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.
If 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 but hate the sin, or as Gandhi wrote in his autobiography “hate the sin and not the sinner.” It has become an overused and sometimes debated cliche but where did it come from? According to Fr. Vincent Serpa at Catholic Answers it was Saint Augustine. In 424 he wrote Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly to “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” But a common response these days is that Christ never said those words or that it’s not in the Bible. That response is the topic I wish to take up.
There is no single verse of scripture that we can site by chapter and verse number that says love the sinner, hate the sin. You will also not find the word trinity in the Bible yet most Christians believe in it. We use the word trinity to describe the triune nature of God who manifests himself in three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no verse of scripture that says abortion is morally wrong but when seeking the counsel of God’s Word we find many references to the value of human life, that we are made in God’s image, and commandments to not commit murder. The Bible does not say, in so many words, to not look at internet porn but imagine someone arguing with their pastor or Sunday School teacher that it’s okay because the Bible doesn’t say anything about it.
Critics 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 →
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 →
I 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.”
The 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 →