Sunday, 30 September 2018

Matthew 5:11-12

““Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Saturday, 29 September 2018

Philippians 1:9-10

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,”


Azusa Pacific University Changes, then Trustees Reinstate, Policy on Student Same-Sex Relationships

The trustees of Azusa Pacific University “reaffirm our responsibility to steward the Christ-centered mission” of APU.

Dear APU Alumni and Families,

Today, as a board, we reaffirm our responsibility to steward the Christ-centered mission of Azusa Pacific University. We commit the following to each member of the APU community and to all who share in the more than 2,000-year legacy of Christianity that forms our bedrock:

  • We remain unequivocally biblical and orthodox in our evangelical Christian identity. The Bible serves as our anchor.
  • We stand firm in our convictions, never willing to capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social.
  • We affirm God’s perfect will and design for humankind with the biblical understanding of the marriage covenant as between one man and one woman. Outside of marriage, He calls His people to abstinence.
  • We advocate for holy living within the university in support of our Christian values.
  • We declare that our clear mission to equip disciples and scholars to advance the work of God in the world is more necessary today than ever before.

Last week, reports circulated about a change in the undergraduate student standards of conduct. That action concerning romanticized relationships was never approved by the board and the original wording has been reinstated. We see every student as a gift from God, infinitely valuable and worthy in the eyes of our Creator and as members of our campus community. We believe our university is the best place for earnest and guided conversation to unfold with all students about every facet of life, including faith and sexuality. We embrace all students who seek a rigorous Christian higher education and voluntarily join us in mission. We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waiver in our Christ-centered mission. We will examine how we live up to these high ...

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Human Rights Don’t Exist until We Construct and Codify Them

Human rights don’t exist. By this, I mean, as I so often state, they do not have ontic existence – they do not exist outside of our minds. Like all abstract ideas, for a conceptual nominalist like myself, the existence of such mental entities (labels, morality and so on) is entirely in our minds. This […]


Leading in a Diverse World: Part Two

Perspectives from four multinational leaders.

Previously on The Exchange I have written about my interest in studying Inclusive Leadership,which is how leaders can effectively assemble a diverse team of people and then ensure their different perspectives are included and valued.

This past summer, I ran a pilot study of my qualitative dissertation research with four Christian leaders who had at least five years of experience in cross-cultural settings. I was specifically exploring how they tried to cultivate inclusion in the context of their nonprofit, multinational teams.

The findings are certainly preliminary and will need much more validation with a larger group of participants. At the same time, there were a few key discoveries worth noting that might be helpful for those leading in multicultural contexts. I’ll share three of them and then make an observation.

First, the Importance of Vision for Team Inclusion

The first finding was that inclusive leaders need to be sure every team member knows and is inspired by the vision.

All four participants mentioned the importance of vision as a vital component for vibrant multinational teams, and two spoke at length about this topic. Especially when dealing with a divided and diverse team, leaders need to put in extra effort to help everyone rally around a common vision.

This process goes best when either the leader inspires the team to work together as a group to build the vision or when there is a compelling vision from higher up in the organization that can be unifying. In terms of team diversity, when there is strong belief in the vision, people have a compelling reason to work through the challenges of creating inclusion in order to accomplish their shared goal.

The importance of vision for a team relates to the GLOBE ...

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On Answering Questions: Kavanaugh vs Ford

This is an interesting little analysis from Vox from a Bloomberg transcript:


Friday, 28 September 2018

John 3:20-21

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”


Catholic Magazine Withdraws Endorsement for Kavanaugh

According to The Guardian: America Magazine, the only Catholic weekly magazine in North America, has withdrawn its previous endorsement of Kavanaugh. “While we previously endorsed the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh on the basis of his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist, it is now clear that the nomination should be withdrawn,” the editors […]


Commentary: Abortion Is Wrong. That's Not Why Roe v. Wade Is Wrong.

A better case for overturning a bad Supreme Court precedent.

Hopes are running high among pro-lifers these days. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s departure from the Supreme Court, many of us can’t resist a peek at the political crystal ball. Dare we entertain the thought of finally overturning Roe v. Wade?

Possibly. At one point, it looked like the current nominee to replace Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh, would cruise to confirmation. But recent allegations of sexual assault have muddied his path. In any event, nobody knows for sure whether Kavanaugh (or anyone else on the president’s short list) would cast a tie-breaking vote against Roe. Or whether the Court’s other conservative members would play their scripted roles. Or whether a challenge to the Court’s abortion jurisprudence would even reach the current cohort of justices.

In the meantime, as we game out different scenarios, a word of caution—one that might, at first glance, seem outlandish. Pro-life Christians should take greater pains to separate opposition to abortion from opposition to Roe v. Wade.

