Monday, December 29, 2008

Links of the Intergoogle 12-30

The best article I've read about Pastor Rick Warren "He's against gay marriage and how dare he be invited to pray at Obama's inauguration" flap.

Insightful remark from Michael Medved:
"Advocates for same sex marriage regularly insist that they would never interfere with free exercise of religion and will do nothing to force unwilling churches to perform gay weddings. This position counts as hypocritical and misleading, and the current controversy over Pastor Rick Warren’s role in the Obama inauguration reveals the underlying intolerance in the gay agenda."
Top ten theological stories of 2008.

An interesting argument for changing the order of our Old Testament books.

If you like baseball, you'll love this article of major league odd events in 2008.

The Usefulness of Brokenness

Came across this thought provoking observation from a devotional by Evangelical Covenant Church president Gary Walter:
There actually is a distinction in the types of brokenness - not all brokenness is the same. Yes, there is brokenness that leads to disuse - the car breaks and can’t be used, or the plumbing, the computer, the toaster. When they are broken, they are of no use.

But there are other things that have no usefulness until they are broken.
• A horse is no good until . . . it is broken
• A baseball mitt is no good until . . . it is broken in
• In case of emergency, break glass
• And what does it say on your medicine? Break this seal.

The spiritual reality is that God uses broken things. In fact, our entire faith is built on this statement of Jesus about his sacrifice on the cross: this is my body, broken for you. And what does King David say is an acceptable offering to God? A broken spirit and a contrite heart.

Yes, in God’s upside down system of values, broken things are the most valuable. Brokenness does not inevitably lead to uselessness. Brokenness in God’s design is precisely the way to even greater usefulness.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kansas-Oklahoma Conference CM Stepping Down

Rev. David Hansen, Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ's Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, announced on Christmas Eve that he is stepping down on January 15, 2009. The following letter was sent out by e-mail:

A Pastoral Letter to Members and Friends of the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference United Church of Christ

Theologian Paul Tillich preached a sermon on sin and grace that remains his most famous and widely read sermon. The sermon was titled, “You Are Accepted.” Tillich begins the sermon by describing sin as the condition of separation and estrangement. Grace, he describes, as acceptance. To know grace is to “Accept the fact that you are accepted by that which is greater than you.” He concludes the sermon by saying that though sin and grace are strange words; they are not strange things. They determine our life. They determine the life of the K-O Conference.

The year 2008 has been a year of sin and grace for those of us in the K-O Conference. It has been a year of wonder, estrangement, struggle, and blessing. Given all that has happened, the Conference Council and I have agreed that new leadership is needed. Thus, I am leaving the position of K-O Conference Minister effective January 15, 2009.

I want to thank you for the grace-filled events of the last five years and for the privilege of serving as Conference Minister. Sally and I are truly grateful for your prayers and the gift of friendships formed and ministry shared. Let me name just a few highlights. The Conference welcomed two new congregations, celebrated three new church starts, and now has two conversations taking place that may eventually lead to new church starts. The Conference launched a new newspaper, The K-O Focus, and a new website. The Conference initiated, but not yet funded, the position of Justice and Witness Organizer. The Conference took courageous stands on important social issues: the right of all people to earn a moral minimum wage, religious freedom for Hawaiian inmates, standing in solidarity with the people living in the area of Tar Creek, initiating a movement toward becoming an eco-conference and a Fair Trade conference, and initiating a new Doctor of Ministry program in partnership with Phillips Theological Seminary. Conference partnerships with the Madhya Kerala Diocese of the Church of South India, and the Protestant Church in Baden, Germany are strong. The new Conference organizational chart is a work in progress begun in recognition of the fact that the financial realities of the future will demand that the Conference conduct its affairs in a new way in the future. The next two years will see the Conference living into this reality in ways that few have anticipated. I would like to thank the Personnel Committee in particular for their hard work these past several months as they help forge this path to the future.

White Memorial Camp has a special place in my life and in the life of the Conference. I want to especially thank Jim Power for his years of faithful stewardship of the camp and Ron Klein for his extraordinary work at the camp. The camp now has a new Executive Director, Sara Shaw. Sara is an incredibly gifted and talented woman for whom camp is both a calling and a profession. Under her leadership I am confident that the camp will become more fully a place to experience God’s grace and to nurture Christian life and values, if she is allowed to provide the leadership to which she is called.

