Archive - July, 2010

Layoffs Hit Focus on the Family

Mark Barna of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

Layoffs hit Focus on the Family Friday, but no public announcement was made about how many employees are losing their jobs and from what departments.
“Today is family time,” Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said. “We’ll have more to say publicly about our reduction in force on Monday.”
Throughout the day, Focus held department meetings to inform those affected by the layoffs, which have been rumored for days.
Since 2002, Focus’ work force has been reduced from 1,400 to 860. Over the past two years, Focus cut 295 jobs. Friday’s layoffs are the first for the ministry since September 2009, when it laid off 75 workers.

Read the whole thing.
Focus on the Family has been a tremendous blessing over the years to many people in many ways. These are tough times, and it’s easy from some to criticize the various budgetary decisions of a large ministry, particularly at a time of transition in leadership. But it’s a tendency we would do well to resist. Rather, let’s pray both for the families affected and for the leadership that remains. God’s vision for husbands, wives, children, and the family are under assault in our day as much as ever. May this important ministry remain strong for many years to come.

Anne Rice leaves “Christianity”

It is somewhat fashionable these days to claim to follow Jesus but not want to be associated with Christianity (in any organized sense). It’s basically a “me and Jesus” thing. That seems to be the route that famous vampire novelist Anne Rice may be taking. This Wednesday she posted on Facebook:

Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else…..I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

But perhaps in an attempt to avoid misunderstanding, the next day she added:

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.

Her current status is far better than pessimistic atheism, but I’m not sure how “following Christ does not mean following His followers.” Would that include not following the Apostles? While no Christian would claim the perfection of Christ, the New Testament records Paul’s instruction that we should imitate him as he (imperfectly) imitates Christ (I Cor. 11:1), and that we should submit to elders in a local church, who themselves also have accountability (cf. Heb. 13:7). In salvation we are not only united to Christ but are adopted into His imperfect family of saints being refashioned into the image of God (cf. Eph. 4:1-16). I don’t know much about her, but I hope that Ms. Rice is receiving biblical instruction and is part of some Christian faith community. Perhaps she could press through this phase into full-orbed, biblical Christianity, which embraces both Christ and His imperfect, but progressively sanctified bride.

Overpaid Professors?

Particularly for those in or considering a career in academia, here’s a good article on the challenges and compensation associated with faculty positions.

To Every Tribe Ministries – Interview with David Sitton – Part 3

Dts 10-08.JPGDavid Sitton is the President of To Every Tribe, a ministry which has been planting churches among unreached people groups of Papua New Guinea and Mexico for many years now. The ministry is led by a distinguished board of directors and three executive officers. As it happens, they are seeking to hire a Director for their Center for Pioneer Church Planting.
To Every Tribe is hosting a conference this October 22-23 entitled Reckless Abandon: For Jesus and The Nations. In light of this conference, and as a means of spreading the word about To Every Tribe, I’ll be posting a three or four part interview with David Sitton. Part 2 was posted last week (and Part 1 the previous week). Here’s Part 3:
Are there any new developments at To Every Tribe that you’d like to share with us?
The big thing for us is seeing the gospel advance into previously unreached areas. I like to talk about the “advance” of the gospel. Advance denotes movement, action, intentionality and progress; setting targets for the gospel and then going after them for Christ. To do that well requires teams of well trained church planting missionaries. And that’s what we’re attempting to produce, with God’s help, in our Center For Pioneer Church Planting (CPCP). Beginning in September, we are transitioning into a two-year training program, 40% of which is focused upon on-the-job training situations in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Mexico. For example, we’ve discovered a whole new region in the Black Water swamp lands of PNG where the evangelical gospel is virtually unknown. Plans are being made to get the gospel established into that area as quickly as possible. We also have a reconnaissance research team, right now, in the remote parts of Oaxaca (Mexico) gathering data in order to determine the most strategic place to launch a church planting team. These are the things that excite me the most.
You’re hosting a Mission Conference with the title Reckless Abandon: For Jesus and the Nations. Why that title?
I got the Reckless Abandon title from Ed McCully, who was one of the Ecuador 5 that were martyred in Ecuador in 1956. Here’s his quote:
“I have just one desire now; to live a life of reckless abandon for Christ and I’m putting all of my strength and energy into it. Maybe the Lord will send me some place where the name of Christ is unknown.”
–Ed McCully (in a letter to Jim Elliot, September 22,1950)

