Saturday, December 03, 2016

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (PM Edition): "Donald Trump keeps confirming fears about his diplomatic skills" - UPDATED

One of the chief concerns of President-elect Donald Trump's detractors during the presidential campaign was that the brash and notoriously loose-lipped real estate executive wouldn't be able to handle the delicate balancing act that is diplomacy. It's one thing to make wild claims domestically; it's another to inflame a fellow world power with a careless word or two.

Today, a fellow world power — China — is inflamed.

And Trump's controversial conversation with Taiwan's leader, which broke nearly four decades of protocol when it comes to U.S.-China relations, harks back to another controversial bit of diplomacy: Trump's first big foreign visit as the Republican nominee to Mexico.

That visit erupted into a major political problem for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and by the end of it, the two sides were offering different versions of what had happened. Similarly, Trump and Taiwan seem to be at-odds about precisely what just occurred. Read More
Despite being a billionaire, a number of questions were raised about Trump's competence as a businessman during the election campaign. In a few short days since his election as the president of the United States Trump has demonstrated that he lacks the diplomatic skills for that important office. In the area of diplomacy he is showing that he has reached his level of incompetence and is out of his depth. Coming days will reveal the other areas in which he is incompetent. Unfortunately a president cannot be impeached for incompetence even though his incompetence may imperil the nation.  
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If what Duterte says is true, then Trump condones not only police violence but also extrajudicial killings and vigilante justice. He is not the kind of person that Christians should be supporting. In Duterte's drug war the innocent have been murdered along with the guilty. Vigilantes are using the Philippines' drug problem as an excuse to perpetrate crimes of their own, directing their violence against anyone in the community against whom they have a grudge. Jesus taught that we should love even our enemies and should treat people the way that we would want to be treated. In supporting Trump, Christians are destroying their credibility as followers of Jesus.

Saturday Lagniappe: Vital Leadership" and More - UPDATED

Vital Leadership

Alvin examines how church leaders can revitalize their churches through the recovery of the gospel in a five-part series. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

New: How to Prevent a Dysfunctional Vision

Vision is imperative. Senior pastors and church leaders need to know where they’re leading the church. A clear vision provides direction, motivation, and filters decisions. Clearly communicating the vision fuses incredible momentum into a church.

However.... Read More

New: Christmas: Not a time for inventing new twists on the age-old story

Just tell the story. Read More

10 Ways to Be Generous This December That Do Not Require Any Shopping

Being generous in December does not always require a shopping cart (physical or electronic). There are ways you can be generous that do not require any shopping at all. Here are a few suggestions.... Read More

10 Keys to Reaching Unchurched People at Christmas - Rainer on Leadership #275 [Podcast]

Christmas is right around the corner for churches, so today we discuss 10 ways your church can better reach those in your community this Christmas. Listen Now

Why December 25?

For the church's first three centuries, Christmas wasn't in December—or on the calendar at all. Read More

Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?

The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving. Read More

How Your Control Freak Tendencies Stunt Your Church’s Growth

Here are 5 insights that help me remember that controlling everything means you will eventually end up leading nothing significant. Read More

7 Tips to Make Your Sermons Shorter

Recently, I wrote an article about five reasons why I preach shorter sermons. I’ve established the WHY behind preaching shorter sermons, and in this post I want to explain the HOW behind decreasing your sermon length. Read More

Public Schools Are Changing. Should Your Church?

Four lessons for your children’s ministry and your adults. Read More

Using Self-Examination for Spiritual Formation

8 Habits to Develop for Spiritual Formation (Part 1) Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (AM Edition): "Donald Trump’s Locker Room"

This is how he talks about the rest of America when he’s with his buddies.

On Thursday night, speaking to an arena full of supporters in Cincinnati, Donald Trump delivered a tirade against his putative domestic enemies. The bitterness, gloating, and contempt in his remarks eclipsed anything spoken by previous presidents-elect. Cameras recorded Trump, but he spoke to the people in the room as though they were his only audience. He mocked the rest of America and celebrated its defeat.

We’ve seen this man before. He’s the man we saw and heard on the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood tape. He bonds with his fans, or with whoever’s around him, by demeaning you when you’re not there.

This wasn’t the speech Trump was supposed to give. Words about national unity appeared on his teleprompter, and he duly mouthed them. But the real Trump, as he has often said, isn’t in the script. It’s in his digressions. The “we” in the prepared text was Americans as a whole. But the “we” to whom Trump referred in his extended riffs were the people who had voted for him. Opposite these people, in the rest of the country, Trump described an array of villains, losers, and fools. Read More
Some claim that Trump is a Christian. However, when he makes the kind of remarks like he did at this rally and at his campaign rallies, it casts serious doubt on that claim. The Bible tells us, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." (Luke 6:45, NIV). The Bible also tells us, "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:6) One of the first things that a new Christian seeks to do is to "curb his tongue," to refrain from doing what Trump does over and over again.
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Friday, December 02, 2016

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (Late Night Edition): Bull in a China shop: Trump risks diplomatic blowup in Asia - UPDATED

No U.S. president or president-elect is known to have spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979.

