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Why Christian Pastors Are Divided On “The Marriage Pledge”

Nov 25, 2014 | Trevin Wax

MarriageWhen the most recent issue of First Things arrived earlier this month, I was surprised to see an article by R. R. Reno which encouraged pastors and ministers to stop signing government-provided marriage certificates.

“The Marriage Pledge” intends to preserve the church’s purity in recognizing true marriage for what it is and in disassociating from the government’s adoption of false and increasingly nonsensical views of marriage.

Reno’s reasoning is prompted by our contemporary context. He writes:

The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

So what is the solution? Reno calls for a separation of civil and Christian marriage, and he encourages pastors to sign the pledge:

Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.

The pledge has gained traction in the past two weeks. The initial list of signatures represents a variety of denominations.

The Pledge and the Pushback

But “The Marriage Pledge” has its critics, as proponents of biblical marriage differ on the strategic benefits and drawbacks of making such a move.

Ryan Anderson worries that “debating whether religious communities should perform civil marriages undermines the more urgent task of teaching the truth about marriage.”

Russell Moore doesn’t rule out Reno’s possibility in the future, but he doesn’t believe this is the time for such action:

When a congregation certifies a biblically married couple to be also civilly married, the congregation is not affirming the state’s definition of marriage. Instead, the Church is witnessing to the state’s role in recognizing marriage as something that stands before and is foundational to society. We are bearing witness to the fact that these unions are the business of the larger society in ways other unions aren’t.

John Stonestreet of the Colson Center also cautions against signing the pledge:

By backing out of the civil marriage business, we risk reinforcing the growing opinion that our views on marriage are valid only to us and belong only in the private, religious recesses of our culture. We also risk perpetuating the very troubling myth that marriage is something that government defines, instead of something it recognizes. If we are still in the business, we can remind them. If not, we can’t.

Of course, whether the church can be a legitimate agent of the state without compromise is a valid question. But keep in mind that the church is not an agent of the state per se; it only serves as one in this matter. And don’t agents of the state who demonstrate and proclaim their loyalty to a higher authority have a stronger witness than someone who is not an agent of the state at all?

A Retreat or a Rending

Writing for The Week, Damon Linker interprets the Marriage Pledge as a “watershed retreat” for the religious right, an echo of 20th century fundamentalist withdrawal from society:

Reno seems to believe that the institution of civil marriage has been so compromised and defiled that churches will get their hands dirty by participating in it at all, even when the wedding involves a traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and even if the husband and wife pledge to live their lives and raise their children in full conformity with church teaching.

This is an astonishing proposal that would signal an unprecedented retreat of theologically conservative churches from engagement in American public life. That it is being put forward by a magazine dedicated, until now, to halting and reversing that retreat is extraordinary — and a particularly striking sign of the religious right’s rapid collapse into a defensive, sectarian subculture.

Reno has responded by making a distinction between “rending” and “retreating:”

Rending is a gesture of resistance. In this instance, rending the close relation between matrimony and the legal forms of union provided by the state we are asserting an inconvenient truth: government marriage is not Christian marriage. What marriage is does not correspond to its legal definition in an increasing number of jurisdictions. We need to state this truth clearly through our actions—the Marriage Pledge is one possible course of action—so that we have a firm basis to speak about the truth of marriage to our very confused society.

Conclusion

Corina and I will celebrate our twelfth anniversary on December 21. Or December 6, if you count our civil ceremony.

In Romania, the civil and religious ceremonies of marriage are not the same, due primarily to the fact that evangelical ministers do not have the authority to act as ministers of the state. (And I don’t think my Baptist friends there would accept the authority if it were offered to them.)

Our December 6 journey to the Courthouse with friends, family, and witnesses was a hoop to jump through. We’ve never considered the 6th to be our anniversary because the civil ceremony was simply a precursor to the real moment of marriage, which took place in Corina’s church.

I’m not saying that now is the time for a divorce between civil and Christian marriage. I haven’t signed the pledge. (I’m with Tolkien, not Lewis on this issue.) But I do think we can learn something from brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who have never had nor sought the ministerial privileges of authorizing civil marriage.

