Twitter reveals top 100 Lenten sacrifices

In case you were still working on what you are giving up or for Lent, Christianity Today reports top 100 choices according to Twitter:

With about 5,000 tweets analyzed, the new hot topics so far this year are: “Netflix,” “Flappy Bird,” and “Getting an Oscar.” “Social Networking” is currently way out in front, with twice as many tweets as perennial favorites “Swearing” and “Alcohol.” (Last year, Social Networking came in at #4.)

Here is Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info’s running list of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2014, followed by top categories:

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Proof being a pastor is a tough job

pastor

As the pastor, I’m shaking hands with church goers after worship one Sunday, I talk with a congregant about meeting him during the week. His reply?

“I thought pastors only worked one day a week!”

Truth be told, we full-time (and part-time pastors) do not work one day a week. I work anywhere between 35 and 75 hours a week. My congregation expects a full-time, ordained, college educated, graduate school 90-credit hour trained, and spiritual pastor to lead the congregation. And so, I provide that. However, there are unspoken and unwritten expectations:  my wife and children share in the full life of the congregation, I give 10% (and more) of my income to church, I’m available 24/7, be an excellent preacher, sound teacher, be a chaplain, be a theologian, providing counseling, give financial leadership,  bring people to church, and sometimes even clean up a mess in a common area.

If you ask me or my colleagues, it’s tough being a pastor.

If you think I’m just complaining and think I have cushy job, don’t take my word for it. Take Forbes Magazine’s top 9 toughest leadership roles into consideration:

  • #9: CEO, lots of pressure for profit
  • #8: Congressman/Congresswoman, everyone (sometimes including your mother) hates you
  • #7: Newspaper editor, sorry that your job is almost extinct
  • #6: Mayor, “Unlike most politicians, you actually have to make sure that garbage gets collected, snow gets shoveled, and things get done.”
  • #5: Pastor/minister

Other than #1 on the list, Forbes collected the most cons of being a pastor:

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Bill Nye crushes creationist in debate

What do you get when you put a children’s-educational-scientist-teacher with a Bible-believing-Christian-creationist?

Lot’s of confused adults.

I just finished watching the almost 3-hour debate between humanist Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham and I’m truly confused. I’m confused not because of the content, but how a Christian answered and responded in a formal debate.

Bill Nye (B.S. degree in engineering) and Ken Ham (B.A.S., applied science) decided to meet in a debate format in Kentucky to discuss the merits of each of their positions. Except, Ham seem to follow an illogical process of his argument which relied on a handful of scientists and his website. Nye, on the other hand, relied on a body of evidence and scientific method that is affirmed by both secular and Christian scientists.

What was clear from this debate is that Ham gave a poor argument for a creationist theory of the formation of the earth. Creationists believe in the creation of the Earth that occurred over a period of 6 days. Nye countered that the earth is much older and we know through carbon dating and stellar age estimation. Ham tried to discredit dating methods as conflicted evidence. Even if you discount carbon dating, Nye used examples of dating by core samples and tree rings.

How did the rest of the debate go?

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Duck Dynasty, free speech, and persecution

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By now you have heard about controversy involving ‘Duck Dynasty’ A&E  star Phil Robertson. Robertson, recently spoke to GQ about his personal beliefs:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there… Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men… It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical…

In addition, Robertson made controversial comments on race. Phil Robertson was recently suspended by A&E because of his statements. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal responded to the controversy by saying,

I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.

Sarah Palin responded on her Facebook page with the message:

Free Speech is an endangered species….Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.

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5 things associate pastors need to survive

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The work of an associate pastor often does not receive the high praise or support compared to their senior pastor. Associate pastors have the challenging task of supporting the mission and vision of the church under the leadership of their senior pastor. Often, in the course of this supportive role, associates experience disagreements and their frustration can undermine staff synergy.

Church leadership and senior pastors need to realize the unique nature of associate pastor ministry. There are several key support mechanisms that need to be in place for associate pastors:

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Is a funeral selfie appropriate?

It was the funeral selfie heard seen around the world.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and President Obama took a selfie during Nelson Mandela’s (funeral) memorial service. To the right, Mrs. Obama does not look impressed. Social media quickly reacted in disgust, support, shock, and confusion:

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3 Reasons why Bill O’Reilly does not get Jesus and the poor

Bill O’Reilly released his book, Killing Jesus which attempts to trace the historical events and movements leading up to Jesus’ earthly life. However, it seems that O’Reilly could have read and study the Gospels more closely when it comes to Jesus and the poor.

