Weekly Ponderings & Links: 1/28/18

Alright, it’s time to serve up the weekly ponderings and links for Sunday, January 28, 2018.

For starters, Tuesday (Jan 30) will mark 21 years since I came to truly know Christ. I can’t believe it’s been 21 years! I share a little bit about that encounter in my book. Here is a little excerpt.

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Just to put on our radar that Lent begins in just 2.5 weeks from now – with Ash Wednesday on February 14.

Why observe Lent?

Here’s a short video as to why the church has the Christian Calendar. We are called to tell an alternative story to what we see in the world. Not to recluse from the world, but to offer a counter-narrative in the call to follow Jesus.

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Many will probably know the name Jerry Falwell Jr., who is the president of Liberty University and a staunch supporter of Donald Trump.

This week Falwell has again come on record in support of Trump, particularly in light of allegations around Trump’s affair with porn star, Stormy Daniels, back in 2006. Below you can watch a few minutes of Falwell’s interview with CNN. It is awfully cringe-worthy.

David French, an attorney and senior writer for the National Review, wrote a piece this week in response to the interview. Outside of the first few sentences, he offered some great thoughts on the mess that was spun forth by Falwell.

But what I can’t get — what I just can’t excuse — is the seemingly-pathological desire of some of his biggest Christian boosters to distort their faith to the point of stupidity and embarrassment to sit in a first-class seat on the Trump Train.

He continues by showing how Falwell has given “three basic, embarrassingly bad theological arguments.”

First, he actually says out loud, “judge not lest ye be judged.” But it doesn’t require anyone to “judge” to condemn serial adultery and sexual assault. It simply requires reading comprehension….

Second, he makes the grade school mistake of equating the fact that Jesus said we’re all sinners (we are) with equating sin itself. “It’s all the same,” said Falwell. No, it’s not. All sin is wrong. All men need Christ. But not all sin is equally grave….

Third, watch Falwell finish the segment with what can only be described as the Breitbart gospel. After speaking of Christ’s forgiveness, he then says, “He did not forgive the establishment elites.” What? So now the good news itself is wrapped in dime-store populism. You don’t get more “establishment elite” than the men who crucified Christ, yet he asked God to forgive them even as he hung on the tree….

Falwell’s understanding and application of Scripture is outright terrible. Nothing short of an atrocity. He is only using the Bible to serve his own purposes, which is to perpetuate the power hungry ways of evangelical elites as they continue to be bedfellows with politicians, all in order to maintain their power and control. And this is what is so ironic. Falwell tells us that Jesus did not forgive the establishment elite – though French reminds us that Jesus actually does offer forgiveness to all – yet it is Falwell and folk just like him who are the actual establishment elite of the religious right.

He’s pronounced his own curse – non-forgiveness from Jesus – upon himself.

I do not believe Falwell is truly interested in the ways of Jesus.

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Desiring God posted the audio and transcript of a recent session of “Ask Pastor John.” The topic? Is There a Place for Female Professors at Seminary?

Those familiar with DG and Piper will know they hold to a strong complementarian view in regards to the roles of men and women. Men alone are to be the lead in the home and church. On the other hand, you have egalitarians (like myself) who believe that both men and women are called to lead, which is centered in the calling and gifting of God, not in any specific gender (just as the call of God is not centered in ethnicity [Jew or Gentile], nor in skin color [black, white, brown, etc].

As you would imagine, Piper states that women should not only not lead / pastor churches, they should not teach in seminaries, since this is the place where [male] pastors are trained. Women can go and learn in the seminary, but not teach in the seminary.

There were two great responses this week to Piper’s words.

First, we have Michael Bird’s. There are some brief theological reflections in the article, but I thought these words of Bird needed to be practically said as well:

My first piece of advice for women preparing for seminary is that you should approach an all-male faculty with the same level of caution you would use sharing a cab ride with Harvey Weinstein. Not because all complementarians are sexual predators – they most definitely are not. Not because they do not genuinely love and value their female students, many do! But for this reason: female seminary students have told me repeatedly that in exclusively male-led environments that they feel invisible and vulnerable, afraid and expendable . . . Women preparing for ministry want and need female role models, teachers, advocates, and protectors.

This second response is from Carolyn Custis James at Missio Alliance, who offers some very similar reflections on the practical front:

Given the current #MeToo crisis and the damning flood of #ChurchToo stories that followed, the church—and seminaries too—have some serious self-examination to do. These stories expose far too many church leaders as inept and even complicit in this crisis. Not only have ministry leaders abused and oppressed their own, they’ve often circled the wagons to protect the men and ministries involved in the abuses. More than one situation has been disastrously mishandled, including among some of Piper’s closest theological allies.

Piper’s controversial admonition actually provides Christian seminaries a crucial opportunity to ask what is lacking in the preparation they’re offering future church and ministry leaders. Could at least part of the problem be the fact that it’s possible for men to complete their seminary education without significant input and influence from a female point of view?

Let me be clear. The whole issue of gender roles and women in leadership is not solely a practical question about abuse. However, this is a massively important issue. Let’s talk about the biblical text, the theological issues, etc. I’ve done that extensively here at the blog. But there is much more at stake that we have to remember.

So, women in leadership is not a 21st century, liberal, feminist ploy. That argument perhaps worked in the 1970s and 80s. Not today. This is rather about the ways of Christ being implemented amongst the people of God, ultimately that we may make good news known to our world.

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[Image credit: Astronaut Images/Getty Images]

Entrepreneur posted an article: 10 Effective Ways to Beat Stress.

  1. Break tasks down.
  2. Prioritize your schedule.
  3. Get moving.
  4. Develop healthy living habits.
  5. Find calming activities.
  6. Simplify finances.
  7. Live with joy.
  8. Be creative.
  9. Clear your clutter.
  10. Arrive early.

I’ve highlighted two that are important for me. I tend to live under the tyranny of the urgent, impulsively jumping between projects, emails, meetings, one-to-one meetings with students, etc. I’m learning to do little things – like close my emails – when I need to focus and prioritize what I have before me. Another practice to combat the urgent is that I go and “hide” in another office/room so that I cannot be bothered. This is a must for me once or twice a week.

As a passionately driven person, I can also be stirred easily in my emotions. That’s not a bad thing, as I’ve learned from Chip Dodd. But my passion can be used negatively at times. Thus, I’m learning simple activities to bring calm (emotionally, mentally, physiologically) when I feel unsafe in life and folk start pushing my buttons. This has been such a helpful practice.

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I have no favorite NFL team. I hardly watch the games. I enjoy college sports more. But I do know that a) one of my close friends is an Eagles fan and b) I do NOT want the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Therefore, in my support of the Eagles for the Super Bowl, I give you the Eagles “Dilly, Dilly” commercial.

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