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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Conway unloads on Romney
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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. 
Trump and His Team Attack Attempts to Recount Ballots in Three States
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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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Jet Streams, Weather, and Climate
Climate change and the jet stream
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.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (PM Edition): "When will white working-class Trump voters see the scam?"

While we're still analyzing the election results and debating the importance of different factors to the final outcome, everyone agrees that white working-class voters played a key part in Donald Trump's victory, in some cases by switching their votes and in some cases by turning out when they had been non-voters before.

And now that he's about to take office, he's ready to deliver on what he promised them, right? Well, maybe not so much, according to The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty.... Read More

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Jeb Bush calls for constitutional convention to pass term limits
One election is not sufficient reason to monkey with the U.S. Constitution. Term limits have their drawbacks as do the other proposals Bush favors. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, "We have term limits now — they're called elections.” Bush also appears to be seeking to exploit the popularity of term limits to bring about the adoption of his other proposals, which may not be in the best interest of the American voter. What is noticeably absent from Bush's proposals is doing away with the electoral college, a proposal in which many Americans have shown renewed interest since the election.
The Return of Term Limits
Wisconsin Agrees To Presidential Vote Recount At Third-Party Candidates' Request
Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States

On the Net: "We are open! The story of Little Mill Church" and More

We are open! The story of Little Mill Church

The Psalmist says’ ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness’ (Ps. 115:1). This is the essence of the story of Little Mill Church. Read More

11 Mistakes Too Many Churches Will Make This Weekend

As your church gathers this Thanksgiving weekend, I pray God moves in a mighty way in your church. In preparation for your services, ask God to help you overcome these common mistakes churches make.... Read More

Can You Enjoy Creation Too Much?

We can not enjoy God’s world too much, but we can enjoy it in the wrong way. Read More

10 Things You Should Know about the Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is a massively important topic and spoken of throughout the Word of God. So reducing its essence down to only ten things feels silly, if not impossible. But here goes anyway. Read More

5 things I learned my first year as a pastor

Centering your ministry on the Word of God will cause you to think about successful church life differently than the latest trends from Harvard Business Review would suggest because gospel ministry is far different than simply the application of organizational theory. Read More

How to Connect Sermon Application to People’s Jobs

Believers often wonder how they can serve God and neighbor at work, and often doubt the value of their work. But pastors can help, and the strategic sermon illustration is a leading tool in our arsenal. A good illustration is like a parable, presenting a case that is both particular and universal, specific and common. Read More

Four Qualities of an Effective Worship Leader - Rainer on Leadership # 280 [Podcast]

Mike Harland joins Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe to kick off a four-part series on worship in the church by examining the four essential qualities of a worship leader. Listen Now

Do You Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

It can be easy to dismiss the pursuit of righteousness as always ending in an inflated self-righteousness. But this does not eliminate the obligation that Christ gives us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Read More

6 Marks of Great Commission People

Paul insists that every believer is called to leverage their resources and talents for God’s purposes. Read More

How to Actively Serve in Worldwide Missions Where You Are in Your Local Church

How can Christians who find themselves established in a season of life vocationally in a particular place, serving in a good ministry, and rooted with family in a particular city? How can a Christian actively serve in worldwide missions where they currently reside in the ministry context in which they already serve? Read More

The Keys to Evangelism Success: 3 Pastors Share What’s Working

Postmoderns, early millennials, have no trust in the church. Get them to trust you. Help them become curious. Read More

The Perversion of Lambeth 1.10

George Conger over at Anglican Ink examines how the Church of England's liberal bishops are reinterpreting the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality to justify their violation of its provisions. Read More

Is The Russian Orthodox Church A Propaganda Channel For Putin?

The European Union Parliament could be on a collision course with Russia – including the Russian Orthodox Church. Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Days (AM Edition): "The problem with Donald Trump's stance on global warming"

Is there reason to doubt climate change because some of the nation’s hottest days happened in 1898, as President-elect Donald Trump told the New York Times in an interview Tuesday?

In an exchange with Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and staff about climate change on Tuesday (Nov. 22), Trump said, “I have an open mind to it,” but later added, “You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views.”

However, it’s misleading to single out a weather event — such as a particularly hot day in 1898 — as evidence for or against climate change, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service (NOS). [The Reality of Climate Change: 10 Myths Busted]

“Weather is what you see outside on any particular day,” the NOS reports. “So, for example, it may be 75 degrees and sunny or it could be 20 degrees with heavy snow.”

In contrast, climate is an average of weather over time. “For example, you can expect snow in the Northeast in January, or for it to be hot and humid in the Southeast in July,” the NOS said. Read More

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

On the Net: "Thanksgiving as Theological Act: What Does it Mean to Give Thanks?" and More

Thanksgiving as Theological Act: What Does it Mean to Give Thanks?

Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act, rightly understood. As a matter of fact, thankfulness is a theology in microcosm — a key to understanding what we really believe about God, ourselves, and the world we experience. Read More

32 Reasons to Give Thanks

The English pastor and commentator Matthew Henry (1662-1714) wrote a book on prayer just two years before his death. Henry's A Method for Prayer is the result of a life of meditating upon and praying through the Scriptures. This book is essentially an outline that walks the Christian through prayers of Adoration, Confession, Petition, Thanksgiving, Intercession, and a Conclusion. With each heading, he provides the content of the prayers from the Scriptures itself, because he hoped to give “an instance of the sufficiency of the Scripture to furnish for us for every good work.”1 Henry encourages the Christian to use God’s own words as the primary vocabulary for the words that we speak back to Him. Read More

Let’s Go Back to ‘Only Begotten’

The classical doctrine of the Trinity affirms that within the one, undivided being of God there are three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It also affirms that what distinguishes the three persons are their relations of origin: the Father is unbegotten, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The second point is referred to as the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son. This doctrine has traditionally been grounded in a number of scriptural proof texts, one set of which is the five Johannine verses that, according to the Vulgate and the King James Version, affirm the Son is the “only begotten” Son of God (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). Read More

Report: Biblical theology a predictor of church growth

The key ingredient for church growth in mainline Protestant denominations is Biblical theology, a recent Canadian study found. Read More

What You Must Know to Keep Leadership Simple

How can leaders sift through the complexity of leadership and focus on what is most important? It starts by knowing these four things.... Read More

Shocking Rise In Religious Persecution Fuelled By 'Islamist Hyper-Extremism' – Report

The emergence of "Islamist hyper-extremism" is primarily responsible for a shocking rise in religious persecution across the world, according to a new report released on Thursday. Read More
There is a strong likelihood that the new Trump administration through its domestic and foreign policies will further fuel this religious persecution.

Donald Trump's First 100 Days: "Five dark clouds hanging over Trump presidency"

People everywhere have been wondering what kind of president Donald Trump will make. Will his shocking statements during the campaign turn out to have been political theater, or a sign of what's to come?

Well, a couple of weeks into the transition, there's much to suggest that what we saw was no act, and that President Trump will implement policies that embody many of the most disturbing traits and statements displayed by candidate Trump.

The list is long, but here are five of the most troubling things we are already seeing. Read More

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Trump has a history of flipflopping on issues, seemingly to soften on an issue, only to return to a hard-line position. The hard-line positions he took during the campaign may have been "bait" but so may his softening on the same issues. Despite how his supporters view him, Trump is not known for being truthful or trustworthy. We would do well to remember two old adages in his case. First, take everything he says with a heaping spoonful - no, an entire tub - of salt. Second, as my grandparents and my mother would say, "actions speak louder than words." With Trump it is best to take a wait and see attitude and to be prepared for the worst.
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Donald Trump declines intelligence briefings, officials question his commitment: Report
Trump aide mocks election challenge
Computer scientists urge Clinton campaign to challenge election results
Sorry, Hillary Clinton Fans. There’s ‘Zero Evidence’ of Election Hacking.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

On the Net: "The Lost Art of Feasting" and More

The Lost Art of Feasting

Most of us have never given any serious thought to what it might mean to feast with Christ-honoring intentionality. Read More

What Is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving is an American holiday that stretches all the way back to a time long before America became a nation. The Pilgrims landed in 1620. They faced brutal conditions and were woefully unprepared. Roughly half of them died in that first year. Then they had a successful harvest of corn. In November of 1621 they decided to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving. Read More

Jesus Wants an Awkward Thanksgiving Dinner

Why extending the table involves an uncomfortable hospitality. Read More

Are You Grateful? (Grading Your Gratitude)

The direct nature of gratitude looks like this.... Read More

10 Charges to All Church Leaders

Ronnie Floyd: “May these things bring encouragement and remind us we are all in this ministry life together.” Read More

8 Miscalculations of Many Church Leaders

My church consulting team and I often work with unhealthy churches; in fact, most churches who contact us have reached a significant level of disease before seeking help. Here are some of the miscalculations we see among leaders of these churches.... Read More

Seven Things to Consider When Your Sermon Stinks

The sermon is over, and you conclude that your message was terrible. For those who preach 40 to 100 times a year, it will happen. Indeed it will happen on more than one occasion. Here are seven things for you to consider at that moment. Read More

White Evangelicals Grade Trump, Republicans, and the Media

Pew looks at satisfaction with the election, and what voters think the new president should do first. Read More

US Leaders Condemn Putin's Bid To Equate Christian Evangelism With Terrorism

One of American's most influential conservatives has joined with a leading member of the country's Jewish community to condemn Russia's crackdown on religious freedom. Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Days: "Inside Trump’s freewheeling vetting operation" - UPDATED

