Monday, December 31, 2012

Will You Be A 24%(er) in 2013?

Heb. 10:25 ~ Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

In late 2012 The PEW Research Center set forth information regarding church attendance in the United States that suggested that approximately 79 % of Americans claimed that they identified with an "organized" church or religious group, while 45% said they attended service regularly. Quite naturally this lead to the conclusion that most folk, which identify with organized religion, were also church attendees.

In an October 2012 NPR report, science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, took a look at the data and the assumptions drawn from the PEW report. What he found was that there was a difference between what people "say" about their religion and organizations of faith than what they actually do regarding their faith. More specifically, Mr. Vedantam, pointed out that questions regarding religious affiliation usually shift from what one actually does by way of attendance and physical support, toward what one "feels" about their preferred group. In other words, most people feel strongly and have a preferred group of faith, but at the same time, not everyone attends or supports their preferred group with their presence.

The Time Diary Method 
Columbo: Surely, that wasn't you at the golf course because you  were at church the the morning of July 15th 2012 at 11:00 AM...Right?

The "time diary method" is a method of questioning that asks individuals to recount their exact whereabouts at a particular time and moment. Similar to how Detective Columbo (Peter Faulk- for those of us who still remember his screen genius) in a seemingly dumbfounded moment, asked the last question while exiting, to let the criminal affirm what he already knew. In this case, the "time diary method" allowed those that say they support a church an opportunity to expose themselves to through their own actions by following when and how often they actually attended a service with their personal presence.  

This difference in Vendatam's questioning led to the conclusion that on average, only about 24% of all of them that say that they support a certain faith were actually in attendance or physically in support of their church the previous week. In other words some are saying that they believe or in this case, have a church, but are not regular attendees. 

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sandy Hook, Free Will & Tragedy. What Is The Relationship?


Since the unfortunate murders of over 26 fellow Americans in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the question has been posed over and over, why God did not stop the killer from killing innocent children and professionals taking care of them? 

We have to acknowledge that this is a valid sentiment and one that makes sense from a human standpoint. However, we also must acknowledge that we may never know many of life's mysteries but because we don't know something doesn't mean that there is no valid reason for it. 

The Character, Nature & The Existence Of God Called Into Question

The questions that we hear regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy are age old. It is simply the Problem of Evil or what is called The Epicurean Paradox. Here is a version of it, applicable to this discourse: 
  • If God is anything, he must be all powerful and have the ability to do anything including prevent tragedy. 
  • If he is God he certainly he could have stopped the gunman, by either saving him then and there on the spot, striking him dead beforehand or even causing his gun to jam or any number of things that would have prevented him from doing what he did BEFORE the killing rampage. 

The final part to this thought is that 

  • If God is indifferent, he is not good and therefore not God, or 
  • If he is powerless to prevent tragedy, he is not God as he would not be all powerful. 
The deduction here is that God simply doesn't exist. Although the first premise is flawed and invalidates all the others parts to the paradox, I believe that this is one of the primary arguments being levied as it pertains to God and religion in the Sandy Hook case or experience.  


What Can Be Said?

Many things...In reality, I know some people who are saved today because God stopped or redirected a 

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A "National Conversation" ..."We Can Do Better Than This"


Our hearts of sincere prayer, love and respect go out to all of the families whose children and loved one's were victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school slayings. We are praying for the community and extended family as well. As a parent of 2 children and as one intimately involved in the public school system trying to make it better for all children, my heart is overwhelmed, but we are in expectation of a blessing of comfort from and out of all the pain. 

Last Friday 12/14/2012 morning, a demon possessed man entered a lower grade elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut with the intent on killing as many children and school personnel as he possibly could. Although it was a cowardly act, unfortunately he was successful in taking 26 bright and beautiful lives out of our midst before even more cowardly turning the gun on himself and taking his own life. Authorities are yet searching for answers or the "reason" why a man could do this, especially to children and those otherwise defenseless individuals. In all 20 beautiful children and 6 adults charged with caring for the children lost their lives. It appears that the murderer began by taking his own mother's life before embarking on a killing spree that will always be known as one of the nations worst. Needless to say, countless others and even a whole nation are directly effected by these events. 

