Showing posts from 2015

Obnoxious discernment bloggers of the 17th century

" Around 1650,   an English theologian, Professor Dannhauer, wrote   "amongst the other absurdities which men are often more busied at Christmas than with the word of God, there is the Christmas or fir tree which they erect in their houses, hang with dolls and sweetmeats, and then shake it and cause it to shed its 'flowers'-- it is a children's game. Far better were it to lead the children to the spiritual cedar, Christ Jesus". "

Great teaching on the book of James

Listening to The Ray Edwards Show – How to Start, Run, and Grow Your Own Internet Based Business | Copywriter | Copywriting | Direct Response | Marketing Consultant | Communications Strategist (#194: 5 Unconventional Times To Practice Thankfulness): How The Attitude Of Gratitude Makes You Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise Maybe you've heard: giving thanks makes you feel happier and more fulfilled. There are at least 7 scientifically proven benefits to practicing the "attitude of gratitude". And right now, as we enter the Thanksgiving Holiday season, the media is filled with heartwarming stories of all we should be thankful for. Today, I'm going to suggest you be thankful for the bad stuff.  The challenges. The tragedies. The pain. In today's show, we'll discover: The shocking truth about suicide rates during the holidays. The 3 dangers of "counting your blessings". The 7 scientifically proven benefits of

Widows and orphans

I just realized something interesting. The Bible talks a lot about providing for widows and orphans. That's not the interesting part. The interesting part is that those two categories of people, by definition, did nothing to bring about the circumstances that now make them a powerless. Unless you're the murderer, you didn't do anything to make your husband or parents die and leave you alone.

What are ears itching to hear?

There's an interesting passing reference to "tickling ears" in this podcast.  I think they're 100% right: Church funding is treated as "payment for services rendered" and right now in the United States the wealthiest donors are the politically conservative ones whose metaphorical ears are proverbially tickled by a politically conservative agenda. This is Radio Cast with Jay Bakker (Ryan Meeks: On losing his congregation): Ryan Meeks, a pastor at a megachurch outside of Seattle, talks to Jay about reconciling his Christian faith with his belief in LGBTQ rights, and the price he paid for going public.   [Music excerpts from This is Radio Clash by The Clash]

Top tier front line

My inept coffee ordering skills at Starbucks prove their wisdom of putting their very best people to take the order at the drive-through. Anybody can execute the task of dumping three raw sugars into a Venti Pike's Place. But it took skill to know that's what I meant when I ordered a large medium roast with heavy sugar. I'm not sure the tradition of putting your entry-level workers as tier one phone support, which is something ITIL supports, is a wise one.

What's a "retreat" or a "getaway"

Is it possible to have a "get away on vacation" feeling without leaving town? What are the critical elements? This article might hold some of the keys.  I know (think?) I did an Ericast on the topic a couple years ago; maybe it's time to revisit that... Instead of heading to the lake, try an 'urban cabin' getaway By Kelcie McKenney Mike and Mickey Webb of Carver relax in their Lowertown, St. Paul condo, which they use as a weekend home, October 25, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi) Mike and Mickey Webb, like many Twin Citians, own their primary home in the western suburbs and a second home as their retreat. But instead of heading north on the weekends, the Webbs head east to their "urban cabin" in Lowertown. "We'd rather drive to St. Paul than drive four hours to rake leaves," Mike Webb said. Minnesota Wild se

Rural ministry and "kids these days"

How has rural ministry changed since the time when Ronald Korfmacher wrote this book? > Carleton Smee on Instagram: "Thanks to Pr. Ike for the good book on rural ministry. #doingchurch #gettingcloser" > >

Auditory Ambiance

Why would a retreat center or bookstore/coffeeshop on a radio to a standard over-the-air station? Because it's the cheapest way to ambience: (If I could mark a blog post with a "low priority" flag, I would for this one...)

The concept of urban retreats This is an idea worth exploring -- the concept of reflecting in community, whether or not it takes place in particular house. (By the way, I'm going to be "pivoting" this blog a bit to cover the "learning in community" ideas like this. Which I guess isn't much of a pivot from some perspectives, but it seems like it to me.)

