Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts for you to check out.


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Disability Stereotypes in Movies

One of the pet peeves of many people in the disability community is how people with disabilities are portrayed in movies and television shows. Very often, stereotypes are used for people with disabilities. People with autism or MS may not feel that the portrayal of their diagnoses represents their experience.

I am sympathetic with this concern. But I feel that I should point out that everything about movies and television shows is about stereotypes.

For example, I am an evangelical Christian. Every portrayal I have seen in entertainment of evangelicals is always a stereotype, usually negative. I am also a pastor and in the same way, pastors in movies are usually pretty shallow stereotypes. I suspect the same is true of portrayals of teachers, police officers, doctors, etc. It is just the way movies and television shows work.

That is not to say that studios should be satisfied with stereotypes. I would encourage them to interact with many examples of whatever type of person they want to include to deepen the portrayal. There is diversity within every diagnosis, profession, etc. and so not every person will identify with any one portrayal. But there is always room to go deeper and to avoid short cuts.

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Good News: Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du SoleilToday we went to see Cirque du Soleil. This was my first time seeing them but Amanda had seen them before. She was quite excited when she heard that they were coming to the city where we lived.

So we went as a family. If you have never seen Cirque du Soleil, I encourage to check them out. It is the best of old-style circus and modern technology. They put on an amazing show. Not only is it entertaining, it is an incredible display of strength and skill.

It was fun to be able to experience this as a family.


Why do I blog about Good News?

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Weekend Leadership Roundup

Here are some leadership posts that you should check out.

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When Experience and Evidence Kiss

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” (Psalm 85:10) I love the idea of righteousness and peace kissing each other.

If there are two other concepts in Christianity that kiss, it would be experience and evidence. I understand that many of my apologist friends get really nervous when Christians talk about experience. They immediately imagine someone praying after reading the Book of Mormon and experiencing the “burning in the bosom.” But I am not talking about solely relying on experience.

The book of Acts is an excellent example of the balance of experience and evidence. In Acts 2 we have the experience of Pentecost, followed by examining how it fits within the biblical worldview. The Apostle Paul shares his experience of meeting Jesus twice but also demonstrates in Acts 17 how to use evidence.

John Wesley is one of my heroes from church history. He was a brilliant man who could hold his own with the best. But he also emphasized experience. He understood that we didn’t have to choose one or the other.

I am not talking about a faith that is based on experience alone or evidence alone. A healthy faith that satisfies the mind and the heart includes both.

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Should Pastors Work With Pastors of Other Denominations?

DenominationsSome pastors feel more comfortable working with pastors of their own tradition/denomination. There is nothing wrong with this as these relationships are very important. I’m thankful for my colleagues within my denomination.

At the same time, some of my most rewarding experiences have been collaborations with pastors of other denominations. It is not that I pretend that there are no differences. I disagree with my Pentecostal friends about the role of speaking in tongues and my Presbyterian friends about infant baptism. But we agree on what matters.

I have found that our common faith in Jesus, his death and resurrection, is enough for us to work together in meaningful ways. I also find that being around others with different interpretations helps me to grow spiritually.

Beyond that, working with people of other denominations is a powerful witness. I have heard many skeptics point out that the existence of the denominations as evidence that Christianity is not true. I disagree with that critique. There is room for different interpretations just as there is room for different interpretations within science. What matters is that we love and respect one another. When the world sees Christians working together, it is a demonstration that there is a real Jesus who is worth following.

I understand that there are some traditions that put limitations on what can be done with other denominations. But as far as is possible, I encourage pastors to work with other pastors of different denominations.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that you might want to check out.

 

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Ant-Man and the Wasp – Review

I have to confess that Ant-Man is one of my favourite heroes in the MCU. I was not that fond of him in the comics but he is a breath of fresh air for the MCU. The recent sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, only solidified this.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

What I like about Ant-Man is that he one of the few MCU heroes that I can identify with. He is a normal guy. Think about the original MCU Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye. They are all professionals, people who are brilliant and talent and have it all together. Scott Lang is not that hero. Scott Lang is a hero who is thrown into extraordinary circumstances and thrives only with the strength of character.

But this movie is not just Ant-Man, it is Ant-Man and the Wasp. Hope van Dyne was a major character in the first movie and I was glad that she was able to suit up in the sequel. She is more in line with the traditional MCU hero, but that only highlights the charm of Ant-Man. The relationship between the two was fun to watch.

I can’t say that the villain(s) of this movie were the most interesting in the MCU. Not that they were really bad, just not as well defined as some. But that does not take away from the movie because it is not about the good guys vs the bad guys. It was Scott Lang and his friends vs a bunch of unfortunate circumstances.

My one main complaint was that I hoped to see Bill Foster suit up as Goliath. I hope that happens in the next sequel.

By the way, it is worth waiting for the after-credit scene as it is a major Infinity War tie-in.

Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp was a great addition to the MCU and I very much enjoyed the movie.


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Is Speaking in Tongues Still For Today?

I recently did a Twitter poll about speaking in tongues and to whom it is available. These were the results.

The results were pretty consistent for the whole duration of the poll. Two-thirds of the respondents stated that tongues were not available to any Christians today.

I spent a number of years in the Pentecostal church and it was taught that tongues was available for every Christian. There are some Pentecostal groups who claim that you need to speak in tongues to be truly saved.

I am now a Baptist. While there are some Baptists that are cessationists, that is not true of the Baptist group I belong to. Although we don’t believe it is a requirement for every Christian. It is one gift among many. See my post Baptists and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I was surprised that two-thirds of the people said that tongues was not for today. This surprises me because I don’t see any evidence that tongues would end with the apostles. Yes tongue would end, but not until the return of Jesus.

I suspect that the reason that some people are uncomfortable with it is that it comes across as a threat to Scripture. Tongues (and prophecy) present an alternative source of revelation and thus should be rejected. But even Pentecostals don’t accept tongues as providing additional revelation so much as highlighting or applying biblical truth to certain circumstances. It definitely is not something like the Mormon concept of prophecy that can contradict and supersede earlier Scripture.

Ironically, cessationist adopt a non-biblical doctrine (cessationism) to protect the Bible.

One of the comments that came up a lot was about the nature of speaking in tongues. Many people commented that speaking in tongues is simply speaking another earthly language. This is based on Acts 2. However, the tongues described in 1 Corinthians 12-14 seems to be about some sort of ecstatic speech. There is no sense that a person who just happens to be bilingual in the service could interpret, it requires a spiritual gift. Nor does the setting seem to be the mission field with the need for supernatural language learning. It is more about tongues/interpretation as another form of prophecy in a worship service.

I’m not trying to tell people what to believe or not to believe but I found the results of the poll interesting.

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Good News: A Really Great Day

It is difficult to predict what a day will be like but today turned out to be a great day.

It started with Queen Street Baptist Church‘s annual Praise in the Park at Montebello Park. I always love this service. We get lots of visitors, including people just showing up at the park. There is a potluck after and there was lots to eat for everyone. It really was a lot of fun.

My afternoon was laying down with a good book and having an even better nap. There was a time when I napped multiple times a day because I was sick. Now I am relatively healthy and can just enjoy a regular old Sunday afternoon nap.

After supper, Amanda, Justus and I went swimming. It was at the old pool that I used frequent as a kid. It was a lot of fun hanging out together.

The evening capped off with lots of snacks and Justus and I enjoying a good action movie on Netflix. The girls are away at camp and so we can focus on Justus. It was quality time (with lots of violence).

Overall it was a really great day and that is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Review

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I had wanted to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick for some time. I was aware that it was the inspiration for Bladerunner. When I hear about “inspiration,” I think of a fairly loose connection, something like the connection between the book and movie of World War Z.

I was surprised at how closely Bladerunner followed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? There are definitely differences. In the novel, one of the themes is that most animals and even insects have died as the result of radioactive dust. Having an animal contributes to social status. As a result, those who can’t afford a real animal purchase artificial animals, not genetically created animals like the androids/replicants but mechanical animals. Hence the “electric sheep.”

There are also other elements such as empathy machines, a religious system, television entertainers and colonies on other planets. The androids are identified by administering psychological assessments. But in all that, there is the same basic story. A bounty hunter has the job to retire androids. These are androids that have escaped their masters on another planet and have fled to earth.

