At one point in my life I attended a church that was extremely laid-back about the subject of giving. It wasn't talked about much at all. There was no offering of any kind and the issue of money came up extremely infrequently. It was downplayed to the point of being out of sight, out of mind. Whether this was in response to an overemphasis that had left a bad taste in the pastor's mouth or the desire to rely fully on the Lord's provision I am not sure. I certainly am not judging that ministry decision, but what I do know is that it wouldn't be until later on that I would discover the richness of all that the Bible has to say about the subject and it floored me.
Consequently, during that period I sporadically gave when I felt "led," which, if I'm honest, wasn't all that often. It was more like a "tip" for a good sermon, or when I felt extra generous. I might have called it a tithe but it wasn't, it was nowhere near a tenth of my earnings. Things certainly seemed to be humming along at the church though, and for all I knew the congregation was full of millionaires that gave so much that it really didn't matter if I contributed or not. Also, I made very little in my job at that time and so I felt justified in keeping almost all of what I earned for myself.
Looking back, I am horrified that I would enjoy teaching that I didn't support, be led in worship by a team using equipment that I did nothing to offset the cost of, and bring friends to church, taking for granted that a chair was there for them to sit in and hear about Jesus but not help cover the costs to make it all happen. At one point in my life I attended a church that was extremely laid-back about the subject of giving. It wasn't talked about much at all. There was no offering of any kind and the issue of money came up extremely infrequently. It was downplayed to the point of being out of sight, out of mind. Whether this was in response to an overemphasis that had left a bad taste in the pastor's mouth or the desire to rely fully on the Lord's provision I am not sure. I certainly am not judging that ministry decision, but what I do know is that it wouldn't be until later on that I would discover the richness of all that the Bible has to say about the subject and it floored me. more >>
Controversial conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said that President Barack Obama is "having an orgasm" over Pope Francis' recent thoughts in his "Evangelii Gaudium," an "apostolic exhortation," where the Roman Catholic Church leader condemned global inequality and the "tyrannical" world economic system.
"This is the president citing the pope, his new best friend, because the pope is ripping America, the pope [is] ripping capitalism," Limbaugh said on his show on Wednesday. "And Obama's having an orgasm. Jeremiah Wright is beside himself. Jeremiah Wright thought he was Obama's preacher, now [the] pope somehow has co-opted Obama."
The remarks were in response to Obama's recent comments on equality, where he mentioned the Vatican leader in a speech: "So the basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed. In fact, this trend towards growing inequality is not unique to America's market economy. Across the developed world, inequality has increased. Some of you may have seen just last week, the Pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length. 'How can it be,' he wrote, 'that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?'" more >>
Church leaders around the world have paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, with Pope Francis praying that people will follow the example of justice and common good set forth by South Africa's first-ever black president.
"In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss," Francis wrote in a telegram on Friday, sending his condolences to Mandela's family and all the people in South Africa.
"Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations." more >>
"Preachers of L.A.," the faith-based Oxygen network reality show that Christians seem to love to hate but apparently like to watch in record numbers, has led to online discussions about various hot-button issues. One topic in particular featured in the docu-series that elicited strong responses is "shacking up," or the state of an unmarried couple living together as if they are husband and wife. The situation suggests that a shacking couple is a couple having sex, or facing the temptation to have sex. But is "shacking" even mentioned in the Bible?
In the Oct. 16 airing of episode 2 of "Preachers of L.A." ("Acceptance"), gospel recording artist and former pastor Deitrick Haddon and his fiancée, Dominique dine with Bishop Ron Gibson and his wife, LaVette, for the purposes, according to Haddon, of getting wisdom from the long-time married couple. Despite beginning amicably, the meeting quickly turns south as Bishop Gibson states that "a shaky suspect engagement is indicative of a shaky and suspect marriage." Cutting to the chase, Gibson asks Haddon, "Are you guys shacking?" Haddon, offended by Gibson's question, declares that shacking up isn't in the Bible. Watch a brief clip of the exchange below.
Sammy Lopez, lead pastor of Mighty Fortress Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas, weighed in on Twitter during the noted "Preachers of L.A." episode, dismissing Haddon's suggestion that "shacking" is not in the Bible. more >>
In 2007, Barry Corey became the eighth president of Biola University, officially launching the celebration of the university's centennial year. During his time at Biola he's led the development of Biola's Center for Christian Thought; the Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts; the annual Imagination Summit; and Open Biola - an online database for free educational content created and curated by the university.
Under his leadership, Biola has seen the highest enrollment in the university's 105-year history, with the construction of new facilities to serve the needs of the campus. But while his career is about education, his passion is how the Christian community engages today's culture. He's committed to raising up a generation of students who can make a difference in today's secular world.
I sat down with Dr. Corey and asked him about how Christians should re-think how we share our witness with the world. more >>
Inside the introduction written by theologian John Piper to Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, a book of devotionals designed especially for Advent 2013 by Desiring God, a ministry he founded, the pastor answers the question, "What does Jesus want for Christmas?"
With readings beginning Sunday, Dec. 1, and going through Christmas Day, this book of Advent devotionals "aims to put Jesus at the center of your holiday season," states Desiring God. The short meditations are excerpted from the ministry of Piper and correspond to the daily readings in Desiring God's free devotional app, Solid Joys (available in iTunes and Google Play), as well as online.
Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn., before retiring from that position earlier this year. He is the author of more than 50 books including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. John and his wife, Noël, have five children and twelve grandchildren. more >>