Donald Trump startled foreign policy watchers Friday by speaking with the president of Taiwan, a break with more than 35 years of U.S. policy that is likely to infuriate China.

The United States and Taiwan have a strong but unofficial relationship, and Trump's phone call, confirmed by his transition team Friday afternoon, raises questions about whether the president-elect intended to signal a policy shift that could antagonize Beijing even before he takes office.

And even as Asia hands were still scrambling to process the extraordinary breach of diplomatic protocol, conflicting reports emerged over just who contacted whom. Read More
Looks like Donald has taken his favorite psychological games international and is now trying to hook the Chinese into playing them. He just "cocked a snook" at Beijing. The Chinese may retaliate by calling in his loans. Of course, that may be what he wants so he can default on them.
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And it looks like foreign leaders are ready to play games with Donald.
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On the Net: "3 Principles for Launching a Volunteer Leadership Pipeline" and More

3 Principles for Launching a Volunteer Leadership Pipeline

Here are three principles and accompanying questions for getting started with volunteer leaders. Read More

Dear Pastor, How to Survive and Thrive During Christmas

Having survived a number of Christmases in ministry, here are a few things that can help you survive and thrive during Christmas. Read More

The Relationship between a Pastors and a Worship Leader Featuring Jim Shaddix - Rainer on Leadership #282 [Podcast]

Jim Shaddix joins Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe to discuss what a healthy relationship between the pastor and worship leader looks like in the local church. Listen Now

You Need to Explain What You Do on Sunday Mornings

In our worship program (bulletin, Order of Service, Missional Framework for Gospel Centered Communal Experience… or whatever you like to call it) we not only include the complete liturgy, but also a section titled, "Why Do We Do That?" Read More

An Evangelism Equation for Non-Evangelists

Most of our church members are ready to grow in their faith as well as share that faith. They just feel unequipped to do so. Read More

8 Steps to Reaching a Lost Loved One

Tomorrow would have been the 78th birthday of my dad, who passed away four years ago. He became a believer at age 71 (click here to hear my testimony of his conversion). Maybe these steps will help you if you’re trying to reach a lost loved one. Read More

If America Was A Village Of 100 People, 89 Of Them Would Believe In God

If the population of the United States was distilled into a village of just 100 people, just nine of them would be atheists. Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (PM Edition): "Trump packs board of CEO advisers with Wall Street names" - MORE UPDATES

A cadre of Wall Street leaders and corporate CEOs will be regularly advising the Trump Administration through a “Strategic and Policy Forum,” the transition announced Friday.

The forum will be led by Stephen A. Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, and include J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon and 10 other members.

“Members of the Forum will be charged with providing their individual views to the President – informed by their unique vantage points in the private sector – on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation, and productivity,” the transition said in a statement. “The Forum is designed to provide direct input to the President from many of the best and brightest in the business world in a frank, non-bureaucratic, and non-partisan manner.”

The group represents another striking example of the way Trump’s populist campaign rhetoric — embodied in the oft-chanted phrase “drain the swamp” — has collided with a transition that is producing an administration stocked with the same economic elite Trump accused of hurting the American economy. Read More

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Donald Trump as the nation's diplomat-in-chief. Sad.
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'Crony capitalism' was also practiced by the twentieth century fascist regimes in Germany, Italy, and Spain.
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Donald Trump's First 100 Days (AM Edition): "Is Trump's Deal With Carrier A Form Of Crony Capitalism?"

Donald Evans, commerce secretary during George W. Bush's first term, says the deal definitely signals a change in approach between the White House and American businesses. But, he warns, dealing directly with each business as Trump did with Carrier is not likely to be a staple.

"You can't get involved in every business all across America. You have to create the environment for those businesses to do so well and that's exactly what President-elect Trump has in mind," he tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.

But Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University who identifies as a libertarian, worries that under a Trump administration, a kind of "crony capitalism" — where companies that are good to a presidency are rewarded — will prevail.

