Latina United Methodist Bishop, Minerva Carcaño, Desert Southwest Annual Conference, has a series of messages, though it's not really a blog.
- Bishop Scott Jones' Weekly Blog, Kansas East Conference, is really a plain web page that holds a weekly message.