Communion elements

Despite having been steeped in Christian doctrine for more than 20 years, I’d never heard the distinction (and a fairly radical one, I’d say) between body/blood in Communion until it was mentioned recently at River Valley Church (in Apple Valley, Minnesota – for my non-local readers).  A bit of Googling led me to this from Joseph Prince (who, I’m sure, raises red flags with someone somewhere…): “ At the cross, God also took all our sicknesses and diseases and put them on Jesus’ originally perfect and healthy body, so that we can walk in divine health. That is why the Bible says by His stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24). “ In Luke 22:20, Jesus tells us that the cup is the “new covenant in My blood”, and the apostle Paul tells us that the blood of Jesus brings forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14, Ephesians 1:7).   … “ Today, when we partake of the bread, we are de

What is prayer?

"Prayer is ripping open your rib cage so your heart can breathe." From The RobCast (Episode 46 | The Futility and the Fire):

Church culture

"In a church culture, it's OK to talk about what you struggled with and overcame.  It's not OK to talk about what you're struggling with and are overcoming." #truth Listening to Mental Mastery Mondays | Life Purpose, Productivity, and Self-Discipline (Let's Get Naked So We Can Get Better - Ep. 159): When we're emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically naked, we're forced to be honest and real with ourselves. When this happens, we can't hide behind something we may normally use to cover them up.  Four Ways to Cover Up Oftentimes we employ various strategies or justifications for keeping ourselves "covered-up" so we don't have to deal with the truth of our nakedness.  I've diluted these down to 4 general areas: Making excuses for our imperfections Blaming others for our shortcomings Feeling Threatened by other's

The reason the world has become less and less interested in your “faith based anything.”

From Momastery: I'm going to break my own rule to answer this question, which came to me for the fourth time this am: G: You've been silent about Trump and Kim Davis. Are you going to weigh in? No. This might sound harsh, so be it-  I'll apologize later.  If you are a person spending any minutes discussing your "faith-based anti-gay marriage" stance while terrified babies are slipping out of their desperate parents' arms and into churning, deep, dark waters never to be seen again . . .  well, you're looking at the reason the world has become less and less interested in your "faith based anything."  Entering into relief work with the refugees = hard. Complaining about gay people getting married= easy. Stop choosing the easy thing and pretending that "defending God" is your cross to bear. God didn't ask you to defend God. God is bigger than you and doesn't

The return of pharisaism

Rouse bends over backwards to insist he's not being legalistic, while being exactly that. Christ's name is tarnished far more often in very real ways by his self-professed followers insisting that obedience to Him is defined by "avoiding sin" than it is by a theoretical alcoholic seeing theoretical alcohol consumption and somehow blaming his alcohol issues on Jesus.  That doesn't happen. But misled seekers dismissing Christianity as a holier-than-thou country club of hypocrites who avoid "the appearance of sin" in public so that they look good (and then "exercise their freedom" in private)? That's what followers of Christ should be fighting today, not with mere words but with actions that demonstrate honesty, authenticity and integrity. A Caution For Every Christian That Drinks Alcohol | Nathan Rouse " The often overlooked sin that

Abortion rights

I disagree (because I have a "universal life ethic" and believe that a mature society should see that all humans have an intrinsic right to life), but I found a pretty good summary of the pro-choice position via a Facebook comment to a Dennis Prager video on James Armstead "Another problem I had was the collating and commingling of value and rights. Fetuses have value - even aborted ones, for research - but they don't have rights. See, rights begin where another's ends. That's pretty much the definition. Well, being inside another person doesn't afford the parasite any rights - there is too much co-mingling. Thus, we grant the mother all the rights, which she can extend to the fetus (and sue for damages if it is harmed) or deny (and thus abort)." 

Men's ministry growth?

"Women join stuff; man attend things."is Chris LoCurto right and, if so, what does that mean for men's ministry? How does this relate to the Man in the Mirror model? Chris LoCurto: Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, LifePlan, Blogger (143: Savannah Flynn On Social Media): Facebook has 1.5 billion people actively on it. There are already 30 million business pages on Facebook. It has the most evenly distributed demographic, which means you're going to find almost as many 50-year olds on Facebook as you are 20-year olds. Social media is networking online. It just takes a little longer to build that rapport and to build that trust and the relationship. So what if your business could get .1% of those people interested in what you are doing? You've increased your reach in your customer base by a thousand times!! Today, on the show, we are talking about social

More spiritually-themed lyrics...