"This to me is scary," Cowen tells Inskeep. "It indicates an environment where business decisions are now about how much you please the president. Read More

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Iran Considers Renewal of US Sanctions a Violation of Nuclear Deal
Bitterness Overwhelms As Trump And Clinton Campaign Staffers Face-Off At Harvard
Trump’s Scorched-Earth Win Turns Even A Boring Post-Election Seminar Nasty

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (PM Edition): "Donald Trump’s Carrier Victory Speech Shows We’re Stuck With the Crazy Candidate"

What was supposed to be a jobs speech turned into another torrent of self-congratulations, diversions, and shtick.

Donald Trump won the presidency, but judging by his Thursday appearance to announce a deal with Carrier, the heating and air conditioning company, nobody bothered to tell him.

The event, which was closed to the public, was conceived as a “mission accomplished” of sorts for Trump, all of three weeks after Election Day.

But just like at the rallies he used to campaign throughout the Republican primary and the general election, Trump’s presentation in Indianapolis was marred by self-congratulatory bombast, glaring omissions, and bizarre diversions. Read More
Folks who expect Candidate Trump to morph into President Trump need to come to terms with reality. Trump is not going to change. What they can expect is more early morning twitter storms and rallies. Trump feeds on the adulation of the crowd. He thrives on the crowd's chants, sign-waving, and cheers. It strokes his over-sized ego. It is like a narcotic to him, just like porn is to the porn addict.  
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On the Net: "A Plea to Pastors: Don't Cancel Church on Christmas" and More

A Plea to Pastors: Don't Cancel Church on Christmas

Don’t cancel all your services on Christmas. Scale back on the nursery perhaps. Take the week off from Sunday school. Make things closer to an hour than to an hour and a half. Skip the life groups or even the second service for a day. But don’t close the church up on Christmas. Read More
I agree with Kevin DeYoung. Don't cancel all your services on Christmas. The Episcopal parish where I was senior lay reader for 15 years, while it had a service on Christmas Eve, offered nothing on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day I would let myself into the church building and read Morning Prayer. One Christmas morning a family showed up - a couple with young children. I gathered from the couple that they had not been to church for a while. I invited them to join me for Morning Prayer but they chose not to stay - perhaps because it was not what they had hoped for. But since then I have been convinced that churches should offer a service on Christmas Day. Sojourning for the past 9 years at a nondenominational church that offers no service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day has strengthened that conviction.
They Just Don’t Get It: Why Big Church Solutions Can't Fix Small Church Problems

The vast majority of churches are small, so we need small church alternatives to big church solutions. Read More

Does Christology Really Matter?

“We all unanimously teach that our Lord Jesus Christ is to us one and the same Son, the self-same perfect in Godhead, the self-same perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man … acknowledged in two natures, unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably … the properties of each nature being preserved.” Read More

5 Reasons Your Team Should Use Case Studies

Several years ago, the team I lead at LifeWay started using case studies to learn, adjust, and grow. The idea did not originate with the team or me. Plenty of others use this approach to learn and hone critical thinking skills. Read More

What to do When You’re Waiting for a Lead Position

How does one manage the tension well while in a learning position until the transition to a leading position takes place? Read More

10 Life Lessons I'd Love to Teach Young Ministers

Perhaps we can learn these lessons only through ministry and life experiences – and maybe we wouldn’t have listened to them anyway when we were younger – but here are some lessons I’d love to teach young ministers.... Read More

Pastors, Your Sermons Do Matter If You Want To See People Come To Trust Jesus

Every preacher at some point has experienced the painful vulnerability of baring their soul. Read More

5 Ways to Get People to Pay Attention When You Preach

Here are five neuroscience insights to keep in mind as you prepare your sermons. Read More

Five Reasons You Should Start (or Continue) Blogging in 2017

Jonathan Howe offers five positive reasons you should consider blogging in 2017. Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (AM Edition): "If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned"

The greatest trick Donald Trump pulled was convincing voters he’d be “anti-establishment.”

Well, maybe not the greatest trick. But in a campaign full of cons, it has to rank close to the top. This was near the heart of Trump’s appeal to the disaffected and disempowered: Send me to Washington, and that “establishment” you’ve been hearing so much about? We’ll blow it up, send it packing, punch it right in the face, and when it’s over the government will finally be working for you again. And the people who voted for Trump bought it. After all, he’s no politician, right? He’s an outsider, a glass-breaker, a guy who can cut out the bull and get things done. Right?

But the idea that he would do this was based on a profound misunderstanding of what the establishment actually is, and who Donald Trump is. Read More

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Two Planks of Sola Scriptura

There was no controversy between Martin Luther and Rome concerning the inspiration of Scripture. In fact, much of today’s mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic biblical and theological scholarship would have been regarded by the medieval church as apostate with regard to its view of Scripture. The Scriptures, both sides held, are inerrant. The Council of Trent (condemning the Reformation positions) went so far as to say that the Spirit “dictated” the very words to the Apostles.