The novel is very thought-provoking. For example, what is life, and why is it acceptable to kill them? There are also religious questions and reflections about the nature of faith. There is a reason why Dick is considered one of the best science fiction writers. It is a book definitely worth reading.


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Orthodox Christians and Conditional Immortality

I’m teaching a course on Contemporary Religious Movements at Tyndale University College. One of the common beliefs shared by a number of these groups is belief in annihilationism of conditional immortality. The question to be asked is, is belief in annihilation another sign of their heretical belief or is in the category of interest in biblical study and eschatology?

So I asked Chris Date of Rethinking Hell to put together a resource addressing this. The purpose of this video is not to prove that annihilation is true but to demonstrate that there is a place for this belief within orthodox Christianity.

I want to make it clear that I do not identify as an annihilationist, although I am sympathetic to it. I definitely believe that my annihilationist friends are not heretics. I recommend that you pick up Four Views on Hell.

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Philosophy: Who Needs It?

Philosophy: Who Needs It?

 
 
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Jason CrowderIn this episode, I have a conversation with Jason Crowder. Jason describes himself as “an academic, an author, a Christian Hedonist, a husband, a mentor, a philosopher, a philosophical theologian, and a theologian.” He is the author of Philosophy, Who Needs It?

In this interview, we discuss the role of philosophy for the Christian. Despite what some people fear, philosophy is our friend and not our enemy. I think you will enjoy our discussion.

My recommend audiobook is:

Where the Conflict Really Lies by Alvin Plantinga

This audiobook is a long-awaited major statement by a pre-eminent analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, on one of our biggest debates – the compatibility of science and religion. The last twenty years has seen a cottage industry of books on this divide, but with little consensus emerging. Plantinga, as a top philosopher but also a proponent of the rationality of religious belief, has a unique contribution to make. His theme in this short book is that the conflict between science and theistic religion is actually superficial, and that at a deeper level they are in concord.

Plantinga examines where this conflict is supposed to exist – evolution, evolutionary psychology, analysis of scripture, scientific study of religion — as well as claims by Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Philip Kitcher that evolution and theistic belief cannot co-exist. Plantinga makes a case that their arguments are not only inconclusive but that the supposed conflicts themselves are superficial, due to the methodological naturalism used by science. On the other hand, science can actually offer support to theistic doctrines, and Plantinga uses the notion of biological and cosmological “fine-tuning” in support of this idea. Plantinga argues that we might think about arguments in science and religion in a new way – as different forms of discourse that try to persuade people to look at questions from a perspective such that they can see that something is true. In this way, there is a deep and massive consonance between theism and the scientific enterprise.

Download this audiobook for FREE with your FREE trial of Audible.

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Why I Don’t Talk Much About Ableism

For years we have heard about sexism (discrimination against a gender, usually females) and racism (discrimination against a race, usually non-whites). People may be less familiar with ableism. What is ableism?

The Centre for Disability Rights gives this definition for ableism:

Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other.

I do believe that there is such a thing as ableism. Many aspects of our society are set up to favour those without a disability. (See my post What is a Disability?) Someone recently suggested a test to see how accessible an area is. Take your bicycle and note when and how often it is difficult to push that bike around inside a building. But this is much more than just being wheelchair accessible. It is about our assumptions concerning disabilities.

While I do believe that issues surrounding ableism need to be discussed, I do not spend much time on it. I do try to be a disabilities advocate but without focusing on ableism.

Why?

One is that ableism includes offending people by our words. We should seek to be sensitive with our words and I argue against the use of the r-word (retard) but frankly, it is impossible to speak at all without offending someone. For example, I once heard a video by a young man with Down Syndrome speaking about the r-word and in his talk used “dumb” in a pejorative sense. Someone may be bothered when talking about the images of walking or seeing or hearing. While most people with disabilities won’t care, some will be offended. Enforcing speech that avoids any hint of ableism is almost impossible. Be sensitive and try your best, but you always fail someone.

More importantly, labeling someone as ableist tends to shut down the conversation. Someone may do or say something out of ignorance. We can write them off as ableist or we can try to educate. Labels can easily put up roadblocks to advancement. While ableism exists, it may be better to discuss assumptions and consider alternatives rather than falling back on the labels.

I’m sure that there are some people within the disability community that would disagree with me. I’m thankful that there are people who fight against ableism but I have decided to take my advocacy in a different direction.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I came across this week. Go and check them out.

 


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5 Questions Pastors Need to Ask

Pastors want to have the answers. But even more important is to have the right questions. These are not the only questions to ask, but they are a good place to start.

  1. What are you doing to raise up other leaders in the congregation?
  2. What is more important, your own success or growth of the kingdom of God?
  3. What would your community miss (if anything) if your congregation closed its doors forever?
  4. What is the mission that you are seeking to accomplish?
  5. What are you doing to ensure that your ministry will finish well?

What other questions would you add to the list?

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Solo – Review

Solo

I went to see the latest Star Wars movie, this one based on a young Han Solo. I went into this movie knowing that it was a big disappointment at the box office. It was bad enough that it is making the studio rethink their plans for future Star Wars movies.

At the same time, everyone I know who saw the movie actually enjoyed it. And so did I. There was always a risk having another actor taking over a role created for a legendary actor like Harrison Ford but Alden Ehrenreich did a great job. He really captured the essence of the character.

The movie is about a young Han Solo getting his start, first hoping to become a pilot and then extending into that of a smuggler and outlaw. We get to experience his first meeting with Chewbacca, which I really that was well done. We also see the beginning of his relationship with Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover. Glover did an excellent job as Lando.

I totally enjoyed Solo. In fact, along with Rogue One, it was one of the best of the recent Star Wars movie. Han Solo is one of the best parts of the old Star Wars movies and this movie nicely sets up the story of Han and at the same time uses those qualities to tell a fun story that stands on its own.

If I had one complaint about the movie, it is that it was too dark. I don’t mean too dark in terms of the tone of the story. I mean that I kept wishing that they would turn the lights on. I can see the darkness of the home planet, but things stayed too dark all through the movie.

I understand that the studio was disappointed with the performance. But especially with the revelation of the leader of the Crimson Dawn (which truly shocked me), I hope they do a sequel. I would love to see the continuing adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca.


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Good News: Happy to Be Canadian

Today is Canada Day and it is a reminder that I’m thankful to be a Canadian. I wouldn’t say I’m overly patriotic in the sense of having a maple leaf tattoo or anything. But I truly appreciate Canada.

I have had the opportunity to travel all over North America and Europe and I can honestly say that there is no other country I would want to live than Canada. Canada is by no means perfect, but it is a good place to live.

The funny thing is that Canada is known for its cold weather and yet today, it was hotter than Jamaica and as hot as Egypt. One of the surprises of this country.

I’m thankful for being a Canadian and that is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News?

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The first Jurassic Park movie was an important step in the world of science fiction movies. Some of the sequels got kind of tired. But the recent Jurassic Worlds have recaptured the magic or the original and at the same time including the best of cgi.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a great addition to the franchise. One of its strengths is the role of Chris Pratt. He is a great actor whose actors, while always flawed, are still likeable.

I will admit it was somewhat predictable. I saw a lot of the “twists” coming. But that didn’t ruin it. It was still a fun and enjoyable adventure flick.

One of the the things I thought interesting was the concept of the Fallen Kingdom. This means two things. In one way, the fallen kingdom is the Jurassic Park/World. We see the abandoned island, being ravaged by a volcano. The tourists are gone and many of the dinosaurs are close to death.

On the other hand, the fallen kingdom is humanity. Without getting too theological, humanity is fallen. Humanity’s technological potential will always outpace its moral foundation. The mistakes began with the genetic experiments that led to the dinosaurs and continue with the greedy plans in this movie.

Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom was a good movie. We brought our kids and they loved it. It had everything they love in a movie.

Jurassic World

 

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Weekend Leadership Roundup

Here are some leadership posts you should check out.

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Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design – Review

Creation EvolutionOne of the most controversial theological topics is that of human origins and the age of the earth. Christians often hold very tightly to their position and are suspicious of different views. What was the means of creation? How do we understand evolution?

What is most important to know is that there is not one official Christian position on creation and evolution and this is reflected in Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. Each of the authors are devout Christians who are attempting to find the proper interpretations of both the Bible and scientific evidence.