Speaking of spiritual reflection, I still like the dark contemplation in Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Dark: (No, it's very definitely not a Christian worldview...)

Eric M. Larson thought you would be interested in this song

Pandora is a free music service that helps you listen to and discover new music. I always appreciate a religious reflection in a song. @respektor #pandora Enjoy!

Shaking your fists...

"If you've ever shaken your fists, like skinny little antennas, at the heavens..." The RobCast (Episode 25 | The Sheeeeet Factor):

When changes comes to a church...

This is a 'problem to solve,' not a 'martyrdom to have.'

Similar thoughts...

It sounds like Tony Campolo is pondering the same foundational questions that I am....?  Listening to The Phil Vischer Podcast (Episode 158: The Same-Sex Marriage Debate): What do Franklin Graham, Tony Campolo, Tim Keller and the nation of Ireland have in common? They've all taken bold stands on same-sex marriage in the last month. From wholeheartedly embrace to all-out boycott, Phil and the gang talk through wildly varied responses to the same question.

This morning's insights from a friend...

It's not the church's job to heal people of whatever fractures are in their life. We don't have to be healed before we can seek communion together. There's an interesting metaphor of Communion as the "breaking of bread" vs. the prepackaged individualized oyster cracker that the church hands to you perfect and intact until you break it by your own action of crunching it in your mouth. Blessing marriage vs blessing families. In coming to Christ you will be asked to change in some ways (by the Holy Spirit, not by pharisaical rules). Why. To better archive the command to "love your neighbor" - that's the "end" of the change you.l be called to. Is "being confronted with with the definition of marriage" really your gay neighbor's greatest need. Invite! Extend hospitality. Book reference for the to-read list: Scot McKnight, Story of God: Sermon on the Mount

Biblical sexual morality?

Question: how should today's church deal with unrepentant members who have remarried after a non-adulterous divorce? Jesus very clearly says that those individuals are committing adultery now, and Paul very clearly says that adulterers won't inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet these people expect their marriages to be tolerated (and sometimes even celebrated) by the church. How can we "love the sinner, hate the sin" for these people who often don't even acknowledge their sinful lifestyle?

Where to meet?

Brainstorming for friend: what are options for having a weekly Wednesday evening class of 30 (or more) adults? I have so far: Churches Hotels (paid) Restaurants. City or county parks (paid - e.g. Eagan has a couple classroom-type spaces affiliated with parks) Schools (not sure if they're open in the summer) Medical-type clinics (e.g. I went to a River Valley morning men's group that met at a member's chiropractic office before they opened) Corporate office (e.g. a bank's boardroom or lobby after hours.) Furniture store (plenty of seating but it's poorly arranged by default) Free covered parking ramp; you could "tailgate" there in inclement weather. Nearby open parking lot; you could "tailgate" there in good weather. (Bugs probably aren't too bad in the wide-open paved area?) The new Total Wine store in Burnsville has a really nice classroom for wine-tasting classes; if they weren't holding a Wednesday night class, they might

Eric M. Larson thought you would be interested in this song

Pandora is a free music service that helps you listen to and discover new music. Never heard this one until #pandora popped it up. Enjoy!

Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of the Man Who Dared to See

An Evangelical Case for Gay Wedding Cakes "Consider the story in 2 Kings 5 of God's kindness to Naaman, a foreigner suffering from leprosy. After being healed Naaman devoted himself entirely to Israel's God and vowed to worship no other. There remained one problem. Naaman was a servant of the King of Syria who worshiped another deity. Being old and weak, the King needed Naaman's help kneeling during worship. Naaman asked the Lord, through Elisha, to excuse him for this action. Elisha responded, "Go in peace." Naaman was not told to refuse service to his master, or to not enter the "house of Rimmon" the foreign deity. Instead God permitted Naaman to continue serving the Syrian king and to even kneel before the idol because he understood that Naaman's loyalty belonged to the Lord."

From Transformed You with Mark & Melissa DeJesus (#054: Developing a Strategy for Overcoming [Podcast])

"Any season where you feel like you're in waiting, that is your time to process out your Gift and who you are."

What need you believe?