The day will likely come when ministers who act as agents of the state will be required to participate in the charade of same-sex marriage. On that day, the rending will be complete, but it will have come from the government’s side.

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Worth a Look 11.25.14

Nov 25, 2014 | Trevin Wax

Worth4 Kindle Deal of the Day: Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung. $1.99.

DeYoung addresses the busyness problem head on in his newest book, Crazy Busy — and not with the typical arsenal of time management tips, but rather with the biblical tools we need to get to the source of the issue and pull the problem out by the roots.

Derwin Gray – Ferguson and the Cross:

As a pastor of an intentionally multiethnic, multiclass church, I believe Jesus’ church can bring healing to the deep wounds in our country by being a testimony of how the cross and blood of Jesus can bring about reconciliation and justice.

Serial is Podcasting’s first breakout hit. New York Times reports on how it’s going to change the nature of podcasting:

Podcasts have moved beyond being a nerd curio because all of the friction has been removed from the process, which used to require setting up RSS feeds or cutting and pasting web addresses into a browser. Now, with the advent of ever smarter smartphones, it has become one more push-button technology, allowing consumers to download an app and listen to audio programming at a time of their choosing. If that sounds familiar — Netflix, anyone? — it’s no surprise that it will have similar transformative effects on traditional providers of serious audio programming, which means public radio.

Michael Cooper – The Dangerous Task of Expository Preaching:

Expositional preaching provides substance. Thus, the goal of expositional preaching is allowing the Bible to speak on its own terms. God has spoken, therefore, as a preacher, you are called to communicate what God has already said and not what you want to say.

The State of Theology: Heaven, Yes! Hell, No:

What Francis Chan said about hell likely sums up the thinking of many contemporary Americans, “Hell, it seems, may be fitting for the Hitlers and Stalins of the world, but God-we assume-would never send mediocre sinners to hell.” It is a real place, but only the truly nasty will be there, goes the thinking.

Matthew Rose on Charles Taylor’s “secular status quo”

Why was it once virtually impossible not to believe in God, while today many of us find this not only easy, but inescapable?” The question is Charles Taylor’s, and his nine-hundred-page answer has arguably been the academic event of the decade. Seven years after its publication, A Secular Age has done more than reignite the debate over secularization and its religious roots. It offers to change the very terms in which Christians profess belief.

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4 Ways a Christian Leader Should Know “What Time It Is”

Nov 24, 2014 | Trevin Wax

4862abcb94d670d41e5e19346b364088If influencing others is a key component of leadership, then Christian leadership will be about influencing people spiritually, leading them in a direction that helps them become more like Christ.

I’ve always liked Henry and Richard Blackaby’s definition of spiritual leadership:

“The spiritual leader’s task is to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be.”

Most leadership books focus more on principles than people, and this is one reason so many of these books seem out-of-date so quickly.

To think of leadership in terms of timeless principles is easy, but we do well to remember that the tasks of exercising leadership and exerting influence do not take place in a vacuum. They are by nature contextual; that is, they require the use of wisdom in applying principles to various and often-changing contexts.

In this sense, then, Christian leadership is never timeless. Instead, it is a timely application of God-given wisdom regarding specific decisions that must be made in particular moments in time.

Over the next few weeks, I want to return to this topic of Christian leadership. My particular focus is on an essential but sometimes neglected component of Christian leadership: the ability to know “what time it is,” in order to have a clear understanding of the times. There are four spheres in which Christian leaders should know “the time,” and I look forward to fleshing these out in subsequent posts.

1. Biblically

The Christian leader will stand apart from conceptions of leadership that are worldly. How? By the way he or she inhabits the world of the Bible.

Since Christians are called to live within the framework of a biblical worldview that takes one from creation to new creation, Christian leaders must influence others from within this grand narrative.

The Old Testament offers us several examples of leaders who “understood the times” in which they lived and knew “what time it was” biblically. The New Testament adds the element of living in the “time between the times,” in the already / not yet of God’s kingdom. Knowing where we are in the grand sweep of history, according to Scripture, impacts our ethical decisions.

2. Personally

While it is of the utmost importance for a leader to understand biblical teaching on history and the future, one must not lose sight of how important it is to understand one’s own personal story within that overarching narrative.