The viewpoints represented are young earth creationism, old earth creationism, evolutionary creationism (theistic evolution) and intelligent design. In many ways, intelligent design is the odd man out as it overlaps with many of the other views. Intelligent design does not attempt to interpret Genesis 1-2 but looks for evidence of design within science. However, Stephen Meyer, who writes for ID, does share his views, without attempting to speak for all who hold to an ID position.

One of the greatest needs is for there to be healthy conversation across differing view points. That is part of the aim of the four/five views books and of this volume in particular. It is important to read outside of one’s belief system and to encounter different ideas.

I found this book to be very enjoyable. The one disappointment was Ken Ham’s chapter on young earth creationism and his responses to the other chapters. It was not his views or his evidence that was the problem but his tone. Ham stood out as being the most aggressive toward the other views. Unfortunately I have seen this numerous times among young earth creationists. Other views are seen not as different perspectives but as rejection of biblical truth and treated with contempt. I’m sure that there are young earth creationists that can discuss other views with respect but Ham is not one of them.

I strongly encourage people to read Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design no matter what position you currently hold.


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Thoughts on the Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four

I finally got around to watching the 2015 Fantastic Four movie. The fact that it took this long for me to watch it tells you how bad of a reputation this movie had. This was supposed to be one of the worst superhero movies ever.

The truth is that I didn’t think that it was that bad. It was slow but not horribly so. I thought it was better than the previous version of the Fantastic Four (and I didn’t hate them either). I would say that I even liked this movie better than Iron Man 3 or the Amazing Spider-Man.

There were some things that I didn’t like. Like the previous version of Fantastic Four, I did not like how they portrayed Dr. Doom. I like the original version of Doom as a highly intelligent and devious supervillain in armour and with all sorts of high tech weapons.

I also wished that the Thing would put some shorts on.

To be honest, the Fantastic Four are not the most interesting comic book characters (I mean one of the main members is called Mr. Fantastic!). Sure they have had some good stories over the years, but they are a tough team to do well.

I watched the movie tonight with my son, who had watched it previously. He loved the movie and it kept his attention the second time (which is amazing).

Fantastic Four is not the best superhero movie but it’s not the worst either. I don’t regret watching it.


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Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders – Review

Developing Emotionally Mature LeadersI am a firm believer in discipleship and I see it as being one of the most important parts of my ministry. But I must confess that my natural tendency is to focus on the intellectual side. I feel that if I can just pass on the right information, things will be okay.  However, much more is required.

One of the recent trends us been an emphasis on emotional intelligence. It is one thing for a person to have the knowledge, it is another thing for them to be emotionally mature enough to use that knowledge appropriately. That is where Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders comes in.

This book by Aubrey Malphurs should be required reading for church leaders. Pastors are aware of the importance of developing leaders but emotional intelligence is an area that has been too long neglected.

There is so much that I enjoyed about this book. I had been somewhat aware of emotional intelligence, but Malphurs provides a nice introduction to the development of this area, including the major thinkers. Much of the work in emotional intelligence has been in the secular business world but Malphurs rounds it out by providing a biblical theology of emotions. This provides the needed step for pastors to use emotional intelligence in the church context.

One of the most useful parts of the book is the lengthy appendices. There is everything a leader needs to put into practice the principles developed in he body of the book. I highly recommend Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts for you to check out.


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What is a Disability?

DisabilityI recently asked a question on a couple of Facebook groups that I belonged to. One group was about autism and the other about sarcoidosis. I asked members whether they identified as disabled. Interestingly, many of those with sarcoidosis did identify as having a disability, while most of those with autism did not, unless they had an additional physical disability or a mental illness.

It got me thinking about how we define disability. Some with depression would identify as disabled and some would not. Some with chronic pain would identify as disabled and some would not.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines disability as:

  1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
  2. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
  4. a mental disorder, or
  5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

This is a pretty extensive definition. It includes diabetes (which I sometimes have), which surprised me.

The World Health Organization gives this definition:

Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.

The Americans With Disabilities Act gives this definition:

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.

What is important to see is that having a disability is not identical with a medical diagnosis. Just having a diagnosis of depression or of autism or of sarcoidosis by itself doesn’t mean that one is disabled. Those diagnoses may lead to a disability but the diagnosis itself is not a disability.

I would suggest that a disability is any physical, developmental or mental/emotional condition that impairs activity that is typically experienced by their peers.

I can imagine some people not liking the negative aspect of that definition but that is intrinsic to anything with the prefix “dis-.” There is much that is positive and life-affirming about the experience of disability, but by definition it includes an inability to do something.

The bottom line is that it is up to the individual to determine how disability fits with their identity. If a deaf person doesn’t consider themselves disabled, respect that. If a depressed person considers themselves disabled, respect that. Both abilities and disabilities are often invisible and we shouldn’t be quick to judge.


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Superhero Origins: Hawkgirl


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Good News: Having a Ball

BowlingThis weekend the girls were over at a friend’s house for a sleepover. That meant that we just had Justus with us. So what do we do with our boy?

We ended up going bowling. We had not bowled in years. We ended up at the bowling alley that I bowled at when I was a kid. I hadn’t been there in about thirty years. Not much had changed.

We had a blast bowling together. It is true that I only won one of the five games and game in last three of the five games. But it still was fun.

It is funny how simple things like an evening at a bowling alley can be powerful memory making moments. Having that time together is my Good News.


Why do I blog about Good News.

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Darkseid and the New Gods Explained


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Weekend Leadership Roundup

Here are some leadership posts for you to check out.

 

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Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction – Review

MormonismI have read a number of books in the “A Very Short Introduction” and I always enjoy them. While there are limitations of how much you can get across in such a small format, they are great resources. Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Lyman Bushman is no exception.

Bushman is writing from a Mormon perspective, but this is what I liked about it. I actually found it to be a nice balance between Christian critiques of Mormonism and LDS-sponsored defences of Mormonism. While Bushman does attempt to portray Joseph Smith, Jr. and Mormonism is a positive light, he also doesn’t avoid the difficulties. Where there are problems, he identifies those problems.

I think that Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction could be helpful in having conversations with Mormons. It can’t be accused of being “anti-Mormon” and yet it is a bit more honest about the background and beliefs of Mormons than some of the official LDS publications.

If you are interested in learning more about Mormonism, I would encourage you to include Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction as a part of your research.

 

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Sharing the Good News With Mormons – Review

Sharing the Good News With MormonsI have long been interested in groups that are considered sects or cults, especially those with a connection to Christianity. One of those groups is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the Mormons.

I find Mormonism to be a bit of an enigma. On the one hand, I find their theology to be pretty unwieldy, especially when every president is able to add and subtract from previous beliefs. The original set of beliefs preached by Joseph Smith, Jr. when the Book of Mormon first came out was almost a different religion from the complex system preached by his immediate successor, Brigham Young. Add to that the absence of any archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon and it is hard to understand why people follow Mormonism.

On the other hand, Mormonism is very successful. Not just in the days of Smith and Young but even today, the LDS are doing very well and hold considerable power and influence. Some very intelligent and successful people are devout LDS. How do we navigate through this?

A helpful resource is Sharing the Good News With Mormons: Practical Strategies For Getting the Conversation Started, edited by Eric Johnson and Sean McDowell.

As with any edited volume that includes chapters by many different authors, the quality varies from chapter to chapter. Much of this is based on style, especially on the chapters on evangelism. Some of the strategies came across as more attractive than others, but that says as much about me as it does the authors.

The value of this book is that it covers a wide range of topics surrounding the subject of Mormonism. Each author comes at it from a different perspective, even when they are dealing with the same topics. I appreciated this variety.

While it includes chapters by some scholars, this is not meant to be a scholarly treatment of Mormonism. It is more of a practical help for ordinary Christians to have effective faith conversations with Mormons.

If you are interested in Mormonism and are perhaps already having conversations with Mormons, I recommend Sharing the Good News with Mormons.

 

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that you should check out.


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The Hitler Bomb Plot

In the July of 1944, there was an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. A bomb was meant to kill Hitler, but by an amazing twist of events, Hitler survived the blast. This was the basis for the movie Valkyrie.

In this short documentary, you will see film footage of Hitler shortly after the attempt, including his injured arm.

Make sure to check out my Second World War Podcast.

