The genius of America is the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In a misguided effort to expand liberty, Kennedy denied life to our most vulnerable citizens, and he thwarted the pursuit of happiness by saddling the self with impossible demands. He ruled on the nation’s highest Court at a time when conservatives and liberals have ceded unprecedented power to nine unelected, lifetime justices, so they can adjudicate fights we share no common concern to settle ourselves.
The landmark in question concerns the fertility rate, the average number of children that a woman bears in her life. (Scholars commonly speak of the total fertility rate, TFR.) If that figure is around 2.1 children per woman, then the population will remain broadly stable, and that level is termed “replacement rate.” If the rate is much higher than that, say 5 or 6 per woman, then we will see a rapidly expanding population with many young people and young adults, with all the restlessness and turbulence that suggests. A fertility rate below 2.1 results in contracting population and an aging society. (Death rates are also significant, but less so for present purposes).
But given our seeming unfamiliarity with the Holy Spirit, how do we know if something we are experiencing is really the His work? How do we know some urging or feeling is really from the Holy Spirit, or just last night’s pizza that went down badly? You might say that it’s “just a feeling” that we have when the Spirit is at work; the problem with that is that our feelings are unreliable at best; they are liars at worst. No, there is a better way to know that the Spirit has been at work – one rooted in the most famous and historical example of the Spirit’s work we have recorded.
I had been pastoring for five months in Vermont, and Prayer Meeting had slowly shrunk as the excitement of having a new pastor ebbed and as summer activities and travel amped up. I had decided to begin a “How To Study the Bible” series in the fall that we would dip into each Wednesday evening before our time of prayer. It was the first Bible study that I had created a graphic for. I advertised it for weeks and sent out special e-mails. I studied and prepared and prayed. Four people showed up that first night.
It is possible some church members read that article and envisioned their own pastor or other staff member, mentally critiquing them as they read. Based on thoughts about that article—and the reality that church problems are almost never solely the fault of any one pastor—here are ten ways church members regularly undermine their credibility.
While the length of this psalm is often a joke for Bible nerds like me, the depth of this psalm also amazes me. It shares many positive emotions of how God’s Word transforms us but doesn’t stop there—it reveals how God’s Word serves as a ballast to steady afflicted souls.
A favorite from the archives (in honor of tomorrow being Canada Day):
It’s kind of like the Fourth of July except, instead of declaring war, we asked permission to move out of mom’s basement (true story). And 2017 is the 150th anniversary of our becoming a kinda/sorta/not really independent nation, and the 35th of the existence of our formal constitution1. That’s right, America: we’re not only polite, but we take our time.