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pastor ed youngPastor Ed Young has started a new sermon series this year called “What Would Jesus Say to…”

Here’s part of the press release: Beginning January 5 and 6, Pastor Ed Young of the multi-state Fellowship Church will begin a new series entitled, “What Would Jesus Say To…” In this new series, Ed Young will take an in-depth look at some conversations Jesus would have if he sat down one-on-one with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, LeBron James, Ellen DeGeneres and more. While Pastor Ed Young recognizes that it may seem presumptuous to claim to know what Jesus’ conversations would be, he said in a recent article with, “if you look at the Gospel to see Jesus’ interaction with people 2,000 years ago, it can be paralleled with the celebrities that we admire today.” Celebrities are the center of so much of today’s culture, and that has been the case since the time of Christ. Because of that reality, Ed Young and Fellowship Church are confident this series will strike a chord with everyone attending. OK… let’s turn things around a little bit on Ed. // Read more here… If you were preaching the sermon this week “What Jesus would say to Pastor Ed Young”, what would you say? Ready?  Set?  Go!
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It’s kind of a big issue in Washington, where Mark Driscoll pastors.  In fact, Washington state recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana. That has prompted Mark Driscoll to write a short e-book on a question he is now getting much more often:  Is it OK for Christians to smoke pot? Here’s how the book starts out: You can download a copy of the e-book here for free. OK… if someone grabbed you on the street, or called your office this morning and asked you the question, “If Pot became legal in our state, would it be ok, as a Christian, to smoke it?, what would YOU say?  What would be your initial response? Leave a short comment below… Todd

Yesterday, I featured a post about why people attend church. Today, I give you this post about why non-christians are NOT attending church: Of course, this is NOT a real study… but a graphic compiled by Chris Rosebrough… one of my discernment friends. He also lists scripture references for each point. I’d like to hear what YOU think about this. How does this correlate with how you see the work of the church in evangelism? How does this relate to how your church relates to the non-Christian. I was challenged on Twitter that I would ignore this study.  OK… I took the bait.  🙂 What do YOU think?  Is this helpful at all in understanding the unchurched, non-christian mindset? Leave your comment below… Thanks, Todd

I can see pastors all across America, sitting in their basements in their underwear, sorting and trading these: I can hear it now… I’ll trade you a John Calvin for a Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Are you crazy?  No way.  But I’ll trade you a Driscoll, Chandler, Noble, and Furtick for a Tim Keller. OK… sounds like a fair trade. Let the games begin. BTW… you can order them from… They release TOMORROW!  Here’s all the geeky details: Patterned after the all-American baseball card, Theologian Trading Cards provide essential information about the major teachers, leaders, and trouble-makers throughout the history of the Church. At a glance you will have access to information regarding 288 important figures in church history, including when and where they lived, their contribution to the church, and enduring significance. Each figure has been placed on the roster of one of 15 ‘theological’ or ‘historical’ teams; this aids readers in discovering the practical, chronological, and theological connections between figures. Examples include the Orthodoxy Dodgers (heretics); St. James Padres (Church Fathers of the Patristic Era); and the Wittenberg Whistle-blowers (Early Reformers and later Lutheran Church). Theologian Trading Cards are perfect for students taking a church history course who want a memorable study aid to help them retain important information about select individuals in the church, as well as non-students who just want to learn or want to begin a hobby of card collecting.

Here’s a gem (I think) from an article from “Companies resist innovation because it appears to be less profitable”. OK… let me re-phrase: “Churches resist innovation because it appears to be less profitable”. But the church is ‘non-profit’. Really? Most church leaders are always looking at the bottom line.  And you have to… because you’re responsible for it. But starting a new ministry when it makes little or no financial sense to do so? And if there’s not a way to justify, on the front-end, mind you, the expense to start and try something new… Most churches take a pass. And maybe sometimes that’s a good thing. But our mission is different than business. We’re not in it, ultimately, to make money. Right? So… next time you have an idea (or more importantly, when your staff or a key volunteer brings you an idea) that doesn’t make sense financially… pause and ask these two questions: 1.  Does this idea ultimately move us closer to reaching our mission statement as a church? 2.  Am I look at this idea through an ‘eternity’ lens or through a ‘financial’ lens? Most days, we’d do best to put on our ‘eternity’ glasses.  We’ll find the best ways to change and innovate in our own ministry situation when we stop asking “How much is this going to cost” right off the bat. Think about that. // Read more here… Thoughts? Todd

