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Archive for November, 2007

Thinking as Christians

There is no getting around it: as Christians we are called to be discerning, and discernment entails thinking. I used to stumble in confusion about what a biblical worldview is, and why it is important. But as I continue to grow in understanding, I realize that for a pastor, it is an essential piece in the ministry that we do. While proclaiming the Word, our people must know that the Word is not just ancient and general, but alive, practical, and specific. It calls us to action! It divides, distinguishes, and is our guide.

All too often, our congregation desires the answers rather than thinking for themselves (and often pastors unwittingly seem to promote it). When the answers satisfy their fancy, they accept them. But if they are too hard or not said “just right” then there is a tendency to think that they are for someone else, and not for us. This is a danger from making application too specific, or too general. But really, our churches do not depend upon the perfect balance of the application shared by the preacher. Our churches depend upon their people applying Scripture in their own lives. Every biblical description is in some way an imperative, so some people stay away from reading altogether.

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Computers and Cribs

Not only is this trend slightly worrisome, but I wonder what future we are ensuring by promoting the intimate connection between life and entertainment technology. We are training ourselves to be dependent upon electronic stimulation. As well, I recently saw an advertisement on television for preschool level system to help children learn their alphabet and all number of other things. This bears the same mistaken logic as those churches which turn children’s programs into a kind of Nickelodeon fun house. We create an insatiable appetites for that which we cannot provide and then wonder why we leave unfulfilled lives.

As the reporters explain:

Jim Silver, editor of Toy Wishes magazine and an industry analyst for 24 years, said there had been “a huge jump in the last 12 months” in toys that involve looking at a screen.

“The bigger toy companies don’t even call it the toy business anymore,” Mr. Silver said. “They’re in the family entertainment business and the leisure business. What they’re saying is, ‘We’re vying for kids’ leisure time.’ ”

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More Halo Talk

When Plugged In Online published a story about the ultra-popular video game Halo 3 being used in churches as an outreach tool, we took a dim view of the practice, questioning whether shooting up things—evil aliens though they be—teaches the wrong sorts of moral lessons. We also touched on the fact that casually allowing children to play the M-rated game in youth groups undercuts parental authority.

At the same time, we recognized that churches are trying to do whatever they can to reach people for Christ, and that some Christians believe games like Halo 3 are effective ways of making that happen.

Then we asked you, our Plugged In readers, to weigh in.

And boy, did you. You stuffed our e-mail box with thoughtful theories, personal stories and even a few angry missives. One thirtysomething writer told us a church “Bible study” turned out to be nothing more than a weekly Halo tourney, for instance. Another relayed a story about an online Christian gaming community that works to reach unsaved gamers.

Roughly 75 percent of those who wrote agreed with our stance. They’re worth hearing from—as are those who represent the balance to the debate. So here’s a taste of what you had to say:

“You guys really seem to get worked up into a major fit over this, but I think the ‘controversy’ is really a fairly simple one. At the end of the day, does it matter if a kid got saved at a Halo party or in the middle of a Sunday morning service?” —David Bronson

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Savior – CD Review

It is a rare treat to review and recommend a Christian CD. In this case, Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Ministries generously supplied a copy of their Christmas album entitled Savior so that I might listen and reflect upon it.

My initial impressions are favorable. The CD has been wonderfully produced, its lyrics are solid, and it just sounds good. In fact, had I not known that the album was a Christmas album, I would have simply enjoyed it as a very Christ-centered project. In no small way, it is a shame that our contemporary worship music has in general lost its focus upon the person and work of Jesus. It is more shameful when we realize that many songs that we sing as Christmas carols were sung year-round and not uniquely marked for Christmas when first penned. Though the driving choruses we’re so used to chanting our gone, in its place is worship based on truth.

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Are evangelicals overcommitted to the Bible?  J.P. Moreland asserted at the ETS conference that it is true, and his paper is available online to be downloaded and reviewed.  You can find it here, entitled How Evangelicals Became Overcommitted to the Bible and What Can Be Done about It.

HT: Christianity Today and Justin Taylor

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Mac Shareware Bundles

Give Good Food to your Mac allows you to put together your own bundle.  If you pick three programs, you get 30% off the total, for up to 70% off.  Among the selections are Rapidweaver, Pixelmator and Art Text which are popular titles.

If you were going to purchase them already, now is your chance.  The deal ends Sunday, Dec. 9.

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In order to reach Brian’s Christmas themed informercial, one must pass through the storefront for the book that is entitled, um… ah… oh yes – “Everything Must Change”. On that page one can also access the site for the conference series (tickets $109 a pop) complete with links to the corporate sponsors.

When will we get it? When? And when we do, what will we have to do to get our integrity back? Or our dignity? Everything Jesus did had “self-sacrificial love” written all over it and, here we are, writing Christmas messages that are faintly disguised product pitches while bravely taking a stand against consumerism.

HT:  Today at the Mission

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