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Facebook & Twitter: My Life Course Corrections (2 of 2)

ArmstrongFamily 220Yesterday I wrote about my personal journey in using the social media. In particular I wrote about Facebook and Twitter. I am not an expert on these media resources by any stretch. I do know how they have impacted my personal life. As a result of reflecting upon these social media resources I shared in that previous blog post how I will make changes beginning this week.

I will continue to blog. I will post my own material on this (my) blog site. I will also publish material from guest bloggers who hold various viewpoints and who are in my network of friends and Christian leaders. These will not be mere links to public sites and news feeds but articles and opinions that I post on my blog site with my knowledge and oversight. Generally, I will post only once a day. My sense of frequency feels like I will post 3-5 times a week. Most posts will be 300-500 words, some longer. It depends on the content and time I have to write. I will link all

The Church: Ever Ancient

photoThe church is one of the only places in culture where people of multiple generations make our lives together. This is the way God wants it. Augustine addresses God in prayer this way: “Beauty ever ancient, ever new.” I think here of an early church martyr named Polycarp who was ordered by the Romans to curse Christ. “I have followed him eighty-six years and he has done me no wrong. How can I curse my king who saved me?” I think too of John the Baptist leaping in his mother Elizabeth’s womb. The church stretches from the not-yet-born to those on the cusp of the next life.

This is also really difficult. Younger and older folks often struggle to understand one another. We all know this in our own families. Why would we think the church would be any different?

Yet it is crucial that all ages become God’s church together. Scripture promises that Israel’s “sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). This is fulfilled in the

A Special Season in the Desert – A Journey into Deeper Ecumenism (4)

Unknown-1While I was composing my first three blogs about my “season” in the desert (Phoenix) I mentioned my encounters with the movements of the Holy Spirit through some of the more miraculous gifting that are rejected by some Protestant conservatives. Ironically I came across this amazing quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas, universally recognized as one of the greatest minds and theologians of the Christian Church. Said Aquinas, in Book 1:

This wonderful conversion of the world to the Christian faith is the clearest witness of the signs given in the past; so that it is not necessary that they should be further repeated, since they appear most clearly in their effect. For it would be truly more wonderful than all signs if the world had been led by simple and humble men to believe such lofty truths, to accomplish such difficult actions, and to have such high hopes. Yet it is also a fact that, even in our own time, God does not cease to work miracles through His saints for the confirmation of the faith.


Lessons from Pope Francis for All Christian Leaders (5)

Unknown-1Several years ago Pope Benedict XVI tasked three trusted cardinals to investigate as deeply as necessary the Vatican’s internal culture. He wanted to know what prompted a Vatican butler to steal incriminating documents and then leak them to a journalist. Only two men know what is in the final report that came from this investigation: Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. So on December 22 Pope Francis responded to this internal investigation by addressing the Vatican Curia in a message that was direct, sharply stinging and very bold. In it he gave 15 Ailments of the Curia.

Over the last four days I have counted down each one of these “ailments” from number fifteen to number five. Today I share the last four.

No. 4 Planning too much

The pope said, “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit.”

This charismatic Jesuit pope is a man who walks in the Spirit. He loves deeply and especially loves the gospel of forgiveness and joy. He knows the joy

Lessons from Pope Francis for All Christian Leaders (3)

UnknownVatican watchers reported (AP), after Pope Francis spoke to the Roman Curia on December 22, that “they had never heard such a powerful, violent speech from a pope and suggested that it was informed by the results of a secret investigation ordered by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI in the aftermath of leaks of his 2012 papers.”

