Wednesday, July 16, 2014

All Around the Web - July 16, 2014

Blogizomai - "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 1
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 2
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 3
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 6
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 7
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 8
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 9
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 10-11
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 12
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 13
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 14
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 15
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 16
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 17
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 18
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Final Thoughts 
Resources on "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses"

Russell Moore - The Road to Jericho and the Border Crisis
America’s southern border is engulfed in a humanitarian crisis, as refugees fleeing violence in central America, many of them unaccompanied children, seek safety. As Christians, we must recognize both the complexity of this situation and what it means to be people of justice and mercy.

I say that the situation is complex because some Christians would like a simple fix. Some would, it seems, like to hear that some organized mission trips to the border would alleviate the crisis here. This ignores the depths of the problem.

There is good work caring for human need at the border, much of it by Christians, but until the United States government steps in to solve the presenting problem, the crisis will go on.
Some would suggest that the border crisis should make us more fearful of immigration and of immigrants. This shows us, they would say, that the border is porous and any reform of our immigration system would lead to more children in harm’s way.

But, as the New York Times pointed out, these children (and their mothers) fleeing from Central America is a very different problem from that of Mexican migrants seeking work and opportunity. The problem is more akin to the situations we’ve seen on the African continent, with warlords dealing in human trafficking. These children and families are fleeing a drug war exploding in violence all around them.

Scribble Preach - An Open Letter to “Gospel-Centered” Preachers.
We hear a lot these days about seeing Christ in all of Scripture: “If you preach a sermon to which a Muslim or a Jew could politely nod their heads, you aren’t preaching a Christian sermon.” It’s a point well taken – too often, our preaching in America can be simply oiling the grease of the idol factories that are our hearts. I agree. In fact, a few weeks ago I was listening to a wildly popular preacher encouraging his congregation to use their spiritual gifts to serve people, because that would win them respect with others.

I have a difficult time seeing how this isn’t promoting a religion that encourages us to “do everything to be seen by others”. It’s biblical lubricant for Pharisaism.

So yes, I get it. Motivate people with the gospel, not with pragmatics (NOTE: Okay, so admittedly the Bible does motivate us with pragmatics at times. It’s just not the overarching focus. And it’s certainly not the exclusive focus, as it was in the sermon I heard. And the one after. And the one after.) We want people to exchange their idols for Jesus, not use his “principles” as a mechanical claw for selfish ambition.

But there’s another side to the story.

Canon and Culture - Balancing Justice and Mercy in Immigration Reform
Immigration reform is one of the most incendiary topics in U.S. politics right now and, like many debates on the American stage, the argument is being waged largely as a battle between political conservatism and liberalism. Regretfully, for some conservative pundits, the major concern involved in a debate about gaining citizenship for illegal immigrants is which party would earn the votes of the immigrants once they become citizens. Such political concerns may be wise gamesmanship, but as Christians we are called to seek the good of “our neighbor” more primarily than seeking the good of “our party.”

The Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions in 2006 and 2011 in an attempt to influence immigration policy in a way that would reflect Christian love and wisdom. Both resolutions acknowledge that the real problem of illegal immigration is to secure the nation’s borders and enforce employment laws. In addition to these security measures, however, the resolutions call for restoration and reconciliation, and express hope for a path to legitimacy for immigrants. In 2011, Richard Land and Barrett Duke of the ERLC published an article in the Regent Journal of Law and Public Policy laying out the biblical support for the call for immigration reform. These statements are worthy of reading in their entirety.

Americans are faced with the choice between a simplistic and reactionary solution which would undermine Christian wisdom and love, and a more complex and constructive solution which upholds wisdom and love while at the same time being more difficult to implement. On the one hand, the simplistic solution to a complex problem is to argue that undocumented immigrants broke the law and should be sent back to where they came from. But this approach would have significant and deleterious repercussions for immigrants and their children.

Pastors Today - Reaching Men From The Pulpit
In Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow offers some suggestions to pastors to restore the masculine spirit to the church.
  1. Pastors should be masculine, strong, and resolute. Men disrespect other guys who are “overly verbal, expressive, or sensitive.” Pastors must work to overcome the stereotype of femininity that surrounds the ministry.
  2. Men appreciate certitude and conviction. Are you standing firm on the Word of God and in the direction God has given you? Oprah invites people for conversations; Army generals give orders and expect them to be followed.
  3. Men like pastors who have the trappings of manhood. Find out what the men in your context do and appreciate and be involved in those things.
  4. Men want a pastor who is a regular guy. Speak openly about your struggles and your victories. Hebrews tells us that Even Jesus was tempted as we are, and the pastor is no different.
  5. Avoid preacher-speak. I have people who call me to account when my preaching voice becomes very different from my speaking voice. Our message appears fake to men when speak different in the pulpit than in the street.

Tony Morgan - Top 10 Findings About Church Communications
1. Smaller churches (1-499 attendees) have significantly higher levels of social media engagement on all major platforms.
2. Churches are most engaging on Facebook.
3.Study resources are one of the least offered components online.
4. More churches communicate their beliefs than their vision online.
5. Smaller churches (1-499 attendees) engage more volunteers per capita in the area of communications.
6. Larger churches (500+ attendees) keep communications more focused on church-wide programs than individual ministries.
7. The average church bulletin includes 7 announcements. (In our experience, that is too many to be effective.)
8. The average church service includes over 4 stage announcements. (In our experience, 1-2 is most effective.)
9. Most churches do not have a style guide to communicate with consistency.
10. Nearly half of churches with a style guide do not use it consistently.

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