Wednesday, March 19, 2014

All Around the Web - March 19, 2014



HT: Challies


John Stonestreet - Generation Triple X 
We’re not in the age of Playboy anymore. Teenagers and children once had to stumble upon a friend’s magazine stash or face a convenience store clerk to get their hands on pornography.

But these days porn is available at the tap of a finger—on computers, smart phones, tablets, and cable television. So much so that even secular consciences are prickling.

A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that only 29 percent of Americans believe consuming pornography is morally acceptable. A full 77 percent of women condemn it, and despite the fact that roughly half of American men are hooked on it, 65 percent of them say they disapprove.  Deep in their hearts, most Americans just know it’s wrong.

But without appealing to Christian morality, justifying their aversion to pornography is a challenge—although they have come up with several interesting theories.

Many experts are treating porn addiction like a disease. Writing in the Daily Mail, British psychotherapist John Woods describes how many of his young patients spend hours a day indulging their obsession at the expense of schoolwork, relationships, and jobs. They end up in his office after their habits take them beyond the limits of what’s legal—and police come knocking at the parents’ doors.

Thom Rainer - Seven Ways to Help New Members Stick
  1. Keep the initial orientation brief. Some churches have new members’ classes that last multiple hours over multiple days. These orientations are counterproductive. They engender information overload and have little impact. If there is much information you need to share, do so over a longer period of time, but not in the initial new members’ class. The new members’ class works best if it is two to three hours in one setting.
  2. Tell them what the church believes. These new and prospective members must know the key beliefs or doctrines of the church. Don’t let them be surprised later. Such could prove messy for the members and the church as a whole.
  3. Explain to them the church’s polity. Polity is the organizational and authority systems of the church. Many new members assume the church they are joining makes decisions like churches where they have been in the past. Such assumptions can cause problems later.
  4. Share with them what is expected of them. Too many churches are shy about sharing expectations with members. But clear expectations lead to both happier and healthier members. I was recently with some church leaders who told me they were very explicit about four minimal expectations of members: they should attend weekly worship services; they should get in a small group; they should be involved in at least one church ministry a year; and they should be faithful financial givers to the church.
  5. Let them know how they can plug in. Don’t merely let them know what is expected of them; share with them the specifics of how they can carry out the expectations. For example, if the church expects them to be in a small group or Sunday school class (a key to assimilation health), give them clear and detailed information on who to contact, where and when the group meets, and when they should get started.
  6. Orient them about the church’s facilities. I know it’s basic, but it’s important for members to understand the details of the church’s facilities, even in smaller churches. When are the offices open? Who can use certain parts of the church buildings? Where are the nursery or preschool areas? Where are the restrooms?
  7. Have someone stay in contact with them for six months. You will typically retain or lose members in this time frame. Have well-trained members checking with the new members. It may be a simple call or an email once a week. It does not have to be overbearing. The veteran member can ask if they are orienting well, if they have found a small group, or if they have questions.

National Review Online - The Destroyer Cometh: A dumbed-down Democratic party runs out of ideas | A must read on John Stewart.
Mr. Stewart is among the lowest forms of intellectual parasite in the political universe, with no particular insights or interesting ideas of his own, reliant upon the very broadest and least clever sort of humor, using ancient editing techniques to make clumsy or silly political statements sound worse than they are and then pantomiming outrage at the results, the lowbrow version of James Joyce giving the hero of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the unlikely name of Stephen Dedalus and then having other characters in the novel muse upon the unlikelihood of that name. His shtick is a fundamentally cowardly one, playing the sanctimonious vox populi when it suits him, and then beating retreat into “Hey, I’m just a comedian!” when he faces a serious challenge. It is the sort of thing that you can see appealing to bright, politically engaged 17-year-olds.