It’s our conviction that most of the easy-to-reach places have already been harvested. The ones that remain unengaged are hard to get to, and oftentimes hostile. It requires a certain missionary mentality for a man to take his family into these dangerous places. It requires a reckless abandon that comes out of deep conviction that Jesus and the gospel are worth it. Whatever the hardship or suffering, Jesus is always worth it. If there is a line, over which, Jesus is no longer worth the sacrifice, that line points directly at the thing that we value more than Christ; whatever it is we value more than Christ is an idol in our lives.
I noticed that the speakers have worked in Romania and Ethiopia, whereas To Every tribe has historically focused on Papua New Guinea and Mexico. Tell us a little bit about why you chose Josef Tson and Getaneh Getaneh.
Josef Tson lept nearly to the top of my “greatly admired” list when I read about his response to a Romanian prison guard that gave him a choice to either deny Christ and be released, or be killed by firing squad. Josef said, “Sir, let me explain to you the situation. Your greatest weapon is killing; but my greatest weapon is dying. I see no good reason to renounce Christ now. If you kill me, I go to heaven and my sermons will spread around Romania all the faster because people will know that I died for my faith. If you release me, I will go on preaching. Do with me as you wish!” And they released him! I want Josef Tson at our Reckless Abandon conference!
Getaneh Getaneh is from Ethiopia and has been tortured more than I can imagine for his faith in Christ. Getaneh has an incredible testimony and is one of the strong voices within Voice of the Martyrs that speaks on behalf of the “suffering church” around the world. I look forward to hearing about his exploits for the gospel in the midst of severe suffering.

Are there any particular themes you’ve asked Josef and Getaneh to address?

Once they heard about the “Reckless Abandon” theme, Dr. Tson and Getaneh Getaneh both accepted our invitation immediately. I know they will speak powerfully to the subject. I will be sitting with everyone else in the conference eager to hear whatever these brothers want to challenge us with. In my sessions, I expect to develop what I believe is the biblical rationale for encouraging extreme risk for the gospel. The outline will be something like this: Risk is always determined by the value of the mission; the gospel is so valuable that no risk is unreasonable; life laid down for Jesus is eternal gain. If I live, I win. If I die, I win bigger (Phil. 1:22-24).
(To Be Continued……)

Finding Conservative Evangelical Leaders (Under 40)

A few weeks ago Marvin Olasky wrote that “many evangelicals of college age and slightly beyond…frequently cannot think of a single conservative evangelical whom they admire.” Consequently, a new World magazine contest has been announced for:

Nominating a person. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: By July 31 send June McGraw a name and one-paragraph description of an articulate conservative evangelical under the age of 40 who already has a record of accomplishment and seems likely to accomplish more.
We’re looking for people with attractive personalities who are committed to political decentralization, free markets, and Bible-based cultural norms. We’ll research your nominees and interview some. The particular field is less important than the person. Since the proclamation of propositional truths does not engage some younger evangelicals, our goal is to offer narratives of exciting lives, profiling in words and film the most impressive. Please help us find them.

Who to nominate?

Andrew Peterson – Counting Stars

Dancing in the Minefields is a beautiful song from Andrew Peterson’s new album (which releases today) called Counting Stars. Peterson has been singing and songwriting for a dozen years (he won a Dove Award nomination for his song “Family Man“). He has a beautiful, gentle voice, and writes with honesty and depth. Check out the song below.

And here’s a short video about his most recent album:


Orlando Sentinel Story on Sproul’s Influence on “New Calvinists”

Pretty good story by the Orlando Sentinel on R.C. Sproul’s ministry and recent activities (new church facility, founding a Bible College) as they relate to the rising popularity of Calvinism among young evangelicals.
HT: Chris Larson

