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Controversy, Current Events, Current Events, Start Here
Last year, Worship Artist and Song Writer Vicky Beeching shocked many when she announced she was gay.  You probably sing some of Vicky’s songs in your church (like Glory to God Forever). The revelation sent shock-waves through the Christian community… some even asking if it was ok to sing Beeching’s songs anymore. But now, the shock has worn off, and Beeching sat down for her first full interview since ‘coming out’.  Here are some quotes I found interesting… keep reading
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Vanessa Collier died on December 30. Vanessa was a lesbian. According to ABC News:
Hundreds of Collier’s closest family and friends packed into New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado Saturday to celebrate her life. But minutes before the start of the funeral service, relatives say they were shocked to hear that the funeral service would not be able to continue. New Hope’s Pastor Ray Chavez informed the mourning family that the services for Collier would not be able to go on because of the “inappropriate” video that Collier’s family wanted displayed at her casket, relatives say. The video contained photos of Collier kissing her wife on the lips. Another photo captured Collier leaning down on one knee, proposing to her wife. Family members were told that they would be able to proceed with the funeral as long as those images were edited out of the video… Collier’s family decided that they would not edit the video, and instead moved the funeral to Newcomer Funeral Home, which is located across the street from the church. The family carried Collier’s flowers and photos to the funeral home. Collier’s casket had to be closed, placed in the hearse, and driven across the street.
keep reading
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Controversy
A recent story over at the Christian Post tells about Pastor Allan Edwards, a Presbyterian church pastor from Pennsylvania who recently told his congregation that he deals with homosexual attraction. Here’s how the confession came about, according to Edwards:
“The first question a congregant asked in my interview in front of the whole church was, ‘What is your biggest struggle in life?’ and I shared this part of my story with the church… I preach on issues of sexuality when they come up in the Scripture text that day, but it’s not a hobby horse of mine. I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right? So for me, it’s not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am.”
We hear a lot about ‘transparency’ in the pulpit these days; and with most, I think it’s a good thing over-all. But is it possible to have TOO much transparency, especially in the pulpit? keep reading
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Interesting story: An American church is promising gay men they will be cured of their homosexuality if they stroke horses. The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health. But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine. ‘EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway,’ he told Gay Star News. ‘The first common misconception is that homosexuality is genetic, or hereditary, or as some say “born this way”. ‘Homosexuality is actually a type of addiction. It is not “curable” as a disease because it is a “choice driven” by the person.’ Bell said he uses EAP to identify how a person got ‘involved’ in homosexuality to begin with. For example, because of rape, abandonment, lacking a male role model, abuse, and having low self-esteem. He said: ‘Homosexuality is a secondary effect from a single, or multiple, primary events in a person’s life.’ When asked if the therapy ever worked, or if it was even valid, the pastor said ‘it is not now, nor has it ever been, in question’. SOURCE Thoughts? Todd
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It’s that time again folks… time for my friend Matt Steen and myself to dive into the world of what’s happening in the church and give you our weekly wrap-up of all-things churchy:

Hit or Miss

Jack Schaap faces 10 years after plea deal (0:26) Pastors are Hurting (2:45) Robert A. Schuller defaults on Home (6:22) That he is renting out for retreats… (June 2012) (9:26) It Has to Stop (11:06) Joel Osteen on Homosexuality (13:20) Is This a Social Statement? (20:02) Split Congregation Locks Some Members Out (22:55) Less Than 20% of Church Goers Read their Bible Daily (26:55) Church Abuse Scandal in Tulsa (29:42)

Filter

Is Your Cell Phone Making You a Jerk? (33:30) How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships (33:30) Smartphones and Relationships, or My Eyes are Up Here (33:30) Updated Trends on Megachurches (38:28) Do Mega-Churches Hurt the Poor? (43:34)

