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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Book Review: We Will Be Landing Shortly

Hamel, Landing ShortlyThe full title is We Will Be Landing Shortly: Now What? The front cover plainly identifies it as “the spiritual musings of Mike Hamel.” The author is working through some things and is very transparent about that. His thought process is done on paper and at times he offers more questions than answers.

Mike Hamel has been through a lot, and the effects of tragedy have shaken his faith. He hasn’t lost it but after a lifetime of religious faith and pastoral vocation it doesn’t come as easy as it used to. After surviving three bouts with cancer, cancer treatments, a major car accident and seven surgeries, he was prepared to deal with his own mortality. Then suddenly and without warning his wife of 37 years died of a heart attack… on Thanksgiving Day. One section of the book is a collection of journal entries beginning that day and continuing over the next 12 months. Hamel is a writer’s writer and works through his thought process on paper. I sometimes do the same thing but then he publishes his for the world to read! Continue reading

All Saints Day

all saints Today is All Saints Day, which might not mean much if you are not either Catholic or Episcopalian. The November 1st date of All Saints is why Halloween was last night, and the reason Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg on October 31st – he knew that practically every person would see it the next day as they attended mass to celebrate All Saints.

Whatever you may have heard about Halloween being the celebration of Satan’s birthday (a created being that was not born) the origins are uniquely Christian, whereas the celebrations of Easter and Christmas are actually pagan but that’s another story. Richard Donohue, vicar of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Birmingham, offers the clearest explanation of Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day I have ever read, including bits on the Book of the Dead and the Latin American tradition of “day of the dead” as well.

“All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are related, but they are two separate celebrations,” Donohoe said. “On All Saints’ Day there’s a call to live as saints, to remind us how we’re supposed to live. On All Souls’ Day, we’re talking about all souls and asking God’s mercy for them. We’re talking about those people who have died before us, and their process of getting to heaven, through Christ.”

This article was written by Greg Garrison for AL.com based on his interview with the Rev. Richard Donohue. I highly recommend clicking the link and reading it in full.