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Asperger’s From the Inside Out – Review

Asperger's From the Inside OutBefore there was just an Autism Spectrum Disorder, there was also an Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). The simple definition of AS is that it is autism without the language deficits. However, AS has disappeared as a diagnosis and is now a part of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Michael John Carley, the executive director of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, has written a book called Asperger’s From Inside Out.

Carley has AS, as well as being a father of a son on the ASD. He shares in this book about his experience as a person with AS, as well has stories from people affiliated with GRASP.

AS is often dismissed as “high functioning” autism and therefore having to little to know challenges. The truth is that AS has its own issues and the label of “high functioning” doesn’t reflect the experience of AS.

Asperger’s From the Inside Out, is a great introduction to Asperger’s Syndrome. If you have AS and wonder how you fit with the experience of others or if you have friends or family with AS, this is the book for you.

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Superhero Origins: Thor


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Good News: A Happy Father’s Day

Father's DayI don’t have big expectations for Father’s Day. I don’t want presents as I have lots of stuff (although I could always use some more books).

Today after church, Amanda had the idea of going to the beach. It was a really hot day and seemed like a good idea. And it was!

The best Father’s Day for me is to be around my family. We had a blast at the beach. It was fun to hang out together. The only downside was that Logan and Abby couldn’t be with us.

Of all the roles I have, the most important are those of husband and father. I’m honoured to have this responsibility and I so enjoy the blessing they are to me.

Today was an amazing Father’s Day.


Why do I blog Good News?

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Incredibles 2 – Review

It was back in 2004 that Pixar released the Incredibles. I look back at that movie and still hold the opinion that it was one of the best superhero movies of that time. As Pixar released sequels to its Cars, Toy Story and Nemo movies, I kept hoping for an Incredibles sequel. The ongoing answer was that they were waiting for the right story.

The wait was worth it as they got the right story for Incredibles 2. It starts right where the first movie ended, literally. It begins with their battle with the Underminer who appears briefly at the end of the Incredibles. The damage from their battle with that villain only confirms the fear of some that supers are too dangerous and need to remain outlawed.

But one wealthy visionary has another idea. With the help of his technologically-minded sister, he begins the process of rehabilitating supers in the eyes of public, beginning with an intentional presentation of Elastigirl, who is more marketable and less reckless.

This requires Mr. Incredible to stay home and be a house-husband, taking care of their children while his wife gets do the work that he wishes he was doing.

The Incredibles 2 captures all of the charm of the first movie, including returning to the Pixar magic that hasn’t always been there in their latest movies. The action scenes are fun, the family scenes are relatable, there is humour and emotion and the audience cares about the characters.

I love the retro feel to the movie, with the 1960s clothes and cars, as well as the old fashioned superhero themes. Superheroes have aimed to be more gritty and dark over time but the Incredibles brings us back to a much more innocent time. Not to say that it is less realistic, as any parent will identify with their struggles.

If you are looking for good, fun movie that has an uplifting message, I recommend Incredibles 2. Once again, it is one of the best superhero movies.

Incredibles 2

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Weekend Leadership Roundup

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Inspiration Porn

This past week, I was at the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability. There was so much that I learned but one of the terms I came across for the first time was “inspiration porn.” What is inspiration porn?

Many people find people with disabilities inspirational. That is fine if they are actually doing something inspiring but in many cases people are inspired by those with disabilities for just getting through day doing normal activities.

There is an objectifying of people with disabilities by those without. I will confess that I have done this. I have seen people with disabilities as being inspiring for simply “getting out of bed and remembering their name.”

I highly recommend that you watch this video by Stella Young. You won’t be inspired but you will be informed.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across this week.

 

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Joseph Smith, Mormons and the Godhead

MormonsI always prefer hearing directly from people what they believe about God rather than just a summary by a critic. So, how do Mormons and Christians compare when it comes to an understanding of God? We both use the term “Godhead” but don’t necessarily use it in the same way.

Historical Christianity has understood the Godhead as a Trinity, one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What did Joseph Smith, Jr. teach? This is from his Lectures on Faith:

Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?

A. Two: the Father and the Son.

Q. How do you prove that there are two personages in the Godhead?

A. By the Scriptures: Genesis 1:27 (Inspired Version); “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so.” …. (Lecture Five)

It should be clarified that the “Inspired Version,” also known as the Joseph Smith Translation, it is not really a Bible translation, not even like the Jehovah’s Witnesses’s New World Translation. The JST is more of a midrash, that is a paraphrase and interpretation and it is not based on translating Hebrew and Greek. Interestingly, the official translation of the Bible for Mormons is the King James Version and not the Joseph Smith Translation.

This is what Genesis 1:26-27 says in a recognized translation, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [a]sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Aside from differences in how the Father and Son relate to each other, Joseph Smith taught that only the Father and the Son were a part of the Godhead. However, in the same lecture, Smith claims that the mind that is shared by the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. He then says:

Q. Do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead?

A. They do.

This seeming contradiction is because Smith saw the Godhead as comprising two persons (Father and Son) and their shared mind (Holy Spirit). This is far from historical Christianity that claims that Father, Son and Spirit are all person and comprise the same God.

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C.S. Lewis’ Most Controversial Beliefs

Without a doubt. C.S. Lewis is my favourite Christian author. Although he is popular among evangelicals, some of his beliefs are not without controversy.

Few figures loom larger over the past century of Christianity than C.S. Lewis, whose rare and beautiful coupling of an indomitable mind and a sparkling imagination make for some of the most gripping writing on Christian thought a person could hope to read. If Lewis’ only achievement had been the creation of Reepicheep, it would have secured his place in literature. Fortunately, he did much more. In fact, he did more than most people realize.

Lewis missed the digital age, which means his great body of work is mostly remembered for the parts of it that have been accepted—not for its controversy. Twitter has made controversy the memorable part of today’s public personalities. Any thought leader who expresses an unpopular opinion is likely to be dismissed entirely, their works thrown in a furnace, they themselves banned, excommunicated and sent off to our social media pillories.

But Lewis did have beliefs that would not sit well with today’s audiences. Indeed, if he were around for his work to by hyper-analyzed by the Facebook theologians, he may well have experienced the ostracization so common for our edgier leaders today.

So here is a list of a few of Lewis’ less orthodox beliefs. These are not listed here to suggest that Lewis ought to be held in lower regard or to diminish his legacy. This is not an attempt to rally an anti-Lewis movement.

You can read the full article by Tyler Huckabee for Relevant here.

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Weekend Leadership Roundup

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An Honest Confession of Where I Struggle in My Faith

You may think that because I am a pastor and that I have numerous theological degrees that I should never struggle with my faith. That’s not true. Every Christian struggles at some point or other. But my struggles may not be what you think.

I spend a lot of time interacting online with atheists, agnostics, people of other religions or sects and skeptics of many different stripes. I have heard so many attacks and criticisms on Christianity over the years. But none of them have had a negative effect on me.

My struggle is not with skeptics but with people who identify as Christians.

While I think social media in general is a good thing, some of the posts I read by Christians make me shudder. This is on numerous levels. Sometimes it is because people are sharing fake news because it suits their side of the culture war. Sometimes it is people who talk about Christianity without a hint of love or compassion. Sometimes it is because Christians reject the importance of helping the poor even though it was Jesus’ priority.

The scary thing is that it is not just one kind of Christian that discourages me. They may be liberal or conservative, progressive or fundamentalist. Often their strategy is the same and only the details are changed.

I will admit that I hear statements and see actions by Christians and I ask myself, “What do I belong to?” These are the moments that the whisper of doubt gets louder.

Thankfully, I understand that Christianity is true based on who Jesus and not how Christians act. That is what keeps me going.

I am also thankful that as I was making my transition from atheism that I didn’t have access to such a wide variety of Christian attitudes.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I came across this week.


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Surviving D-Day

Five years into World War II, the future of Europe hangs in the balance, as 34,000 US soldiers embark on a mission to launch the biggest attack ever from sea. This fascinating documentary, interviews the soldiers who fought at Omaha, recalling their experiences as they approached the shore line under intense cross fire. Using CGI graphics to recreate and illustrate what happened on D Day, the programme also explores the weaponry used in the first wave of the invasion.Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II. The beach is located on the coast of Normandy, France, facing the English Channel, and is 5 miles (8 km) long, from east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer on the right bank of the Douve River estuary. Landings here were necessary in order to link up the British landings to the east at Gold Beach with the American landing to the west at Utah Beach, thus providing a continuous lodgement on the Normandy coast of the Bay of the Seine. Taking Omaha was to be the responsibility of United States Army troops, with sea transport and naval artillery support provided by the U.S. Navy
and elements of the British Royal Navy.

