Monthly Archives: August 2007

The Martin Luther King Memorial

A 28-foot-tall granite statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is planned for the National Mall in Washington D.C. Of late, the project has run into a major problem—the charge of racism, or at least of serious racial misunderstanding. The reason is the choice of the sculptor himself, Lei Yixin of China.

Interestingly, the design team, which made the choice Lei Yixin, is made up of a majority of African-Americans. But Atlanta painter Gilbert Young recently launched a Web site to argue that an American artist should have been picked instead, preferably an African-American. And CNN’s famous critic, Lou Dobbs, who thinks all things produced overseas that might take away American jobs are inherently bad, has joined this protest. Dobbs, referring to the committee’s choice and directing his question at sculptor Edward Hamilton who served on the committee, asked: "What in the world were you folks thinking?"

What are these critics thinking? Apparently the question of talent, as today’s Wall Street Journal noted, was not supposed to be the real issue. Make no mistake about this fact; Lei Yixin

By |August 31st, 2007|Categories: Race and Racism|

A Break in Alabama

I am not writing new blogs until later this week. I am visiting my mother in North Alabama over these days. I covet your prayers as I deal with a number of her personal needs and some financial challenges. She is nearly 92 and her mental acuity is now that of a 5 or 6 year old child. She still knows me and has a great sense of humor mixed with real godliness and all without a word of complaint. She is without a great deal of physical pain and lives quite well, with much more meaning to her life than I think most moderns could understand. This means that it is really harder to process this for me than it is for her. Some of you understand this well, from your own experience with elderly loved ones.

Mom was once a great Bible teacher and influenced hundreds of people who are now literally scattered all over the world. Monday I read her letters and notes from six people who thanked her for her role in their lives over a lifetime

By |August 28th, 2007|Categories: Personal|

Mother Teresa's Darkness Revealed

We have known for some years now that Mother Teresa experienced the pain of deep spiritual darkness and turmoil in her heart for some years. We did not know just how deep, painful and long this darkness really was. Now we have been provided a glimpse into the soul of this remarkable woman in a new book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), a collection of her private correspondence over the course of sixty-six years of her life.

In a letter of September 1979 she wrote to Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, "Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear." She added, "The tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak . . . I want you to pray for me—that I let Him have [a] free hand." When you contrast this with her public statements about seeing Christ in every person and circumstance, and then you see the film on her life that I reviewed here just

By |August 24th, 2007|Categories: Spirituality|

Love & Kindness are Not the Same

C. S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, argues that love and kindness are not the same. I think his distinction is immensely helpful and quite important. He says that there is a kindness in love, "but love and kindness are not coterminous. Kindness, when it is separated from the other elements that are present in true love, is indifferent to its object. Kindness (alone) does not truly care if the object becomes good or bad providing it escapes suffering. Many parents, for example, believe that they love their children but what they actually give them is the type of kindness Lewis speaks of, a kindness that is absent real love. Simply put, they spoil them with this type of kindness.

Lewis argued that when we truly love someone we will always show more than this type of kindness. We are even willing to allow those we love to suffer if it will benefit them in the long term. Writes Lewis, "You asked for a loving God; you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect,’

By |August 22nd, 2007|Categories: Love|

What Should We Make of the Sanctuary Movement?

Across America a group of Christians have banded together to promote a movement to protect illegal aliens from deportation. This is not a new phenomenon at all. What is a little different, at least about some aspects of this renewal of an older movement, is that it has now focused primarily on protecting Mexicans, who are living illegally in the U. S., from deportation. A celebrated case is unfolding day-by-day here in Chicago so I hear a great deal about this on a regular basis. I am not entirely sure how to think about the movement or this particular case. (As is true with many similar issues there seems to be no simple, single, obvious answer.) I see some things clearly here but then there are some issues that seem less clear to me. 

The Chicago story is a pretty straightforward sanctuary case. Elvira Arellano, 32, came to America as an undocumented Mexican alien in 1997 to find work. She was deported shortly thereafter and then returned and worked at several different jobs, including child care. She moved to Illinois in 2000

By |August 21st, 2007|Categories: Current Affairs|

How You Can Help Me and ACT 3

In our May 14-16 annual meeting, the board of ACT 3 adopted a ten-year vision plan that grew out of a deep unity God granted to us. We believe that God gave this overall plan and then confirmed it with a strong case for this ministry. This statement can be found on our Web site home page in “The Case for the Mission of ACT 3.”

