Pigs, Gardens, & Church Announcements

At the church we attend the announcements at the end of the service are a continual source of amusement. Our pastor soldiers through as best he can, but there are regularly quite a few (since there are so many wonderful things going on), and the kids, and grown ups, are eager to get to the coffee and doughnuts waiting in the foyer. It was a historic occasion recently, when there were no announcements! There was great rejoicing throughout the land.

This is not a new problem. Churches in the Reformation also struggled with how to incorporate the mundane with the spiritual. Bruce Gordon, writing in Brill’s Companion to the Swiss Reformation, describes the merging of the secular and the mundane in the city of Bern:

“Ministers were required to make a series of announcements from the pulpit addressing the daily life of the community, such as a form of lost and found. Goods and belongings that had been lost were listed in case anyone should know where they were. Further, parishioners were told to control their dogs and pigs and not to bowl or ride horses in the graveyards. Apparently, these interventions became so lengthy that in 1548 the Bernese ministers were only required to announce that items over a certain value had been lost” (Gordon, “Polity and Worship,” 507).

It’s been a while since we last had anyone riding their horse through the church graveyard, so I guess we’re doing well!

[This post originally appeared at the Reformed Liturgical Institute.]

Why Teach Our Children Rhetoric?

What does the word “rhetoric” mean to you? Most people associate “rhetoric” with words that are big, showy, or empty, fake, and manipulative. Why would we want to teach our children how to use words to manipulate people? As an online teacher at Kepler Education who teaches Rhetoric, I’d like to submit that rhetoric is inescapable. We are surrounded by rhetoric. It’s not a question of whether our students are going to learn rhetoric–it’s a question of what kind of rhetoric. 

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Should Your Church Start a Disability Ministry?

When I was growing up in Arizona, my parents took my brother and I to volunteer at a Christian ranch where adults with disabilities could live. They were able to pursue basic trades and sell what they created. There were all types of adults, and all types of disabilities, but what we learned is that they were all people, deserving our love and respect. And many of them surpassed us in their joyfulness and good humor.

We also attended a small church out in the country. Quite a few former cowboys, and other rugged, independent types that you find in small towns, and especially in the American West. But, every Sunday, a van full of our friends from the ranch came to the church, and so we worshipped and fellowshipped alongside these wonderful brothers and sisters. After a while, we didn’t notice their disabilities as much, and grew to appreciate the unique ways that God had gifted each one of them.

What was notable about this situation was that this was not some official “ministry” of the church–it was just the church welcoming people with disabilities into our life, community, and fellowship. This is the vision that Stephanie Hubach presents in her helpful book–Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability.

Continue reading “Should Your Church Start a Disability Ministry?”

Why Study Logic?

I’m really enjoying starting a year long study of Introductory Logic with a fantastic group of students at Kepler Education! But, you might wonder if we really need to study Logic?

In his wonderful book, Socratic Logic, the eminent Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft gives several compelling reasons to study Logic. Here’s a sampling of the many good reasons that Kreeft provides:

  • The question is not what you can do with logic, but what logic does to you. As Kreeft puts it: “Logic builds the mental habit of thinking in an orderly way.” Also, “No course is more practical than logic, for no matter what you are thinking about, you are thinking, and logic orders and clarifies your thinking. No matter what your thought’s content, it will be clearer when it has a more logical form. The principles of thinking logically can be applied to all thinking and to every field”[1]
Continue reading “Why Study Logic?”

Edwards on the Expensiveness of Gospel Blessings

Going through Jonathan Edwards’ Sermons on the Lord’s Supper for my PhD work has been fun. I’m not an Edwards scholar by any means, but I think these sermons capture the pastoral heart of this amazing genius. There are many gems like this one:

But we shall show in some particular instances how gospel provision is well represented by a feast. 1. In the expensiveness of gospel blessings. As feasts are expensive and are provided at the expense of the host, so the provision that God has in the gospel made for our souls in exceedingly expensive. But we have it for nothing; it costs us nothing, but it cost God a great deal …

Never were any feasted at so dear a rate as believers; when they eat and drink, it is a thousand times more costly than what they eat at the tables of princes that is far-fetched and dearly bought. Every crumb of bread that they eat and every drop of wine that they drink are more costly than so much gold or gems

Christ Jesus obtained this provision by victory. He was obliged to fight for it, as it were, up to His knees in blood so that He might obtain it; yea, He waded through a sea of blood to get it for us.

Leadership & Hope for the Future

I just picked up David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning-biography of John Adams, our 2nd president and one of the key leaders in birth of the United States of America. As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s founding, even in the middle of chaos, confusion, and heart-ache, it’s helpful to learn about what inspired leaders like Adams:

Ambitious to excel–to make himself known–he had nonetheless recognized at an early stage that happiness came not from fame and fortune, “and all such things,” but from “an habitual contempt of them,” as he wrote. He prized the Roman ideal of honor, and in this, as in much else, he and Abigail [his wife] were in perfect accord. Fame without honor, in her view, would be “like a faint meteor gliding through the sky, shedding only transient light” (19).

Adams was motivated by the “Roman ideal of honor.” He had a standard by which to measure himself. He had a goal he aspired to. His moral imagination was fueled by a deep exposure to the classics. His sense of duty was also informed by his faith:Continue reading “Leadership & Hope for the Future”

Why Study the Medieval Period?

In chaotic times, we search for direction. What do you do in the middle of a pandemic? Riots? Racial strife and wars? A collapsing economy?

Christians have been through all of this before. This is one of the main reasons we should study history. We realize that, though our times are full of trials and tribulations, the Church has weathered cultural storms and upheaval before. We can learn from the past, in order to live wisely in the present. One of the most important times to learn about is the so-called “Dark Ages.”

Read the rest at Consortium!

Jesus, the True Shepherd

One of the tragedies of contemporary American Christianity is our neglect of the Old Testament. Most Christians haven’t really read it, and don’t know what to do with it. Many people are down with Jesus, but don’t like the “angry” God of the Old Testament. But if we don’t read the Old Testament, we can’t really understand Jesus. That’s because Jesus saw himself in Old Testament terms. He saw himself as fulfilling the vision and mission laid out by the Old Testament prophets. One of the clearest and most beautiful examples of this is seen in John 10 and Ezekiel 34. Continue reading “Jesus, the True Shepherd”

Houses of Healing, Houses of Hope

In the midst of the global COVID-19 crisis, there are many features of our modern life that we take for granted. Toilet paper, meat, hand sanitizer … and hospitals. Although adequate medical care is still tragically absent in many countries throughout the world, a huge percentage of the world’s population can simply go to a hospital when they need medical attention.

This fact is worth pausing over. For much of human history, it was not self-evident that everyone deserved medical care. For much of human history, human lives were ranked on a scale of value. Medical care was for the wealthy or the important. Not every life deserved to be saved.

The prevalence of the modern hospital is rooted in religion. More specifically, hospitals as we know them were an outgrowth of the early Christian movement.

Read the rest at CrossPolitic.com!

 

 

 

What’s the Point of Education?

As I ramp up to begin teaching a number of online classes for Kepler Education, I’ll be posting thoughts and musings on the nature of education, especially classical Christian education. These are mostly posts for myself, to remind me of why I’m a teacher. Why do I get up every morning, excited to teach young people, when I could be making a lot more money in many other careers? Teachers aren’t in it for the money. We believe in something bigger, something much more important.

Continue reading “What’s the Point of Education?”