Interview – Jim Newheiser – You Never Stop Being a Parent

Last week I reviewed the latest book from Jim Newheiser & Elyse Fitzpatrick, You Never Stop Being a Parent: Thriving in Relationship With Your Adult Children. These two also co-authored When Good Kids Make Bad Choices.
I’m grateful that Pastor Jim was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about their most recent book.
Pastor Jim, thank you very much for being available. There’s a lot of discussion in the secular media about “helicopter parents“. Among Christians, is there a real trend to “over-parenting” in our day?
I want to preface my responses by stating our conviction that the Word of God is our sole authority which we believe to be fully sufficient to teach us how to live in a way that pleases God in all areas of life – including how to relate to our adult kids. These answers are brief. These topics are much more fully developed, with Scriptural exposition, in the book.
One of the most significant problems I have seen among Christian parents is the unwillingness to let go of their kids as they become adults. There is no more sure way to provoke a young adult to anger than to treat him as a child. In the book we seek to establish that the Bible teaches that a young person comes of age at which time he or she is primarily responsible for his or her own life decisions (even if the parents don’t like the decisions being made). On the other hand, if the child is still living under the parents’ roof or dependent upon parental finances, then the parents have the right to have reasonable expectations as a condition for the child continuing to receive support.
Many young adults want full adult privileges and freedoms, while still expecting their parents to provide for their material needs. Once a child is an adult the relationship is by mutual agreement. The child living at home can always choose to leave if he doesn’t like his parents’ rules. The parents likewise are free to force the child to move out if he or she refuses to live according to expectations. On the other hand, if the child who is living in the home is meeting basic expectations, the parent should offer encouragement and avoid micromanaging the child.
What are “reasonable goals” for a parent to seek for their kids?
Parents seek to prepare their children to live as responsible godly adults. Our greatest desire is to see them converted and serving the Lord. Beyond that we long to see them grow in wisdom in the various areas addressed by the book of Proverbs — wisdom in friendship, in speech, in acquiring a skill and working hard, in financial matters, in moral purity, etc. When adult children are living at home they should be there with a clearly defined purpose, rather than aimlessly wasting their time (as many young adults are prone to do). Valid reasons for remaining home could include completing one’s education, establishing a trade or a business, working and saving money for a future marriage or home, etc.
Parents may be forced to distinguish between their ideals for their kids and the minimum expectations they must meet if they are to remain in the home. Adult children living in the home should be working hard (as many hours a week as the parents have to work to provide the house) at either a job and/or their education.
When (by what age) should a parent aim to “launch” their kids into adulthood (to use the metaphor of arrows, Ps. 127:4)? 18? 22? Does it depend?
In Numbers 32:11 the Lord stated that none of the men twenty and above, who followed the unbelieving ten spies rather than Joshua and Caleb, would enter the promised land. This implies that by the age of twenty they were considered adults who were responsible for their own choices and that they should have chosen differently than their parents. So twenty seems like a good starting place. The legal age of adulthood in our culture is eighteen which is probably close enough. There may be cases in which a child is living as an independent adult at a younger age while others are not ready until later. Once a child is “of age” (a legal adult in our culture) the continuation of parental oversight is by mutual consent. The child can choose to leave, even if he is not ready. The parent also is free to send the child out of the home if he is not willing to live according to family rules and expectations.
Is a college student a child or an adult (assuming the typical age, 18-22)? Should a Christian student honor his parents’ wishes in the selection of a major? And what if his parents are non-Christians with ungodly motivations?
I have seen parents who have been over-controlling in their childrens’ education. Sometimes these parents are seeking to live out their frustrated ambitions through their kids. Some parents may place too much pressure on their children to choose a major which leads to worldly wealth, while the child may believe a different field of study would better equip him to serve the Lord. Because the child is going to live with the consequences of his educational decisions for the rest of his life, I think the decision should be primarily his. On the other hand, a wise child will seek and seriously consider the counsel of his parents. Also, the parents aren’t obligated to finance a choice with which they strongly disagree. My advice to them, however, would be to respect their child’s budding adulthood.
How should parents and children handle disagreements in the selection of spouse?
While I believe that the ideal courtship situation will include much wise input from parents on both sides, I am convinced that the final choice of whether to marry and whom to marry rests with the child. I Cor. 7:39 says that a widow may marry whom she will — not whom her father or brother wills. A father may give his daughter a promise ring when she is twelve and have her commit to not ever date or court a young man without her father’s permission, but when she is twenty one she may not believe that she is bound by that commitment. If parents have a wonderful and loving relationship with their young adult they will have a lot of influence on his or her choice of a spouse. If the relationship is bad, they will have little or no influence, no matter what amount of control they believe they should have. We have written an entire chapter on this subject in the book.
What’s your view of parents leaving an inheritance for their kids? What are the dangers? The benefits? What kind of circumstantial factors should be considered? Should inheritance (if any) always be (on principle) equally divided among the children?
Proverbs commends giving an inheritance to our kids (Prov. 13:22), but also warns that inheritances can be squandered (Prov. 20:21). Often the best way we can help our adult kids is to give them some of their inheritance while we are still alive (and when they most need our help). For example, helping them with their education which will lead to a well paying job could be a great inheritance. Some parents help their kids buy their first home. I do not believe that money needs to be doled out with absolute equality. One child may be very well off financially, while another may be suffering from severe health problems or disabilities, and another may be working as a foreign missionary. Or one child may be a substance abusing gambler who would quickly squander any inheritance. We also warn that financial matters are dangerous. If you do choose to treat your children differently, it is important to explain what you are doing and why to the children who receive less.
Thanks again, Pastor Jim.

Busyness and Fruitfulness are different

A great series of posts by C.J. Mahaney on the fact that:
1. Busyness does not mean I am diligent.
2. Busyness does not mean I am faithful.
3. Busyness does not mean I am fruitful.
Part 1: Are You Busy?
Part 2: Confessions of a Busy Procrastinator
Part 3: The Procrastinator Within
Part 4: Just Do It
In posts 2 & 3, Mahaney unpacks an article by Walter Henegar from the Fall 2001 issue of the Journal of Biblical Counseling entitled “Putting Off Procrastination.”
In the 4th post, there’s this fantastic quote:

No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.
-Alexander MacLaren (1826–1910), Scottish preacher

That just might go above my computer.

Obama’s Approval Numbers & Strategy: 2010 and 2012

Karl Rove explains the disconnect between Democrats in Congress and the Obama White House, suggesting the current malaise may well extend to 2012. Charles Krauthammer, in an apparent contrast, warns Republicans not to underestimate Obama, who has achieved a string of historic legislative victories (Stimulus, Health Care, Financial Reform). The consequence of these new initiatives is “the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see.” But there’s a larger strategy underway.
I think Krauthammer nails it: Obama may look weak now, but his reelection campaign will be fierce and tough to defeat.

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