Trump’s freewheeling approach is in marked contrast with that of past presidential transition teams, who have subjected nominees to weeks — and sometimes months — of vetting that includes deep dives into their finances, taxes, previous employment and personal relationships. Read More

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Trump's use of the office of US president to advance his business interests should concern conservatives as well as liberals. Misuse of a public office should concern all Americans.
Clinton's lead in the popular vote surpasses 2 million
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Harassment or Hail Mary? Electors feel besieged

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

8 Causes of Concern for Bible Belt Churches - Rainer on Leadership # 279 [Podcast]

When I look at what is happening in the Bible Belt, there are causes for concern as well as opportunities for growth. Today we look at why there is concern and how you can overcome those concerns. Listen Now

5+ Churchy Things I'm Thankful For – Even If I Don't Like Them

It's important to distinguish between personal preferences and moral absolutes if we hope to maintain our integrity.

hate opera. And Brussels sprouts. And spiders.

But I'm glad they exist. Because they all serve important functions.

Saying I don't like something is not the same as saying it's bad.

Opera isn't bad. In fact, it's artistically important and brings joy to many people. It just doesn't float my boat.

But sometimes we have a hard time distinguishing between things we dislike and things that are wrong. For too many people, "I don't like it" is virtually indistinguishable from "this is bad."

This lack of discernment is bad. Really and truly bad. Especially in the church.

When we elevate matters of taste to the level of right and wrong, we undercut our moral authority. It causes others to distrust us when we speak on things that truly are wrong.

As mature believers in Jesus – especially as Christian leaders – we should be able to tell the difference between our personal preferences and moral absolutes.

For example, here are five things I dislike, even though I know they have value. (Plus a few bonus mentions at the end.) Read More

10 Evangelism Questions for Church Leaders to Ask

If you’re a church leader, you’re responsible for modeling evangelism for your congregation. Maybe asking these questions will challenge you to be more evangelistic.... Read More

Encourage One Another

Our words to one another about one another not only describe reality. They also create reality.

“You idiot!” does not simply assess what is objectively true to the speaker. It also produces, in the one spoken to, death and darkness. Not only do our words reveal what is true of us, they also generate reality for another. Specifically, our words are either death-bringing or life-giving. Either depleting or nourishing, draining or filling. Read More

5 Signs You Are a Mature Christian

I’ve written a lot recently about spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. The Bible makes it clear that we can grow in our faith and in holiness. It’s not a linear path, in which we are continually helpless and have no part to play. God tells us we can make steps forward in our relationship him, and is always calling us closer, deeper into his ways.

In fact, growing closer to the Lord is the most important task in your life. More important than reaching your dreams or even fulfilling your calling. Everything you do in life flows from everything you are in Christ.

The Bible clearly distinguishes between those who are spiritually mature and immature. The Bible is full of examples of the immaturity of believers who came to Christ throughout the known world. Paul and the other apostles wrote to them in letters that make up our New Testament, and address some major failures, flaws and struggles. Reading about some of these can actually give us hope for our own lives today!

There are many areas that go into maturity in Christ, but here are five few key signs you are growing mature in Christ. Read More

The Top 10 Characteristics of the Average Unchurched Family

Many years ago when our church began revitalization, we prayed and asked God whom he was calling us to reach.

The answer we felt God impressing upon us then was to focus on unchurched families.

So we created strategies and programs designed to reach out to these families.

God showed up and we began making inroads to reach these families, but then something unexpected happened.

They changed.

In fact, while we were busy perfecting the plans and programs we had used to reach the average unchurched family, the entire culture shifted.

Here we are 16 years later and we have found that we needed to reevaluate everything in light of these radical cultural shifts.

As we stepped back and took a fresh look at the average unchurched family that God is bringing to us, we have noted some characteristics that have become the foundation for reinventing our structures, strategies, and programs. Read More

Donald Trump's First 100 Day (PM Edition): "'The president can't have a conflict of interest': Trump addresses renewed controversy surrounding business ties" - UPDATED

President-elect Donald Trump responded to renewed controversy surrounding his business ties in a Tuesday interview with The New York Times, insisting "the president can't have a conflict of interest" as he faces scrutiny over a series of questionable interactions.

Tweets from Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Mike Grynbaum from the meeting showed that Trump understood how his business ties could be perceived.

"The law's totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest," he said.... Read More
Whatever Donald Trump says, a president may have a conflict of interest between his personal interests and the national interests irrespective of whether there is a specific law to that effect. Exploiting the office of the presidency to further one's business interests is both immoral and unethical. The United States needs a president who fully understands that and puts the national interests before his own. If Trump is unable or unwilling to do that, he does not belong in the White House. He should step down.
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