Monthly Archives: October 2011

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Reformation Day: How Far Does the Fall Go?

Today is All Saints Eve. It is also Reformation Day. This made me wonder about sin and the ages old debate about the consequences and depths of human sin. Luther said that sin bound us to spiritual death thus we were in bondage from birth. This was, of course, the same thing St. Augustine had taught. Besides the obvious evidence that the fall of man brought with it death, including death in the physical realm, one wonders at times if animals might experience some human like qualities when it comes to sin and the fall.

Dog w Sign For example, do our pets have a tendency to rebel that is inborn? When a child sees a “Do Not Enter” sign the first thing they want to do is to enter that door, right? What about dogs? When they see a “No Dogs Allowed” sign do they react similarly?

The answer might not be conclusive scientifically but this photo made me laugh out loud. It is a picture that is

By |October 31st, 2011|Categories: History, Humor|

The Unity Factor

Cover7-01 Earlier this year the board of ACT 3 encouraged me to write a new book that would serve as a small primer on missional-ecumenism. We believed that the vision of ACT 3 needed a simple explanation that could be read by anyone and passed along to others. This new book, with the title The Unity Factor: One Lord, One Church, One Mission, will be published later this month by Christian’s Library Press in Grand Rapids. It is 52-pages in length and can be read in about 30-45 minutes, depending of course on your reading speed. It is an entirely new book and not simply excerpts taken from my earlier book, Your Church Is Too Small. This new book has a lovely foreword written by Dr. Timothy F. George. The book will be available from the usual book sources like Amazon and other online sellers and will be available in various e-versions, including a Kindle version. I will say more about the book when it is actually released

Can the Cubs Change?

Now that the baseball season is over and we have enjoyed another World Series we have a moment to reflect on the future of this great sport. Living in Chicago I get a lot of news about the Cubs, those lovable losers on the North Side. Some say the Cubs are actually cursed while others just think they are inept. I believe the latter but sometimes you have to wonder.

Chicago_Cubs The Cubs appear to have made a major hiring coup in taking Theo Epstein from Boston, the same guy who turned the other “big” loser into two-time World Series Champs in the last decade. Time will tell. The Cubs may hire the best but will they win?

First, I have to hand out praise to the new Cub owner, Tom Ricketts. Ricketts not only had the courage and foresight to fire GM Jim Hendry but he cleaned up the ballpark and changed attitudes 110%. I decided to go back to Wrigley Field, after several years away from the place,

By |October 29th, 2011|Categories: Baseball|

Attacking Banks Is In

Attacking banks is in these days. Except for stock holders and employees at banks it is easy to bash them. After all the government bailed out several Wall Street banks with TARP money. (We don’t hear much about the fact that this money was returned.) But what followed the bailouts was a spending spree meant to help the economy. There is no evidence it did anything to truly change our economic mess. For this reason the president and his administration have a love-hate relationship with banks in general. While he has expanded government’s role in monitoring banking he has also approved the money needed to rescue the banks. This makes his friends on the left very nervous.

s-BANK-OF-AMERICA-large300 The government’s bank bailout has made them an easy target for angst. I even found myself complaining as I left my own bank a few weeks ago. Why the new fees? Wasn’t this service free in the past? How soon I forgot that the bank has every right to run its

How Evangelicals Misuse the “G” Word

Nothing fires up some conservative Christians more than a red-meat debate about who is denying, or has denied, the gospel. I know this first-hand because I once engaged in these kinds of debates and contributed to the fires by attributing gospel denial to other Christians. It was painful to do an about-face and even apologize privately and publicly for some of this speaking and writing but I felt I needed to do that given the public nature of my responses.

In the days when I did take this approach it got me a lot of hearty support (from like-minded friends and donors) and brought me great satisfaction that I had vigorously defended the faith. But, I also know about these kinds of controversies, and the incorrect application of the “G” word, because a few evangelicals have accused me of denying the gospel in one form or another. At first it seemed strange to see my name in print as one who had left the faith, or denied the gospel outright. It was genuinely disconcerting, at least initially. But this is not about me, my personal worries or fears.