The real question had to do with the relation of inspired Scripture to tradition. In other words, is Scripture alone God’s inspired and inerrant Word, the source and norm for faith and practice? Could the pope say truly that his words are equal to those of Peter and Paul as we find them in Scripture? Are councils infallible in the same way as Scripture? The Council of Trent argued that Scripture and tradition are two streams that form the one river of God’s Word. This Word consists not only of “the written books” but also of “the unwritten traditions” that, of course, the Roman pontiff has the privilege of determining. Thus, both Scripture and these traditions the church “receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety and reverence,” as both have been “preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.” Read More

On the Net:"Five Dangers of the Church Cartel" and More

Five Dangers of the Church Cartel

A church cartel is an alliance of bullies, bully-followers, carnal Christians, and even non-Christians in the church. Its ultimate goal is to get its way. It feeds off of selfish power. Read More

7 Ways to Fix a Toxic Church Culture

Until the leader steps up and takes responsibility for a toxic church culture, the church will remain in trouble. Read More

Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory

Theories pop up, are quickly refuted by the academy, and then, just when you think they have gone away, they pop again. Some theories just keep coming back. Read More

Has God Called You to Vocational Christian Ministry?

Two resources helped me answer that question when I was in high school and college.... Read More

Preacher’s Toolkit: How Can Expository Sermons Avoid Being Wooden and Uncreative?

“Preacher’s Toolkit” is a monthly series that seeks to answer questions related to preaching. Read More

A Congregant’s Guide to Preaching

As a pastor I don’t simply want my congregation to hear preaching, I want them to know something of what preaching is. I want them to listen but I want them to listen in an informed way. Read More

Foundations for Personal Bible Study

Using the HEAR journaling method, my friend Robby Gallaty lays out 4 simple steps to help any student of the Scriptures read, understand, and apply the Word of God to their own life. The steps are simple and easy to remember.... Read More

Evangelism, Without the Weird Aftertaste

How to share the gospel without making other people—or ourselves—so uncomfortable. Read More

Religion More Important Than Race Or Class In US Election - Analysis

Religious identity was more important than class or race in the US election, analysis published by PRRI suggests. Read More

Two Thirds Of People Could Not Spot Child Abuse In Faith Setting

Two thirds of people could not identify child abuse linked with certain beliefs or faiths, according to research published on Wednesday. Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Days: "Trump announces he will leave business ‘in total’ — leaving open how he will avoid conflicts of interest"

President-elect Donald J. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he would soon leave his “great business in total” to focus on the presidency, a response to growing worries over the businessman-in-chief’s conflicts of interest around the globe.

Shortly after, the official Twitter account of the Office of Government Ethics, the traditionally staid federal agency that often works closely with presidential transition teams, issued a rapid-fire series of tweets celebrating that Trump had committed to fully divesting his company stake — though Trump has publicly said no such thing.

The back-to-back tweetstorms raised more questions than they answered: whether Trump’s move would focus on severing his ownership ties, or simply his management responsibilities; and whether the OGE was releasing new information or simply the victim of a hacker, prankster or official gone rogue. Read More

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On the Net: "3 Assumptions & 5 Realities About Why So Many Churches are Small" and More

3 Assumptions & 5 Realities About Why So Many Churches are Small

Even with the arrival of megachurches, small churches are the primary way people choose to worship Jesus. Read More

3 Common Ways Churches Overcomplicate Their Calendars

How do churches get to an overcomplicated church schedule? How does busyness creep in? Here are three common ways.... Read More

Increasing Evangelism in Church Planting

Can our people articulate a simple gospel message and call men and women to faith in Jesus Christ? Read More

Data Tells a Story … Why Churches Should Track Everything

“We keep track of how big the offering is. We keep good track of attendance. But we honestly don’t use data well. Read More

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas

Celebrating Christ's birth with saints of the faith during the actual Christmas season. Read More

The Intersection of Theology and Worship, Featuring Louie Giglio - Rainer on Leadership #281 [Podcast]

Louie Giglio joins Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe to discuss the wedding of worship and theology and how the Passion movement has made that a cornerstone of its existence for the past two decades. Listen Now

A Quiz: Are You a Teachable Person?

I recognize that I’m not always teachable, so I hesitate to write this post. At the same time, humility is to be a mark of the Christian (James 4:6) – and humility is characterized by teachability. Use these questions to determine how teachable you are. Read More

Why a 1-Hour Church Service Isn’t Enough

People are not experiencing deep transformation in our churches. Can we do discipleship in an hour? I don’t think so. Read More

Growing in Maturity

God has provided specific instruments to lead His people to spiritual maturity. Read More

Does Your Church Need To Think Differently About Mission?

