Balance

There is a man in Pennsylvania who built a lighted, 24-foot cross on his front lawn as a public display of his belief in Jesus Christ.  And, not surprisingly, some of the neighbors want him to take it down.

This same man in Pennsylvania was also told by the local borough council that he was lacking the proper building permit to raise the structure.

He is apparently now seeking that permit.

But, he has stated that he will not take down the cross, no matter what the outcome of his permit application. Continue reading

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Do Men Hate Church?

Today I joined a group of Christian men, mostly preachers and other church leaders, for lunch, conversation, and some spiritual encouragement. Lunch was good. (just kidding Jake and Mike.)

Anyway, my friend and techno-neanderthal Jake King had some thoughts to share with the group about men and spirituality. He had been reading a book called “Why Men Hate Going to Church.”  Jake shared some information about the disparity between male and female church attendance (there are 13 million more women in American churches than men). He discussed the trend in church life to have more women-oriented events than men-oriented events: ladies’ Bible classes, ladies’ brunches, ladies’ days, women’s retreats versus the occasional men’s retreat or men’s breakfast. He also shared some thoughts from the book about why this might be the case and what we, as Christians and/or church leaders, might be able to do to help the problem. Continue reading

That’s Just Silly…and Other Thoughts on Burning the Koran

Have you heard about the preacher in Florida who wants to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11? His name is Terry Jones, and he is promoting International Burn a Koran Day. Seriously. Watch this CNN interview with Jones: Quran burning backlash.

Here’s what Terry Jones had to say about his efforts to promote International Burn a Koran Day: Continue reading

Mission: People Who Create 1

We are supposed to strive to be like God.

That is a simple statement with a lot of theological weight. First, I have to ask if it is even possible for me to be like God at all. Second, I have to wonder if the fact that I am made in God’s image makes me enough like God to suffice. Third, I have to marvel at all of the things God can do that are recognized to be utterly impossible for me (such as parting a large body of water). Fourth, I have to cringe at the many ways I know I could be more like God, but require more will power than I currently muster. So many theologically puzzling implications in that statement, and, yet, we Christians know that it is still our goal.

We have to come to at least one important conclusion about our responsibility toward God as it regards this statement: that however we can be like God we should be like God. Continue reading

Mission: People Who Give

For God so love the world that He gave… [John 3:16]

I heard an objection not all that long ago that preachers are always asking for money.

Guilty.

The objector was right.  Church leadership is often concerned about finances, and the job of pushing for greater financial sacrifice often falls to the preacher.  “Preach a sermon about it.” “Make sure the church knows they need to be sacrificial and cheerful givers.” “Show them what the Bible says about giving.”

See what kind of love the Father has given us… [1John 3:1]

But, the Bible says much more about giving than we typically hear from the pulpit.  We preachers have been guilty of limiting our discussions of giving to monetary matters. Continue reading

How does your garden grow?

The Howards' attempt at ridding the world of hunger.Sara and I planted a vegetable garden this year. It’s nothing too big, and nothing all that fancy, either, although we’re working on it. We decided to try “square foot gardening” in raised boxes. We mixed our own soil from peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. We laid down soaker hoses to make watering easier and more efficient. We put a pvc frame over one box (so far), and wrapped netting over it to keep the birds and beasts out. And we have checked our garden nearly every day to see that things are growing, and to make sure and get the weeds out (and the massive amounts of maple seeds that have been dropping from the silver maple tree about forty feet away).

And here is what we have learned so far:
We are not all that patient. Continue reading

Just Ask

82% of unchurched people would probably accept an invitation to church.

Isn’t that incredible? And they would be much more likely to go if they were asked by a friend, family member, or colleague. This information is from a book I have been reading called The Unchurched Next Door. This book, by Thom Rainer, is based on research gathered from interviews with unchurched people across the US and Canada. Rainer defines an unchurched person as one who attends church fewer than five times a year.

Sadly, Rainer also reports that only 21% of church-goers invite anyone to church in the course of a year, and only 2% invite an unchurched person. Continue reading

Arrogant Americans

I found this story pretty amusing.

Apparently, a company was seeking to fill a position that involved communication with Chinese clientele. They wanted someone who was qualified, a hard worker, and not an “arrogant American” who might be so proud of their national heritage that they ruin business partnerships and opportunities with foreign clients.

I thought this was funny, first of all, because the company felt they needed to include this specification in a job description. Continue reading