The Christian leader must be a student not only of world history from a biblical perspective, but also of his or her personal journey. In this way, the leader is best equipped to make good decisions about how to serve God in a particular time, utilizing specific gifts.

Knowing “what time it is” personally is essential for making wise decisions, and these decisions require a deep understanding of one’s personal life circumstances, personal gifting, and personal calling.

3. Organizationally

Once we know ”what time it is” from a biblical and personal standpoint, we must consider the organization and the people we are leading.

Understanding the life and times of an organization is essential for wise decisions; it involves understanding the current state of the organization, how best to communicate the present challenges to others, and envisioning and promoting the future.

Until we understand the particular moment one’s organization is in, whether it be a church or other ministry, we will not know what to do.

4. Culturally

A fourth element of Christian leadership concerns understanding the current context in which one lives. It means one knows “what time it is” culturally and how one’s culture has arrived at its current moment.

The impetus for understanding one’s cultural moment arises from the Great Commission itself, which has an eschatological dimension that must not be ignored. After all, the Great Commission involves making the announcement of King Jesus and leading disciples to obey everything he has commanded. Only within the grand narrative of Scripture does this command make sense, and only in a current cultural context can this command be obeyed.

Not only does the Great Commission challenge cultural views of world history that do not align with a biblical worldview, the Gospel itself is historical to the core, a record of historical events that impinge upon one’s current cultural setting. A biblically formed view of the world, often described as a “biblical worldview,” is vital to fulfilling the Great Commission.

Conclusion

  • Knowing the time biblically places believers within the overarching story of their world as described by Scripture.
  • Knowing the time personally helps individuals to view their strengths and weaknesses and, in answer to God’s call, maximize their potential by matching their gifts to the needs of God’s people.
  • Knowing the time organizationally involves a realistic diagnosis of where an organization is and how it got there, as well as healthy communication of the leader’s vision for the future.
  • Knowing the time culturally is essential for effective contextualization and the ability to discern the positives and negatives of a particular cultural moment in time.

The Christian leader who knows what time it is in all four of these spheres will be better positioned to make a major impact for God’s kingdom.

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Worth a Look 11.24.14

Nov 24, 2014 | Trevin Wax

Worth a Look MagnifyingKindle Deal of the Day: God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark. $2.99.

Distinguished scholar Rodney Stark puts forth a controversial argument that the Crusades were a justified war waged against Muslim terror and aggression. Stark, the author of The Rise of Christianity, reviews the history of the seven major crusades from 1095-1291 in this fascinating work of religious revisionist history.

Jen Thorn – 5 Ways to Kill Anger:

I struggle with anger. I had no idea that this sin lived in my heart until God gave me a family. I am still having a hard time admitting this because all of my life I prided myself on the fact that I was patient and slow to anger. Turns out my patience and longsuffering were never put to the test until I had a family.

The Gain of Pain: Suffering as Preparation for Ministry:

We’ve all heard the words and likely said them ourselves many times, “No pain, no gain.” We get (or should anyways) that most things in life that are worth accomplishing require some degree of effort and struggle in order to achieve them. But if we default to thinking about that effort and struggle in one particular way only, we can miss an entirely different perspective with massive implications for life and ministry.

Caesar Kalinowski – How to Be Empowered for Mission by the Holy Spirit:

We are not filled with an emotional feeling, a hunch, or more zing. We are filled with a person.

Time Assets vs. Time Debts:

Most productivity strategies focus on short-term efficiency: how to manage your to-do list effectively, how to get more done each morning, how to shorten your weekly meetings, and so on. These are all reasonable ideas.

We often fail to realize, however, that there are certain strategic choices that impact our time on a larger scale. These choices can be categorized as Time Assets or Time Debts, which are two concepts I learned from Patrick McKenzie.

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Grant Us Purity of Heart

Nov 23, 2014 | Trevin Wax

pro818_handGrant us purity of heart
and strength of purpose,
that no selfish passion
may hinder us from knowing Your will,
and no weakness
hinder us from doing it;
but that in Your light
we may see light,
and in Your service
find our perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

- Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354-430)

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N. T. Wright On Marriage as a Signpost

Nov 22, 2014 | Trevin Wax

N. T. Wright’s speech at Humanum this week is a masterful exposition of biblical theology, from Genesis to Revelation, showing what marriage is within the symbolic world of Scripture.

