2007-01-23 0 comments

For week ending Jan. 27, 2007

Compassionate Conservatives
Study: Religious people give more to charities than secular (Christianity Today)

You're not surprised, are you?

Baptist Megachurch Fires Minister After Probe
A longtime minister of Bellevue Baptist Church was fired weeks after being suspended for what the church called "a moral failure" 17 years ago and after an internal investigation amid allegations of child abuse. (AP, via Christian Post)

Sigh ...

Binge Drinking Common Among Teens
NASHVILLE, Tenn. --The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 69 percent of students who reported binge drinking indulged in the activity on more than one occasion in the past 30 days. (Lifeway.com)

At least I waited until I was 21.

When Not All Publicity Is Good Publicity
Alexandra Pelosi finished her HBO documentary on evangelical America and then her main guide, Ted Haggard, was ruined by a sex scandal. (Newseek, via MSNBC)

You know, it sounds to me like she was probably under conviction via Haggard's witnessing ... then sin goes and ruins it, just as it always does.

Gender and the Pulpit
Workplace difficulties can arise for trangendered persons in nearly all professions, but what about those who are called to work for God? (Newseek, via MSNBC)

No comment.

Beliefwatch: Blasphemy
'Hi my name is Lindy and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and you should too.' (Newsweek, via MSNBC)

I wonder if God will allow someone to go to Hell for stupidity

... The U.S. House of Representatives voted in December to allow debtors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy to tithe. The bill responds to a New York court's August ruling that a 2005 federal bankruptcy reform bill bars middle-income debtors from making charitable contributions. The Senate previously passed the bill, and President Bush is expected to sign it

Check these out ...

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
(Psalm 18:2)

In the interest of liberating anyone out there who may want to kill some time while at work )not that I'm trivializing the content here; it's really, really good stuff ... the second link is downright heart-wrenching), here are a couple of links that are worth your while.

(Oh, before I forget ... I added a daily devotional to the site, which is in the margin to your right, below the links and near the daily scripture. Also, I removed some links in the margin and added a few more Christian bloggers that are worth reading. I'm also planning a few more structural changes like that in the coming days, so y'all come back now, y'hear?)

Five Streams of the Emerging Church

It's been awhile since we broached the subject of the Emerging Church "conversation," so here's another link for those of you who might not be familiar with it, courtesy of Christianity Today magazine and Scot McKnight, who has emerged (get it? get it? Oh, nevermind) as one of the leading evangelical experts on the Emerging Church phenomenon.

Sarah McLachlan -- "World on Fire" music video

I tried to just post the video itself so you wouldn't have to navigate away from this page, but couldn't do it. Watch it ... pretty powerful stuff.


2007-01-20 0 comments

The Digital Church

From where I sit right now, at this very moment, I'm surrounded by modern technology.

On the desk in front of me are two MP3 players, a digital camera and a positively Neanderthalian calculator. To my right is a portable DVD player sitting atop a device that could, at any moment I wish and with a push of a button, print out these very words on a piece of paper. My printer is also a scanner and copier, if that's your thing.

I have a hand-held alarm clock right here that gives the time in London, Beirut and Osaka simultaneously. A video camera. A cellular telephone.

Oh, there are these things called books surrounding me here in my little home office, to be sure. But the information contained in them is far more easily accessed by an Internet search engine -- also available in the flashest of flashes.

I could "Google" something right now. In fact, I just did -- for the heck of it and just 'cause I could, you understand. There are 40,300 entries for the query "pepperjack cheese," in case you're wondering.

I'm nearly a year into the MP3 player revolution -- details here -- and I couldn't be more happy with it all. I was reluctant at first, if only because it's one of those "everyone is doing it" things and I am naturally suspicious of trends and what-not. Maybe that just means I'm not hip. Oh well.

But what I've discovered is that my MP3 player has become one of the most important tools in my Christian walk. You read that correctly. It's become a tool for worship -- I listen to tons of good contemporary Christian music on it -- and for spiritual instruction. Indeed, I listen to more sermons, teachings and devotionals (via podcasts) than anything else on the little gadget. In many ways, it's revolutionized my devotional life.

By far, there are more podcast downloads of sermons, devotionals, etc. from Mars Hill Church in Seattle than anything else. Indeed, I download PDF files of sermon notes each week, read them and listen to the subsquent sermon on my player. As I was updating some files the other day a thought occurred to me: am I a "virtual" member of Mars Hill Church?

It's an interesting concept to consider, and it highlights the way technology has transformed the Church, i.e., the Body of Christ. For instance, the church in which I grew up has limited technology. If I wanted to listen to sermon I missed, I'd be welcome to ... I'd just have to dig through the tapes of past services. Problem is, I'm not sure I even have anything on which to listen to tapes. That little church doesn't have CDs, let alone MP3s.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that, per se. That church, Bancroft Church of God Mission, is faithful to the mission to which God called it. It faithfully serves those people who attend and the community in which it exists.

