Opinion: Rebuilding Notre Dame

Screenshot 2019-04-17 at 10.34.18 AMHopefully the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral is not news to anyone. I don’t try to cover breaking news and share you heard it hear first stories because many times the first things you hear are wrong. Now that everyone has had a chance to hear and digest the facts, and many people have shared their opinion, I would like to reflect on a few things.

1) I think it’s good that this story matters to people. The people of Paris immediately announced they would rebuild. Salma Hayek and her billionaire husband have famously pledged $113 million toward the restoration effort and that’s just for starters. Media outlets continue to report the story and new developments in the story. Even as the world becomes increasingly secularized, and considering that Europe perhaps France in particular is leading the way, we recognize that a place of faith is important.

2) There are not any trees in France large enough to replace the roof of the cathedral. Looking up toward the ceiling was like looking at a forest. The fact that some of those timbers were 850 years old had a lot to do with the fact the roof went up like a box of matches. The new structure may resemble the design of the original but will likely be made of modern materials. Perhaps wooden veneers could emulate the original appearance while hiding steel and modern building materials underneath.

3) Fun fact: Victor Hugo’s classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame has seen a surge of popularity this week on Amazon France. I don’t even know what to make of that fact but… it is interesting.

4) And now my rant, which is really the point I wanted to make in writing this post. As mentioned, announcements to repair and rebuild were made almost immediately. Every social media post you can find on this story with a comment section has detractors. “There are hungry people in the world right now.” “They’re spending millions of dollars on this building while real people need real help.” My question is What have you done lately to help the poor or feed the hungry? If you have not recently given money or given of your time to feed the hungry, then your criticism is hypocritical. There are always people that begrudge the generosity of others while doing nothing themselves. If all you do is identify the problem, without offering a solution, then you are complaining. The word for that is complaining.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8 ESV via Bible Gateway

When Judas complained about the waste of resources that could have been devoted to the poor, Jesus replied that we always have the poor with us. The fact that other people have donated to other charitable causes has not harmed you or interfered with your personal ministry in any way. If you want to help the poor, go help them. If you want to feed the hungry, go feed them. If you want to complain about the work other people are doing while doing none yourself, shut up.

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Why Preach the Gospel?

In my own denomination 75 churches each week close for good. The attrition rate among pastors is staggering. According to LifeWay research (link) it may not be 1,500 a month walking away from the ministry but on average 250 each month do. The culture we live in has changed. Just a generation or two ago a local politician, think city council or school board member, was expected to be active in a local church in order to be considered a member of the community. Church attendance is no longer looked to as a metric and being outspoken about one’s faith may be a strike against a candidate. The rights to religious expression are challenged with increasing frequency, not just in the public arena but in homes and other private property.

So why preach the Gospel? Continue reading

On Preaching: Expository and Topical

preacherIf you’re thinking “Wow, this guy hasn’t written an actual blog post in a while” you’re right. The weekly Happy Monday posts will turn 5 this summer but I spend a lot more time now on social media (lots of Facebook, little bit of Twitter) than I do blogging. I’m pastoring a church and maintaining the church website, hopefully some readers are following that as well. There is an RSS feed in the left-hand sidebar, most of the posts are Sunday sermons.

The title of this post is not “Expository vs. Topical Preaching.” I’m not doing a straight compare and contrast of the two forms, but kind of hoping you know at least a little something about them. What I want to do is explain why I prefer one to the other without avoiding the other completely. Continue reading

“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”

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Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter

img_20160923_145217Critics of the Creation Museum say that it presents a “pseudoscientific” young earth creationist view of the origins of the earth and universe “even though scientific evidence shows the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Universe about 13.8 billion years old.” I hate taking a side in this fight. My argument is that the age of the earth is one of the least important details one can hope to glean from a study of scripture (and in point of fact the Bible does not say how old the earth is).

I can empathize with Ken Ham’s motives for organizing Answers in Genesis and desiring to build a Creation Museum. As a science  teacher in the 1970’s, Ham would take his students on field trips to places like museums of natural history. While there is much to learn about archeology and anthropology from such a museum visit, evolutionary processes and geologic time scales are accepted as fact without question. Ham moved from Australia to the United States where the population of conservative Christians is much higher and began Answers in Genesis in a small storefront office. The idea of a creationist museum was in the back of his mind for a long time. Continue reading

Separation of Church, State and Twitter

This is a follow up to a post from June 15, 2010. I am pleased to report that Shimkus is still tweeting Bible verses (https://twitter.com/RepShimkus) and his followers have grown to over 15,000! Below is the original post in it’s entirety. Continue reading

Prophetic Words

Screenshot 2016-01-11 at 5.49.38 AMI saw a quote the other day, see if this sounds about right.

“It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.”

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