Checkout my Second World War Podcast.


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My Top Five Leadership Blog Posts

One of the topics that I enjoy blogging about is that of leadership. These are the top five leadership posts on my blog since I began.

  1. What is the Difference Between a Speech and a Sermon?
  2. 5 Things to Know Before You Become a Pastor
  3. 4 Leadership Lessons From Hacksaw Ridge
  4. What Theological Degree Should You Get?
  5. 5 Things You Can Do While Your Pastor is Preaching

You can find all of my leadership posts here and you can find other leadership blogs here.

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This is What Autism Looks Like

It is important for me to share information about autism. It is vital that our society grow in autism awareness. But is autism is more than a diagnosis, it is about people. Autism never happens apart from real people.

Here is a short video of myself and my daughter Abby going out for a walk. I hope this opens your eyes to what autism really like.

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Good News: An Exciting Morning at Church

By “exciting,” I don’t mean extra-lively music or extra-dynamic preaching. It was an exciting service at Queen Street Baptist Church in a totally unexpected and unplanned way.

We had a young man come in late to the service. That is not unusual for us. Many people come 5-10 minutes late and it is common for people to arrive halfway through our service. But this was different.

We were just starting our congregational prayer time and I noticed our outreach director moving toward the man. He was quite agitated but was not saying anything. He was making frantic gestures but nothing was being said. He refused our outreach director’s attempts to move to the lobby to discuss what was going on. He then began to pace back and forth up the aisle. He eventually came on the platform with me and sat down in the chair beside the pulpit and increased in agitation. It was a bit scary.

Just to give some context, we are a downtown church and our community includes a lot of people with both mental illness and addictions. It is not unusual to have people with such struggles at our church. It is unusual to have this activity happening during the service.

Thankfully we have some great people in our congregation. Between our outreach director, one of our ushers and another person in our congregation, they were able to get him outside and get him the help he needed. It is not that people with addictions and mental illness are not welcome at our church, but we want to make sure church is safe for everyone, including the person struggling.

The ironic thing is that my sermon was titled, “Do Not Be Quick to Judge.” It was all about the danger of rejecting or dismissing people based on their labels or hasty judgments. The truth is that we have no idea what was happening with this young man. We don’t know what led him to that moment. All of this was going through my mind as he came up on the platform with me.

My Good News is that our congregation responded well. Not only did our people keep everyone was safe, there was also compassion. we prayed for and will continue to pray for this young man.


Why do I blog about Good News?

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Operation Barbarossa

An Old BBC Documentary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22nd 1941. This documentary shows the events and implementation that lead up to the greatest land battle in world history to date.

Check out my Second World War Podcast.


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Is the Internet Good or Bad For Christian Faith?

internetI have heard that the internet has been a challenge for Mormons. With the internet, Mormons and non-Mormons have had information about troubling topics such as Joseph Smith’s polygamy and Brigham Young’s radical theological speculation. But what about for the Christian faith?

Atheists and other critics of Christianity definitely take advantage of the internet. There are numerous internet apologists, some ex-Christians, who seek to spread their criticisms of Christianity, hoping for Christians to leave the faith. Some of the information they share is true, some is exaggerated and some just plain false.

Aside from those who are actively seeking to discredit Christianity, there is information about Christian history and Christian leaders that is troubling. The mistakes and stumbles of Christians throughout the century and especially those who are contemporary with us are available for all to see. This can be difficult for those who hold to the truth of Christianity.

So is the internet good or bad for Christianity?

Overall, I would say that the internet is good for the Christian faith. Yes there are people who have walked away from the church based on things they have read or watched on the internet. But looking at the big picture, I think the internet is positive.

It takes works to sort through the information that is true and that which is false. And learning new information can be stretching and even disturbing. It may adjustments in beliefs and interpretations. But all truth is God’s truth and nothing that is true should take away from Christianity.

We have a checkered history, including crusades, inquisitions, corrupt leaders and false teachers. That history needs to be learned and owned. None of that takes away from the truth of Christianity.

So take advantage of the internet, sift through the information, learn as much as you can and thrive in your Christian faith.

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Saint Chesterton?

As an investigation into the life of Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton nears a close, admirers of the English writer voiced hope that his sainthood cause could soon be opened.

“Chesterton stands up as that saint who contradicts the world in terms of speaking out against a bad philosophy and bad thinking,” said Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts you should check out.


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Making Plans With Autism

Stephen BedardA few weeks ago, we were staying at a hotel with our three youngest children. One of the reasons we went to the hotel is that it had a pool. Since the hotel was in the same city as the group home where our children with autism live. The plan was for our two oldest children to join us the next day.

But that didn’t happen. Logan and Abby went into the van to come to the hotel. Abby expressed some emotion. Logan reacted, which increased Abby’s emotion. The next thing, both Logan and Abby were both very upset and that was the end of their trip.

One of the most important things to know about autism is that plans are always only tentative. Things can change at any moment. It is something that autism families just need to get used to.

That is not to say we had no time together. Instead of swimming together at the hotel, we visited them at the group home. Seeing us calmed them both down and we had a nice visit.

Just because plans don’t always work out doesn’t mean that we can’t have quality time. We just have to hold our plans loosely.

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Where Does the DC Extended Universe Need to Go From Here?

It is no secret that the DCEU movies have really struggled, especially in comparison with the MCU movies. This doesn’t mean that Marvel is better than DC or that there is no future for the DCEU. But DC does need to think carefully about the future.

If I had the ear of DC and the people in charge of the movies, this is what I would want them to hear:

 

  • The problem is not the characters. They are just as, if not more, interesting than the Marvel characters.
  • Take your time and do things right.
  • Take a break from Zack Snyder. I don’t hate his movies but three out of the five DCEU movies have the Snyder stamp. We need fresh blood. Wonder Woman proved this.
  • See the good work that has done so far in establishing the extended universe.
  • Use more interesting villains. This was the problem with both Suicide Squad and Justice League.
  • Have a plan for where to go into the future.
  • Don’t second guess. One of the problems has been a movie gets made and then they try to re-edit it to a new vision. This doesn’t work.
  • Don’t give up. A lot more Marvel movies were made before Iron Man came on the scene and lots of them were duds.

Where do you think the DCEU needs to go from here?

DC Comics

 

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Pastors Poking Fun at Themselves

I believe in including humour, both in the services and the sermons. If I’m going to poke fun at anyone, it would be at myself. Making fun of another person, whether a family member or someone in the congregation is not appropriate.

But there is a limit at how far to go. I know of a Christian leader that I respect very much. He has a lot of wisdom and insight to share. However he is also putting himself down, presumably in an attempt to be funny. In moderation it would be funny, but consistent self-deprecation can become distracting.

I will joke about how bad I sing or how much I love potlucks or my lack of hair. However, I don’t really make fun of myself or describe myself as stupid, even for a laugh. There is a fine line as to how much pastors should poke fun at themselves.

Do it enough to show that you are human and have a sense of humour but don’t try to destroy any sense of respect people might have for you.

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Good News: 185th Anniversary!

Gary NelsonNo that is not our wedding anniversary. Today we celebrated the 185th anniversary of Queen Street Baptist Church. We had a fantastic worship service, with guest speaker Dr. Gary Nelson, of Tyndale University College and Seminary. Every part of the service came together nicely, respecting our past and looking toward our future. The service also highlighted our diversity.

Queen Street Baptist ChurchIn the evening, our celebration continued with a Grace Notes concert at the church. Grace Notes always does a great job and I would recommend them to any church.

Today was a reminder of what a great church Queen Street Baptist Church is. I’m so thankful for this church, not just for what has happened in the past but what God will do in the future.


Why do I blog about Good News?

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Weekend Leadership Roundup

Here are some leadership posts I came across this week.

 

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5 Questions to Ask When Discussing the Problem of Suffering

For many people, the problem of suffering is one of the most difficult obstacles to faith. There are no easy answers to the problem suffering. But there is more to be done than just shrugging our shoulders and giving up.

