April 2005


C. S. Lewis: I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?

Dean Stanley: The true call of a Christian is not to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way.

Edward R. Murrow: If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, there would be a considerable number of stations which would decline to carry it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable.

G. K. Chesterton: The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.

Harry Emerson Fosdick (attributed): Someone has said, “If we could get religion like a Baptist, experience it like a Methodist, be positive about it like a Disciple, be proud of it like an Episcopalian, pay for it like a Presbyterian, propagate it like an Adventist, and enjoy it like an Afro-American — that would be some religion!”

Minna Canth: Christianity has been buried inside the walls of churches and secured with the shackles of dogmatism. Let it be liberated to come into the midst of us and teach us freedom, equality and love.

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process.

I don’t have much time before I actually have to get to work so this will be a short post for a change. Something has been on my mind the last couple of days and I would like your input.

We are starting a new book/Bible study this Sunday. It’s Jerry Bridges’ “Pursuit of Holiness.” Looks like a great book. Some in our group aren’t going to do the study because of “time constraints,” but I think the real reason goes much deeper. Here’s my question: Why are we, as Christ followers, so afraid of the word Holiness? Is it because we don’t feel Holy or feel capable of being Holy? Or is it because we just don’t understand, after all these centuries of “enlightenment,” what it really means to be Holy? Are we afraid of being Holy because of what we might have to give up or, worse yet, do? God Himself commanded us to be Holy as He is Holy, so I’m curious why we aren’t, or don’t want to be.

Thoughts?

His peace be on you.

For some reason, this struck me as funny. I know it’s sad, but I just couldn’t help myself.

BERLIN (AFP) – Hundreds of toads have met a bizarre and sinister end in Germany in recent days, it was reported: they exploded.

According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre (three feet).

It is like “a science fiction film”, according to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in the northern city of Hamburg, where the phenomenon of the exploding toad has been observed.

“You see the animals crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding.”

He said the bodies of the toads expanded to three and a half times their normal size.

“I have never seen such a thing,” said veterinarian Otto Horst. So bad has the death toll been that the lake in the Altona district of Hamburg has been dubbed “the pond of death.”

Access to it has been sealed off and every night a biologist visits it between 2:00 and 3:00 am, which appears to be peak time for batrachians to go bang.

I like what Emily does in her blog – occassionaly she writes down a quote. So, in that vain:

A.W. Tozer writes, “We cannot think rightly of God until we begin to think of Him as always being there, and there first.”

Ok, I had posted this really long article here but decided that no one would read it. So I deleted it. It was based on another article I read in Charisma Magazine Online and on Todd Rhoades’ blogsite. I still think the article was interesting and want your opinions, so I’m reposting with a summary. But it’s still a little long so bear with me. If you are interested in reading the full article click on the two links above.

Basically the article was talking about the large number of Christians who were leaving the church and why. It referred to them as “stayaway” saints because they are people who, for all practical purposes, could be considered devout, even zealous, born-again Christians. They say they are not leaving the Church (the body of Christ followers) but are just tired of church (organized “religion”).

Who are these “stayaway” Christians? Interestingly, the article mentioned they were “not necessarily postmodern 20-somethings rejecting anything of their parents’ generation, nor are they grudge-bearing grumpies carrying an offense from a previous church life.” It seems they may just be burned-out, over-commited Christ followers who, as one couple put it, are “looking for something authentic, a real expression of the kingdom of God.” One writer wrote that they are “not just a bunch of belligerent, AWOL worshipers” and what they have is “a grass-roots hunger for change in the church, for reality … more than the latest church-growth stuff or conference. They want to see revival, not some latest fad that sweeps through the church.” And Barna Research Group said there are about 13 million of these “unchurched” believers. One historian and teacher found “people leaving the church in droves.” Why? And what affect will this have on the modern (or post-modern) church?

You would think that those staying away are experiencing some kind of crisis of faith, but according to the article and research, a large number “report a continuingly vibrant faith.” One researcher wrote, “It’s better to be real with the Lord than go to church and play the holier-than-thou church game everyone plays there.” He also reported “the dropout saints he interviewed talk about finding deep fellowship with a few other believers.” But others believe the stayaways aren’t “as consistent in prayer and Bible study and the Christian disciplines.”

So why are people leaving the organized church. The article gave several reasons:
1. They point to the way the increasing fragility and mobility of the family has weakened the “brand loyalty” that historically meant children grew up with a strong sense of connection to the church of their parents.

2. They also see the church-dropout wave as a barometer of the influence of the wider culture’s me-centered nature as well as the unfortunate excesses of the “seeker-sensitive” movement that has aimed to make church less intimidating to people with no religious heritage.

3. Discontentment not limited by age.

4. Affluence.

5. “We have dumbed down the church so much to the point there are Christians asking, ‘Why do I want to be part of something that means so little?’ Research proves it.”

6. There’s a sense that the church is not relevant and not meeting their needs.

7. Tom Haggard, pastor of 11,000 member church in Colorado, says “Churches are such hostile places.” He continues, “The 20 percent of U.S. churches that are growing have efficient church government. The rest are bogged down in old-fashioned systems that are a waste of time, making mountains out of molehills.

8. Haggard also believes pastors have been the reason many have left the church. “They have been let down by church leaders whose children are wild and disobedient or who are in adulterous marriages,” he says.

I love the comment made by one writer: “What distresses those on both sides of the issue is that, for the most part, churches are more concerned about getting new people in through the front doors than finding out why, once inside, many are leaving through the rear exit. Church leadership doesn’t even recognize they are gone,” he says. “If they don’t show up, they just look to replace them with someone else.”

Finally, I leave you with this:

Slick services and programs at churches with sizeable budgets are similarly disdained by many 20-somethings who want “authenticity” and “connection” over a professional presentation they dismiss as shallow religious entertainment, says 28-year-old publisher Cameron Strang.

His Relevant Media Group magazine and books champion many of the questions and criticisms his generation is raising about the church, but he–like a surprising number in his constituency who when polled said they still attended services even though they felt they were going through the motions–isn’t prepared to turn his back just yet.

“The Bible is clear about not forsaking fellowship with other believers,” he says, though underscoring that what “fellowship” might look like as the 21st century unfolds could be very different from traditional forms.

What is your opinion of the church today? Is it relevant? Is it authentic? Is it alive? Will the “post-modern” church have a very different look than say even 10 years ago? Let me know what’s on your mind.

His peace be on you.

Welcome to Tennessee. Denise, is this your business? Posted by Hello