I humbly ask you who read this blog to carefully read this Case Statement. I am also asking you to help us in a specific way to carry out this mission. It is our hope that in reading this Case Statement you will be moved to participate. I need all of you who read this blog, and find benefit in this ministry, to become regular donors. The ideal way that you can help is by making monthly or quarterly gifts. Our goal is to build a team who will underwrite the support of this ministry. We seek in this way to avoid special appeals and seasonal pleas, and an unhealthy reliance on seeking large gifts.

By |August 20th, 2007|Categories: Donors and Funding|

What Will Fred Thompson Do and How Much Does it Matter?

Will Fred Thompson enter the presidential primary race or not? This has been a major question for political pundits for several months now. I think the answer is very likely to be yes, at least from all we can tell right now. I believe by Labor Day he will be an “official” candidate for the Republican nomination. A lot has been written about Fred Thompson, some favorable and some critical. This is par for the course. One thing Fred Thompson undoubtedly has, and few candidates have it, is the power to speak impressively to people in front of a camera. He is a professional, very convincing and impressive in this medium. This alone will help his candidacy I am sure.

I have no “horse” to ride politically. In fact I will not endorse a candidate since I lead a non-profit mission and believe it is wise to stay away from such endorsements for both personal and legal reasons. My views on social issues are those of a (moderate) conservative bent. I am pro-life, opposed to stem cell research on human embryos and opposed

By |August 18th, 2007|Categories: Politics|

"Propostional" Truth, "Objective" Truth and the Debate About What We Know and How We Know It

God chose to reveal himself ultimately through Jesus Christ. This does not mean, however, that he did not also use words. Jesus is the ultimate "truth" but this does not mean there is no other truth source. We encounter Christ via revelation but this comes through the Holy Scriptures. This involves both our mind and our heart. I have said the same over and over again but some still think I am saying something that I am not saying thus they regularly challenge my approach to theology and truth. Several comments that have appeared recently on the posts made on this site have chosen to hear me only with an epistemology that is modern and, in my judgment, very flawed. It would take a course in epistemology to sort all this out and this is not the place to teach such a course. I would suggest the following readings with which I have a great degree of sympathy:

1. Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? James K. A. Smith (Baker)

2. How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith, Crystal L. Downing (IVP)

3. The Myth

By |August 17th, 2007|Categories: Postmodernity|

Religious Conversion and Christian Conduct in the Modern World

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is an important conversation partner in the larger worldwide ecumenical discussion. (The WEA represents, in a loose network, 420 million Christians worldwide.) The Alliance made news this week by agreeing to give approval to working with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Vatican on a Christian code of conduct regarding religious conversion. This, regardless of the discussion itself, is a historic development in my estimation.

The WEA held a consultation in Toulouse, France, on August 8-12. Some 30 Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal and Evangelical theologians and church leaders from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States outlined the content of this new statement at Toulouse. Finalization on their work is not expected until 2010.

The archbishop of Toulouse, Mgr. Robert Le Gall, a Benedictine monk who has wide experience in interreligious dialogues, said this document could ensure the “mutual respect of those who are engaged in a religion” while it can also preserve the “right to spread and explain one’s faith.” Dr. Tony Ritchie from the Church of God, a Pentecostal US-based denomination,

By |August 16th, 2007|Categories: Evangelism|

The Real Hazzards of Being a Pastor

I am convinced that most pastors have no idea how hard it is to be faithful and effective for another year, much less for an entire lifetime.  I am further convinced that virtually no one outside the pastoral ministry understands what is happening to good pastors in our own time. A recent survey by Dr. Richard A. Blackman, in a dissertation written for Fuller Theological Seminary, underscores my point very well.

1. 75% of pastors surveyed reported having at least one significant crisis due to stress.
2. 80% believed that ministry is affecting their families negatively.
3. 90% felt inadequately trained to meet the demands of their job.
4. 50% felt unable to do their jobs.
5. 37% of pastors had experienced inappropriate sexual contact outside of their marriage.
6. 40% of pastors experience a "serious relational conflict at least once a month." [My view: This is mostly with staff and/or church boards or councils.]
7. 50% of all pastors felt unable to meet the demands of their jobs.

Read those results one more time and you will likely get

By |August 15th, 2007|Categories: Pastoral Renewal|

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