Matt Walsh: "Demons exist. Evil forces are at work in our world. This is a fact. As a Christian, you have to believe this or you are not a Christian. To deny it is to deny Scripture and to deny Christ's saving work on the Cross. Demons are real. Possession is real. It's scary, it's horrible, it's terrifying, but it's the reality." Hmmm...

Shake the dust from your feet?

"Keep away from angry, short-tempered men, lest you learn to be like them and endanger your soul."  Proverbs 22:24-25 (TLB)

Is Sanctification progressive?

Having encountered 1 Corinthians 6:11 anew, where it seems to frame sanctification as a completed act, I did some Googling and found these references:

Tim Storey on how God speaks

From ...There are different ways that God speaks. One is through the Inner Witness, where you feel like, "Man, I think I want to be a pilot." It's an inner witness. The other way He speaks is through Circumstances. He does things through circumstances; things shift. God closes "a" door to open up The door. So, one is Inner Witness; two is Circumstances; three is through the Word of God, where you can be reading something and it bears Witness with you, and you go, "Wow! Look at what happened! Abraham walked by faith: he went into a land that he knew not of. That's what I'm doing! But here's a way where most people miss it: God speaks through the Multitude of Counselors. It's important to put the right people around you, where you can weigh out your next move. I do it; I've got to do it. I've got so much coming at me at this point in my life that's positive, I need to weigh it o

A theological quibble with lyrics

Today's evangelicals will know the song by Paul Baloche – The Same Love.  The chorus: The same God that spread the heavens wide The same God that was crucified Is calling us all by name One issue: The Judeo-Christian God, is a "Who", not a "that" (or even a "That".) It might not be a unique understanding, but it's a pretty foundational one.

Transactions vs Trust

Listening to The RobCast (Episode 14 | You Are Always With Me And Everything I Have Is Yours):

God has longings

This episode contains an excellent summary of the biblical fact that God has longings and sorrows and truly does wish for us to engage freely in his redemptive plan. To deny that is to say that the Biblical account of Christ's passion week is incorrect, or that Jesus was some sort of odd chimera who wasn't truly suffering and didn't truly mean what he said. There are many people argue those things, but that's certainly not an evangelical perspective.  Which is why I find it frustrating when I hear evangelicals express one or the other or sometimes both in contradiction.  John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart (Audio) (Easter. Really. Day 5: Thursday): A special eight-part series where John Eldredge takes you into Jesus' internal world - from Palm Sunday to the empty tomb.

What's "extra"?

Pick your distinct denomination (Catholicism, LDS, Adventist) that has a set of unique doctrines in addition to yours. Are those doctrines simply superfluous and unnecessary, or are they a detrimental undermining that contradict the true Gospel? How do you tell? How/should do you maintain fellowship with those individuals? With those churches?

RIP Rifr

You know how life has those "I should do that someday..." moments?  For years I've had "check out Rifr" on my to-do list.  But now it's gone.  It was cool, I think.  I would know, had I checked it out...

Finding missing persons...

Now that the latest missing teen in my circle of friends has been found, I've removed the original text from my Facebook search post, because effective social-media calls end up accidentally lasting longer than necessary and that just confuses things.  But, in the process, I lost this text and I want to repost it because it's an important glimpse of my heart on the issue:    "Odds are she's safe of her own free will, but a family's love doesn't play the odds and neither does the law when it comes to minors.  And if she's not safe, time is of the essence.  Let's get her found, then hash out the questions and family dynamics later."   And I stand by that.  When kids go missing (and adults too, but primarily with teens), particularly girls, there's this weird social undercurrent of "she probably just ran away, looking to gain attention with some drama." Maybe, I suppose.  Maybe not.  It doesn't matter. The odds of really

Freedom, complexity, and inclusion

"Each new stage of growth always brings with it greater freedom, greater complexity, and greater inclusion." Sounds good, and sounds intuitively correct. Is it true? Could you replace greater inclusion with greater differentiation or greater discernment, which could then be read as a contradiction against inclusion? The RobCast (Episode 6 | Listener Questions):

Who's not against you?