Increasingly churches are finding ways to connect with the community outside of Sunday services.... Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (PM Edition): "Tom Price's radically conservative vision for American health care"

Trump's choice for HHS secretary sends the clearest signal yet that Medicaid and Medicare may also be on the table.

Gutting Obamacare might be the least controversial part of Tom Price’s health care agenda.

By tapping the tea party Republican as his top health care official, President-elect Donald Trump sends a strong signal he may look beyond repealing and replacing Obamacare to try to scale back Medicare and Medicaid, popular entitlements that cover roughly 130 million people, many of whom are sick, poor and vulnerable. And that’s a turnabout from Trump’s campaign pledge — still on his campaign website — that he would leave Medicare untouched.

Price, a former orthopedic surgeon and six-term House member from suburban Atlanta, has proposed polices that are more conservative than those of many House Republican colleagues. His vision for health reform hinges on eliminating much of the federal government's role in favor of a free-market framework built on privatization, state flexibility and changes to the tax code. The vast majority of the 20 million people now covered under Obamacare would have far less robust coverage — if they got anything at all.

“Young, healthy and wealthy people may do quite well under this vision of health care reform,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “But the people who are older and poorer and sicker could do a lot worse.”Read More

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Donald Trump's First 100 Days (AM Edition): "A Short-Lived Victory Party"

Trump and Republicans earned wins on election night but will face considerable challenges in 2017.

Republicans tallied impressive gains on election night. They won majorities in both houses of Congress and the presidency, control 24 governorships and state houses and are poised to return the Supreme Court to a 5-4 conservative majority. Given the party's strong showing it would be tempting to conclude that the country is yearning to move in a conservative direction – that voters are asking its leaders to pass large tax cuts, roll back environmental regulations and gut financial reforms. A number of prominent Republican and conservative leaders drew exactly this conclusion on election night.

There are a couple problems with this analysis. Read More

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Monday, November 28, 2016

On the Net: "The Biblical Map To Wisdom" and More

The Biblical Map To Wisdom

Seldom in an assigned writing project is the author given an opportunity to address a theme that permeates Scripture, that is pervasive in both the Old and New Testament. But in this instance, my assignment provides for that and more, since wisdom and the gospel life is a theme crucial to the gospel ministries of evangelism, discipleship, and Christian parenting. In addition, wisdom is a blessing of common grace granted by God to a world of impenitent sinners in His unfathomable kindness. Read More

10 Guest Parking Problems

Most of us who write about church facilities give attention to the importance of guest parking. Some churches, though, still don’t understand why it matters – or they don’t give enough attention to it. Be aware of these guest parking problems our consulting teams have seen in the last several years.... Read More

5 Things The Decline Of Radio And TV Can Tell Us About The Future Of The Church

The world around us continues to change because people are changing with it. The church is never immune from cultural change, and the decline of radio and television give us a window into some of the changes the church is struggling with now and will continue to struggle with in the future. Read More

The History Behind Advent

Many churches lit the first of their Advent candles today (hopefully without needing the fire department!). Even churches averse to liturgical practices find a way to mark the Advent season, if only by marking the days remaining until Christmas.

This is some of the story behind Advent. Read More

Five Personal Leadership Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

I am sharing these five lessons with the hopes and prayers it will help others. These are lessons I’ve learned the hard way because I have too often failed to adjust even when I’ve known I need to do so. Read More

The Devil’s 5 Favourite Strategies: Church Leader Edition

...the greatest mistake I believe you can make with evil is to overestimate or underestimate its influence. It doesn’t have ultimate power, but it also isn’t powerless. Evil is active. And in some way, it’s probably influencing your thought life, ministry, and family right now. At least that’s what the scriptures claim. And Jesus himself acted as though evil was very real. Read More

Most Churches Neglect This Vital Outreach Practice

Seventy-six percent of churches are missing a simple opportunity to increase their outreach impact. Read More

Cohousing: The New American Family

How alternative forms of living are changing communities, challenging the church, and keeping millennials in the fold. Read More

Crossing the Rubicon: Lambeth Resolution I.10, the Church of England, and the Anglican Communion.