Before looking for the right answers, we should be looking for the right questions. Here are five questions to ask when reflecting on the problem of suffering.

  1. Are we talking about moral evil or natural evil?
  2. In what way does human choice affect the extent of suffering?
  3. When we wish God would do something, what do we wish he would do?
  4. What would be the consequences of a world without suffering?
  5. What can we do to alleviate suffering in the world?


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The Meaning of Education According to Fr. Schall and G. K. Chesterton

The antidote to pride is of course humility and the fruit of humility is gratitude. Expressing such gratitude, G. K. Chesterton, in a poem titled “Evening,” writes:

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

Chesterton knows that he is not the creator of his eyes, ears, hands or “the great world” around him. More so, he is not the creator of today, tomorrow, or indeed himself. None of these were his to give, but they were his to receive.

You can read the full article by Shawn White here.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across this week. Go and check them out.

 

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Pastors and Counselling

I have heard a number of pastors talk about how much time they spend doing counselling and it is significant. Do you want to know how much counselling I do? None.

The reason for this is that I am not a trained or certified counsellor. It would like me giving medical or legal advice. I am just not qualified. I took two counselling courses in seminary but that is not near enough and that was twenty years ago.

What I do is provide pastoral care. Pastoral care is much different from pastoral counselling. Pastoral care is about listening, asking a few clarification questions, mentioning some Scripture and praying for the person. And that is it.

If I meet with someone and they require counselling, I don’t attempt to provide it. I make sure they are safe and then I send them to a trained counsellor. I do this not because I lack care but because I care enough that I want them to receive what they need.

I urge pastors who are attempting to be counsellors to stop trying it. Stay within your training.


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Good News: A Great Victoria Day Weekend

Stephen BedardThis past weekend was a lot of fun. After church we went up to visit Logan and Abby. We had a great visit with them. We then went to visit some friends that we hadn’t seen in a while. We then stayed at a hotel, just to have a bit of time away. The kids love staying at hotel, especially when there is a pool.

The next day, we went for another visit with Logan and Abby. It is not often that we can visit them two days in a row, especially in their home. After our visit, we went to Twin Valley Zoo. We had a great time at the zoo and this has definitely become one of our favourite places.

Overall, it was a wonderful holiday weekend. It was only a couple of days it but it was good quality time with family.

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How Powerful is Shazam?


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Weekend Leadership Roundup

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Spider-Man Movies Ranked Best to Worst

Spider-Man

Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes and the Tobey Maguire movies were some of the first really good superhero movies. There have been six movies so far and here is my ranking of best to the worst.

1. Spider-Man: Homecoming
2. Spider-Man
3. Spider-Man 2
4. Spider-Man 3
5. Amazing Spider-Man
6. Amazing Spider-Man 2

It could be argued that Captain America: Civil War was one of the best Spider-Man movies.


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What Social Media Should You Focus On?

Social MediaThere is a very clear answer to this question. The answer is: Not all of them. There are all sorts of social media platforms out there, some that have proven to be long lasting and some that have been a fad. You don’t have to use all of them. You shouldn’t use all of them.

There is nothing wrong with signing up for all the types of social media and experimenting with them. Learning is always a good thing. But there are only so many hours in the day and the impact of some is not worth the time spent.

I’m on a number of social media platforms but I focus on Facebook and Twitter. I do a bit on LinkedIn and Instagram, but by far I focus on Facebook and Twitter.

But that doesn’t mean that has to be what you focus on. For some people, Pinterest is key to building their platform. It could be any other platform. Each social media platform has its own strengths and some fit with certain niches better than others.

Don’t do everything. Do a couple of things and do them well.


Interested in a Blogging Coach?



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History Of X-Force!

Characters from X-Force are being introduced in Deadpool 2. But who are the X-Force? Find out in this video.


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The Sound of Coming into Worship

SilenceIn the church I grew up in, there were instructions in the bulletin about making noise in the sanctuary. It was expected that people would come to worship in silence, to prepare themselves and not disturb others. If you wanted to talk in the minutes leading up to the service, you were to go to the fellowship hall or outside. I assumed that was the only proper way to prepare for worship.

But my views have changed over time. As a pastor, I must confess that I enjoy watching people visit before the service. People walk over to others to find out how they are doing. When I hear the buzz before the service as people greet one another, it gets me excited.

Doesn’t talking before the service distract from worshiping God? The more I have studied worship in the Bible, the more convinced I am that we can’t divorce our relationship with God from our relationship with people. This is true in both Old and New Testaments. Developing real community with brothers and sisters in Christ is not a distraction from true worship, it is a part of worship, it is something pleasing to God.

Yes, I can see how some loud sounds before a service could be a distraction. Watching YouTube videos or talking to people on your phone is not the best. But demonstrating care and love through healthy conversations is how I like to see a worship service begin.

A little addendum to this post. As you may know, welcoming and including people with disabilities is very important to me. Demanding complete silence before a worship service may not be reasonable for some people with disabilities.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that you should check out.


 

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The Plastic Man Movie That Almost Was

Did you know that Wachowski Brothers almost made a Plastic Man movie? Although It’s possible that a Plastic Man movie could be done well, it’s probably for the best that it was cancelled.


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Is Andy Stanley a Marcionite?

Andy Stanley has recently caused a stir by comments in a sermon about the Old Testament. Many people are concerned about his remarks. Some are even calling him a Marcionite.

What is a Marcionite? A Marcionite is a follower of Marcion. Isn’t that helpful?

Marcion was a second century Christian heretic. What made him a heretic? He taught that the God of the Old Testament was not the Father of Jesus Christ. The God of the Old Testament was an evil God and should be rejected by followers of Jesus. Marcion completely rejected the Old Testament. In fact he came up with his own New Testament canon that only included Luke’s Gospel and Paul’s letters. Even then he edited them to remove all the Old Testament references.

So what does this have to do with Andy Stanley? Stanley preached a message where he said that Christians should unhitch their faith from the Old Testament. Before accepting some critic’s summary of Stanley’s remarks, you should listen his message directly. Here it is.

The first thing that we need to remember is that Stanley is preaching specifically with non-Christians in mind. He is really an evangelist at heart. All that they do at his church is aimed at removing all obstacles to faith among seekers. You can disagree with this approach but we should interpret his comments within this context.

Some critics have drawn a parallel between Marcion’s rejection of the Old Testament and Andy Stanley’s supposed rejection of the Old Testament. Are Marcion and Stanley trying to do the same thing?

The reason that Marcion rejected the Old Testament is that he thought it presented a different God. Marcion was teaching a proto-Gnosticism. Gnostics believed that matter was evil and if the God of the Old Testament created matter, he must have been evil. The problem came down all to the nature of God.

That is not what Stanley is trying to do. He is not saying that the Old Testament God is a different or evil God. Rather he has observed that the Old Testament has been an obstacle to some people in coming to faith. Stanley rightfully sees the key event to becoming a Christian as the resurrection of Jesus.

Now, I need to make it clear that I disagree with what Stanley says about the Old Testament. I don’t believe we need to reject the Old Testament to become followers of Jesus. But that doesn’t make Stanley a Marcionite. A Marcionite was much more than just rejecting the Old Testament. It was a complete reinterpretation of the nature of God and Stanley doesn’t do that.

Having said that, I have seen what I consider to be semi-Marcionitism among some pastors and theologians. Greg Boyd would be an example of this. Boyd sees Jesus as the full revelation of who God is. When we go to the Old Testament, we need to ask every passage that says something about God if we could see Jesus of Nazareth doing what that passage says God did. If the Jesus who preached the Sermon on the Mount couldn’t have done that, it was not God.

Unlike Stanley, who doesn’t reject Old Testament descriptions of God (he only rejects their usefulness in bringing people to Jesus), Greg Boyd rejects some Old Testament passages that seem to clearly describe the words and actions of God and he rejects them as accurately representing God.

That is still not Marcionitism. But it is getting much closer to what Andy Stanley is saying about the Old Testament.

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Good News: Great Preaching at Church

Amanda BedardI enjoy preaching but I also love listening to good preaching. And we had some great preaching this morning at Queen Street Baptist Church. Our guest preacher was my beautiful wife, Amanda Bedard.