The "National Conversation"


These events have sparked a new buzz word among media professionals. It is called the "National Conversation" Using this phrase, and an agenda focused on laws and cultural standards, all kinds of individuals and institutions claim to be framing what America should talk about in light of this tragedy. 

In the effort to come to an answer that can be understood, some have claimed that:

1- We need tighter gun control laws & screening procedures. 
2- We need better funding and services for mental health recipients.
3- We need more and better security at our schools.

I'll add this one...

4- We need more MEN in the school educating our children. (The presence of men itself is good for children and could be a deterrent to illegal activity by itself. It seems that there is currently no national conversation regarding this one, at least as it pertains to this issue.)  


While all of these things may be true, and certainly notable, what, if anything will any of these things do to remove the evil from the hearts of those who think to commit such atrocities? We should also ask, are these things the only things that should be talked about in light of these events?


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Freedom & Progression Of Pentecostalism

Dr. Dale T. Irvin, President NYTS
Supt. Harvey Burnett
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) to discuss a number of important issues and educational matters. I also had the opportunity to sit in on and provide input in the Global Pentecostalism class conducted by NYTS President Dr. Dale T. Irvin, Professor Of World Christianity.

I would first like to say that I appreciate NYTS and have become their new fan. Not only is the NYTS staff dedicated to education, they are also dedicated to the mission of Christ and the expansion of Christ's Kingdom aka: the salvation of souls. As I observed on my visit, NY is a ripe and fertile ground for the proliferation of the gospel and the preaching of Christ. So I commend NYTS for their dedication, efforts, and service and pray continued blessings upon them. 

In the Global Pentecostalism class, Dr. Irvin has taken the time to meticulously outline the growth of the Pentecostal movement, not only in America, but around the world, by referencing such works such as "Black Fire: One Hundred Years Of Africa American Pentecostalism" by Estrelda Y. Alexander (InterVarsity Press 2011) and "The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology" by Amos Yong (Baker Academic 2005). Dr. Irvin points out that Pentecostalism was not simply a product of the early 1900's Asuza St. Revival, but it was a phenomena that embraced the world through various spiritual events and what became known as organizations even tracing it's biblical roots back to Acts 2 which states in verse 4: 

 v. 4 ~ And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Tongues 

Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian movement in the world. In shortly over a 100 year span, the number of adherents to Pentecostalism and Pentecostal doctrines, has nearly eclipsed the growth of every major Christian denomination. Though, from a biblical standpoint, there were other elements of the


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Monday, December 10, 2012

Women In Ministry & Sexism Within The Christian Church Pt. 2


As a result of the original article on the subject entitled "Women In Ministry & Sexism Within The Christian Church" I was able to enter into a discussion/debate with Pastor Saiko Woods on a bolgtalk radio segment called His Word His Way. The entire segment is listed below for your review.

In part of the show, the host implored the use of  1 Tim 3, which many believe is the strongest argument in support of "men only" in church leadership within the corporate and organized Christian church.

Here is the scripture:

1 Timothy 3:1-71-This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2-A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3-Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4-One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5-(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6-Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7-Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

I have noted (darkened) all the references using male gender specific words. The host basically pointed out that statements such as those in bold above are the key to this argument, and provides, based on grammatical construction, solid evidence that women were excluded from leadership ministry. He also pointed out that the word "Bishop" primarily could mean elder, pastor, or overseer. Therefore,  his conclusion was that women certainly could not pastor or lead in any capacity and to do so was not only spiritual deceit, but also ultimately a sin.

Is This True & Does 1 Tim. 3:1-7 Make The Case For Male Only Leadership In Ministry & Within The Christian Church? 

Quite naturally, when one reads and if all one relies upon are how we use pronouns such as "he" and statements such as "husband of one wife" the case seems to have a punch solidifying the thought  that only MEN or individuals of the male gender are allowed in these type of positions. It sounds good, even appears to be true upon superficial review, but what we actually note from scripture may set the notion that woman are excluded from leadership ministry on it's head.


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