Check out this video of Rob Bell talking about his new book, Love Wins – which you can order on Amazon – to his congregation. Listen to his talk. Please comment.
With this horrible tsunami many are trying to get word about their loved ones. Our American Baptist missionaries in Japan are safe. International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches U.S.A. reports:
Roberta is safe! She had to evacuate with the students (up to 22,000) at Kanto Gakuin University and will not be able to return to her home until at least tomorrow. Japanese practice for these events all the time and are cooperative in carrying out the plan. The Hwangs should be fine if they were home. Soshin School, where Lee Ann teaches and where they live, is a very high point in Yokohama.
E-mails from John Armagost and Leslie Turley have come in and they are safe. Alisen Armagost was at a different location at a soccer game but she has now checked in with her parents and is safe. Armagosts are far from the affected area. Turleys are also safe and do not expect much of an issue when the wave reaches Okinawa. I have yet to hear from Roberta Stephens and the Hwangs. While they live closer to the shoreline in Yokohama, they are both on pretty high ground so should be fine. I have tried repeatedly to phone and e-mail them. No success yet. I will let you know when I do hear. [Read more…]
The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases Your sight.
I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it,
to whom shall I cry but to you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults,
O Lord, and spare Your servant from strange sins.
St. Augustine of Hippo – (354-430 CE)
Christians all around the world celebrate Ash Wednesday today. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a period of 40 days (really 46 including Sundays) before Easter. It is a time of reflection upon our need for salvation, forgiveness, and the fundamental priorities of the Gospel.
It is customary for Christians to give something up for Lent. This act remembers Christ giving himself up and remembers his suffering. Many give up sweets, soda, or some type of rich food. While giving something up for Lent is a simple way to remember what Lent is all about, is it time we Christians try something other than deprivation? [Read more…]
Several years ago, I read a dramatic billboard sign that compelled the reader to think about Satan. The billboard read:
Do you believe in Satan? He believes in you.
A striking message, isn’t it? Many of us choose not to think too much about the forces of evil or how Satan plays a part in the Christian story. However, Satan is very much a part of the Christian story, but he is not an inspiring character. Since the beginning of the biblical record, Satan (in Hebrew hasatan means “accuser”) existed in various forms. The presence or mention of the demonic is documented in Genesis, Job, Psalms, Zechariah, the Gospels, and Revelation.
As a way to prepare for the celebration of Easter, Christians all around the world will prepare through the season of Lent. For 40 days (not including Sundays) Christians mark this time through study, prayer, fasting, reflection, worship, service, and meditation on God’s word. Lent provides a way for Christians to change the rhythm of their life by contemplating the less glamorous Christian imperatives such as forgiveness, morality, repentance, suffering, and penitence.
Believe it or not, Satan can teach us about Lent in the Christian life. How? Beginning in the book of Luke, Jesus departs for the wilderness in chapter 4 and confronts Satan, the Accuser: [Read more…]
Run for the hills! Rob Bell is heretical! Ahhhhh!!!
If you have not followed the story, famed pastor, speaker, author, and Nooma guru has a new book coming out entitled, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. A few chapters were released to a few bloggers and writers.
Those who have read the incomplete manuscript resolve that Rob Bell is a heretic and his career is over. The claims have ranged from he is an Universalist or he is the devil.
Here is the video that is causing the stir
Let’s all freak out about Rob Bell!
Folks, Bell has always been on the edge of Christianity and that is a good thing. More on that later. I have not read the book or seen the pre-released chapters, but let’s not jump to conclusions like some other big time Christian figures, authors, and pastors. Check out their comments: [Read more…]
As tween pop culture singer Justin Bieber just celebrated his 17th birthday, he makes it clear that he is serious about his faith in Jesus Christ. Bieber’s new 3-D concert film/documentary “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” features the singer praying, speaking about his beliefs and speaking about his commitment to Jesus Christ.
