Tuesday, June 17, 2014

All Around the Web - June 17, 2014

Denny Burk - Why surgery is not the answer for transgender
I think this will be the last item on transgender for the week, but it is one that readers will want to pay very close attention to. Dr. Paul McHugh is the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and he has penned a revealing column for The Wall Street Journal opinion page. In short, he challenges the notion that sex-reassignment surgery is good for transgendered persons. His data are very compelling. He writes:
You won’t hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

Thom Rainer - Nine Issues to Consider for Church Staff Meetings
  1. Keep a regularly scheduled meeting on the calendar. That meeting may be weekly or less frequently. But let the staff know of its priority. Establish an estimated length of meeting so that time will be on their calendars well in advance.
  2. Request all participants to submit agenda items prior to the meeting. Give a specific deadline for the submission of the agenda items. It is helpful for the participants to estimate how long each item will take. That will help the leader know more precisely how long the meeting should be.
  3. Begin all meetings with prayer. If God is not leading church staff meetings, they should not be held.
  4. Begin on time. End on time. Meetings are subject to scope creep and meandering conversations. The leader should keep the meeting moving. Be committed to beginning on time, even if all participants are not present. And respect each participant’s schedule by ending on time.
  5. Understand the difference between strategic items and tactical items. A strategic agenda item is a major initiative or direction. A tactical item reflects the details of how we carry out strategies and responsibilities. I like to have separate meetings, if possible, for strategy. I had at least two such meetings a year when I was a pastor. Our weekly staff meetings dealt primarily with tactical issues.
  6. Don’t let “working the calendar” dominate staff meetings. I have seen too many church staff meetings become simply a review of the church calendar. There is a place to review the calendar, but it should not be the sum and substance of the meeting.
  7. Don’t meet just to meet. While there should be ample reasons to meet on a regular basis, there may be times when the agenda is light or empty. On those occasions, cancel the meeting and give the team their time back. Hopefully, there won’t be too many times when there is really nothing important to discuss.
  8. Decide what tactical issues should be on the agenda. There are no template solutions, but here are a few tactical areas often covered by church staff:
    • Discussion and evaluation of the most recent worship services. Note specific areas to adjust or improve.
    • Ministry follow-up items. Keep a running list of tasks assigned, to whom they were assigned, and the status of each assignment.
    • Discussion of Sunday school classes, small groups, or other groups. Healthy churches have healthy groups. Some meetings should discuss attendance, material taught, and opportunities to create more groups.
    • Areas that need remedial work or adjustments. The possibilities are endless: greeter ministry; sound equipment; preschool and nursery issues; deacon and elder matters; and many more.
    • Prayer needs of the congregation and community. This item should always be present on the agenda.
    • Guests to the worship services. Specific attention should be given to follow up. Make specific assignments with timetables.
  1. Conclude the meeting with specific action items. Don’t conclude the meetings until there is clarity on what action items need to take place during the week, who is responsible for them; and the timetable to get them done.

The Old Guys - Geerhardus Vos – Why Studying God is Different Than All Other Science
From the definition of Theology as the science concerning God follows the necessity of its being based on revelation. In scientifically dealing with impersonal objects we ourselves take the first step; they are passive, we are active; we handle them, examine them, experiment with them. But in regard to a spiritual, personal being this is different. Only in so far as such a being chooses to open up itself can we come to know it. All spiritual life is by its very nature a hidden life, a life shut up in itself. Such a life we can know only through revelation. If this be true as between man and man, how much more must if be so as between God and man.

ExChristian - Outspoken Anti-Theists and Secular Champions List Bible Verses They Actually Like
A few years back, a cheeky Christian website named Ship Of Fools asked readers to vote on the worst verse in the Bible. The solicitation went out—“It could be a verse which is irredeemably naff, mind-numbingly boring, or a verse which you find offensive or cruel. Please send us your nomination.”—And contenders flowed in.

Ship of Fools is the brainchild of two Brits, Simon Jenkens and Stephen Goddard, who met in theology school and who hold among their sacred values a belief in self-examination. "Our aim is to help Christians be self-critical and honest about the failings of Christianity, as we believe honesty can only strengthen faith," says Jenkens. Their list of top 10 worst verses might cause more conservative "Bible-believing" Christians to flinch—or to dive headfirst down a rabbit hole of rationalizations, but at “The Ship” it found a comfortable place nestled between quirky church reviews (“How long was the sermon? How hard the pew? How cold was the coffee? How warm the welcome?) and irreverent “gadgets for God.”

Bible believers are on shaky ground these days, which is growing ever shakier thanks to science (think Cosmos), biblical scholarship, and the internet. Church attendance and belief itself are eroding, at least among young people, at least where people are free and educated, and secularism is on the rise. So, if clear-eyed Christians can take the risk of exposing the Bible’s nasty bits, the converse should also be true—atheists should be able to acknowledge the parts that are timeless and wise.

The Globe and Mail - Ten words to cut from your writing
1. Just.
2. Really.
3. Very.
4. Perhaps/maybe
5. Quite.
6. Amazing
7. Literally
8. Stuff
9. Things.
10. Got.

Another reason why I believe in a Creator.

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