I find this verse fascinating. It's the exact opposite of what we usually think... "Master," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

The world of backlinks and SEO

One common theme of mine is automation -- not " home automation " where robots wash your dishes, but a way of automating conversation, research, personal engagements.  Things where you, a real live person, can be more efficient or effective because a computer does some basic or simple or repetitive task for you. In that vein, I discovered Zemanta awhile back, which was (is?) a tool for automatically finding related stuff based on what you write in a blog post. Which I think is pretty cool!  I've got it out at for the Story of America card project (which hasn't seen any action in ages, by the way) Anyway, I didn't give it much thought, until I found this email way down deep in my archive: ---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Link Removal Date: Sun, Oct 26, 2014 at 7:20 PM Subject: I thought you'd want to know... To: [my website feedback address] Hi, I am working with I wanted to thank you for linking

Inspiration from Stacey Martino

I rarely re-blog podcast notes but I'm driven to as I'm listening to Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod: Success | Productivity | Personal Development | Lifestyle | Business (#57: It's Time to Get Intimate with Your Goals | An Interview with Stacey Martino):   "The quality of our life at any moment can be related to the quality of our relationships." Tweet This Stacey Martino is here this week to share her tips for empowering you to finally attain the unshakeable love and unleashed passion that you desire. A certified marriage educator and divorce-preventionist, Stacey is a relationship expert whose methods for achieving extraordinary goals have been featured in YourTango , Bloomberg News, Yahoo! News, QVC, and Aspire magazine.   "It only takes one partner to transform a relationship" Tweet This Over the course of fourteen years, she


The Judeo-Christian understanding of the world declares 1) the universe and everything in it was created in an intelligible way by a God who can be glimpsed as we understand His creation, and 2) the world is fallen and corrupt and doesn't run according to God's perfect plan. Thus, we have science -- seeking (and succeeding) to understand God's creation, and failing when it thinks it can understand it completely and replace the "myth of a creator" with itself. To grow, we need to remember that discovering causes of problems doesn't imply moral culpability. The established fact that Tylenol's glutathione depletion is an autism trigger in susceptible individuals won't be socially accepted for decades, because many parents falsely believe that accepting such a fact means it's their "fault" their child has a condition. Nothing could be further from the truth. (Culpability is a consideration only when people choose to stay ignorant of their al

Ignorance of the law

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse," perhaps, but there's also an obligation to teach the law. And teaching requires understanding on the part of the learner.   (Maybe that's why I'm excited for opportunities like the ATLAS app -- -- which moves society into the context of voluntarily obeying mutually agreed-upon laws, rather than a police state attempting to entrap citizens for its own profit.  Not that any jurisdiction would ever do something like, oh, I don't know, set up speed traps to do something like that...) Anyway, I wonder what the application is in a Christian context – Jesus coming to teach and fulfill the Law, not to abolish it, but to show us that the Law is a indicator of God's holiness, not the be-all/end-all book of rules that need to be perfectly obeyed to the letter. And, again, not that the Law is irrelevant, but that it's impossible to perfectly obey. And that's what God would expect if we

Reflecting on technology

Right now I'm wondering why it is that I feel better about technology and higher education – or technology in general. Is it truly better than it was 10 or 15 years ago? Do I have a better perspective thanks to age or maturity? Or am I just too tired to be critical anymore? I am kidding on that last one. I think. But, overall, I have a feeling of, "the pieces are falling into place." Do you agree?

Are you a New Testament Christian?

‭I get disappointed with Christians who cherry-pick verses out of the Old Testament and form theology (or politics) around them. "It's in the Bible!" and "It's the same Scripture that Jesus taught!" is their excuse that ends the discussion.  The truth is, the conversation just begins there. Here's a great example. "I know that what I'm asserting sounds contradictory to everything we know that Jesus taught, but 'Who can understand the mind of God?' It says that right in Isaiah 40!"  Yes, it does. And the Apostle Paul tells Christians what that means to us today: 1 Corinthians‬ ‭2‬:‭16‬ ESV ""For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ." See it at :

Bold vs. Presumptuous

‭I've always felt bad for the king here: how did he know he was supposed to strike five or six times? Why not three? Why not thirty? Wouldn't it have been just as likely that, like being struck down for reaching out to steady the Ark, Elisha could've been upset that the king struck too many times and didn't "put his faith in God"? 2 Kings‬ ‭13‬:‭18-19‬ ESV "And he said, "Take the arrows," and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground with them." And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times."" See it at :