It's just that, for that church's generation, the community consists of about 180 regular members and a town of some 300 people in Putnam County, W.Va. For me and my generation, tranformed by modern technology and the information revolution ushered in through new media and the Internet, our community is the world. It's an exciting and terrifying prospect.

In the past week, I've listened to a teaching from Rick Warren (of Saddleback Community Church and "The Purpose Driven Life" fame); a sermon from Bluer Community Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota; a theological roundtable from author Don Miller ("Blue Like Jazz"); several discussions related to Mars Hill's Film and Theology night; and, of course, Mark Driscoll's latest sermon (the first of a series on the Old Testament book of Ruth).

(Oh, by the way, in the interest of full disclosure, Drisoll has been the source of some controversy in the blogosphere lately, speficially about his comments on the Ted Haggard scandal and the role of women in church leadership. The blog that started the whole uproar is here, with follow up entries here, here, here and here. A blog from one of his most vocal critics can be found here.)

In answer to an internal question that sparked my interest, no, I'm not a member of Mars Hill Church. Being a member of a Christian fellowship is just that: it's fellowship. It's more than listening to sermons and studying your Bible. It's a sense of community, and there's no sense of community between me and my MP3 player.

But the issue remains: as technology and interpersonal media continues to shrink our world -- as the theory of six degrees of separation is turned on its ear by MySpace, Internet message boards and Google Earth -- I think we have a moral responsibility to fulfill our mission to the global community and to engage our culture which, like it or not, is a digital, information-seeking society.

It can be scary, yes, and my first response is to move to a cabin somewhere and cook my meals over an open flame. But that's taking a Ted Kaczynski-ish approach, don't you think?

Instead, our role should be to engage the culture head on, and, like Paul in Athens, use it to change the world for Christ.

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner. all rights under copyright reserved)

2007-01-16 0 comments
The Crowd or the Cross

Which do you choose?

Evangelicals United for Darfur

"And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'" - Matthew 25:40

I didn't write what's below. It's taken from Evangelicals for Darfur, a non-profit organization trying to shed some much-needed light on what is one of the greatest humanitarian crises in African history -- and that's saying a lot.

Anyway, I hope you'll take a moment to visit the website listed below and consider ways you can help. There are a number of ideas on the website on how to get involved. I think all of us -- Christians and nonChristians alike -- share a moral responsibility to speak out when people are suffering. The war in Iraq has diverted a lot of attention away from the Sudanese crisis, and it's up to all of us to recognize there's more to the world's problems than what you see on CNN every day.

I hope you'll take a small piece of action at least by sending an e-mail to your legislator or the White House to signal that it's time for urgent action. Sure, you'll get a form letter back, but the more e-mails the White House and Congress get, the more serious they'll take this crisis.

So, without further ado, here's the lowdown:

Evangelical Christians are uniting in an urgent effort to bring an immediate end to the genocide in Darfur.
In recent weeks, evangelical leaders have discovered profound unity on this crisis. Believing that God was calling them to act, a number of those leaders began talking about how evangelical Christians could respond together to this call. Those conversations led to the creation of Evangelicals for Darfur, a campaign that brings together media, web, and grassroots advocacy to call for an end to the senseless suffering in Darfur.
A broad and diverse group of evangelical leaders were eager to participate in this project. The leaders signed onto ads that are currently running in the nation's major newspapers calling on our nation's political leaders to boldly lead the effort to stop the suffering. As evangelical Christians, we now have the chance to add our voices to this important message.
I hope you'll visit
www.evangelicalsfordarfur.org and decide to join in this urgent effort. I am deeply encouraged by the broad spectrum of Christians who are speaking out together on this issue. For in matters of life and death, there is no left or right, there is only right and wrong. Together we can help make a life-saving difference for our brothers and sisters in Darfur.
here to learn more and to add your voice to this campaign.
2007-01-15 0 comments

Still here ...

I hereby offer you, whoever YOU may be -- family member (most likely), person bored at work and surfing the Internet who stumbled across a random blog (quite possibly), etc. -- the most important link you'll ever find on this humble blog.

Curious? Click here ...

I'm just back from a blog break (after taking courses in alliterative prose ... just kidding). Holidays, tons of work-related travel (and more to come, unfortunately) and just a general lack of inspiration has conspired to keep me from writing lately.

Anyway, I've got a few things on my Stegosaurus-sized brain and, because of the premium on room up there, it's best I get rid of it. I'll be doing so in the next few weeks, and I hope you'll enjoy it.

In the meantime, check this out.

Oh, real quick: did you know that God loves you? Sounds silly, maybe, and certainly Pollyanna-ish. It also happens to be true.

Want proof? Click here.