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Last week the state assembly of California voted to allow legal assisted suicide. Lawmakers have sent a bill allowing terminally ill people to purchase and use life-ending drugs to governor Jerry Brown. This news come just weeks after an astonishing report from Europe detailed a huge expansion of assisted suicide in the Netherlands and Belgium, an expansion so vast that even mainstream media outlets have labeled it “sinister.”
The battle over expansive assisted suicide is not merely another skirmish in the “culture war.” Rather, it is an expression of one of the biggest religious alternatives to historic, orthodox Christianity in our world today. No, it’s not atheism or Islam. It’s the Grim Reaper. It’s Death itself.
For 30 years, Miss Bobbie stood outside the doors of Hillview Baptist Church, a small congregation south of Nashville, and waited for a miracle. She was there in the early 1980s, when the Hillview held its first service with 7 people in a tent on a snowy Easter Sunday. And she was there a year ago, on the day that Hillview Baptist met for the last time. All along, Miss Bobbie hoped and prayed the church would one day be filled to overflowing.
But Hillview, which once had as many as 100 people, had dwindled to a congregation of 14. Last spring, they voted to merge with Conduit Church, a relatively new congregation meeting in a nearby school. Conduit had people but no building. Hillview Baptist had few people and a building. It seemed like a perfect match.
Marty Duren reminds us why we should be a little wiser with what we share on Facebook.
Not that long ago, “man of God” was a common and honored descriptor in the church. The phrase ranked alongside “great preacher,” “brilliant theologian,” or “gifted writer” in frequency and surpassed them in value. Now, it seems as though the designation “man of God” has gone the way of the bus ministry and the youth choir—a largely passé referent to a bygone era of church life.
It is as though someone snuck into the shopping mall of the Kingdom and changed all the price tags, upsetting and inverting God’s value system. We have increased the mundane and ancillary aspects of Christian ministry, all the while cheapening its true virtues and values. In God’s economy, though, character is valued over talent, and holiness over giftedness.
What is the most important character trait for a pastor? A preaching gift? Theological education? Leadership skills? Vision? Communication saavy? A shepherd’s heart?
All of these things are important and essential for the ministry, but none of them will be used effectively if the pastor doesn’t possess the one thing that will determine the rise or fall of his ministry: trust.