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Know Your Southern Baptists: Jen Wilkin

Nov 21, 2014 | Trevin Wax

Jen WilkinName: Jen Wilkin

Why you’ve heard of her: She is a writer, teacher, and blogger at JenWilkin.net.

Position: She is the managing editor of The Village Church blog and leads the Flower Mound Women’s Bible Study, an interdenominational Bible study with about 700 members representing 68 different churches.

Previous: Jen was the Director of Women’s Ministry at Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land, TX.

Education: She earned a B.A. in English and a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M.

Books: Jen wrote Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds and has a 9-week DVD Bible study on The Sermon on the Mount.

Why she’s important: Jen grew up in Texas and came to saving faith in elementary school. Her childhood was marked by time spent in seven different denominations – a range of experience that left her with the conviction that knowing the Word was the only sure means of discerning truth from error.

Jen’s passion is to see women become articulate and committed followers of Christ, with a clear understanding of why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. She sees women as most frequently appealed to through their emotions. Because of that, she advocates for Bible literacy among women, their loving God with their minds, and for the voices and gifting of women to be fully leveraged in the church.

Notable Quotes:

The Bible is our burning bush – a faithful declaration of the presence and holiness of God. We ask it to tell us about ourselves, and all the while it is telling us about I AM.

Women flourish in the church when men care about women flourishing in the church.

The God of the Bible is too lovely to abandon for lesser pursuits.

Leadership is not about the strong looking for weaker people to lead. It’s about the humble looking for those whose strengths offset their weaknesses and complement their strengths.

God help complementarians if we spend our energies fastidiously chalking the boundaries of a racecourse we never urge or equip our women to run.

Others in the “Know Your Southern Baptists” Series:

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Overcoming Evangelistic Paralysis with an Unbelievably Good Gospel

Nov 20, 2014 | Trevin Wax

cover2Earlier this year, I read Jonathan Dodson’s book, The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing (Zondervan), and found it to be a solid resource that gives careful attention to the message we proclaim as well as the person with whom we are speaking.

Dodson casts a vision for evangelism that goes beyond formulaic recitation of biblical facts, re-centers it within the grand narrative of Scripture, and refocuses our attention on the particular needs of the person who needs good news. This is a biblically faithful and contextually sensitive approach to evangelism that systematically demolishes the most common obstacles to proclaiming Jesus as Lord.

Jonathan is the lead pastor of City Life Church and a leader in PlantR and Gospel Centered Discipleship.com. I invited him to the blog today to discuss his new book.

Trevin Wax: Your work intends to renew our passion for evangelism, and you go about this from two angles. First, you want to eliminate the obstacles that keep Christians from sharing their faith with others. Second, you want to eliminate pre-packaged presentations that fail to correctly discern the best way to share the gospel with a particular person. Why is it important to pay attention to both these aspects?

Jonathan Dodson: Whenever I talk to someone about their struggles in evangelism, their reasons typically cluster around these two aspects of what I’m calling “unbelievable evangelism.” The first is defeaters, warranted evangelistic concern to not be preachy, intolerant, shallow, impersonal, and so on.

The second is gospel metaphors, a discerning and patient evangelism that is less concerned with dropping doctrine and more focused on getting the gospel into a person. In a sense, I’ve responded to both out of pastoral concern, but there are also cultural and theological reasons for addressing both of these aspects of unbelievable evangelism.

Evangelism that doesn’t use some sort of gospel metaphor approach has to rely on a rehearsal of gospel truth—saying the same thing to the same person over and over again, which in evangelical circles often amounts to “Jesus died on the cross for your sins.”

Much of American culture has become inoculated to this repetitious evangelism. It comes across as canned and insincere to Millennials, who screen it out. This is why much of our evangelism is mocked publicly through documentaries like Jesus Camp and films like Saved!

If we want to engage a secularized country with the hope of the gospel, we will have to understand and sympathize, wherever possible, with their objections. “Postmoderns” don’t want to be preached at; they want to be heard, and their doubts taken seriously. The approach outlined in the book suggests a natural, biblical, and discerning way to do that to communicate a gospel worth believing.

