Thursday, June 19, 2014

All Around the Web - June 19, 2014

Jim Eliff - When Ball Becomes Baal
It’s rare to see kids playing sports in the neighborhood anymore. We’re now organized and “professionalized”—including uniforms, state-of-the-art facilities, endless trips to the field, competitive coaches, equally competitive parents, and the after-season tournaments designed to give parents “bleacher bottom.” In addition, you’ve got to pay to play—and when you’ve paid that much, you’ll be sure to play.

It is also fun, and it can be instructive. I love to watch my kids play sports. In fact, they need to play—some. But, it’s not so easy as handing over seventy bucks and saying, “Sign up Johnny and Susie this year.” Making that decision means that you may be out four to five times each week during the season. Soon sports becomes all about calendarization and control of your life—especially if you have more than one kid. Perhaps nothing outside of a change in your job has so much potential to turn the family schedule upside down.

“This man understands,” you say.

Now comes the part you won’t like: “Behold, I say unto you, you have made sports the household god.” Too strong? OK, not all of you. But the deification of sports is happening to many.

How does ball become Baal? Answer: When it controls you, and you give it devoted worship. It is around your god that you order your life—and you can almost never say “no” to it.

Ed Stetzer - 5 Reasons Established Churches Should Plant Churches
Most people know me I love church planting.

I've done extensive research on the topic, written books about it and even planted churches. In addition to my love for church planting, however, I also love established churches. I'm as passionate about church revitalization as I am about church planting.

While some may see the two as mutually exclusive, I'm most excited about where the two overlap: churches planting churches. Pastors of established churches should be engaged in church planting. Here are five reasons why.

Eric MetaxasFor Such a Time as This
For a long time, Prison Fellowship has believed that the United States incarcerates far too many people at far too high a cost. What's more, that cost does not take into account an important set of victims: the innocent children of offenders.

Well, a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences has come to much the same conclusion.
According to the study, since the 1970s the incarceration rate in the U. S. has more than quadrupled after remaining basically flat the previous fifty years. As the report states, “The growth in incarceration rates in the United States over the past 40 years is historically unprecedented and internationally unique.”

Not surprisingly, this “unprecedented” and “unique” growth came at a great cost. I don’t mean the costs as measured in dollars and cents, although that was considerable. I mean the costs measured in the lives of offenders and, especially, their families.

William Lane Craig - Gospel Authorship - Who Cares? 
Even though I picked your question this week, J.C., I’m actually not going to answer it. Sometimes it’s more important to explain to a person that he’s asking the wrong question than to answer his question. By helping him to see what the crucial questions are, we can avoid distractions and chasing down rabbit trails.

Your question is like that. The assumption behind the question seems to be that the authorship of the New Testament documents is somehow crucial to regarding them as credible historical sources for the life of Jesus. Such an assumption is quite out of touch with contemporary historical criticism of the New Testament. I doubt that any historical Jesus scholar thinks that successfully identifying the authors of the various documents collected into the New Testament is crucial to their serving as credible historical sources for events or sayings from Jesus.

For that reason, I think that you’ve seriously misread Bart Ehrman in taking his central claim to be that the Gospels were not written by their traditionally received authors. (J.C., characterizing uncertainty about the Gospels’ authorship as “forgery” also betrays misunderstanding. If, as you point out, the original Gospels carried no authors’ names, then they cannot be forgeries, for they make no claims about the names of their authors! Your concern, rather, is that the Gospels are anonymous, and the names of Matthew, Mark, and so on have only later come to be associated with them.) Ehrman recognizes that we can glean a lot of historical information about Jesus from the four Gospels (not to mention Paul’s letters), even if we do not know who wrote them. Indeed, until recently, despite his uncertainty about the Gospels’ authorship, Ehrman accepted the historicity of the central facts undergirding the inference to Jesus’ resurrection, namely, his burial by Joseph of Arimathea, the discovery of his empty tomb by a group of his female disciples, his post-mortem appearances, and the original disciples’ coming to believe that God had raised him from the dead. Ehrman’s recent backpedaling about some of these facts is not due to his uncertainty about the Gospels’ authorship but to other factors.

Scribble Preach - 12 Things TEDx Speakers do that Preachers Don’t
That said, here are 12 things TEDx speakers do that preachers usually don’t:
1. Present one great idea. “An idea isn’t just a story or a list of facts. A good idea takes evidence or observations and draws a larger conclusion.” Of course TEDx talkers often have multiple points, but they always have direction: they’re always moving forward to a set conclusion (and that’s all big idea preaching is, for all the flack it gets). They also suggest to the speaker: “Get your idea out as quickly as possible”.

4. Put time into visuals. “Note anything in your outline that is best expressed visually and plan accordingly in your script.” In the section regarding the question, “What goes in my slides?” the guide states: “Images and photos: to help the audience remember a person, place or thing you mention, you might use images or photos…Use as little text as possible – if your audience is reading, they are not listening. Avoid using bullet points. Consider putting different points on different slides.” We might not have time every week to come up with captivating visuals, but check out some websites like - you’d be surprised how quickly you can put together an amazing presentation.
. . . 
6. Stay away from notes. “TED discourages long talks, podiums or readings”. This isn’t for everybody – but it’s certainly worth noting that according to the best speakers in the world, notes are considered to be a thing of the past.7. Avoid industry jargon. Christianese, anyone? “Don’t use too much jargon, or explain new terminology…Spend more time on new information: If your audience needs to be reminded of old or common information, be brief.”
8. Draw people into caring. “Start by making your audience care, using a relatable example or an intriguing idea…Draw your audience in with something they care about. If it’s a field they never think about, start off by invoking something they do think about a lot and relate that concept to your idea.” How often do we assume that everyone sitting in the congregation is as interested in our text as we are?

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