Walking into the New Year

As I was preparing this post and then started to post, I put my title in first. I almost wrote: “Walking WITH PURPOSE into the New Year.” (Well, not all caps, but those were the words I chose to delete.)

It’s not that “with purpose” is a bad idea. It’s a bad idea to walk into a new year stumbling around. But, that phrase reminded of two more recommendations I want to make to you. I was going to focus on some podcasts to remind us all to stay focused when the political world is a rolling dumpster fire.

On to the recommendations!

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The dire warnings of Christian Celebrity

David French takes up the subject of celebrity pastors. It’s not just about the latest notable failing and “fashion pastors.” Or, “hot pastors.” It’s about guarding our hearts and staying humble before the Lord.

Christian celebrities will continue to fall. But they don’t have to fall so often. They don’t have to inflict so much pain. Change will only come when Christian leaders remember a few painful truths. Their hearts are deceitful. They do not deserve their fame. God does not need them. Instead, they need Him. And they need to remember those truths every day of every week of every year until their race is complete.

More HERE.

The “hot” pastor

The “megachurch” culture keeps tripping over itself… and we keep ignoring it. Katelyn Beaty is bold enough to point out the latest issue:

He also swam in waters that reward form over substance. Today’s sexualized, glossy version of the megachurch pastor is calculated to replace the stereotype of a frumpy pastor in pleated khakis and a combover. With skinny jeans, tattoos and tight abs, the hot pastor is commissioned to bring souls to Jesus by mimicking the temptations of social media thirst traps. But if you embody that culture, you risk becoming it. Hotness is as hotness does.

More HERE.

Spiritually homeless … no more

A couple of podcasts this week have caught my attention. They expressed almost perfectly the internal struggle I’ve had for a number of years. While the views I heard would seem to say they are still “spiritually homeless”, I would say in my own life that is no longer true. Yet, I am thankful for these voices that speak out the internal struggles of my own life.

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All can be “well” and we can STILL be blind

One of the common mistakes we make in diagnosing current times is “how things are going.” If things are going reasonable “well” for us, we can’t see what might wrong beneath the surface, or care to explore that beneath the surface.

In the U.S., we can say, “Hey, the economy is humming along (for us saying it, of course), so what could possibly be wrong?”

Spiritually, we can say, “Look at our church! It’s growing! We bring in awesome speakers and have a great band!”

For us, all can seem “well”… and we can be blind. This is Israel’s case in Isaiah (and in many of the other prophetic books). Prophetic words calling “doom” on Israel didn’t always come in “down” economic times. They often came in GOOD economic times.

So, when Isaiah comes along preaching hypocrisy, they’re looking at him and asking, “What are you smoking?”

We, today in the American Church, are struggling. We may see verses from Isaiah and put them out there with the thought of, “Well, that’s for the OTHER part of the church!” (It can be a “liberal” Christian putting it out and digging at the “conservatives” or vice versa.)

Here is the problem: these words are for the AMERICAN church. Not just one segment. Friends, WE are in trouble… and are still struggling with spiritual blindness.

20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight. (Isa. 5:20-21, NIV)

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The need for the Church

In my spiritual journey toward the Anglican Church, I have had for years a hunger for a better theology of the Church (ecclesiology). I tried to bring that emphasis into my ministry context as I was learning, but the overall structure I was in simply didn’t aid to that emphasis. I served in a denomination that was incredibly poor in their ecclesiology and that was a counter-weight I couldn’t overcome.

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Spiritual formation in the public life

“Evangelicals have often been presented with a false choice about our role in public life. We either completely withdraw from trying to influence things, or we initiate ‘takeover’ programs. There is an alternative pattern, thought, one that I believe is mandated by Scripture: in the present time, where the fullness of Christ’s kingdom is not yet with us, we are called to do what we can in the political realm, given the opportunities and abilities that God has provided for us in the places where the Lord calls us to be faithful.” — Richard Mouw, Restless Faith: Holding Evangelical Beliefs in a World of Contested Labels