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NFTPO 2013 in review – My 400th Post!

I have been out of the blogging loop for most of the last part of the year, but here’s a report for the entire year.  Thank you so much for reading, commenting, sharing and being all=around awesome people.

This is my 400th post!  Not that I need a party or anything, I just thought is was noteworthy.

I will be resuming regular blogging activity in the new year.  So, I’ll see you then.

Blessings to you and yours in the new year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The “War on Christmas” Gets an Ad Campaign (VIDEO)

This…

I don't…

Why is…

This is a commercial put out by a Catholic group out of New Jersey. It claims that because not everyone chooses to celebrate Christmas, that automatically means there is a “War on Christmas.” You know, the standard WOC junk.

Anyway, watch the creepy laugh this girl gives at the end.

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The @RMNNetwork is Wrong, #ShaeferTrial #MinistryonTrial #TheCommunion @TheIRD @ConfessingMovement

This post represents one of the only posts I will make in the coming weeks. However, I thought this topic was important enough to warrant a special comment.

 

My friends of all stripes,

 

In response to the trial and sentencing of Rev. Frank Shaefer, #ShaeferTrial & #MinistryonTrial, I must say that the consternation over his de facto defrocking is inappropriate.

 

While Rev. Shaefer did this for different reasons, his actions constitute civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is a form of protest where the one who is disobedient is willing to accept the consequences of their actions, whether or not they believe the consequences are just.

 

One is civilly disobedient in order to bring attention to injustice of bigotry, in hopes that the injustice will be remedied. You do not do this in order to avoid consequences.

 

While I initially disagreed with the sentence, I think it is the most grace-filled, and henceforth, Wesleyan. He has the opportunity to remain a pastor. However, his point will not be served by rolling over and capitulating.

 

I do realize that, as merely an ally, I don't necessarily have a dog in this fight. However, as a global church that has existed in many forms for centuries, we must remember that it's not all about us and our trials.

 

The gospel cannot be forsaken for politics. When we do that, we lose hope and the reason we are all here in the first place. Don't get me wrong. Other parachurch organizations, like The Institute on Religion & Democracy and The Confessing Movement within the UMC, do this, as well. In many ways, they are the most virulent offenders. That does not mean we have to beat them to the bottom.

 

I do not wish to hurt any of my good friends on either side. However, I think – every once in a while – we need to be shown a bit of tough love.

 

My Last Semester & Less ‘Notes’

I thought I should update those who follow and read my blog (all three of you) with what's going on in my life. IT'S MY LAST SEMESTER OF SEMINARY! I'm excited about this…really excited. I've been in school for 9 years now, and I'm ready for a bit of a break. Please keep me in

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How @OreillyFactor Really Feels About His #KillingJesus? (VIDEO)

Check the blog of nearly any trustworthy academic who has reviewed Bill O’Reilly’s new book, Killing Jesus, and you will find that Bill O. messed up. Badly.

I was able to obtain some footage of his reaction and plans to remedy the situation:

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Pope Francis, ‘Throw-Away Culture’, and The Real Problem

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Once again, I agree with Pope Francis – but not on what you think.

Francis says abortion is a symptom of our “throw-away culture.”

Yes!  I agree that the rampant abuse of the practice of abortion is a symptom of our “throw-away culture.”

Instead of using our smartphones until they have ceased to work for our needs, we give in and get a new phone every two years – or sooner (with wireless carriers advertising heavily this sort of program, and profiting in a major way).  Instead of driving a car to the point where it no longer runs without thousands of repairs, we get a loan or lease for a new one.  Whenever a small appliance has a hiccup, our first reaction is often to go pick up a brand new one.

Now, there are certain situations where the above scenarios are the common sense thing to do.  However, we are trained from our youth to believe that the newer thing is the better thing – and then we need that thing.  This has trained us to believe that our desires are the only thing that should dictate our actions.

This is no different for many Christians, though it should be.

With that said, I believe the Pope didn’t go far enough.  Follow me, here.

Our throw-away culture is a symptom of our consumer culture.

Our consumer culture is a symptom of our capitalistic system.

Our capitalistic system is what makes this country the economic force in the world that it is, it is yet a symptom of our sin condition.

Each of our sins is our responsibility.  However, we cannot deny there is something else at work here.

Pope Francis has spoken out against greed and the financial powers of the world.  He made his latest comments on abortion to satisfy the faithful who spend way too much time on the big 3 social issues.

I just thought this connection needed to be made.

Though, not many people will read it.

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Christians Creating Culture, Not Controlling It

 

This semester – my final semester at United Seminary (as I graduate in December) – I’m taking a class entitled ‘Christ, Culture & Conversion.’

So far, it has proved to be very challenging and exciting.

The above video features Andy Crouch – editor of Christianity Today – talking about how Christians should understand, interact with and create culture.

I highly recommend taking 10 minutes to view it.

Christians should be about creating, contributing to and interacting with the culture (a term which he defines in this video), rather than seeking to control it.  When we seek to control the culture – as we see is the goal of so many prominent Christians today – we typically don’t do a very good job.

To borrow a phrase from my new obsession with British television, “we muck it up.”  Let’s stop mucking it up.

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Pope Francis Is Bringing “Traditional” Christians Back to Christianity @Pontifex

Pope Francis I, shortly after being elected as pontiff

As if on que, “traditional” Christians and their respective news sources raced to their computers – in order to quell their own fears that the first South American Pope was pulling the rug out from under their feet.

