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Assorted Links

October 29th, 2012 No comments

Some of the many things I’ll never get around to blogging:

A picture of the Appian Way, just like Paul walked on.

10 Things First-Time Church Visitors Don’t Want to hear.

And, related, Eight Terrible Church Visits.

Ed Stetzer is blogging (in tiny installments) about laypeople and the mission of God. Part three: customers to owners. Part four: changing the culture of expectation in your Church.

A great but terrible podcast from Andy Stanley on pastors as leaders.

Megachurch Come-and-See Movement Fizzling? Huh? This is a deliberately-provocative headline — the question mark is in the original — or it’s just wrong-headed. I get that an attractional church model might not be effective today, but “come and see” is invitational and, so, missional. Certainly the often cited scriptural examples in John 1 and 4 are missional.

A mixed review of Tullian Tchividjian’s Glorious Ruin. It’s a gentle critique, so I’ll gently respond that the pros far outweigh the cons. This is an important contribution that the North American church could stand to hear more of.

Let pastors be pastors. It’s always fun to read a perspective from the other side of the church, where there are expectations for pastors to be strong leaders, entrepreneurs, and evangelists.

This: Why evangelicals should defend Mormons from Mockery.

Going back to believable evangelism.

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Youcef Nadarkhani Update

May 4th, 2012 No comments

I’ve written before about Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian whose life is in jeopardy because of a (apparently fictitious) charge of apostasy. In Iran, it is a capital crime for a Muslim to have a change of heart about their faith. (Really!) Which in any event is not the case with Nadarkhani, who was never a Muslim.

Anyway, Nadarkhani is still in prison, with an execution order hanging over him. But now his lawyer is being persecuted as well. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, the lawyer, who has represented several dissidents, has been sentenced to nine years in jail:

“I have been convicted of acting against the national security, spreading propaganda against the regime and keeping banned books at home,” Dadkhah told the Guardian from Tehran.

The next time someone tells how bad Christians were during the Crusades or Inquisition, fine. Tell them you’re sorry. Then ask them how they feel about religions that are still doing those things today.

Church Web Site Up

March 28th, 2012 No comments

Hey cool! Soon after I got here I asked the people who do that stuff to migrate us from the old web hosting service to the new one. And now, here you go: the new web site of Jewel Lake Parish. Yay!

For the technically inclined, here’s why. First, it’s marginally less expensive. That’s not a super-important factor, but we want to be good stewards.

Second, it lets us run the CMS software we want, and that software integrates with my blogging toolchain. The current website is essentially a blog. I hope to begin podcasting again soon, and that will be another blog.

There are other minor technical considerations. The email is (IMHO) better, and I like the domain registrar. But the really big win is that the hosting company provides shell accounts, so whenever I need to, I can just scp over there get things sorted.

Chi Rho

November 16th, 2011 No comments

Here’s a symbol you often see in churches:

Santa Maria in Trastevere

and in cemeteries:

Chi Rho alpha omega

The symbol is a sort of monogram or shorthand meaning “Christ,” and is formed from the first two letters of that word in Greek (“ΧΡΙΣΤΟ&#x03A3″). Those first two letters are, respectively, Chi (Χ) and Rho (Ρ).

The letter Chi is pronounced “key” or “khee.” It is a “ch” sound, as in chorus or charisma or the Scottish loch. Rho normally represents an “r” sound, except at the beginning of a word. There, Greek expects a breathy sort of sound, which is indicated with an “h” and is why English has hard-to-spell words like “rhythm” and “rhapsody” and “rhinoceros.”

This symbol is (very imaginatively) called the “Chi Rho,” from the two Greek letters from which it is formed. As the 2nd picture shows, the “Chi Rho” symbol often appears with two other Greek letters, the “Alpha” (Α) and the “Omega” (Ω) used to describe Jesus in Revelation 1:8. Although it’s made of two disctinct letters, the “Chi Rho” is a symbol in its own right, and has its own Unicode value and everything! (U+2627, &#x2627)

Anyway, I mention it because we’re headed into what is now often called the “Holiday Season.” On the increasingly rare occasions when the name of the holiday appears, it is written as “X-mas” rather than “Christmas.”

I’ve known people who got all bent out of shape over the “X” in “X-mas” as if it were somehow demeaning to Christ to use an abbreviation. But as these ancient monograms show, the “Chi” (along with the “Rho”) is actually an perfectly legitimate symbol for Christ. There’s nothing demeaning about it. But call it “Khee-mas” instead of “eks-mas” if you want to be an egghead about it!

Fascinating Data in the Bible, Yahoo Listings, Etc.

October 14th, 2011 No comments

I just stumbled upon a site called OpenBible that has the most fascinating blog. I just spent about half an hour reading one article after another, and finally decided I needed to share something. Fascinating place. Give it a look. I just added its RSS feed to my Google Reader.

So what am I sharing? How about an analysis of church names in the United States?

Lost and Found in Translation

May 27th, 2011 No comments

N.T. Wright, a distinguished New Testament scholar, has an interesting article about the issues involved in translating the Bible. Well worth your time.

Communion Table

May 13th, 2011 No comments

Take a look at this: it’s a Communion Table!

Communion Table

Until today, Desert Hills has had a great wooden box in the front of the sanctuary. I’m sure it looked like a table to the person who built it, but for the rest of us…well, table cloths and squinting were just barely enough to maintain the illusion. No more. You’d know this was a table even if you were blindfolded!

The Catholic Church (Part 1)

March 7th, 2011 No comments

I’ve mentioned that “Orthodox” is a word I’d like us Mainline Protestants to reclaim. Another word like that is “Catholic.”

The word “catholic” means “universal” or “entire.” It comes from a Greek word that means “according to the whole.” Unlike “orthodox,” this word actually appears in Scripture, where members of the high priest’s party examine the disciples and order them not to testify about Jesus:

So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

The word that eventually became “catholic” is translated here as “at all.” The only place in Scripture where this word occurs is here in Acts 4:18.

If that verse were the only place Christians used the word catholic, it wouldn’t matter. But of course it isn’t. Most of the time, when American Protestants say “catholic” they’re referring to the Roman Catholic Church. This is reasonable, as 95% of “Catholics” are members of the Church of Rome, and only 5% belong to the 22 Eastern Catholic churches.

But at the same time, Protestants assert their own catholicity. Read more…

More smaller churches – but not in a good way

February 12th, 2011 No comments

There’s nothing to rejoice over in this report from the PC(USA)’s Research Services unit. Since reunification, the denomination has lost an average of 40,541 members a year (net) and we’re down about a third, from about three million down to a hair over two.

The headline (“Fewer members = smaller congregations”) says what might be the most disturbing thing about our decline. The average congregation has dropped in size from 268 in 1983 to 152 today. In the same period, the median size of a congregation has declined from 195 to 97.

Fully half of our congregations (mine among them) have 100 or fewer members–and that’s members, not worship attenders. God is still in heaven, and Jesus fed a multitude with just five loaves and two fishes, but even so, how many of those congregations are financially viable?

King James Bible at 400

January 22nd, 2011 No comments

From a couple of weeks ago, a brief article in the New York Times on the importance of the King James Bible. This year is the 400th anniversary of its printing. I’ve been writing short articles about the King James Bible, and I suppose I should upload them here.

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