Today was Baptist Women’s Sunday and we had the ladies take over the service. We actually had a number of the ladies do an amazing job. It was so good to see and hear all the talented people we have at our church.

As a part of this, we had Amanda as our guest preacher. How well did she do? I can say that there were many people who told me that my job was at risk because they may have found a better preacher. It was said in fun (I think…) but it is true that Amanda’s preaching was passionate, insightful and moving. Her message will eventually be posted here.

Although this was a part of Baptist Women’s Sunday, I want to state that this was not just a token nod to women. We value all of the women in our church. And Amanda’s preaching was good not just in the context of this particular day. Amanda is a talented preacher. Period. On Baptist Women’s Sunday and on any other Sunday. This is only a day that we can showcase it.

So my Good News is that I’m proud of Amanda and thankful for the ways God has gifted her.


Why do I blog Good News?

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Will Spider-Man Be Leaving the MCU?

One of the most exciting moments in recent superhero movies was when Spider-Man was introduced into the MCU. Not only was Tom Holland a great Spider-Man, it was fun watching him fight alongside the other Marvel heroes.

There have been some recent rumours that Spider-Man may be leaving the MCU. The deal with Sony was never promised to be permanent.

I hope that this is not true as I have enjoyed Spider-Man’s role in the MCU. The following video tries to make sense of what is happening.

 


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Weekend Leadership Roundup

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Christians and Alcohol

AlcoholAt a previous church, I had a visit with someone in my congregation. The first question was about my position on Christians and “social drinking.” Before I could comment, she informed me that there was no situation in which a Christian could consume any alcohol. I later learned that her first husband had been an alcoholic and her view was understandable considering her experience.

I have seen a number of blog posts with the title, “Should Christians Drink Alcohol?” I purposely didn’t title it that, even though it might get me more hits.

The reason is such a question demands a yes or no answer. Either Christians should drink alcohol or Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol. But it isn’t that simple. We can say that Christians should care for the poor and Christians shouldn’t commit adultery, but it is more complicated than that with alcohol.

A better question is, Can Christians drink alcohol? The answer from the Bible is yes. The Bible, Old and New Testaments, presupposes that most people are drinking alcohol, at least wine. There is no doubt that Jesus drank real wine and not grape juice, even though I understand why people wish it was otherwise.

At the same time, the Bible also makes it clear that drunkenness is wrong. Getting drunk never works out for the best in the Bible, as it is in our experience. The drinking of alcohol should always be done, if done at all, in moderation.

That doesn’t mean that drinking alcohol is always appropriate for Christians. A person who is an alcoholic cannot use verses that support drinking as an excuse to drink. Nor should we drink while in the presence of someone who has had a drinking problem or someone who has been abused by an alcoholic.

I will share my story to give you a sense where I’m at. I drank quite heavily from my mid-teens to early twenties. I did not have a healthy relationship with alcohol. As I was moving toward Christian faith, I knew that I couldn’t continue that way. I attempted to drink in moderation but I would still occasionally get drunk. I came to the conclusion that I needed to completely quit drinking.

That was a good decision for me that helped in my growth as a Christian. I stayed completely away from alcohol for ten years. Then I decided I would try a beer again. I found that I could enjoy the taste with no desire to get drunk. I was satisfied with one and only rarely would I have a second. I stopped after one, not out of a religious rule, but because I had no desire for more.

I still drink beer from time to time. I may have about a dozen beers per year. There were times in my past that I drank a dozen beers in a night.

None of this is to tell people that they should or shouldn’t drink. I am able to drink in moderation at this stage of my life and I not only enjoy it, I see the biblical support for it. However, it has been twenty-five years since I have been drunk and I never intend to get drunk again.

What is your personal conviction on alcohol?

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History Of Cable!

Although I read some of the X-Men comics, I never had any with Cable. But he seems to be an interesting character and he will play a major role in Deadpool 2. Here is some of his history.

 


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Churches and Mother’s Day

Mother's DayHow should churches respond to Mother’s Day in terms of the worship service? Some churches have a specific Mother’s Day sermon each year. Some give gifts to all the moms and really design the entire service around it. I have a few thoughts on this.

First, I feel no pressure to preach a Mother’s Day sermon. If something in my already scheduled message somehow ties into Mother’s Day, I will make that connection. But I don’t feel the need to write a sermon specifically about mothers. To be honest, it is hard to come up with something fresh year after year. Plus, it is not like Easter Sunday, where there really is a need to preach on the resurrection every year.

Also, a huge focus on Mother’s Day doesn’t take into account the changing face of our congregation. There is still a lifting up of an ideal where every adult woman should be married and have children. The truth is that there are many single women (and not just young ones) in our churches. And those who are married, may or may not have children. Some choose to not have children and some are unable.

In addition, there is the fact that many people do not have positive relationships with their mothers. Not everyone has a “Leave to Beaver” style family life. Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of a bad relationship and lost opportunities.

I’m not suggesting that we ignore Mother’s Day. As I said, I tend to not preach a Mother’s Day message. I wish people a Happy Mother’s Day, but acknowledge that it can also be a day of pain. I try hard to not make single women and those without children feel like they are second class.

How does your church deal with Mother’s Day?

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across this week.


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7 Steps to Become a Really Bad Blogger

I recently blogged about 7 Steps to Become a Really Bad Apologist. I thought I would so something similar for blogging. Remember this is all tongue in cheek so be careful with how you apply what I say here.

So here is how you can become a really bad blogger (if that’s what you really want to do.

  • Don’t bother blogging.
  • Blog inconsistently, posting every day for a while and then six months later.
  • Totally neglect sharing your posts on social media.
  • Blog about things that you don’t care about.
  • Spend the majority of your time debating with trolls who comment on your posts.
  • Ignore your archives.
  • Blog about absolutely everything with absolutely no focus whatsoever.

Bonus Step: Completely ignore all SEO principles.

Follow all these steps and I promise you will be a really bad blogger.


Interested in a Blogging Coach?



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Thoughts on Star Trek: Enterprise

Thanks to Netflix, I have been going through the various Star Trek series from beginning to end. I have watched the Original Series, the Animated Series and The Next Generation. I know that the next one I should have watched was Deep Space Nine and I did start it. But I find it so boring. I keep telling myself that even the first season of The Next Generation was bad and so I will eventually push through.

Enterprise

But I took a break from Deep Space Nine and watched Enterprise. If you have never watched it, it is the story of the first starship Enterprise and it takes place between the events of Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: The Original Series.

I absolutely loved Enterprise. As far as I’m concerned, it is the best Star Trek I have seen. Yes better than even TNG. There were a few rocky moments but it definitely didn’t take a season to find its way.

Each season was very different. The first two seasons really expressed the sense of wonder as the Enterprise as it visited new planets and met new species for the first time. I thought they really captured it well. It also dealt with the tension between humans and Vulcans and the resentment many humans felts about the Vulcans withholding technology.

The third season was very different. It was basically a season-long story arc about the Xindi threat. The Xindi, an alien people made up of a number of different race, had been warned that the humans would destroy them in the future and so they had decided to destroy Earth now to prevent that future. Enterprise’s mission was to find the Xindi’s planet-killing weapon and stop the destruction of Earth.

The fourth and (sadly) final season consisted of a number of shorter story arcs. These were some of my favourite episodes. These included the explanation of why there were some human looking Klingons in the Original Series. Perhaps my favourite was the In a Mirror, Darkly, two episode story. This took place in the mirror universe that was introduced in the Original Series and appeared in the later series, including the most recent Star Trek: Discovery. It was a lot of fun.

Some people didn’t like the final episode, which actually revolved around Commander Riker of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I actually quite enjoyed. It was neat to see Riker and Troi in their old uniforms. It was quite nostalgic. More than that, it epitomized Enterprise’s role as the thread that connects all of the various series.

That is part of the charm of Enterprise, is that it has connections right across the Star Trek universe. It includes early aliens such as the Andorian and Tellarites (and even a Gorn) but also later additions such as the Ferrengi and the Borg. A good example of this is a fourth season arc that features a character named Doctor Arik Soong (played by Brent Spiner), an ancestor of the man who created Data in TNG. But more than that, Soong is working with augments, the same genetically modified humans that Khan for the Original Series and the movies belonged.

Enterprise was just a lot of fun. Having also recently watched the first season of Discovery, I was amazed at how much Discovery relied on the events of Enterprise. This was especially true of Discovery’s own trip to the mirror universe.