Now, before we chalk public indifference up to total depravity, we need to consider the fact that some of our evangelism might be fallen. Could we be motivated by performance-driven duty—getting evangelism done—more than grace, listening to see what grace could do in a particular life?

We should also recognize that humanity’s intellect and heart longings aren’t as fallen as they could be. The people we evangelize have a lot of information, experiences, and genuine longings that could teach us a lot about evangelism. John Calvin talks about “the seed of religion” that exists in every person. By this, he means that there are particular gospel longings in every human being that, if identified, can be connected to the good news about Jesus Christ. When they go unengaged, the seed of religion flowers into some aberrant spirituality. All the more reason to water the seed with particular gospel truth.

Trevin Wax: You say that we’re often so focused on what the good news is that we’ve missed how the news is good for others. What’s the difference here and why does it matter? 

Jonathan Dodson: In general, evangelicals know the gospel information but don’t know how to communicate it to others well. While we can rehearse gospel definitions and defend gospel doctrines, we don’t know how to translate it into cultural vernacular so that others can understand their need for it. This is the great missionary task, practiced by many missionary heroes.

Knowing the Chinese culture, missionaries knew the Chinese wouldn’t grasp the meaning of Christ as “the bread” of life, so they communicated Christ as the “rice of life.” The essential food for living in their culture.

In our culture, the overworked professional who is looking to impress his peers, boss, and possibly even his family needs to know there is a more enduring, freeing acceptance he doesn’t have to work for that comes through the gospel of justification. He or she needs to give up on acceptance by personal success and give into gospel success, perfect acceptance, won by Christ. 

Trevin Wax: You bring out five “gospel metaphors” like different sides of a diamond in order to show us different ways of communicating the good news. What are these metaphors and how do you utilize them in evangelistic conversations? 

Jonathan Dodson: The most succinct statement of the gospel is “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Everything we need is packed into Jesus as the Christ—Redeemer—and Jesus as Lord—King. Everyone needs to know how to respond to him. While there is one, eternal unchanging gospel, there are also many gospel metaphors that connect our need to God’s grace in profound ways.

Gospel metaphors stretch across the breadth of the Bible communicating God’s saving grace. They collect in the epistles as: justification, redemption, adoption, new creation, and union with Christ. These graces are not metaphors in the sense that they are symbolic of some deeper reality. Rather, each gospel metaphor actually represents a facet of the gospel. Here are three ways to connect people’s needs to God’s grace.

1) Seeking Acceptance/Justification

One of the greatest needs people have today is to be accepted, to know that they are welcome and won’t be rejected. Though we may try to deny or hide it, we all carry with us a sense of shame, a fear that we will be found out, rejected, and judged when people learn who we really are.

When we explain that, through justification, the holy God offers perfect acceptance through his unique Son, Jesus Christ, it can bring tremendous relief and joy to those seeking acceptance.

2) Seeking Hope/New Creation

The metaphor of new creation can be especially compelling for people who are longing for a new start in life. People whose lives have been littered with failure, scarred by abuse, humbled through suffering, darkened by depression, or ruined by addiction need the hope of becoming a new creation.

When we explain that, through new creation, their old life can be exiled and that God welcomes them into a new life in Christ, it can shed a bright ray of hope into the lives of the hopeless.

3) Seeking Intimacy/Union with Christ

Our search for intimacy in relationships seems to never end. Even the best friendship or marriage isn’t enough for our insatiable demand to be noticed, loved, and cared for. We all want a place where we can be ourselves and know that we are accepted. We want relationships that are secure, where we feel safe to share our innermost thoughts and darkest struggles.

When we explain that, through union with Christ, people can enter into the most intimate, loving, unbreakable, fulfilling relationship known to humanity, it can bring deep healing and joy to those seeking intimacy.