His audience is not made up of bright, politically engaged 17-year-olds. But Mr. Stewart has pulled off a pretty neat trick: He has, as the half-million or so headlines mentioned above indicate, made fake news into real news, and it is not an accident that the verb “destroys” so often follows his name. Mr. Stewart is the leading voice of the half-bright Left because he is a master practitioner of the art of half-bright vitriolic denunciation. His intellectual biography is that of a consummate lightweight — a William and Mary frat boy who majored in psychology, which must have been a disappointment to his father, a professor of physics — and his comedy career has been strictly by-the-numbers, from the early days on the New York City comedy-club scene to changing his name (Mr. Stewart began life as Mr. Leibowitz) and a career-boosting stint on MTV, where he was second only to Beavis and Butt-Head in the ratings. He subsequently may have matched Beavis and Butt-Head’s popularity, but he has never risen to comparable heights of social insight.

The thing is, people actually get their news from his show.

The Gospel Coalition - How Churches Can Care for Their Pastor's Children
1. Give grace to the pastor's children on Sunday. Sunday is a workday for his family unlike any other person's workday. While her husband is ministering, a wife is parenting alone. The pastor's kids are often the first ones to arrive at the church building and the last ones to leave. You can minister to his family by giving his children grace, talking with them, and enjoying them. When his children are young, you can also offer to help his wife.

2. If you have a concern, talk to your pastor about behavior that characterizes the children. But do so with an attitude of loving acceptance. As a shepherd of my family, I wanted to know when my children acted up. But I also knew any report I received was from an adult who cared about me, who knew that children will be, well, sinful children. They did not look at my children as PKs (pastor's kids), but only as kids.

The issues that should concern us are not individual actions but behaviors that characterize a child. The phrase "managing his household well" (1 Tim. 3:4) refers to the father, not the children. It doesn't mean a pastor and his children are perfect. It does mean he handles true problems well.

3. Be generous in your praise. Respect is especially important as the children grow older. A pastor's children will soon figure out that their family doesn't drive the newest car or take the fanciest vacation. But if others verbally express respect for the pastors, the children's view of their parents will rise. Men especially who express respect to a pastor's son can make a substantial difference.

4. Limit church criticism and complaint to private conversations among adults. Every group of people will have problems. Issues will need to be aired (see Acts 6). But know that young people are watching how the adults are handling problems. As a teenager, I was keenly aware of the conflicts and hypocrisy in my church. Make sure you keep those comments among adults. Take any issues privately to the leadership. Don't make sniping complaints to young people or in the hearing of young people.

5. Be brave and rebuke the critics. Unfortunately, not everyone in the congregation will follow this suggestion. When grumbling and faultfinding spill over in front of you, speak up. Tell "Nitpicking Nora" not to talk in front of the children but speak directly with those in charge. Remind her that these are just children. The souls of these little ones are precious and need to be guarded. A united elder team can be especially helpful in speaking to any who engages in unwarranted faultfinding.

6. Give your pastors room to deal with their children's hearts. Older children will go through some spiritual ups and downs. How will you think about those bumps? With care and affection? Or self-righteous judgment? Your pastor's children are like all of us. They are in a process of becoming like Jesus. You can embitter them with sharp comments. Or you can love and accept them even as they grow into adulthood. Pray for them regularly by name as they make this transition.

7. Give your pastors margin to minister to their families. Children need their father. But many leaders will be tempted to neglect their families to meet the unending needs of the church. Carping and demanding church members will make that temptation even greater. Even as a church member, you can encourage your pastors to care for their families. Are they taking their days off? Are their vacations uninterrupted? Don't demand that they minister to your crisis at the expense of their own family.

Real Clear Politics - Obama Fills Out His 2014 NCAA Championship Bracket On ESPN




Fox News - Nine unopened Dead Sea Scrolls found
Nine newfound penny-sized pieces of parchment belonging to the Dead Sea Scrolls laid unopened for nearly six decades before they were rediscovered in Israel.

The scrolls went unnoticed for years until one scholar came across them while searching through the Israel Antiquities Authority's (IAA) storerooms, the Times of Israel reported.

"Either they didn’t realize that these were also scrolls, or they didn’t know how to open them," the IAA's head of artefact treatment and conservation Pnina Shor explained.


God is not dead.

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