Millions of Bieber fans might not know but he received his start from singing Christian songs on YouTube. His current songs feature religious messages such as his single “Pray,”: “I close my eyes and pray. I close my eyes and I can see a better day.” The music video concludes with the word, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
Young pop stars sharing their faith is nothing new. The Jonas Brothers certainly made their beliefs known in very public ways. I was surprised to see an interview with Bieber’s mother, Pattie Mallette who talked about guarding her son from the music world’s pitfalls. [Read more…]
One the ways weddings become such a momentous and exciting event is the fact that there is an engagement period. A couple announces their intent to be wed and sets a date. Over a period of months, planning becomes paramount. Flowers, dresses, guest lists, food, location, and a million other little details go into planning a wedding. Anticipation builds as the wedding comes closer. The ceremony begins, vows are given, rings exchanged, and finally the pronouncement (and the kiss)! Usually, there is a joyous reception that follows which signals the end of waiting and celebrates the joining of two people together in marriage.
Lent is fast approaching. A time in the Christian Church where preparations are made in anticipation of Easter. Lent is a period of forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays). The word “lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spring” and refers to a season when the days become longer.
Many Christians question the usefulness of Lent. “It’s Catholic.” or “It’s about punishment.” are typical responses to Lent. Christians for hundreds of years have made Lent into a spiritual journey. However, many contemporary Christians ask, “Do I really need a structured way of preparing for Easter?” [Read more…]
Ah… well, I’m trying to decide if I’m going to categorize this as something funny or a girl who needs an exorcism.
That is really creepy.
Today, February 14, is the celebration of Valentine’s day. A day in which lovers exchange gifts, cards, and candy to express love. Many think this is a holiday created by card companies and businesses to encourage people to buy more stuff. Is there a source to which we can either blame or thank for the genesis of this holiday?
The observance of Valentine’s Day become popular in England during the Victorian era. Traditions of sending love notes to lovers were made popular by famous writers, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, who help perpetuate the holiday. Throughout history, many connected Valentine with love, but clear evidence is lacking.
The origin of Valentine’s Day is mysterious. Valentine’s Day comes from a figure in Christian history but the exact identity of St. Valentine is difficult to prove. Tradition holds Valentine was a priest in Rome, who aided and sheltered Christians in persecution under Claudius II. In addition, he would marry Christian couples under the newly found faith of Christianity. Valentine was caught, and sent to Rome to renounce his faith. Valentine was be beaten with clubs and was be beheaded. He was executed on February 14, sometime around year 270.
One tradition holds that Valentine himself sent the first “Valentine” card:
While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
But, was there more than one man known as Valentine?
As I write this post, I’m watching the people of Egypt celebrating the end of nearly 30 years of autocratic rule of their country. President Mubarak resigned and left the country. People are setting off fireworks, waving flags, cheering, and singing in the streets of Cairo.
Despite brief isolated incidents of violence, there were no wide spread incidents of violence by protesters in 18 days. Though over 300 people were killed by anti-protesters, it took the peaceful protests of passionate and patient people to topple an unjust government.
We have seen Tunisia and Egypt change. Two countries in the Middle Eastern world champion a revolution. In Cairo, men, women, and children camped out for more than two weeks to protest. Christians and Muslims protected one another through this revolution. [Read more…]
Recently, a fellow American Baptist wrote a challenging article concerning marriage in the Bible. After reading it, I decided to respond by debunking, “Debunking ‘Biblical marriage': Why the Bible can’t dictate today’s sexual morals” by Jennifer Wright Knust. Knust recently posted a column for the Washington Post’s On Faith blog where she basically throws out many key understandings of marriage and sexuality in the Bible.
Much has already been said about the fading of marriage in this country and around the world. Many Christians have sought to understand where Christian marriage fits in today’s culture. Is it an outdated institution?
Jennifer Wright Knust is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Boston University and an ordained American Baptist. She is bright and logical, but her conclusions on biblical marriage are not faithful to understanding scripture. She says:
As many in my church know, I often wear a clergy collar for hospital visits. When I visit parishioners or when I’m asked to give an opening prayer at a fireman’s dinner, the collar goes on.
For those who are versed in denominationalism or protestant traditions, you know that vast majority of Baptist ministers do not wear clergy collars. Those funny looking white tabs or rounded white collars that ministers wear are most identified with Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions.
If collars are not required for Baptist ministers or not a part of the Baptist tradition, what is a Baptist doing wearing one?