Serious Preaching by Jim Elliff
I have been considering for some time the desperate condition of preaching in the West. I have even toyed with the idea of writing a booklet entitled Serious Preaching. Such preaching is out of vogue, but I still believe in it. Please know that I’m not talking about serious sweating. It used to be said that if a man didn’t fill his hanky with sweat, make himself hoarse with screaming and wind up walking on about two inches of his pants cuff, he hadn’t really preached at all! Billy Sunday, the baseball-player-turned-evangelist of the early 1900’s, was like that. But, with all the humor and quaintness of his message and style, after reading his sermons (and even hearing one on tape) I am left empty. He could rivet a sinner with words like a machine gunner, he could wave his chair and compel them to listen, he could lure them down the “sawdust trail” (his words, by the way), but all in all, nothing very important was said. It is easy to wave a Bible and yet never preach it. There are many who have fought hard for the inerrancy of Scripture who don’t sufficiently break open the Bible they fought for. No, What we need is doctrinal preaching…real solid truth.
Tim Keller gives a review of the ever-popular book, The Shack:
Sprinkled throughout the book, Young’s story undermines a number of traditional Christian doctrines. Many have gotten involved in debates about Young’s theological beliefs, and I have my own strong concerns. But here is my main problem with the book. Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible.
That E-Book Thing Will Never Catch On by Michael Hyatt
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the Amazon Kindle 2. However, whenever I write about it (as I did recently here and here), I always have someone who says, “I will never convert to an eBook reader. I just love the feel of a book in my hands. I totally understand that sentiment, but imagine this: . . . (It’s worth reading the rest!)
Suffering Well: Faith Tested by Cancer (AP article by Eric Gorski about Matt Chandler):
Matt Chandler doesn’t feel anything when the radiation penetrates his brain. It could start to burn later in treatment. But it hasn’t been bad, this time lying on the slab. Not yet, anyway.
Leadership from the Business World by Chuck Lawless
Leadership has become a big deal for me not only in my role as dean of the Billy Graham School, but also as my denomination (the Southern Baptist Convention) faces transitioning leadership at multiple levels. I am particularly burdened about reaching out to and working with young leaders who are the future of our churches. Given my interest, the November 2009 copy of US News and World Report – an edition that focused almost entirely on leadership – caught my attention.
I read it thoroughly, digesting the comments and thoughts of mostly secular leaders. What grabbed me, though, was just how applicable so many comments are to the church world. Below are some of the words of these leaders, with my corresponding remarks about church application indicated by asterisks (**). Read on, and be willing to be challenged.
Fan, friends, connected to Chad Ochocinco (ESPN): A touching article about Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver Chad (Johnson) Ochocinco and his connection to a fan who passed away. Any of you who may discount the connectability of our social networks such as Facebook or Twitter need to re-evaluate that. Here’s an extended excerpt:
Kirk Stivers was tired, cold and grieving. It was the last Saturday in November and he had just returned from the funeral of one of his oldest friends, Chris Kernich. Stivers sat on the couch of his mother’s home in Beavercreek, Ohio, opened his laptop and logged on to Twitter. He needed to send a message to Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco.
"I knew that was the way I could really connect to him," Stivers says.
That night, nearly 60 miles away, Ochocinco was in Cincinnati on the eve of the Bengals’ game against the Browns. It was just after 6 p.m. when he, too, logged on to Twitter.
Chris Kernich was a devoted follower (on Twitter) of Chad Ochocinco and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ochocinco has more than a half-million followers on the social-networking Web site, which has helped him build a brand beyond being an NFL wide receiver. While scanning his Twitter feed, Ochocinco spotted a message from Stivers that read: @ogochocinco @the_man_CK was buried today with your jersey! A great person was laid to rest today. His memory will always be alive! RIP CK
Less than five minutes after Stivers posted the message, he saw a return message that made his jaw drop and tears start to stream. Ochocinco had a message for Chris Kernich: @the_man_CK bruh I love you man, RIP, you’ll never be forgotten, I’m playing for you tomorrow
Before Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, if a fan wanted to reach a professional athlete, there generally were two routes: either some personal connection or a pen and paper. You’d stuff the paper in an envelope, stamp it, ship it, wait and hope. The letter probably would sit in a tub on the ground in the athlete’s locker room. If the athlete was a superstar, it likely was wedged between thousands of others.
Technology has allowed social-networking sites to change the dynamic between player and fan. In particular, the emergence of smart phones has brought fans and athletes even closer. But there are no guarantees with this evolving mode of communication, either. Ochocinco, who has more than 700,000 people following him on Twitter, can be besieged with hundreds of messages in a matter of minutes, so there is no guarantee he will see a specific message; it could be wedged in the pile — just like that piece of snail mail.