How would you respond to Mikah Meyer (who wrote today at the Huffington Post): Having lived in Memphis, Tenn., for much of my adult life, I’ve come across many straight peers who say, “I love the sinner, I just hate the sin.” I believe deciding whether homosexuality is a sin or not is the biggest factor when it comes to swinging conservative Christians, those often most against gay marriage, to becoming supporters. I say “conservative Christians” not to indicate political preference, but as an indicator of biblical understanding. As a self-professing “biblical non-literalist” (someone who believes the Word of God should be interpreted within context and historical practices when appropriate), I have found it impossible to have theological discussions with “biblical literalists” (those who believe the Bible is the direct, unchanged Word of God). I won’t go deeper into this argument other than to say that I have a soft spot in my heart for biblical literalists because 1) if you’re reading an English version of the Bible you’re already reading a translation made by man, and 2) you are literally reading a language nuanced 2,000 years ago. If the game of baseball does not exist 1,000 years from now, all historical documents referencing “being out in left field” are going to mean something completely different. The statement I tell my biblical literalist friends is, “We can’t use Scripture to prove our points, because we are reading the same book through completely different lenses.” That’s the problem with non-gays laying judgment on homosexuality: they are viewing it through completely different lenses — heterosexual ones. It is so frustrating to hear any straight person purport that they understand what the Bible says about being gay better than any actual gay person — especially gay Christians who have often spent large chunks of their lives praying for God to make them straight. That would be like a white person saying they understand what it’s like being black better than an African-American. In discussions about homosexuality with many of my conservative Christian friends, they often tell me that I chose to be gay. Yep, no matter how many times or in what ways I describe to them that I did not choose to be gay in the same way they did not choose to be black, left-handed or ADHD, they still insist that I chose to be gay. Assuming you know what is going on in my head, heart and gut is a huge slap in the face to someone who has spent 26 years — my entire life — reconciling my sexuality and my faith. As someone who has been influenced by a number of faith traditions (growing up the pastor’s son at America’s largest Lutheran campus ministry, living among Baptists for four years in Memphis, and having worked for two Methodist, two Presbyterian, two Episcopal and one Catholic church) I believe that a faith in Christ is one discovered through study of the Scriptures, along with a prayerful, “personal relationship with Christ” (the quoted section being learned largely from the Baptist/Evangelical tradition). I also believe that one’s life experience is crucial. As someone who has first-hand experience with being gay, I can attest that I did not choose it, and from that background, along with a scriptural and prayerful relationship with Christ, I have come to the understanding that being gay is not a sin. It is not a sin to be black, or left-handed, or schizophrenic (traits you don’t choose), and being gay (something you don’t choose) is no different. While many of my Christian peers disagree with me, I am OK with that, because I would never try to tell them that their own lives of studying Scripture and a prayerful relationship with Christ are wrong. When someone tells me that I don’t recognize rightfully that being gay is a sin, what they are essentially saying to me (and others who believe the same) is, “Your scriptural study and prayerful relationship with Christ are not valid.” It is a very hurtful and offensive thing to have your entire faith life attacked and called false. // read more here… Your response?

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

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:) Thoughts? Todd

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

Baylor University is hosting a “Preaching Festival”. It’s for “people who don’t want to wait until Sunday for a sermon”. And it’s free. I think they have the bases covered. Here’s more from the press release that is trying to entice us all to attend: Many aspiring pastors have only a limited number of opportunities to preach as they prepare for their ministries, said Kessa Payne, administrative associate with The Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Truett. “This gives them a chance to do so,” she said. “Some of these students have never preached a sermon in their lives.” Sermons will last about 15 minutes each, she said. The Truett students will preach in front of professors and local pastors as well as others who wish to attend. // Sounds like fun. OK, not. But it might be interesting, after all… and some great experience for the ‘preachers of tomorrow’. If anyone decides to go, let me know how it was.  🙂 Todd More here.

Tim Challies’ post today is entitled “Smilingly Leading You to Hell”… in which he says that nice guys many times do not give a full gospel message. He cites Brian McLaren and Joel Osteen as examples in point. On Joel Osteen, he writes:
Both the history of the church and contemporary Evangelical church are replete with nice people who are in complete rebellion against God. Is there anyone nicer than Joel Osteen? Yet is there anyone whose message has less of the gospel and more anti-biblical nonsense? You can watch him in this video, sitting with Oprah, receiving accolades, nicely, smilingly leading an eager crowd farther and farther from the cross. He is nice, but he, too, will nice you straight to the gates of hell, flashing that brilliant smile all the while.
OK… I agree that the niceness of a person does not indicate the level of their gospel presentation. But my question for you is… is this a bit strong? Is it fair to say that Joel Osteen is leading people straight to the gates of hell and that he is in complete rebellion against God? Easy question.  Difficult answer.  What do you think?  Yes or no? I have a whole blog post inside of me on Joel Osteen… maybe this will give me reason to actually write it. Read Tim Challies’ post here. Todd