In Our Heads

Ministering to Sex Offenders, from a protected conversation within the GCM Collective (51:08) This weekend at the church down the street (53:30)
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Current Events
Tim Schraeder has written a wonderful synopsis of Joel Osteen’s appearance on Oprah’s new show over the weekend.  I think it’s worth your read. Some of the more interesting things to me: On preaching prosperity: Why would people think preaching prosperity is a bad thing?
  • I don’t know who would say that you aren’t supposed to leave your children better off than you were.
  • Prosperity isn’t just financial… it’s abundant life… body, soul, mind, and spirit.
  • You can’t be a blessing if you are poor, broke and depressed.
If you are poor, broke, and depressed is it because you aren’t praying enough or aren’t in alignment?
  • It’s a mixture of things.
  • I think there are forces trying to hold us all down.
  • A lot of it is just that we choose to accept things as they are.
  • We have to choose to rise out of it.
On criticism: You have been criticized by fundamentalists about the lack of doctrine or Christ in the messages… 
  • I try to search my own heart every morning.
  • I feel like if I am pure before God and my heart is right, I don’t have to listen to my critics or answer to them.
  • I answer to God.
  • I try to stay focused on what God has called me to do.
On money: Where does the money you live your life with come from?
  • We don’t take a salary from the ministry.
  • It comes from books sales and other things like that.
  • I don’t make apologies for God’s blessings.
  • We’re big givers, we practice what we preach.
  • Money should never be the focus of your life.
  • Your focus should be to be a blessings to others.
  • Wishing you were someone else is an insult to God.
  • He made each one of us as a masterpiece.
Universalism and Homosexuality: Are there many paths to get to the one God?
  • Jesus is the way to the one God.
  • And I believe there are many paths to Jesus.
  • I’m not into excluding people.
Are gay people also included?
  • Absolutely.
  • I believe gay people will be accepted in Heaven.
  • We look at being gay as being a bigger sin than being prideful.
  • I don’t believe God categorizes sins.
  • We are all changing.
  • We need to be willing to change and grow.
  • Heaven is open for all of us.
Are you saying that being gay is a sin?
  • I believe homosexuality is a sin, according to the Bible.
  • When I read the Scripture with good faith, I see it as being a sin.
Overall, it looks like a good performance by Osteen. Your thoughts? Take a moment to read more of Tim’s synopsis of the whole interview here…      
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Controversy
I don’t mean to get all political.  That’s not the purpose of this post. But when it comes to homosexuality, and gay marriage in particular, culture has us pushed up against the wall. When the church disagrees with something that’s becoming socially acceptable, what is the best way to respond. Here, Rick Santorum, tries to respond with reason.  That clearly doesn’t work with this crowd of college students. And I’m sure that if he responded with a Biblical response as to why most Christians are opposed to gay marriage, it would have been much worse for him. I mean… how could a religious person be so intolerant and unloving? Watch, and you’ll see what I mean… http://youtu.be/CGzsHURVE7Q What is the best response to the question posed to Santorum?  Is there any answer that will make sense to the questioner? Is the issue of gay marriage going to keep us from the opportunity to share Jesus in the future? I think that’s the question. Because… if the leading thing we’re discussing is gay marriage, we’ll never get to the gospel. And yet if we don’t tell them what our view on gay marriage is, we feel like we’re backing down. What’s the solution? What’s YOUR solution?  What’s your CHURCH’s solution? (You’ll need to have one… and soon). I’d love to hear your thoughts. Video found here.    
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Trends
According to the Christian Post, the latest version of the popular NIV Bible translation has had its verses on homosexuality reworded, making them clearer in denouncing the practice, according to Dr. Douglas J. Moo for Wheaton Collage, a theologian who helped with the translation says. “The 1984 NIV rendering … did not make clear whether homosexual activity per se was being condemned or whether only certain kinds of ‘offensive’ homosexual activity was being condemned.,” said Moo. “The updated NIV makes clear that the Greek words here indicate any kind of homosexual activity. The updated NIV also reflects the fact that the key Greek word here refers to males.” According to Moo, other verses that were altered due to scholarship and to make the message clearer included Romans 1:26-27 and Leviticus 18:22. In Romans 1:26, the verse “even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones,” was changed to, “even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.” While in Leviticus 18:22, the verse “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman,” was changed to, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman.” One verse that appears to have been changed dramatically was 1Timothy 1:10, where the word “perverts” from the 1984 NIV was changed to “those practicing homosexuality.” “The same key Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 occurs here also, and so the reason for the change here was the same as the reason for the change in 1 Corinthians 6:9,” said Moo. The NIV 2011 version debuted amid controversy, with some Christian groups and individuals criticizing the translation for allegedly having too much “gender inclusive” language, similar to the TNIV translation of the Bible. Last year, members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Committee on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood criticized the edition, saying the 2011 NIV “cannot be considered sufficiently trustworthy in its translation of gender language.” You can read more here. Thoughts?    
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