Tuesday, April 1, 2014

All Around the Web - April 1, 2014

Washington Examiner - Peace in the culture wars --- if the Left wants it

The chasm between Left and Right seems uncrossable, particularly because conservatives see religious liberty arguments as the last redoubt in the culture war: you guys won your gay marriages, permissive abortion laws, taxpayer-subsidized birth control, and divorce-on-demand; let us just live our lives according to our own consciences.

But for the Left, that's intolerable, unless conservatives lock their consciences behind closed church doors. Liberal writer Emily Bazelon actually defends the contraception mandate as a “Live and Let Live” policy.

Is there any bridging this gap?

. . .

The culture war isn’t religious versus secular. It’s a clash of two faiths.

Ligonier - Here’s One Way to Explain Sin to an Unbeliever

Thom Rainer - Seven Habits of Highly Effective Preachers
  1. They give preaching a priority in their ministries. A pastor has a 24/7, always on call schedule. It’s easy to let sermon preparation slide with the demands of the moment. The outstanding preachers I know give preaching a very high priority. They make certain they put the hours in to communicate effectively and powerfully.
  2. They make their sermons a vital part of their prayer lives. Here is a quote from one of those preachers I believe to be one of the most effective alive today: “I cannot imagine sermon preparation and delivery in my power alone. I regularly plead with God to anoint my preaching and to guide me in my sermon preparation.”
  3. They have a routine in sermon preparation. To the best of their abilities, these effective preachers set aside many hours a week on their calendars for sermon preparation. And while emergencies will happen, they do their best to stay committed to that time. Most of them have specific days and times of day when they work on their sermons.
  4. They constantly seek input about their messages. I know one pastor whose wife listens to each of his sermons ahead of his preaching. She offers valuable input to her husband. Many of these pastors have mentors and church members who help them evaluate their messages. And a number of them watch and listen to their recorded sermons within a week after preaching them.
  5. They stay committed to a specific sermon length. The pastors with whom I spoke have sermons that range in length from 25 minutes to 45 minutes. But they all are consistent each week on their specific length. In other words, a pastor who preaches a message 30 minutes in length will do so consistently each week. They have learned that their congregations adapt to their preaching length, and that inconsistency can be frustrating to the members.
  6. They put the majority of their efforts into one message a week. Some of the pastors were expected to preach different sermons each week, such as a Sunday morning message and a Sunday evening message. But, to the person, they all told me they can only prepare and preach one sermon effectively each week. The Sunday evening message, for example, is either an old message or a poorly prepared message.
  7. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their communication skills. So they do more than just seek feedback, as noted in number four above. They read books on communications. They listen to other effective communicators. And they are regularly in touch with the context of their church and its community, so that their messages are not only biblical, but relevant as well.

WND - Top 3 reasons 'War on Poverty' has failed | Featuring Wayne Grudem.

WORLD Magazine - God and Caesar (again)
When considering what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, what happens when the federal government seeks to replace God by defining “church” and when life begins to have value, the latter having been done in Roe v. Wade and subsequent court rulings?

While there are other issues in the Hobby Lobby case argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, these are the major ones.

To review quickly for those who haven’t been paying attention, the owners of Hobby Lobby, a crafts supply chain based in Oklahoma City, are conservative Christians. They believe their faith prohibits them from offering a health insurance policy for their female employees that covers birth control, including all forms of intrauterine devices and emergency contraception. The government says the religious exception they are seeking under the Affordable Care Act applies only to churches and religiously affiliated nonprofits, such as schools and hospitals, and that for-profit companies, like Hobby Lobby, are required under the ACA to cover all aspects of women’s preventative care, or face a hefty fine.

Let’s consider the arguments before the court and the response of some of the justices.

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