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If you’re stressed after the election… this should help. After all, there’s nothing funnier than watching parents lie to their children, and watching the kids react. OK… so… forget about the whole ‘lying to your kids’ thing, and enjoy Jimmy Kimmel’s second annual “Tell your kids you ate all their Halloween candy while you video tape them segment”: Todd
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Stephen Prothero is a religion scholar at Boston University, and has written a book entitled “The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation,” . Stephen has taken some flack for some of his recent writings at the blog about Jesus. I’m not saying that I agree totally with Stephen’s conclusions… but I will say that I think many times our Christianity here in the states is more ‘western’ than ‘biblical’ at times.  It’s a natural response to our culture and upbringing. Personally… I like pieces like this that make me think. Take a read, and let me know what YOU think about Stephen’s writing: In my book “American Jesus,” I demonstrated how American views of Jesus, rather than adhering strictly to the unchanging biblical witness, have shifted with the cultural and political winds. Over the course of U.S. history Jesus has been a socialist and a capitalist, a pacifist and a warrior. In other words, he has been used, by both the left and the right. Or, as I put it, “The American Jesus is more a pawn than a king, pushed around in a complex game of cultural (and countercultural) chess, sacrificed here for this cause and there for another.” This problem of mistaking your God for the God  the problem, that is, of idolatry was captured beautifully by Albert Schweitzer, who suggested that scholars on a quest for the “historical Jesus” were looking down into a deep well and seeing not the real Jesus but reflections of themselves. This is what is happening, in my view, to my angry evangelical readers. In this case, however, they are looking down the well and seeing some mashup of Ronald Reagan and Romney. Instead of the biblical Christ, they are seeing the Republican Jesus. There are many ways to support my argument that the preoccupations of the Christian Right today are not the preoccupations of the Bible. One is to point out that abortion is never even mentioned in the Bible. (Yes, Jeremiah 1:5 reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” but when did that formation happen? At conception? At quickening? At birth?) Another is to point out that American evangelicals didn’t care about the abortion question until the GOP taught them to care. As Jonathan Dudley observes in a recent Belief Blog post, U.S. Catholic leaders began to take on abortion right after Roe v. Wade legalized it in 1973, but American evangelical leaders continued to teach that life begins at birth until the late 1970s and early 1980s. If the Bible clearly teaches us that our politics should center on the abortion question, why did it take nearly 2,000 years for Bible believers to figure this out? Here is my basic proposition: Bible-believing Christians who want to base their politics on the Bible ought to get the Bible straight, which is to say (a) correct and (b) directly from the page, rather than filtered through the spin of the GOP. To this end, I would like to challenge them to look at an amazing website, part of“The Official King James Bible Online,” which lists each and every word in that translation of the Bible in order of popularity. Not surprisingly, “and” and “the” are the top two.  But how do more meaningful words rank? Abortion, of course, is not on the list. Neither is homosexuality, though there are, I will admit, perhaps a couple dozen references to what we now call male homosexuality (and either one or zero to lesbianism, depending on how you read Romans 1:26). So these issues are not central. But which issues are? Well, faith, grace and salvation, for starters. (They appear 231, 159 and 158 times, respectively.) But if you turn to the political questions that beset us today, what does this quantitative approach to the Bible yield? First and foremost, a preoccupation with “war” (470 times) and “peace” (280). Second, a preoccupation with economics, and especially with the rich (109) and the poor (233). The Bible also seems far more concerned with “prison” and “prisoners” (109) than we are in U.S. politics today. And, I might add, with famine (101). Finally, the Bible mentions Israel a lot (2,509 times)  even more than heaven (644). So that seems to be something that both candidates got right in the third debate. To conclude, I have no problem with evangelical Christians voting for Romney. My complaint arises when they say they are doing so because the Bible commands them to vote for the candidate who is opposed to abortion rights and opposes same-sex marriage. You can read more here. Thoughts? Todd
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The premise:  No one cares what you’re doing until they understand why you’re doing it.  As church leaders, it is vitally important to communicate the WHY if we expect/want people to follow our leadership. Tim Peters offers three ways to communicate the WHY of what you’re trying to accomplish #1 – Communicate with Consistency  Vision leaks.  You must constantly keep the vision, the WHY, in front of the people you are leading.  Every announcement, event, message – everything – must be an opportunity to communicate the WHY. #2 – Communicate with Urgency It’s the vision.  It matters.  It’s imperative.  It’s urgent.  It’s the WHY.  If it’s not important enough to be urgent, it’s not important. #3 – Communicate with a Call to Action The WHY is what drives us to do something.  If your church mission is to love God and love others, that’s the “what.”  If you stand before your church and constantly communicate the what, people will understand they are supposed to love God and love others.  And maybe you even communicate when and how.  But if you aren’t communicating in such a way that it DRIVES people to act, then you aren’t communicating the WHY.  Why does the why matter in the church? It matters because eternity is at stake. Great stuff to keep in mind as you prepare to communicate the WHY this weekend (and during the week for that matter). Read more from Tim here.  A couple of other things he’s written that I think you should check out are: Tips for Church Communications Leaders 6 Ways to Follow Up with First Time Guests