Resolution I.10 is not legally binding but commends an essential and persuasive view of an attitude of the Communion. Read More

American Evangelical Self-Preservation And The Destructive Policies Of Donald Trump

Most damaging of all for the evangelical movement, white evangelicals have flipped the script of morality for politicians and undermined their own identity. They have more or less stripped their priorities down to self-preservation and opposition to abortion. You can't have a movement committed to sharing good news to outsiders if you're focused on self-preservation and covering your lack of social justice concern with a single wedge issue. Few will be interested in hearing "good news" from a group like that. Read More
White evangelical support for Donald Trump reveals what amounts to a de facto rejection of the authority of Scripture, as well as a lack of trust in God. It is reminiscent of the attitude of the people of Israel when they clamored for a human king. They had God as their King but they were not satisfied with his divine kingship. They wanted a ruler like the pharaoh of Egypt and the kings of the other nations of the ancient Mid-East. God granted their request but not without warning them that it would be their undoing.

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (PM Edition): "A Trump White House Preview: Feuds, Turmoil And Conspiracies" - UPDATED

Sunday summed up what a Trump presidency will probably look like after the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. The day began with a morning tweetstorm mocking the recount effort by the Green Party's Jill Stein (which Hillary Clinton's lawyers later joined). Hours later, a top Trump aide knifed one of the top choices to be secretary of state, Mitt Romney. "People feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney, who went out of his way to question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump … would be given the most significant cabinet post of all," former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on "Meet the Press" yesterday. Then, in the afternoon, Trump tweeted -- falsely -- that millions voted illegally in the presidential election, and that he would have won the popular vote if you didn't count them. Not only did that make him seem like a sore winner, it legitimized the recount efforts out there (if there's voter fraud, shouldn't there be a recount after all?), and it conveniently distracted from a bigger story that day (the New York Times' exposé on Trump's conflicts of interest). So there's your Trump presidency in a nutshell. Thin-skinned rants. Feuding aides. Conspiracy theories. And all a distraction from the bigger issues out there.

How it all delegitimizes the media and democracy

There's one more consequence to the rants, feuds, and conspiracy theories: They end up delegitimizing the media -- and the country's democracy. Think about it: Every time Trump claims, without substantiation, that millions voted illegally, and every time the news media call him out for it, that only delegitimizes the media among Trump's supporters. And then when the same media write and cover Trump's conflicts of interests (or policy proposals or anything else), those same supporters won't believe a word of it. Will the media be alone in this challenge? Or will members of BOTH parties decide that what's happening to two key institutions -- the press and the vote -- is worth fighting for? By the way, who has been the biggest driver of the story that millions voted illegally in the election? Try InfoWars' Alex Jones.... Read More

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Why the New Nationalists Are Taking Over
Students of world history like myself cannot help but notice the similarities between what is happening in the world today and what happened in the world after World War I. The regimes that established themselves in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan were nationalist regimes. Among the factors that led to the rise of these nationalist regimes was a faltering economy, wide-spread unemployment, working class anger toward the established order, and the fear of bolshevism. Similar factors are driving the nationalist movements in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. If anything can be learned from the rise of these nationalist regimes, it is that we ignore the lessons of history at our own peril.
'I will give you everything': Here are 282 of Donald Trump’s campaign promises.
This is a fascinating list. In the promises that Trump has made, he has on a number of occasions contradicted himself. Either he did not remember his previous promises or it did not matter to him what he had previously promised as long as he gained support for his candidacy - and the adulation of the crowd.
Trump’s border wall won’t normalize immigration
It also will not stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States nor will it bankrupt the drug cartels as the the headlines claimed in the current issue of the National Enquirer. The cartels have shown themselves to be very innovative in the ways that they smuggle drugs into the United States. I am reminded of Hadrian's Wall and the Great Wall of China. Both were intended to keep out the "barbarians." Both failed. Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them. One is also lead to wonder whether Trump himself will profit in any way from the construction of the wall. Congress and the American people will need to keep close tabs on the contractors involved in its construction in case one or more of them are subsidiaries of the Trump Organization. The project is likely to turn out to be a multi-million dollar boondoggle. In that case will Congress have the chutzpah to require the Trump Organization to reimburse the nation for its construction?
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Donld Trump's First 100 Days (AM Edition): "Why are mainstream media reporters still letting Trump play them for suckers?"

The corporate media is still operating by the old rules in which they defer to power by taking each presidential announcement and action at face value. That’s been a dubious approach for years, especially in the post-9/11 era in which the Bush administration boasted about creating “our own reality.” Now the media are confronted by a Trump administration whose chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, was likened to notorious Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl with “sincere admiration” by dead fabulist Andrew Breitbart.