They have a point.

In my post from yesterday, I praised the Pope for calling out “traditional” Christians and their dogged obsession with what happens in people's bedrooms. His point was not to change Catholic doctrine concerning the LBGT community, abortion and the like, but to say that Christians are making themselves obselete by hatefully obsessing over the same social issues.

Since the Sexual Revolution of the 1960's – at least in America – Catholics and evangelicals have been obsessively fighting the advance of people's rights, especially in there areas. In a mostly hateful fashion (I use that adjective unapologetically), Christians have fought, wailed, whined and cried “Persecution!” whenever they don't get their way in these matters.

I still hold that it is this and other of their actions that contribute greatly to the church's decline over the last 10 years.

Anywho…

In a statement I thought I wouldn't hear for quite some time, The Christian Post correctly points out that Francis hasn't changed church doctrine – neither has he indicated as much.

So, what's the big deal, then?

Francis has sought to change the church's tone on matters such as these. If alien life forms set foot on our little rock – and looked at the actions, demonstrations and sermons in the typical Catholic or evangelical church today – they would be forgiven for thinking that the only issues that matter to this population segment are the cultural hot-buttons. All Francis is doing is saying the church has been doing it wrong.

In my opinion, really, really, REALLY wrong.

So, then, why are so many people warming to this Pontiff?

He's a straight shooter, grace-filled listener and honest arbiter in the conversation. Far too much of the debates surrounding our cultural hot-buttons are dominated by religious conservatives screaming to get their way, then crying “persecution” when it doesn't.

Francis calls all Christians to be more grace-filled, and to practice much less toolbaggery.

So, traditionalists, rest easy and don't have another conniption over Francis increasingly grace-filled words. You can rest easy, because he still believes like you.

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NOT SURPRISED #4 – Conservative US Bishops Don’t Like This Pope (VIDEO)

Pope Francis tweaked conservative Catholics this summer with this quote

Il Papa is at it again.

His latest journey into tweaking-off conservative Catholic faithful comes from an interview you can read here.

His point was to say that the church has made too much of it's business about hot-button social issues. He shares his fears about it in this excerpt:

The church can share its views on homosexuality, abortion and other issues, but should not “interfere spiritually” with the lives of gays and lesbians, the pope added in the interview, which was published in La Civilta Cattolica, a Rome-based Jesuit journal.

“We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel,” Francis said in the interview.

“The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,' Francis said. “The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”

I suppose there will be more overly critical and unecessary reactions to this latest interview. After the dust-up caused by Francis' words above, @CardinalDolan tried to blame the media – and obfuscate the Pope's obvious inclusive overtones:

But, as usual, the press predictably brought these weary issues up, and have given them more ink than any of the other noble themes that rang through Copacabana Beach. It’s not the Church that is obsessed with those topics, but the media!

Oh, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, I would point your attention to the above excerpt from the Holy Father.

By and large, modern Christians cannot stand when their beliefs aren't trumeted from the tops of the tallest towers by those in power. But when their own guy starts to undermine their own schtick, they come out with an impotent fury unmatched by modern humanity.

This guy had some harsh – and slightly creepy – words about the Pope, himself:

The other thing I want to say though, is that I'm a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn't, at least that I'm aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that. I think it would be very helpful if Pope Francis would address more directly the evil of abortion and to encourage those who are involved in the pro-life movement. It's one thing for him to reach out and embrace and kiss little children and infants as he has on many occasions. It strikes me that it would also be wonderful if in a spiritual way he would reach out and embrace and kiss unborn children.

What's clear is that Pope Francis isn't going to stop speaking these types of truths any time soon. I'm waiting for the time he decides to say something that tweaks liberals – or everybody – off. I also await reports on how he's handling ongoing child sex abuse scandals. However, I am pleased with this Pope so far.

And as for the reactions of people like @CardinalDolan and the like:


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High Gun Ownership Rates Correlate to High Gun Deaths #thesearefacts #socialholiness

NAGR is a gun rights organization

The horrific gun massacre at the Washington Naval Yard has done farily little to reignite the gun control debate. This is not surprising, considering the state of the debate following things like #Aurora #Tuscon and #NewTown.

Those opposed to any sort of gun control are focusing on the wrong parts of the 2nd Amendment and the fact that media outlets identified the weapon incorrectly – missing the point again. Horrifically, and with continuing fatal consequences.

In the wake of the tragedy, The American Journal of Medicine has pushed ahead the publishing of a study about gun rates and gun deaths – and how high ownership rates directly correlate to high gun deaths.

The findings are unsurprising, but important.

Here's the most important excerpt:

“There was a significant correlation between guns per head per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths with Japan being on one end of the spectrum and the US being on the other. This argues against the notion of more guns translating into less crime. South Africa was the only outlier in that the observed firearms-related death rate was several times higher than expected from gun ownership.”

The only country which didn't line up with the results was South Africa. That's it.

Science proves it. Your common sense tells you it's true. Why can't we do anyting about this?

As a pastor, I feel it is my duty towards the Wesleyan idea of “Social Holiness” to speak out on this issue. The Christian cannot let this status quo remain. The Christian should be outspoken when common sense proves Biblical principles.

I hate people who bandy about terms that start with the word “biblical,” but this is actually true.

The goal of Christian involvement in this issue doens't have to be to support measures which remove all guns from the hand of civilians. However, each and every Christian should search their hearts for whether or not they should actually own one, let alone what they believe about the issue.

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