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While the northern New Jersey communities of Liquid Church members are just getting back on their feet after Superstorm Sandy, plans are in full motion at the church to prepare, deliver and host #SandyThanksgiving meals to thousands of families by the Jersey Shore. The impact of Superstorm Sandy was catastrophic in New Jersey, with up to $6 Billion in damages according to the catastrophe modeler group Eqecat Inc. Thousands still remain powerless, homeless and distraught in the Long Beach Island – Atlantic City, region alone. Truckloads of relief supplies are being collected at all three campus locations of Liquid Church to transport and distribute along with the #SandyThanksgiving meals November 22 and 23. Tim Lucas, Lead Pastor at Liquid Church said, “Amidst all of the devastation and challenges Sandy has brought, we want to be there physically with the families of the Jersey shore this Thanksgiving in order to bring hope to those that need it most right now.” Jugs of water and canned goods are being collected at all three campuses during Sunday worship services in Morristown, New Brunswick, and Nutley. Individuals can also donate to the relief efforts at www.SandyThanksgiving.com. Distribution of supplies are being carried out in partnership with Shore Fellowship Church, local to the Atlantic City and Long Beach Island, NJ affected areas. The Morristown-based Christian church is also coordinating support from communities and organizations outside of NJ for the #SandyThanksgiving project. The outreach coordination leaders are asking churches across the country to consider taking up a special offering for the NJ shore victims on the upcoming Sundays – November 11 or 18. Details of how churches and other organizations can join the support efforts are available at: www.SandyThanksgiving.com. Church leaders are able to download multimedia materials such as video clips, bulletin inserts, slide graphics, and music to help conduct special offerings during church services. ABOUT LIQUID CHURCH Liquid Church is one of NJ’s fastest-growing Christian churches. Founded in 2001 by Lead Pastor Tim Lucas, the church’s vision is to “take church to the people” with campuses in Morristown, New Brunswick, and Nutley. Nearly 2,500 people experience Liquid’s worship services each weekend in New Jersey and around the globe through Church Online. As a part of its global outreach Liquid provides clean drinking water to the poorest of the poor with dozens of completed projects in Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Haiti and El Salvador. More details are available at: http://www.LiquidChurch.com (Media Contact: Rich Birch – rich@liquidchurch 908-312-0003 or Kenny Jahng – kenny@liquidchurch.com 973-500-8536)  
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Robert Jeffress, the pastor at First Baptist Dallas said this in his Sunday sermon:
“I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”
Here’s the video of the sermon: (OK… well, it seems they don’t want the video embedded… so here’s the link of the First Baptist website:) http://www.firstdallas.org/obama-paving-the-way-for-anti-christ/ Thoughts? Todd
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One of my biggest frustrations many times with the church is that the church (as an institution) moves WAY too slowly for me. Hiring. Firing. Providing accountability. Starting programs. Killing programs. Moving forward. It’s all usually way too slow for me. OK… I tend to be a bit of a bull in a china store.  And I know that’s a problem. But I meet many leaders that are just frustrated because of how slow the church works.  It’s hard to see that your getting any traction.  It’s hard to see that any progress is being made. Chances are… you ARE moving the ball down the field… but it’s in one yard gains rather than touchdown passes. Which is why it’s so important to keep track of the wins.  You need to know the score. If you’re any kind of motivated leader, you have to be seeing steady progress. Teresa Amabile is a professor at Harvard Business School.  She has some advice for you today, especially if you’re feeling like you’re at a dead end or not making any progress at all in your ministry: Thoughts? Todd
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Like many of you, I was up late last night (actually, early this morning) watching the election returns. There is no doubt that the country is split, politically, right down the middle.  Literally. And many this morning reading this blog are very disappointed with the results. So… now what? Here is some great advice from Phil Cooke:
If you’re an artist, filmmaker, pastor, writer, teacher, business person, leader – whatever, keep moving forward. Create. Spark visions. Inspire people. Speak the truth. The influence of culture is far more significant and life-changing than whoever sits in the White House.
I think that’s great advice. (You can read more of Phil’s thoughts here). My advice to you today… don’t skip a beat.  If anything, work harder. Despite what many of the pundits are saying… nothing is a surprise to God.  Keep pastoring.  Keep leading.  Keep moving forward. Today is the day that the Lord has made… let’s all rejoice and be glad in it… whatever your elation or disappointment in last night’s results. Carry on. Todd
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Great quote from Rick Warren as we move on from the election:
“The coarsening of our culture and the loss of civility in our civilization is one of the things that concerns me most about our nation. We don’t know how to disagree without being disagreeable. The fact is, you can — you can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye. And what we need in our country is unity, not uniformity. There are major differences, politically, religiously, economically in our nation. We have many different streams in our nation . . . What is solvable is how we treat each other with our differences . . . In fact, the Bible tells me in I Peter, show respect to everyone, even people I totally disagree with. So I’m coming from that viewpoint in that we must return civility to our civilization in order to get on. But the reason I do that is because of the deeper reason, there’s a spiritual root to my reason for civility.”
HT:  Andrian Warnock
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