The media need to wrestle with how Trump will be all about affect—the emotional bond and mood he creates with his supporters will outweigh any allegiance to fact or reason. In October Trump lied about stopping Ford from building $2.5 billion worth of factories in Mexico. On Nov. 17 Trump lied about preventing Ford from moving a separate plant from Kentucky to Mexico. Then on Thanksgiving Trump claimed he was “making progress” in stopping Carrier from moving an air-conditioner plant and its 1,400 jobs from Indiana to Mexico. The company acknowledged it was talking to Trump but added, “Nothing to announce at this time.” Months earlier Trump lied about being able to impose a tax on Carrier’s goods imported from Mexico if it moved the plant—only Congress can do that. He also lied about U.S. manufacturers paying a 16 percent tax in Mexico as the tax applies to all manufacturers there. Read More
Now Trump is lying about voter fraud, claiming that he won the the popular vote as well as the electoral college vote. Considering the number of false statements that he has made to date - during the campaign and prior to it - maybe we should be calling him "lying Donald."
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I do not see how the electoral college could block Trump from becoming president unless a significant number of the electors decided not to vote for him. There is little likelihood of that happening. Trump has the electoral votes to become president. He does not, however, have a popular mandate although he is falsely claiming that he does. With a Republican Congress he does not need a popular mandate unless he alienates the Republican members of Congress.
Trump 'furious' over Kellyanne Conway comments on Sunday shows about Romney: Sources

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Donald Trump's First 100 Days: "Kellyanne Conway Escalates War on Mitt Romney" - UPDATED

Passive-aggressive tweets about rewarding loyal Trump supporters has turned into a confrontation Conway says is about Trump voters who would be betrayed.

Amid the internal fight over President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state deliberations that have spilled into the public in the past week, one thing has become demonstrably clear: Trump’s campaign manager and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway believes that Mitt Romney would not be a wise choice.

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, Conway once again emphasized that the selection of Romney—a man who once devoted an entire speech to condemning Trump’s character and fitness to be president—would betray the base of supporters who propelled the real estate mogul into the White House. Read More
What happened to Trump's promise to surround himself with top talent if he became president of the United States? America does not need a revival of New York Tammany Hall politics on a national scale - an administration filled with cronies, toadies, and yes-men. What it needs are appointees who are genuinely qualified for the position to which they were appointed.
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Trump portrays Clinton as a hypocrite for recount effort
Why is Trump getting so worked up over the recount in three states. It is a normal part of elections, local, state, and federal. If he had lost, he in all likelihood would have demanded a recount. Does he fear that these recounts will reveal voting machine tampering and other election irregularities and reduce the margins by which he won. In actuality he may gain votes. He would do better to say nothing and let the recounts proceed without comment from him. Does he actually believes what he told his supporters at his rallies during the election campaign, that is, the election would be stolen from him? America does need a paranoid president. 
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Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Common Sin of Middle Age Believers

Each stage of adult life presents its own unique challenges. Young adults worry about finding work and getting married. Older folks have increasing health problems and the loss of independent living. And those in their middle age years, with their own set of struggles, often find themselves “caught in the middle” trying to help aging parents while guiding their children into adulthood.

In the midst of these challenges, it might be helpful to be aware that there are also unique temptations to sin that are more age-specific. Without denying any sin can tempt any believer at any age, can we not identify one sin in particular that is perhaps most common in the church to each of these ages? Read More

3 Ways Technology Makes Us Anxious

When I was an elementary school kid, I worried. I remember my mom telling me, “You’re going to get an ulcer by the time you’re 15!” Once I became a Christian at age 19 and began reading passages like Matthew 6:25–34, I realized that my worry was a sin.

Since my conversion 20 years ago, worry and anxiety have skyrocketed for many, particularly in light of technological advances. We are constantly aware—via smartphones and other devices—of how horrible the world can be. Communication woes, identity theft, artificial social connections, and instantaneous bad news from around the globe are part of our daily intake.

As convenience and access to information increases, so does anxiety. Convenience and anxiety are two sides of the same coin and increase in tandem. While life might seem easier with every software update, it also becomes more terrifying for many because of the information we’re constantly receiving.

The great irony is we’re afraid to be without our technology, but our technology makes us afraid. The temptation to live with constant low-level panic is significant.

It’s possible, however, to engage our tech-drenched society while clinging to a biblical worldview. Here are three common problems—and gospel solutions—to address our technology-driven angst. Read More

REC Presiding Bishop Royal Grote, Jr. Dead at the Age of 70

The Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev.  Royal Grote, Jr., died in his sleep in the early hours of the morning on Thanksgiving Day. He was 70 years of age. He had reportedly been in ill health for a number of years.

Presiding Bishop Grote was elected to the office of President of the Reformed Episcopal Church in 2014. He had previously served as the Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, Missionary Bishop of the Special Jurisdiction of North America, and Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of Mid-America. He was for several years a lecturer at Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the chancellor of Cranmer House in Houston, Texas, where he was also a lecturer on dogmatic theology.

