Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hymns for the current week

Hymnsite.com is a wonderful place to read and sing along with hymns. One great feature is the Lectionary-based suggested hymns for the current week . You might want to bookmark that page!

Could you "Surrender all"?

C. Samuel Storms discusses materialism in the Discipleship Journal article, "Is Jesus really enough?".

"Surrender" is a word often associated with battle. But what does it mean for Christians to surrender in a spiritual sense? Princeton University's WordNet addresses some of the connotations of "surrender" that fit the Christian use:
  • "Yield" (to Christ)
  • "Deliver" (hand over ourselves and our lives to God. "We are thine, O Lord")
  • "Relinquish control" (to our Savior)

Miriam's Well says "The Law of Surrender is that all Power comes from above."

Devotional radio music from BBC

The BBC World Service has several interesting radio shows. The Asia Network has a lot of devotional music. No, I don't know why the name -- the music is certainly not all oriental. Maybe the show is beamed toward Asia from England. Here are some of the BBC's offerings:

Monday, March 27, 2006

UCC blog supports mainstream churches

The United Church of Christ has a new TV ad, one again rejected by the networks. The UCC says this is part of a pattern of catering to the religious Right by the TV networks. Read more and see the video of the ad at their blog, Accessible Airwaves.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Mission Moments

The United Methodist "Sharing God's Gifts" site has Mission Moments for newsletters and Sunday bulletins. They have an archive too!

Comedic health

A study has shown that the effect of watching comedies is healthy -- the equivalent of starting a course of heart treatment drugs called statins.

Watching movies such as "Saving Private Ryan", with its intense war scenes, had the opposite effect, the Heart journal reported.

So, as Star Wars' Han Solo said, "Yuk it up, furball!"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Evolutionary errors

Evolution is the most-supported theory we know. Yet science itself is harmed by the casual use of poorly worded, inaccurate phrasings that many scientists, teachers, and reporters seem to prefer when discussing evolution. Take the article, " Global warming fuels speedy evolution", for example.

"Some species are attempting to adapt", the article says. Oh really? Not! The phrasing implies that a species can choose its genetic changes. That's not what evolution is all about. Evolution is about genetic variations occurring naturally in a species, with a few of those variations giving the individual members of the species a better chance of survival. It's "in the genes"; neither the individual members nor the species as a whole directs this in any fashion.

The article goes on, "... human-induced changes to climate and landscapes give species few other options". Arrgh! The use of the word "options" makes it sound, again, like the members of a species have some sort of control over their genes. Wrong. Because of human-induced changes to the environment, some of the variations in a species may be better suited to the new environment (let's not get into a Malthusian birth rate discussion here).

Adaptation in a species (not "by" a species) is really the end result -- what we see as a trend. It's not a being-induced or being-controlled process. Yet a University of Sydney professor says that species can "do three things ... go extinct, move, or adapt". This poorly phrased comment seems to imply that a species has a conscious choice in deciding to adapt somehow. If you pressed the prof, he'd probably agree that a species cannot by natural means choose to adapt nor choose what that adaptation might be. Neither do they choose to go extinct. Genetic manipulation by humans is not "by natural means".

This type of loose, inaccurate phrasing is all too common by scientists and teachers. Evolution is for real, but let's remember that evolution happens due to natural genetic variations, some of which benefit the "different" member of that species. More importantly, remember that those changes are not "chosen" by any species. It would really help if scientists, teachers, and reporters would clean up their act and stop implying otherwise.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Voices of The Congregation

PBS interviewed 80 people in 12 congregations across America. You can view the resulting show " The Congregation: Many Voices ". This requires that your computer have RealPlayer installed. RealPlayer is available free.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Credenda Agenda worth a read

An online magazine called Credenda Agenda is well worth reading. It's written from a classical Protestant perspective. Each issue is available as a separate web page for each article or one PDF.

The magazine isn't skimpy -- the issue current as of March 2006, with a cover theme of " Weather", is 36 pages long.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spiritual practices for Lent

Lent need not be focused on doing without something. It can be a time to adopt a new spiritual practice -- adding a positive. The Upper Room site has a page with some ideas for new Spiritual Practices for Lent. They also have a Lenten Study online.

For further devling into Lent, you might want to check out the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship "Connecting Worship and Daily Living in Lent ".

The church has left the building

Yes, for Steve Sjogren and the rest of Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, the church has left the building -- gone "outreaching". Steve is the pioneer of the Servant Evangelism movement. The movement implies that Christians can't be truly effective in Mission if they become introverted spiritually. Followers of Jesus need to reach out and help others, to share God's love. The Servant Evangelism site contains many great ideas for outreach. They also have a FAQ-type page.

So ... is your church reaching inward or outward -- involved in outreach or "inreach"? I have a suspicion that when churches collapse inward spiritually, they become like a black hole, which doesn't even let light escape. Except in those churches, it's the Light of Christ that isn't escaping.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Bretheren are MIA

In the March/April Today's Christian magazine article about their book, Camerin Courtney and Todd Hertz address a disturbing statistic. " O Brothers, Where Art Thou?" says that there's a whole lot more women in church than men. And for single women, that makes finding a good Christian to date a real problem.

That resonates with an old maxim -- "Your organization is ideally designed for the results you are getting". If we don't like the results we are seeing, we must make a change. That goes for all aspects, not just the number of single men in our churches.

Our Sunday Schools have mostly women; our pews have more women than men. The number of single women outnumber the single men. Men are basically missing in action (MIA). A March 2000 Barna Research survey found that 60 percent of practicing Christians are women. So why do men, many of whom profess to believe, not show up at church? Todd and Camerin agree -- something is broken.

Todd lists as some negative factors that may dampen of single men's enthusiasm in attending church:

  • Church offers rules and judgement
  • Church offers hymns (I assume he meant old or stodgy or "high church" hymns or maybe hymns vs. contemporary music)
  • Focus on families, not singles
  • A feminine, touchy-feely approach
  • Pressure to become something they are not -- married
  • Few other men their age with whom they can relate

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The church must not be a tool of the state

"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 must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Strength to love", 1963

Is Church falling apart?

Brain Slezak, a contributor to the Appian Way blog, says that his church experience is the pits. What had started out as an energized contemporary service, complete with praise band, had slowly declined in attendance.

His church seemed to think that the solution was to return to a traditional service. But that left Brian and his wife cold and wondering what the rationale was. They both consider the style of music a significant factor in the type worship experience they seek.

Read the full articles at:

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Prezel and Lent

The pretzel has an interesting and religious origin. Read about this historic Lenten food at the Food History site, The History of the Pretzel .

Also read "Pretzel History: Some Little Known Facts"