If you have never watched Enterprise, I recommend you check it out.


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Superhero Origins: Doctor Strange


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7 Steps to Become a Really Bad Apologist

Most people who are interested in Christian apologetics desire to be good apologists. For those of you who would prefer to be a bad apologist, here is my advice. Feel free to NOT follow it.

  1. Spend more time attacking other Christians than removing obstacles to non-Christians.
  2. Remind people who do apologetics a different way that they are heretics.
  3. Be more interested in winning the argument than winning the person.
  4. Remember that love is only for bleeding heart liberals.
  5. Tell yourself daily that there is only one valid interpretation and it is yours.
  6. Stop learning. You already know everything you need to know.
  7. See working on your relationship with God as a distraction from real apologetics.

Bonus advice: Whatever Jesus did, just do the opposite.

What would you add to the list?

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Good News: A Beautiful Day For a Walk

Stephen BedardMy Good News is that I took a walk to Tim Horton’s. How is that Good News, other than the fact that I really enjoy their steeped tea?

This weekend included a visit from our children, Logan and Abby. They have autism and live in a group home over an hour away. Abby has food issues and much of our visits are intercepting her raids on our fridge. I often will take her for rides to Tim Horton’s (her favourite place) to get her out of the house.

Being a beautiful spring day, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of going for a drive, I wanted to go for a walk. Although Abby is fifteen years-old, we had never done anything quite like this before. We were not sure how it would go and I made sure to bring my phone in case I needed Amanda to come to my rescue.

Once I got Abby past the car, she was good with the walk. I even learned some things about her, such as her preference to walk on grass rather than the sidewalk. Abby is nonverbal and so there was not much conversation. But there was plenty of communication.

She held onto my arm the whole way. Every once in a while, she would wrap both her arms around my arm and squeeze tight just to let me know she loved me.

She was pretty happy once we arrived at Tim Horton’s. Although she can be quite unpredictable, she stood in line with me, with just a few squeals of delight. I let her pick her donut and discovered that she preferred sprinkle donuts to the double chocolate donuts that I had assumed.

We walked back to the house with a box of Timbits for the rest of the family. It was a special day for Abby and me. There is plenty about autism that disrupts the “normal” but our little walk was quality daddy-daughter time that I will never forget.


Why do I blog about Good News?

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Weekend Leadership Roundup

Here are some leadership posts that you should check out.

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What is Hate Speech and How Should We Respond?

Hate SpeechI noticed the other day that Facebook had a feature where you could submit whether or not a post was considered hate speech. I was not surprised as hate speech is a real concern in our culture. While I am not in favour of hate speech, I do have some concerns about how it is dealt with.

Although there is plenty of emotion against hate speech, I’m not sure there has been enough reflection on the exact nature of hate speech. Is hate speech any communication that is critical of an identifiable group? Is hate speech anything that could possible offend an individual or a group?

Another question to be asked concerns the groups that can be the victims of hate speech. Many people would say that criticism of the LGBTQ community would be hate speech. Much fewer would consider criticism of fundamentalist Christians to be hate speech. I’m not suggesting that people should speak hateful things of LGBTQ (I don’t think they should) but I wonder who is it that determines which groups can be criticized and which cannot?

Then there is the nature of hate speech. At what point does a comment move from being acceptable criticism to becoming hate speech? In a previous generation, that line was speech that called for violence against a group. I would say that today, it would take much less to be considered hate speech.

I don’t have any easy answers to offer on this difficult topic. But I can offer some personal thoughts. I am a Christian. I often encounter people online who are hostile toward Christianity. Not just that they disagree with Christian beliefs but that Christianity is dangerous and should come to an end. I hear some claiming that religion in general is a form of mental illness. Richard Dawkins encourages his fellow atheists to mock religious believers.

How do I respond to this? I obviously disagree. But I also respect their right to express their beliefs, even if they speak disparagingly against my beliefs. I believe a world in which people have the right to publicly criticize my Christian faith is better than a world in which that freedom is suppressed.

This isn’t just about religion. I have two children on the severe end of the autism spectrum. They are both considered to be developmentally delayed. I hate it when I hear people use the terms “retard” or “retarded” to describe a person or an action that is stupid. I find it offensive. But I also believe that people have the right to speak that way. I would prefer that they chose not to use that language rather than being forced to use more appropriate language.

How do we as a society balance the freedom of expression and our desire to protect people from hate speech? I think we need more conversation in this area before we are quick to censor people we disagree with.

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Evangelical Leaders, Abuse and Women

My heart breaks at recent events with regard to major leaders within the evangelical movement and attitudes toward women.

One of the most respected evangelical leaders in the past few decades has been Bill Hybels. He seemed to have the ideal ministry. He planted and successfully led his church and was about to retire after forty years in ministry. Then just before finishing well, everything fell apart. Some serious allegations arose concerning his relationship with women. It is not clear if Hybels actually had affairs, but things are bad if Hybels only did what he admits to have done.

More recently, reports have come to light by Paige Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I don’t think Patterson was promoting abuse, but his comments demonstrate how out of touch some leaders are. I’m thankful that many high ranking members of the SBC have spoken against Patterson’s comments and have spoken up for the protection of women.

These are only two examples but the prominence of these leaders has had an impact beyond their numbers. Many people see evangelicals as being anti-women and these events only strengthen these stereotypes.

Abuse of women, whether sexual, physical or emotional, is wrong. All the time. Evangelicals, and especially male evangelicals, need to take a strong stand against abuse of all kinds against women. The #metoo movement cannot be dismissed as part of the “liberal agenda.”

I fear that there are some evangelicals that are so committed to the culture wars that they will miss the opportunity to take a strong stand for women, a stand consistent with biblical values.

Evangelicals, now is the time to do the right thing.

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Characters Who Beat Thanos!

Thanos is the bad guy in Avengers: Infinity War and he is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. But he is not undefeated. Here are some characters who have defeated Thanos.

 


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Positively Powerless: An Interview With L.L. Martin

Positively Powerless: An Interview With L.L. Martin

 
 
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Positively PowerlessThere is power in positive thinking. Or is there? Is the positive thinking movement harmless or are there some connections to some dangerous ideas? In this episode, I interview L.L. Martin about her new book, Positively Powerless, where she goes into the background of the movement and offers some warnings.

Purchase a copy of L.L. Martin’s Positively Powerless (USA) (Canada)
Visit her blog, Enough Light
My recommended audiobook for this episode is A History of Christian Apologetics: Defending the Gospel Through the Centuries by John Warwick Montgomery. Get this audiobook for FREE with a FREE trial of Audible.
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Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies Rated Best to Worst

Marvel has done some amazing movies. Some of them have been better than others. Here is my list from best to worst. I’m only including MCU movies and not the Fox or Sony movies (except Spider-Man: Homecoming since it takes place in the MCU).

Marvel

1. Avengers: Infinity War
2. Iron Man
3. Avengers
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
5. Captain America: First Avenger
6. Black Panther
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
8. Captain America: Civil War
9. Ant-Man
10. Doctor Strange
11. Thor
12. Captain America: Winter Soldier
13: Iron-Man 2
14: Thor: The Dark World
15. Avengers: Age of Ultron
16. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
17. Thor: Ragnarok
18. Incredible Hulk
19. Iron Man 3

 

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across this week.

 

 

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Life Together

Life TogetherI have enjoyed the writing of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for some time. I have read his Cost of Discipleship and Ethics. Now I have finally had a chance to read his Life Together. It is a book that I have wanted to read for a long time.

I was not disappointed. I would put Life Together up with C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity as a book every Christian should read. This book emerged out of Bonhoeffer’s time teaching in an underground seminary as a time when the Nazis had taken over the German church.

The book is all about what true Christian community is about. I have been a part of a church for most of life (except for a few years as an atheist). I would have thought that I had a pretty good idea of what Christian community is all about. But this book challenged me as to how shallow my understanding truly was.

Here are some of the quotes that stood out for me:

The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.

When God was merciful, when He revealed Jesus Christ to us as our Brother, when He won our hearts by His love, this was the beginning of our instruction in divine love.

Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and is intended to be used as such.

A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another , or it collapses.

My thought on finishing this book is that I’m looking forward to rereading it. I think this may be a book that I need to read every year.


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