Presiding Bishop Grote was one of a new generation of leaders in the Reformed Episcopal Church, who sought to steer that denomination away from the Evangelical Protestant principles of its founders into what they viewed as “the mainstream of Anglicanism.” As a result the Reformed Episcopal Church has become more Anglo-Catholic in its doctrine and practices.

The Rt. Rev. Ray R. Sutton, Vice-President of the Reformed Episcopal Church and Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Mid-America, will assume the responsibilities of President of the Reformed Episcopal Church and Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of Mid-America.

The Reformed Episcopal Church was established in 1873 by the Rt. Rev. George David Cummins, Assistant Bishop of Kentucky, and a group of conservative Evangelical Episcopalian clergy and laymen who had become disaffected from the Protestant Episcopal Church over the spread and growing influence of Anglo-Catholicism in that denomination. Branches of the Reformed Episcopal Church were subsequently established in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Following World War II the Reformed Episcopal Church sought a reconciliation with the Protestant Episcopal Church. Due to the increasing liberal direction of the Episcopal Church, this effort was abandoned. In the early twenty-first century the Reformed Episcopal Church entered into merger talks with the Anglican Province of America, a Anglo-Catholic Continuing Anglican jurisdiction. In 2009 the Reformed Episcopal Church became a founding entity and sub-province of the second Anglican Church in North America. 

Donald Trump's First 100 Day: "Trump’s Stock in Dakota Access Pipeline Company Raises Concern" - UPDATED

President-elect Donald Trump holds stock in the company building the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline, and pipeline opponents warn that Trump’s investments could affect any decision he makes on the $3.8 billion project as president.

Concern about Trump’s possible conflicts comes amid protests that unfold daily along the proposed pipeline route. The dispute over the route has intensified in recent weeks, with total arrests since August rising to 528. A recent clash near the main protest camp in North Dakota left a police officer and several protesters injured.

Trump’s most recent federal disclosure forms, filed in May, show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. That’s down from between $500,000 and $1 million a year earlier.

Trump also owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access.

While Trump’s stake in the pipeline company is modest compared with his other assets, ethics experts say it’s among dozens of potential conflicts that could be resolved by placing his investments in a blind trust, a step Trump has resisted. Read More
Both the American people and the media need to hold President-elect Trump's feet to the fire until he releases his tax returns for public scrutiny. In refusing to release his tax returns, Trump is setting a very bad precedent and he should not be allowed to get away with it.
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What is Trump afraid of? He has more to gain from a recount than to lose. No one is expecting any bigger upset than the one he delivered in winning the election. Does he lack confidence in his own victory at the polls? Or does he know something that the public does not know and fears that a recount will expose election fraud which won him the election. He is certainly leaving himself open to that kind of speculation.
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Climate Watch: "The Arctic Is Seriously Weird Right Now"

Instead of expanding during this cold, dark time of year, sea ice is shrinking

The sun set on the North Pole more than a month ago, not to rise again until spring. Usually that serves as a cue for sea ice to spread its frozen tentacles across the Arctic Ocean. But in the depths of the polar night, a strange thing started to happen in mid-October. Sea ice growth slowed to a crawl and even started shrinking for a bit.

Intense warmth in both the air and oceans is driving the mini-meltdown at a time when Arctic sea ice should be rapidly growing. This follows last winter, when temperatures saw a huge December spike.

Even in an age where climate change is making outliers—lowest maximum sea ice extent set two years in a row, the hottest year on record set three years in a row, global coral bleaching entering a third year—the norm, what’s happening in the Arctic right now stands out for just how outlandish it is. Read More

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Does climate change impact the church? The answer is “yes.” Anything that impacts a local community also impacts the churches in that community. Hotter summers and colder winters, two of the effects of climate change, will affect the cost of cooling and heating the church building as well as church attendance. Severe weather conditions in the local community also affect the aged, the homeless, and the poor, and other groups to which church commonly minister. Among the effects of climate change are droughts, flooding, and wild fires. They will also impact a local community, its economy, and its churches.

Churches also feel the impact of climate change’s effects outside of the local community. As drought and desertification take greater hold in some parts of the world, the resulting large-scale crop failure, starvation, and population dislocation will also place greater demands upon churches and networks of churches involved in famine relief and ministry to displaced persons. As climate change impacts the nation’s agriculture and the agriculture of other countries which supply the United States with food, churches can anticipate higher food prices and widespread food insecurity for vulnerable segments of the population and even periods of food scarcity. These developments will produce demographic changes that will impact churches as well as strain church resources.

Climate change is definitely not something that churches can ignore or dismiss. With this thought in mind I am adding Climate Watch as an occasional feature on Anglicans Ablaze.