Monday, January 27, 2014

All Around the Web - January 27, 2014

HT: The Blaze

Pastor's Today - Brothers, Let Us Read Fantasy: 5 Reasons Pastors Should Read Fiction 
Here are five reasons those who preach the Word should read fantasy.
  1. To Connect With Your Hearers. A quick glance at any best-seller list will reveal that people read story and imaginative literature. People read fantasy; children, teenagers, adults. That being the case, it’s important that preachers be somewhat versed in what people are reading. Some may interpret this as an attempt to be cool or trendy. I’d rather say it’s an attempt to be a missionary! Remember Acts 17? Paul quotes from the pagan philosophers of the day in order to engage his listeners. We may find that a reference to The Hunger Games rouses a slumbering teen, or a quote from The Iliad captures the attention of an agnostic college professor. We must admit that in the eyes of many non-Christians, preachers of the Gospel have a burden of proof to bear. Reading fiction may help us on our way to becoming all things to all people.
  2. To Read More. All of us want to read more. We feel guilty as we continue to buy new books, but fail to read them. Reading fiction may help remedy this. Once a story captures us, we want to read more, which spills over into our other reading. I read the Harry Potter series in a few months this year, but noticed that I finished several non-fiction books during the same time. Reading fantasy fuels our desire to read, and it balances our literary diet.
  3. To Compliment Logic In Preaching. The reason many of us love writers and thinkers like C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chesterton, or preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield is that they combined laser sharp logic with incredible imagination. Most of us preachers likely have a hard time with creativity and imagination. We feel much more at home with logic, theology, and propositional truths—which our people need. But we must acquaint ourselves with story, poetry, song, and experience, and nothing does that like curling up with a good fantasy work.
  4. To Get In Touch With Reality. While some may think reading fantasy is an attempt to escape reality, I contend that it brings us closer to reality. The sheer range of emotions involved in reading works like The Lord of the Rings or Pilgrims Progress are enough to prove this. We become more empathetic, compassionate, virtuous—more human. C. S. Lewis said reading fantasy is like a child eating his meat and imagining it was a buffalo he killed with his own bow and arrow. He said, “The real meat comes back to him more savory for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat” (On Stories, 90). Imagine how this might impact our preaching. A mind dipped in great stories galvanizes our preaching with wisdom and insight as we expound the glories of the Bible. N. D. Wilson says “Stories create affection and fear and joy, love and hate and relief. Stories can create loyalties and destabilize loyalties. Stories are catechisms for the imagination. Catechisms for emotions, for aspirations. Stories mold instincts and carve grooves of habit in a reader’s judgments” (Catechisms For The Imagination). I couldn’t agree more.
  5. To See The Grand Story. Jerram Barrs says the ultimate test for a story is wether it contains echoes of eden, which he defines as, “The story of the good creation, the fallen world, and the longing for redemption” (Echoes of Eden, 67). Good fiction does this; it shows us the human condition and makes us long for renewal and freedom. This in turn points us to the Grand Story of the Bible, the True Story! There really is a Coming King, a Rescuer, One who will set all things right and set us free. There really is a Hero who fought the dragon and won. Good story can remind us of this, and send our hearts soaring into worship.

The Gospel Coalition - The Gospel for a Gay Friend
To share the gospel with Josh, or with anyone who may have questions like his, here are a few ideas to keep in mind.
1. Hope in Jesus' power to help you.
2. Hold Jesus as supreme.
3. Have Jesus-like compassion and conviction.
4. Keep Jesus' church central.
5. Help answer their questions.
6. Have patience.
7. Hope in Jesus' power to save.

Ligonier Ministries - Worship According to the Word
In The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor offers this insight into fallen human nature: “So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship.” Though the Grand Inquisitor falls far short as a reliable guide to theology, at this point he is surely correct. Human beings are profoundly religious—even when we do not know ourselves to be—and humans incessantly seek an object of worship.

Yet, human beings are also sinners, and thus our worship is, more often than not, grounded in our own paganism of personal preference. As John Calvin profoundly explained, the fallen human heart is an “idol-making factory,” always producing new idols for worship and veneration. That corrupted factory, left to its own devices, will never produce true worship, but will instead worship its own invention.

The church is not comprised of those who found the true and living God by experimentation in worship, but of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, incorporated into the Body of Christ, and are then called to true worship as regulated and authorized by Scripture. Worship is the purpose for which we were made—and only the redeemed can worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Real Clear Politics - "Special Report" on Income Politics: The Truth About Income Inequality Under Obama

The Blaze - NFL Considering Major Rule Change to Eliminate a Play That’s Always Been Part of the Game
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Monday that the league is considering a proposal to do away with extra points. Though the extra point is almost automatic and relatively unexciting, the rule change would alter a play that’s always been part of the game.

“The extra point is almost automatic. I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd,” Goodell told “So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.”

So what instead would happen after a touchdown is scored?

What happens when a British announcer calls an American football game.

HT: Deadspin
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