Once again the internet has been abuzz with discussions of whether women should preach in the local church gathering. Whenever the issue is raised, those who oppose it are quick to explain that the role is not withheld from women because they are less valuable than men. And that "equal value" assertion always shifts my eyes from the pulpit to a more pressing concern. As some continue to debate the presence of women in the pulpit, we must not miss this immediate problem: the marked absence of women in areas of church leadership that are open to them.
The women e-mailing me regularly are not worried about winning the pulpit. They're still facing opposition over teaching the Bible to other women. They are fighting to be seen as necessary beyond children's ministry and women's ministry. They are fighting to contribute more than hospitality or a soft voice on the praise team. They are looking for leadership trajectories for women in the local church and finding virtually nothing. They watch their brothers receive advocacy and wonder who will invite them and equip them to lead well. If the contributions of women are equally valued in the church, shouldn't we see some indication in the way we staff? In who we groom for leadership, both lay and vocational?
Because we don't see that. Not even close. And we must not ignore this problem. more >>
I almost never do this, but I felt it was very important to share a letter with you so that the whole world could understand what really happened in Ireland as this predominantly Catholic nation voted decisively to redefine marriage.
After the vote, I posted this on Facebook:
What can we learn from the vote to redefine marriage in Ireland, a traditionally Catholic country? more >>
Not many Christians know what they're talking about when they discuss racial reconciliation and their reliance on the modern social construct of "race," as opposed to the Bible's approach to the term, which leads to an "incomplete Gospel" and underestimation of the pervasiveness of racism, according to a New Testament scholar.
"I think when we in the Christian community, when you listen to a lot of folks talk about ... when they actually talk about racial reconciliation, I'm not convinced that many know what they're talking about," said Jarvis J. Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "There's a sense of confusion about what race is, in terms of the modern social construction of race and how race functioned in the biblical word."
He suggested that the "typical evangelical Protestant Christian" thinks the Gospel is limited to how one becomes a Christian. "And I'd be the first to say, 'Certainly, that's the foundation of what we find in the New Testament.' How does one become right with God, trusting Christ by faith, believe that God offered Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and He raised Him up from the dead. But the Gospel is not only that. It is that, but it's more," Williams insisted. more >>
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of the reality-show "19 Kids and Counting" have continued receiving the backing of evangelical voices amidst the molestation scandal revolving their oldest son, Josh Duggar. Evangelism Explosion International, a worldwide training ministry, said that while Josh Duggar's actions as a teenager were "reprehensible," he has admitted and abandoned his wrong conduct.
"Having met the Duggar family and been in their home, I have great admiration and appreciation for how Jim Bob and Michelle instilled Christian values in the lives of each of their children. They are a model family but not, as they will quickly tell you, a perfect family. And that, of course, is true for all of us. We have all sinned —violated the moral law of God — in thought, word, and deed," EEI President John B. Sorensen said in a statement.
"Josh Duggar's actions 12 years ago as a young teenager were wrong and reprehensible. But he acknowledged and abandoned his wrong conduct. His parents addressed it in his life and in the lives of his victims — providing correction for him and supportive counseling for them. He has not hidden or denied his immoral actions but openly acknowledged what he did — even telling his wife, Anna, and her family long before the two were even engaged," Sorensen added. more >>
As a child, I was captured by the stories that my grandfather told about life on the farm in Oklahoma in the early 1900s. The images I've held are not those of pleasant surroundings and ideal conditions; they are impressions of twelve-hour days spent working the land, dust storms that could devastate a crop, blistered and sunburned skin, and poverty unlike most Americans know today. Life, in general, was harder then, but interestingly enough, character seemed much stronger—it was a time when commitment, integrity, and honesty stood in place of contracts, disclosures, and bylaws. A handshake and a man's word were generally good enough. I'm not suggesting that we return to that time in history, but that we learn from the past and strongly encourage those same character traits today.
Through the 1960s until the 80s, my father, Jim Idleman, and his dad, helped build a Little League field in the small town of Quartz Hill, Ca. Baseball has been flowing through our veins ever since, and my brother started a baseball training center in this town a few years ago.
Recently, I was asked to manage a team. Stepping onto the field again, this time as a manager, many memories called out from the past. These several years later, I've found that, while some things have changed, others have not: more >>
G.K. Chesterton has this famous quote about the importance of upholding the sagacity of the past:
"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."
Memorial Day is primarily about honoring the legacy of the dead, especially persons who served sacrificially in the military. But ideally it also provokes remembrance and appreciation for the accumulated wisdom and experience of generations gone before. Assuming that we in our own time stand at the pyramid's peak of enlightenment, which is currently widespread and popular, is arrogant and foolish. Future generations will reflect on us and our generational errors with as much condescension and contempt as we often do of our ancestors. more >>