In order to share a believable gospel, we need to listen to others so well that we can discern which gospel metaphor to bring into their lives. If we know their hopes, fears, dreams, and concerns, we can lovingly show them how the good news is better than their best and worst news. To the beat-up, worn out drug addict, we can share the hope of new creation. To the guilt-ridden, shame-carrying mother, we can share the hope of sin-forgiving, shame-absorbing redemption. To the skeptical urbanite, we can communicate an authentic gospel that resonates with personal, intimate union with Christ. 

Trevin Wax: A lot of people feel inadequate when it comes to evangelism. They’d rather let the “professionals” handle it. What do you say to someone who feels unqualified?

Jonathan Dodson: It can be difficult to answer objections and sympathize with skeptics when we feel inadequate. It’s tough to sort through all the pop philosophy and bumper sticker truth claims. That’s why we need to understand that a reasonable defense is not always “the right answer.” To be sure, we must have clarity on the gospel and understand how it is good news for others, but must everyone become a professional apologist? I don’t think so. While we may not have the ability to answer every question, Jesus gives us the ability to be secure in our faith.

Consider Peter’s oft quoted statement: “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Now listen to the preceding verse: “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…” (1 Peter 3:14). Peter reassures early Christian believers facing mockery and hatred, not by drilling down into apologetics, but to sink their security deep into Christ the Lord, holy in their hearts.

Often we opt for intellectual security, “If I just had the right answers then I’d be a better evangelist.” We have the most profound answer in the gospel itself, but we put our faith in something else. Our security breech is deeper than our intellectual shortcomings—it runs deep, into our hearts. There the enemy plays upon our fears, chases us into the shadows, and lays a hand over our mouths. True apologetics begins with heartfelt confidence in Jesus.

In Christ, we possess a power that can rip the muffle off, chase away the shadows, and bolster winsome, authentic gospel witness. We need verse 14 to go with verse 15, to desperately to set apart Jesus as Lord in our hearts, not the approval of others as Lord. This is the where deep security is found. To get there, the idol has to be replaced with a greater God who offers deeper security and meaning. We need the gift of repentance, to exchange our adoration of what others think of us, or of ourselves, for what God the Father thinks of us in Christ—fully loved and accepted, no condemnation and no rejection.

You have every resource, every truth, and every power available to you in Christ. You are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37). The key is to return to this wonderful promise over and over again, to remain in Christ.

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Worth a Look 11.20.14

Nov 20, 2014 | Trevin Wax

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection: 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words$2.99.

The Greatest Christian Classics. Includes an Active Index, 37 Tables of Contents for all Books & Chapters and Layered NCX Navigation.

Micha Boyett – Ghostly Grief: On Miscarriage and Loss:

A friend recently sent me a note after hearing about my loss: “Miscarriage is the strangest grief, ghostly but intensely embodied.” That word, ghostly, has stayed with me. What is it to lose a child who never became? What is it to host death in your own living body? In the womb that always before gave life? Ghostly grief. Ghostly sorrow.

Until yesterday, I didn’t know the business guru Patrick Lencioni considers himself an “evangelical Catholic.” Here’s his article on 12 Suprises about Catholicism and Evangelicalism:

Over the past dozen years I’ve had the amazing and accidental opportunity to do something few Christians get to do: dive deeply into both the Catholic and Evangelical worlds. That experience has been enlightening, confusing, encouraging, frustrating and inspiring all at once. As a result, I’ve arrived at 12 realizations that surprised me about each side of Christianity, and the overlap between them.

Jen Wilken – Choose Hospitality Over Entertaining:

On November 10, 2010, I tweeted the Most Regrettable Tweet of my mediocre social media career. In anticipation of the holiday season, I decided to weigh in on hospitality. The tweet was a flawless blend of selective memory and self-righteousness, designed to heap condemnation on the heads of my followers, under the guise of offering wise counsel. It was a verbal “selfie” snapped from my best angle, positioned to make me look very, very good. Let’s have a look at it, shall we?

Thom Rainer – 8 Trends about Church Bulletins:

It is amazing to look at the total resources of time and money expended on church bulletins. Because bulletins seem to be such a trivial issue, we often fail to consider their impact or lack of impact. In reality, the impact is greater than we might imagine. Not only do we expend significant resources on bulletins, both guests and members tend to have pretty strong feelings about them. Our team has been observing some major trends regarding bulletins. Here is what we found thus far.

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