Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Catholic Insight Into the Reformation’s Central Truth

Today, as some of you know, is not only Halloween, and All-Saints Eve, but it is Reformation Day. There was a time when this event was celebrated in many Protestant churches. I miss those celebrations. I do not miss the triumphal attitudes or the pride that often went with the celebration but I miss the powerful reminders that something very important did happen in the 16th century and it really does still matter.

Some argue that nothing that ever comes from Rome, or from a Roman Catholic writer, can ever understand the central point of the Reformation. (It intrigues me that such people are “sure” they do understand the central point but then their lives often deny it!) I strongly differ with this polemical perspective. In fact, I believe the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification has gone a long way to show us all how close the respective communions of Lutheranism and Catholicism have actually come in nearly 500 years. A myriad of conservative naysayers, found on both sides, are skeptical about all this talk about justification, believing we cannot agree no matter what

Our Three Idols: Power and Pride, Popularity and Success, Wealth and Greed

Cape Town 2010 Congress Video

Chris Wright, International Director of Langham Partnership International, which was begun by John R. W. Stott, challenges the people of God to confront the idols of power and pride, popularity and success, and wealth and greed. He called the Church to repentance and simplicity in this address given in Cape Town on Sunday, October 24. If you watch this message, which is 23 minutes long, make sure you watch the last two minutes. In short, this is my burden and the vision of ACT 3 in a nutshell. The link to see and hear this powerful sermon is:

Changing Education Paradigms

For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.  Their approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action.

I discovered this particular web-based learning resource a few days ago, via a friend’s link to it on his facebook page. Of course I do not agree with everything in this presentation, who would? What fun is it if you simply agree with everything you see and hear? If I already know something and agree with it then the sole reason for reading it will very often be to buttress my present view not to think at all. I encourage real thinking so I read and watch things that help me do that and then seek to make every thought captive to Christ.

This cleverly animated program is so relevant to our time. And it is completely apropos to training in discipleship and mission thus I believe it is extremely important for most of you to see it.


While You Watch the World Series Consider the Lives of Those Who Play

I just spoke to a friend in the Bay Area who is a huge San Francisco Giants fan. He explained to me why closer Brian Wilson gestures in the unique way that he does when he closes out a game. He is thanking God and praying for his family. Wilson, I was told, was a believer who drifted away and came back. I do not know the Giants players well but my guess is that there are other Christians on this team. Almost every team has several believers and chapel is conducted in every clubhouse every Sunday. I have spoken to several MLB teams over the years in several different places: Chicago, St. Louis and Atlanta. For me, as a lifelong fan of the game, these were great times to meet and talk to baseball stars personally. They were also great times to share the love of Christ.

As you watch the games, if you do, please get to know the amazing player in the outfield for the Texas Rangers by the name of Josh Hamilton. This video tells his remarkable story, one that is widely known

By |October 28th, 2010|Categories: Baseball|

Help Determine CNN’s Top Hero for 2010

I do not normally promote a cause like this, in fact I cannot ever remember doing so on my blog spot, but today I make an exception. Two long time good friends of mine in California, Scott and Kim Reno, have a special relationship with a brother who has been nominated for an award to soon be given by CNN. The man’s name is Harmon Parker. Harmon has been nominated as one of CNN’s top ten Heroes for 2010. Scott wrote the following to me this week telling me about his friend. I share it with you in order to urge you to vote for this deserving brother in Christ.

I’ve known Harmon since 1983 and have been supporting his work in Africa since 1986. He is a man of high integrity with a heart to serve those who are in need of a unique gift he brings to those in the bush of Kenya – BUILDING BRIDGES – Bridges that save thousands of lives and bridges that connect human lives.
Harmon is the founder of Bridging

By |October 28th, 2010|Categories: Donors and Funding, Leadership, Personal|

Letters to a Young Calvinist, Part II,

James K. A. Smith’s little book, Letters to a Young Calvinist, is a nuanced and relational book. It avoids the sweeping polemical tone of so much modern neo-Calvinism. And it takes the reader into what Western Theological Seminary’s (Reformed Church in America) theologian J. Todd Billings calls “a wider and deeper Reformed tradition.” This is why it is a small book filled with incredible value for both pastors and faithful Christians without formal training in theology at all.

On Smith’s own blog site he writes of his new book:

jkasmith Now my hope is that it finds its audience: there are all sorts of folks who I hope will read it, but I'm especially hoping it might be received by a younger generation who, like my younger self, were awakened to thoughtful Christianity by a certain stream of Reformed theology. Letters to a Young Calvinist is an invitation to see other streams of the Reformed tradition–to value the complex richness of the Reformed voices across the spectrum.


Letters to a Young Calvinist

James K. A. Smith (known by friends as “Jamie”) is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College. In his new book, Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition, he has given us a much-needed, easily read response to the rise of much neo-Calvinism in our time. I wish I had read something like this book when I was in my twenties. I think I would have been spared a number of mistakes if I had read it.

Letters I expect that many will read Letters to a Young Calvinist and conclude the same if they are in my generation and have followed the rise of the “young, restless, and Reformed” generation. Before reading Smith’s little book I imagined a book of my own (only in my mind for sure) that would be titled: Older, No Longer Restless and Still (Properly Understood) Reformed. (I do not, much like Smith, prefer the words “Calvinist/Calvinism” for identifying my biblical views of soteriology with a simple (quite simplistic) formula

How Does Unity Invite Cooperation?

There are three common mistakes Christians make about Christian unity. In today’s video I discuss these three, which I develop in my book, Your Church Is Too Small. I believe that Christ’s love compels us to seek out one another and to work in various ways in unity which leads us to actual forms of expressed cooperation. There is not a simple, easy answer to all the questions people ask me about when or where we should, or should not, cooperate but I am persuaded that the very truth of unity itself requires us to at least ask this question with new eyes and new ears in a new century.

“Homeless” Spiritual Seekers

We live in an age in which many people view the church as irrelevant, completely out-of-touch. It is not suited to address the real spiritual questions and complex needs people have in 2010. Most Christians do not understand why this is so and seem not to care to find out.

crowds The popular word today is not religion, or church, but spirituality. People have great need for spirituality, for becoming whole spiritual beings. But Christian congregations have little to offer such people since they are viewed as formalized places of religion rather than places where spiritually hungry people can make deep connection with other God-seekers. As a result of this problem I meet more and more people who are “homeless” spiritual seekers, wandering here and there listening to all kinds of “answers” that they sincerely hope will meet their deepest needs. They can be found in book stores in the self-help section or in the new age or religion sections. They buy a great deal of pop psychology as

By |October 24th, 2010|Categories: ACT 3, Evangelism, Missional Church|

Cell Phones and the Brave New World of Hyper-Information

iphone_home Make no mistake about this, the world is moving from an Industrial Age to an Information Age. The ramifications of this are still to be seen over the course of the decades ahead of us. Many think this is the worst thing that has ever happened. Education will be unduly ruined they tell us. (It will surely be changed and how people learn will be radically altered I believe.) “The sky is falling” is pretty close to their approach. Others think this will be a new golden age. Everything from cell phones to social networking will bring us all much closer to each other and to real community. I am of neither opinion. Just as in other great shifts in culture and life these will bring about much good. There will be some new possibilities for improving life and we can already see a few taking shape around us each day. But there will also be some distinct problems that will further erode the human condition socially.


By |October 23rd, 2010|Categories: Web/Tech|

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