I believe the ordinary reader does not realize that Pope Benedict XVI was earnestly seeking to reform the Curia for some years. This report grows out of those efforts that he began. Many journalists, with little knowledge of either Pope Benedict or of how the Vatican really works, do not give him the credit that he is due for what he began in earnest. Some have speculated that one reason he stepped down was so that what he began to reform could be carried out by a new “reformer” pope! It seems apparent this reformation is now underway. In Pope Francis we have a pastor of courage and humility who has waded into a mess and seems determined to make a real

Lessons from Pope Francis for All Christian Leaders (2)

pope-francis-600Yesterday I reported on the comments that Pope Francis made to the Roman Catholic Curia just prior to Christmas. He enumerated fifteen ailments he saw in the curia. (The term curia is foreign to many evangelicals. The curia consists of those officials who assist in the governance of the Catholic Church. The Roman Curia is the central government of the global Catholic Church.) Other denominations have something like the curia but the origins of this term are generally believed to be found in Latin (Roman) Western developments. For example, every diocese (even in many non-Catholic contexts) has the equivalent of a curia. This governing council can be made up of priests, ministers, financial officers and other lay officers who help govern. Every institutional church form has something like a curia even if we call it the elders or deacons of the church.

The point of all this is to show you that the pope’s strong statements can be applied to all who govern and lead the church, including lay leaders in evangelical contexts. For this reason I am counting down

Lessons from Pope Francis for All Christian Leaders (1)

pope-francis-600Just three days before Christmas Pope Francis delivered a message to the Curia that was described by the Associated Press as “blistering.” It was frank and called upon the leaders of the church to repent! I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my lifetime. It was a full-scale indictment of the Vatican bureaucracy; i.e. those priests and cardinals who serve the papacy by being assistants and associates in Rome. In essence Francis said that these men too often use their Vatican careers to grab power and to live far too extravagantly. In so doing he argued that they have not become “joyful men of God.”

What is most remarkable about this talk is that this is normally a time for general Christmas good will at the Vatican. The Curia is the central administration of the Holy See which governs the 1.2 billion member church. Francis called on these men to deliver radical reform. What is truly needed, he said, is “spiritual reform.” To clearly express what he had in mind he listed fifteen “Ailments of the

The Abuse of Women and Our Response (Part Two)

Unknown-1The case of Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice’s assault on his fiancé in February of this year underscores a major problem in the NFL and our culture in general – women are still being abused and many institutions (mostly those led by men) cover it up or deny its importance. They do this by being “tone deaf” to the deeper issues involved in this problem. I suggested yesterday that the NFL represents a larger problem in our society, a problem that extends into the leadership of our churches. Let me explain.

The Baltimore Ravens consider Ray Rice an important leader on their team and to their organization. Their response to this assault has been to address the whole nightmare as a public relations problem. They had Janay Rice sit beside her husband in front of a Ravens backdrop for a press conference after his arrest. This strikes me as major “damage control.” They were attempting, suggested Phil Taylor in the August 4 issue of Sports Illustrated, “to repair their star running back’s image.” This press conference even included

The Abuse of Women and Our Response (Part One)

Women are abused every day, perhaps no less so than a few decades ago when the problem was not as open for the public to see as it has been in the early 21st century. This abuse might be even less understood by the general public than it was  a decade ago, at least based on some data I’ve studied. Reports of such abuse are as common now as ever but the response to them has not improved nearly as much as we should desire. Many abusive situations are settled in ways that leave me uneasy, to put it mildly. Let me cite one story to underscore how my sense of outrage about this issue was spiked just a few weeks ago.

UnknownExhibit A – The recent ruling of the National Football League (NFL) in the case of Ray Rice. Rice, a star running back for the Baltimore Ravens, received a suspension of only two games for a domestic violence incident in February. This particular incident left Rice’s fiancé Janay Palmer (who is now his wife) lying unconscious

Missional-Ecumenism in Dubuque

photoI have spent the last two full days in Dubuque, Iowa. I have been visiting the University of Dubuque. Today I will meet with Dr. Les Longden, a professor who retires this term after fourteen years in Dubuque. I will teach his final class of the term on missional-ecumenism. (I am honored to teach this final class and to spend much of this day with Dr. Les Longden, a devout Methodist scholar and serious ecumenist!)

Dubuque is about 160 miles northwest of my home in the Chicago suburbs. I have a lifetime of memories connected to this old city located on the Mississippi River where Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin converge. My first trip here in the 1970s was to make a “blind” attempt to meet the well-known Protestant theologian Donald Bloesch (1928-2010). All I could do was leave a note under his door. But a relationship was eventually begun. Bloesch became a very good friend who supported my work, both financially and personally. I was in his home, and he in my home, many times. We interacted deeply as