Aging & maturity: Maturing vs. Growing Older [required reading]
“Crotchety and complaining or positive and adoring? Grumpy or cheerful? Age; natural age takes us one direction and spiritual age leads us into the marvel of another way. One spreads death; the other … life.”
Church attendance: The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It
“… church membership is becoming less and less meaningful in many churches. As membership becomes less meaningful, commitment naturally wanes.”
Dental care, expectations, Jesus, perception & toothbrushes: Did Jesus Have All His Teeth?
“I’m wondering whether Jesus had all his teeth when he left behind his private life in Nazareth for the more public life of an itinerant preacher and healer. According to Luke, he was ‘about 30’ at the time.”
Digital Bibles & preaching: * Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church; * Dear Presbyter, Bring Your Scroll to Church
* “… I am not against pastors using a tablet in the pulpit for, say, sermon notes. Rather, I’m concerned about replacing the physical Bible with a tablet in the pulpit. As the pastor enters the pulpit to bring the Word of God to the people of God, no hard copy of the Bible is to be found in his hand, gracing the top of the podium, visible to the entire congregation as the book at the center of attention. Instead, the congregation sees a tablet. While this may seem harmless enough, I believe there are several potential dangers this subtle shift generates.”
* “… we discovered an as yet unpublished letter from a certain Roman Presbyter “Maximus the Cantankerous” to “St. Callistus I” dated ca. 220 AD. In this fragmentary letter, Maximus complains to Callistus about the introduction of codices in churches to the exclusion of the scrolls. What follows is based on my own translation of the Latin.”
Giving thanks: The Serious Business of Giving Thanks [required reading]
“… for Paul giving thanks is nearly revolutionary. It’s quite subversive in the first century. Rather than naming all the parts of one’s life as good gifts provided by the Roman gods, early Christians named the various aspects of their lives as good gifts from God who is the Father of Jesus Christ, the one who gave up everything that God’s people might have everything.
“In this sense, giving thanks is strategic truth-speaking. When we give thanks, we regard the world rightly, reckoning it as God’s world, and reckoning ourselves as recipients of God’s overpowering goodness.
“Further, giving thanks reckons rightly with how we live and move and have our being in God’s presence and in God’s hands. …
“Beyond this, giving thanks to others helps us remember that we carry each other in our hands. We belong to each other, we are in one another’s hands to do good and to receive good gifts from one another.”
Humor in the Bible: Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely!
“As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.”
Old Testament: Paul and the Unquestioned Authority of the “Old Testament” [required reading]
“… the sad fact remains for most in Churches of Christ the Old Testament is simply irrelevant to their faith. Outside of the sermons I have personally preached or lessons I have taught I know of only a handful of sermons in my life from the first 76% of the Bible. …
“Growing up, I had no idea how absolutely, and completely, contrary to the apostolic example of Paul our contemporary practice was regarding the ‘Scripture’ (Paul never uses the phrase ‘Old Testament’). Paul’s entire framework for understanding God, Christ, the Gospel, redemption, faith, and yes even the church/people of God comes from the ‘Old Testament.'”