The Reverend Dr. Kathy McCally and the Conference Council will make crucial decisions in 2009 that will to a large extent determine the quality of Conference life for the future. It is my prayer that in and through their work and lives grace may abound.


Rev. David P. Hansen
Conference Minister
Kansas-Oklahoma Conference
United Church of Christ

December 24, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Sad, But True Christmas Story

Andy Whitman some time ago wrote this sad, but true Christmas story about his father. How we still need the Savior and his forerunner who will "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).

A Candy Foxxx Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, 1994, and my daughters, ages 8 and 6, anxiously await the arrival of Santa Claus.

Instead, my dad shows up with a new girlfriend in tow. Her name is Becky, and she’s a dancer. “Oh, do you do ballet?” Kate asks. Kate is so sweet. “No, I dance at a club,” Becky says. Kate ponders that one.

My dad totes in a bulging plastic trash bag. He dumps the contents out on our living room floor. There are presents, lots and lots of brightly wrapped presents. My daughters’ eyes widen. “Seventeen presents!” my daughter Katryn marvels. My dad picks one up. “This one’s for you,” he says, and hands a package to Becky.

Becky, whose nom de strip is Candy Foxxx, is maybe 30, maybe 50, it’s hard to tell. She looks at my dad with utter contempt. I know within the first two minutes of meeting her that she doesn’t give a rip about this old man and his Sugar Daddy pretensions, that she’s here in my house for one reason, and one reason only. She rips open the package, unwraps a dress. “Thanks,” she says.

My dad picks up another present. “Oh, look,” he says, “this one’s for you, too.” Becky unwraps a necklace. “Thanks,” she says in a monotone.

We watch this sordid exchange fifteen more times. The second hand inches along. There is wrapping paper scattered all over my living room floor. I watch my daughters’ eyes. I would give anything to shield them from this, to spare them this scene.

We eat our Christmas cookies and drink our eggnog in almost total silence. “Well, we have to be running,” my dad says. He bundles up the dresses, the necklaces, the purses, the perfume in the plastic bag. “Nice to meet you,” Becky says, averting her eyes. And then they are gone.

“Grandpa didn’t even say goodbye to us,” Katryn says.

“No, he doesn’t know how to,” I tell her. “He doesn’t know what to say.” And it’s true.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Guys: Buy Right This Christmas

I admit, I'm not a very good Christmas shopper for my wife.

Fortunately, she's very gracious.

Meanwhile, guys, avoid the doghouse!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Links to the Intergoogle 12-11

Best cameras for under $300.

I knew there was a reason why I let my Newsweek subscription lapse.

I received this as a gift from the church in January. Now, I can't imagine Bible study without it it: Logos.

A Christian believer's test of what is essential and what is non-essential. This is a good way to order one's theology, assuming its ordered properly!

What a mega church pastor told his entire staff: resign.

I own none of this music, but I always enjoy reading Andy Whitman and his recent post of Favorite Albums of 2008.

Christianity Today's Top Religion stories of 2008.

It's the end of the semester at Sterling College. And my blog is suffering because I'm busy huffing and puffing toward the term's finish line. I'll write about experience teaching RP 102 Old Testament Introduction... only later!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Money Solution for Small Churches

Our small church, like most small churches, is feeling the effects of the tightening economy. But have no fear, have faith in God, the Lord provides! Our church recently received this note through our church's website! Don't be jealous! :) Can you sing, "We're in the money?"

Dearest in Christ,

I am Mrs Vivian Noel from Kuwait. I am married to Mr. Jerry Noel who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2002. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against.

When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of US$4.5million dollars in a Bank here in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire.Presently, this money is still in bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next Eight months due to cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness.

Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages,widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavorthat the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that "Blessed is the hand that giveth." I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don't want my husband's efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way.

This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that "the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace".

I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband's relatives around me always. I don't want them to know about this

With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank here in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire. I will also issue you an authority letter that will prove you the present beneficiary of this fund. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shephard. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that Wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the this e mail address: [deleted here]. Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act
accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your reply.

Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs.Vivian Noel.