Courageous

The recently released motion picture, Courageous, is the fourth film released by Sherwood Pictures, a church-based film production company that is an extension of the mission of Sherwood Baptist Church (SBC) in Albany, Georgia. The first hit-movie from Sherwood was Facing the Giants, a film with a football theme. This film was surprisingly successful, both commercially and among a significant number of Christians and churches. The second film, which was much better, was Fireproof. This is a film about marriage, Christian faith and conversion. The first film that director Alex Kendrick did for Sherwood Pictures was Flywheel, a not so widely-known feature about an unscrupulous used car salesman who resolves to win back his wife, become a better role model for his son, and stop ripping off his unsuspecting customers.

courageous_new_lg Courageous is, in my judgment, the best of the four films. (I have seen the three films that have appeared in theaters in wide-release.) The producers, writers and directors have all demonstrated noticeable improvement in film-making

By |October 26th, 2011|Categories: Film, Southern Baptists|

Justice, the Kingdom of God and Reading the Bible

A recent article on the Christianity Today web site brought considerable surprise to many. The article revealed that a recent poll sponsored by LifeWay Research found that owning a Bible is quite different from reading it. Most polls, surveys, and studies that have examined the Bible's influence in America have looked at views of its inspiration and various methods of interpretation. Gallup, for example, has routinely asked Americans how literally the Bible should be taken. But almost no research has looked into what happens when people actually read the Bible. This new research, conducted by Baylor University, indicates that reading the Bible on one's own makes a real difference but the difference is one that some did not see coming.

4679625-man-reading-bible First, frequent Bible reading does have some predictable effects. It increases opposition to abortion as well as to homosexual unions. It also boosts a belief that science helps reveal God's glory. It also diminishes hopes that science will eventually solve humanity's problems. But unlike some other religious

What Andreas Widmer Learned About Business and Entrepreneurship from the Pope

Front-cover-for-web-194x300 Business entrepreneur Andreas Widmer has a truly great story to tell. His new book, The Pope and the CEO, tells this story and makes a hugely valuable point about both business and poverty. Widmer says, “The pope showed me what real leadership looks like. He modeled for me how to pursue our God-given potential. Not coincidentally, this also makes us and those around us better employees, more capable of and more willing to work hard at building a stronger company. That is something that makes both good human sense and good business sense.” Amen!

Andreas Widmer served as a member of the elite Swiss Guard for two years. The guard is a security detail that protects the pope. (I had the opportunity to talk to some members of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican in March and find their work very interesting.)  In this new book Andreas Widmer gives us a behind-the-scenes look into the life and thinking of Pope John Paul II, “the most authentically human person

By |October 24th, 2011|Categories: Acton Institute, Business, Poverty, Wealth|

How We See One Another

A major contributor to our disunity can be seen in how we view one another as Christians. Because we hold differing perspectives on doctrine and practice we tend to become suspicious of each other. These stereotypes are real. Today I put them under the lens of humor. I suppose some might be offended but the purpose here is not to offend bur rather to prompt you to laugh at yourself and at how we maintain our dislikes and personal disdain for one another on the grounds of how we view one another, for better and often for worse. The source can be seen in the graphic I’ve borrowed but if you want to see more similar material check out www.thomasthedoubter.com. It is an interesting blog.

 

denomination-interpretation-chart

By |October 23rd, 2011|Categories: Humor, Unity of the Church|

The Increase of Other Faiths and the Future

SchultzMug071new Kevin M. Schultz, in his insightful social history of religion in modern America, notes that “a final factor changing America’s religious sociology, one that has yet to supplant the liberal-conservative divide, has been an increase in the number of faiths practiced in the United States. Changes in immigration law since 1965 have allowed a variety of new immigrant populations to come to the United States, especially from Asia, Africa and Latin America” (Tri-Faith America, 202). Each of these new immigrants brings with them their own religious traditions. These include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and many, many more. These simple facts make it increasingly difficult to talk about a “Judeo-Christian” America. President Obama, in a April 2009 statement at a press conference in Turkey said that the United States did not consider itself “a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens bound by ideals and a set of values” (cited in Tri-Faith America, 202).

Now it seems quite obvious to

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