Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Loving Provider,
you gather me in this upper room with your son,
to be fed by your love.
At that supper, Jesus told us to “love one another”
and I know that is the heart of his gift,
his sacrifice for me.
I ask that I might find the source of my own heart,
the meaning for my own life, in that Eucharist.
Guide me to the fullness of your love and life.
Amen.

Is Hell Dead?

Is Hell dead? Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins has generated a lot of chatter, fear, and public comments around the idea that Hell doesn’t exist. Time Magazine picked up the story and it landed on the front cover. Many believe his book is heretical and goes against traditional Christian theology on issues like heaven, hell, and salvation.  Bell is pretty clear about his theology, which he explained to his church.

This week, The Barna Group, a religious researching outfit, released a study on people’s understanding of heaven and hell.  Since about 75% of this country identifies themselves as “Christian” you would think there would be a strong unifying understanding about what Christians believe about how one “gets” to heaven.

The study found some surprising beliefs of this “Christian nation”: [Read more...]

What makes Holy Week so… Holy?

This past Palm Sunday kicked off a week, to most Christians, that represents an important time in the life of the Church: Holy Week.  The week before Easter is a special time in which Christians remember the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Is this week holier than all others?  Well, yes and no.

Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and an executive editor of Christianity Today,  helps us understand this week in light of its “holiness”:

[Read more...]

Shane Claiborne, please pay your taxes

Since the government didn’t shut down, all of us are required to send in our tax returns by April 18 (or file an extension). As much as I don’t really like paying more and more tax (who does?) every year I pray that I don’t own more. Usually, I over pay in fear of under paying, so I usually get a refund.

Recently, I came across Shane Claiborne‘s “Letter to the IRS“.  For those of you you do not know Shane, he is a fellow Eastern University alum, one of founders of The Simple Way in Philadelphia, a best-selling author, non-violent activist, and speaks on a variety of issues within Christianity.

For Shane, he believes in non-violent protest against injustice. So is the case with taxes. Shane wrote the IRS:

 

[Read more...]

Donald Trump: I am a Christian

As the 2012 presidential race heats up, many would-be candidates are launching and engaging in some serious presidential talk.  Mitt Romney just announced that he formed an exploratory committee. Fox News contributor, Mike Huckabee is making the rounds and giving his thoughts on traditional presidential debate topics.  Now, millionaire and reality TV show host, Donald Trump is testing the presidential waters.

Recently, Donald Trump sat down with Christian Broadcasting Network’s (CBN) David Brody and brought up something that he rarely talks about: his religion.

In this exclusive interview, Trump talks about his relationship with God, the church, the bible, being a Presbyterian, and his commitment to attending church.

Trump said: [Read more...]

Dude Lives Off Beer During Lent

For most of us, giving something up for Lent is tough.  Chocolate, sweets, or even Facebook are popular choices for the Lenten discipline. Some give up alcohol but one man is adding alcohol to Lent. Not only that, but he is only drinking beer for Lent!

CNN’s Belief Blog recently reported that J. Wilson, a 38 year-old author of the blog brewvana, gave up food and is only drinking beer (and water)   The practice was also observed by Bavarian monks  hundreds of years ago.

Wilson is  newspaper editor and beer enthusiast. His motto of his blog is, “An ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy.”  He proclaims himself a non-denominational Christian who avoids denominational labels. His decision to drink only beer was a seriously one and required a lot of preparation: [Read more...]

Millennials value Parenting more than Marriage

A recent Pew Poll and study among 18-25 year-old adults found that parenting is more important than marriage. The majority of Millennials, (generally those born between 1982 and 1995) about 52%, said being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life. About 30% said the same about having a successful marriage. This Pew Poll points out that there is a 22 percentage point gap in the way Millennials value parenthood over marriage.

Sometimes called “Generation Y”, Millennials differed from their Generation X counterparts:

When this same question was posed to 18- to 29-year-olds in 1997, the gap was just 7 percentage points. Back then, 42% of the members of what is known as Generation X said being a good parent was one of the most important things in life, while 35% said the same about having a successful marriage.

What does this mean?

[Read more...]

Contest WINNERS!

This past week I’ve been running a contest to give away two great books, Russell Rathbun’s book nuChristian and Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus.

It’s noon! The winners are:

Christine SmithnuChristian

D Brown - In the Name of Jesus

Andrew Twiton - In the Name of Jesus

Contest winners: You’ll get an email or DM from me shortly.

Thanks for everyone who entered and look out for another giveaway!

Giving up Facebook… for Lent?

Kristi Gustafson, social media strategist/staff writer for the Albany Times Union, recently asked me about a growing trend: giving up Facebook, Twitter, and other social media for Lent.  I was glad to hear that Kristi was very familiar with the practice of Lenten fasting in the 21st century.  Check out her article and my comments:

Chocolate, swearing, eating out. These are things Christians have given up for Lent for decades.

Now there’s something new to sacrifice.

Facebook.

The average Facebook user spends 4 hours and 35 minutes a month posting updates on their relationships, checking friends’ vacation photos and playing games like Farmville on the social networking site, according to a January report from Experian Hitwise, a New York City-based global research firm.

That’s more time than most of us spend doing anything other than sleeping, exercising or being at work.

In an age in which Facebook sees more monthly traffic than Google, some Lenten observers are leaving their “friends” behind as part of their commitment to the 40-day fasting.

“Giving up the same things year after year gets boring and you have to freshen it up,” says the Rev. Alan Rudnick with the First Baptist Church in Ballston Spa. “With the popularity of social media, people will say, ‘I like Facebook or Twitter just as much as I like chocolate.’ “

Burned Out? There's an app for that

Feeling stressed out? Burned out? Or just down?  Your iPhone can help you with that because… there’s an app for that.  You can now download the “Holy Roller” app that finds encouraging scripture. The app profile says, “The Holy Roller is the best way to find the Biblical guidance to your everyday ups and downs. Simply scroll the Holy Roller to find what you are feeling, hit next or shake your iPhone, and your scripture will appear.”

The United Methodist Report describes the app:

Users start by accessing one of two lists: “Burdens” such as frustration, worry or doubt, or “Blessings,” such as friendship, family or health.

By tapping on the topic, the user receives one or more relevant Bible verses. For example, if the burden is “Frustration,” Hebrews 10:36 pops up on the screen: “For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Or, if you’re looking for the blessing of “Inner Peace,” a few taps on the screen will take the user to Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Apparently, this $2 app is popular. Over 1,000 downloads already at the iTunes store.

REMEMBER: All this week you can enter to win two free books.

Free Book Giveaway

I’m giving away a free copy of Russell Rathbun’s book nuChristian (read my related posts here and review here) and two free copies of Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus.

Interested?

There are two ways to win:

  1. Subscribe to my blog with the link to the right. Enter your email and click “subscribe” or if you are a WordPress user, click “subscribe” on the top of this page. (Subscribing allows an automatic email update to be sent to your email address. No spam, I promise.  New subscribers will only be entered in this giveaway.)
  2. Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/alanrud

The winners will be picked at random.  You can subscribe to On The Bema and follow me on Twitter, which gives you two chances to win.  You have till Monday, March 28 @ noon Good luck!

Shane Claiborne, author and activist comments on nuChristian:

“I am convinced that if we lose a generation in the church, that loss won’t be because we failed to entertain them, but because we failed to dare them — to take the words of Jesus seriously and to do something about the things that are wrong in the world. Russell Rathbun offers us that dare — to renew a Christianity that reminds the world of Jesus again.”