Could it be that people in American churches have forgotten the promises that result in the duality of prayer – duty, and privilege? If so, calendars and bed sheets will trump prayer every time. So rather than one more call to a prayer meeting, let’s recall the promises, then (ironically) let’s pray they stick.
A minister may be tempted to inappropriately borrow too much of the labor of those to whom they listen. We may allow ourselves to become exegetically lazy. We may even fall into the snare of seeking to imitate their intonation or mannerisms. We may also fall into the trap of downplaying the work of the Spirit of God among the congregation under the live preaching of the word. Nevertheless, these should not be deterrents to our eagerness to listen to the great wealth of digital sermons that God has given us. We are called to learn from those who have gone before us and to pass on what we learn from them. As the Apostle Paul charged Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). There is absolutely no good reason why listening to the audio sermons of faithful ministers shouldn’t form a part of our sermon preparation.
Kate Shellnutt and World Watch Monitor:
The violence, instability, and Christian persecution that ISIS has brought to the Middle East is making its way to a besieged island in the Philippines.
More than 100 people have been killed and hundreds more taken hostage in the span of a week on the island of Mindanao, home to a Muslim minority in the majority-Catholic archipelago. Insurgents have targeted Christians and those who cannot prove themselves to be fellow Muslims. Experts believe the Islamic State is poised to create a caliphate in Southeast Asia, including this island in particular.
Like our time, the ancient world had a complicated view of women’s empowerment. On the one hand, goddess temples filled the empire. On the other hand, so did temple prostitution and misogyny. Some important rights for women have been gained, of course, but we haven’t completely overcome all of that. Wonder Woman does indeed represent power, but she also is, in every iteration, designed to be sexually attractive to men. The 1970s-era television series noted in its theme song, “Fighting for your rights, in your satin tights, and the old red, white, and blue.” The rights and the tights were both part of the package—and, from the looks of things, still are.
The person who objects is often told they are “singling out” this particular sin as over-important, as more important than unity! But it is not those who protest who are singling out particular sins. It is those bringing the revision, the ones asking, “Did God really say?”, the ones who suggest it should now be normal what we previously agreed was objectionable who are singling it out, elevating it above the agreement. They are the ones making it the sticking point.
S Craig Sanders:
When Davis finished his PhD in church history in 1998, he accepted the call as pastor of the historic First Baptist Church Durham, North Carolina. Scripture memory and meditation sustained him as he withstood a powerful faction of deacons and committee chairs. In 2001, his opponents tried to drive him away after he led the church to change the bylaws to reflect biblical roles of gender and authority.
A favorite from the archives:
Sometimes I wonder if the apostle Paul would say if were to arrive in my city. I suspect it would be pretty similar to what he told the men of Athens, “I see that you are extremely religious in every respect” (Acts 17:22). But unlike the men of Athens, most hearers in London, Toronto, New York, or any number of North American cities would be shocked by these words. After all, we borderline pride ourselves on our irreligion.
Which may reveal just how religious we truly are.