On O’Reilly’s program, a video of Rep. Jim McDermott played with McDermott addressing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). O’Reilly went on to say:

The problem I have, as I stated is that you’re helping one group by hurting another group and a bigger group, and so I don’t know if Jesus is going to be down with that…Ok but would he [Jesus]  impose a system that hurts one group to help another group? …Some of the people who don’t have enough to eat, it’s their fault they don’t have enough to eat…If you are an alcoholic or a heroin addict or a drug addict and you can’t hold a job and you can’t support your children and that’s the circumstance of millions and millions of people not most but a lot a substantial minority ok.

Here are 3 reasons why Bill O’Reilly just doesn’t understand Jesus and the poor:

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Be a peace-wager like Nelson Mandela

As the world reacts to the death of Nelson Mandela, we cannot help but read and understand his amazing history of peace. Fighting against injustice and apartheid in South Africa were his notable achievements, but Mandela did so much more.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting for his beliefs and for justice. Emerging for oppressive imprisonment, Mandela spoke about peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness. How can someone emerge from such hate, injustice, and pain to take about reconciliation? He became a symbol of truth, reconciliation, grace and peace.

Many talk about peace, but few understand what it takes. It’s easy to speak about peace but if one truly wants to achieve peace, one must “wage peace”. Nelson Mandela died in the midst of Advent, the precursor to Christmas. The story of Christmas is the story of God waging peace with the world. Making peace is not an easy business. Mandela was a peace-wager.

Peace amid tragedy is challenging. Mandela was one who could find peace in tragedy.

The message of Christmas is this: Christ was born to all the world for the redemption of the world. However, as Christians, we often believe that peace is to be something to pray for yet it is never accomplished. It is common for Christians to think that peace is to be prayed for and never acting on.

Jesus said,

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Advent devotional dropped to your inbox

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Looking for a great, spiritual, and thought provoking Advent devotional dropped into your inbox daily?

Look no further than the folks at Blue Truck Publishing to give you what you want!  Each daily devotional are emailed daily. The daily devotionals draw from the rich Biblical texts surrounding the birth of Jesus, as well as the prophecy of his coming. Not only are the devotionals useful for personal growth but could also be used with:

  • Interesting opening to lead a class or small group.
  • Quick ideas for public speaking.
  • Sermon starter
  • Friends & family gifts

What’s great about Blue Truck content is that it is very affordable and usable. Blue Truck Publishing writers are leaders, speakers, pastors, and authors who specialize creating content and devotionals that address contemporary topics. This Advent devotional is only $1.99, which is delivered daily for the season of Advent. This is a great price for a devotional sent to you for the Advent season.

Check a sample:

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Thanksgivingization

It seems every year retailers are pushing holiday seasons earlier and earlier. I walked through the home improvement giant, Lowe’s the day after Halloween and saw Christmas decorations, holiday goodies, and Christmas lights already on sale. Was that too early or is it just me?

This year, maybe my anecdotal evidence is backed up with fact. The Associate Press published an article entitled, “All Day Shopping Frenzy on Thanksgiving?”. The article reports on how retailers are trending to open  stories on Thanksgiving instead of the day after:

It’s a break with tradition. Black Friday, which typically is the year’s biggest shopping day, for a decade has been considered the official start to the busy holiday buying season… Meanwhile, Thanksgiving and Christmas remained the only two days a year that stores were closed.

Now Thanksgiving is slowly becoming just another shopping day. Over the past few years, major retailers, including Target and Toys R Us, slowly have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night to one-up each other and compete for holiday dollars.

This year, more than a dozen major retailers are opening on Thanksgiving, including a handful like Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Staples that are doing it for the first time… Indeed, retailers say they’re just doing what shoppers want… That’s an important opportunity for chains, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the last two months of the year.

Based on this evidence, retailers are pushing up holidays to sell goods. More and more, our holidays (both religious and non-religious) are turning into opportunities for retailers to draw in consumers to buy and well, consume. Thanksgiving is now no different. What remained as the last holiday were retailers did not make their employees work, has now turned Thanksgiving into another shopping mecca.

This is what I call Thanksgivingization[Read more…]

Using social media during crisis

Churches and organizations will face an opportunity where social media can greatly impact how you respond to a crisis. Whether the crisis is a natural disaster, community problem, or an internal church conflict, how a message is crafted can produce positive results if done correctly.

During the recent #chsocm chat that I moderated, our church social media group discussed the best practices for using social media during a crisis. Here are my 4 topic/questions that we discussed:

  • T1: Name a crisis that emerged in a ministry community and how could it have been improved by social media? Could be your church or another.
  • T2: What tools or strategies can churches use during a crisis to improve communication & trust?
  • T3: How should an external community crisis be handled differently than an internal church crisis via social media?
  • T4: What can be shared via social media from a crisis that reveals a greater truth about God?

Here were some good ideas and responses to the topic of using social media during crisis:

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