Wait, that can’t be right. Isn’t Roe responsible for backstopping America’s heinous regime of abortion-on-demand? Quite so. There’s a reason the annual March for Life occurs each January on Roe’s anniversary—and that it culminates with a peaceful demonstration outside the Supreme Court building. There’s a reason the marchers carry signs and hear speeches raging against the Court’s infamous handiwork.

Yet for all our focus on scrapping Roe, a salient fact remains: The wrongness of this decision has precisely nothing to do with the wrongness of abortion. Taking the life of an unborn child is a sin against God and man. Roe, by contrast, is an offense against ...

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Why Our Spiritual Formation Isn’t Just for Us

As we reflect and discover our Story of Now, we recognize the message of love and hope that God has given us to share with others.

Imagine if you were talking with someone and having a normal conversation. As you’re sharing about a difficult project at work, or a conflict you’ve had with a friend, that person suddenly recites a quote from Shakespeare: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not seek revenge?”

You’d struggle to see how a Shakespeare quote made any sense to the conversation. It would seem as though that person were trying to take the conversation in an unnatural direction. Even if the friend had told you that he was once a theater major and loved the works of Shakespeare, it would still seem awkward.

When it comes to sharing Jesus, many Christians feel like what they have to say is about as relevant as an awkwardly-recited Shakespeare quote spoken unnaturally during a conversation.

Most Christians have seen models of sharing Jesus that feel like scripts to rush through rather than a conversation with a friend about what it looks like to follow Jesus daily. But what if talking about Jesus moved beyond scripts and stories about his presence in our lives and was instead woven into our normal conversations?

All of our stories begin with Jesus.

When we cross from spiritual death to spiritual life our chapters play out like a full-length feature film that all leads back to him. Yet it’s in the daily grind where we can tell our Story of Now with people far from God. We share snapshots of what life with Jesus looks like.

Imagine if you weren’t a Christian and all of your friends were sharing snapshots of Jesus in their everyday lives. They would begin to see a diverse and personal picture of Jesus in the real lives ...

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Religion and Society: Living with the Gods

Here is an interview I heard on Radio 4 the other morning on the way to work and I thought it would be interesting for you to replicate it here. Neil MacGregor has written a new book that looks at the role religion plays in society. Check it out – it’s less than 5 minutes.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

1 Corinthians 2:14

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”


One-on-One with Keith Getty on the Sing! Conference and the Importance of Song, Part 2

The Sing! Conference is about creating a new song and a new hymnal for churches.

Ed: In addition to the family hymnal, you also dropped the North Coast Sessions at the last Sing! Conference. Is that focused on the Psalms? And if so, why is that?

Keith: Yes, that’s true. Really, a lot of the Sing! Conference is about creating a new song and a new hymnal for churches—that's a big part of where we're going with everything we're doing. One of the things we're doing is this first collection of hymns and songs that were inspired, in part, by the Psalms. The album was actually recorded right on the Northern coastlines of Ireland.

When was the last time you were in Ireland, Ed?

Ed: About three or four years ago. You were in Northern Ireland, Keith, but my ancestors are actually from the city of Drogheda in, well, Ireland.

Keith: Yes, Drogheda. You have to drive through Drogheda to go to Dublin. We once drove through Drogheda to go the Dublin Airport. But when we were up in the North Coast, I remember looking over Scotland, and would you believe this, but we actually started the whole North Coast Sessions album with an old Scottish sound tune. The tune is called, "Martyrdom Left the Miserable Scots Call Home Miserable Names to Their Songs." Our piper, Patrick, was with us in a little harbor town called Port Braddon and as he was playing, he was looking straight across at Scotland.

This project marks our first attempt at a collection of songs. We took 80 days out of this year alone just to study the sounds and study the music. It's just an incredible experience. Honestly, it’s been probably the most transformative writing experience of my career.

Ed: My oldest daughter (who is studying opera) prefers a church that's much more traditional— she does not like what ...

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When Pastors Are Sexual Abuse Survivors

Childhood trauma can sabotage ministry in sinister ways.

It took me 20 years to acknowledge I’d been molested in sixth grade.

I’d always had a memory of the molestation, but it was fuzzy, distant, and I had no category to place it in. Thank God it wasn’t worse, I thought, or that could have really messed me up.

Eleven years into ministry, I emotionally imploded. My newborn son wasn’t sleeping or breastfeeding. My wife had postpartum anxiety, and we fought constantly. My home felt like a scary, overwhelming place, where more was demanded of me than I could provide. I distanced myself from a wife who only wanted a husband who would say, “It’ll all be okay.” That’s typical of sexual abuse survivors: we’re terrified of emotional threats, and we hide from feelings that overwhelm us. How could I tell her everything would be okay when I was barely keeping the panic in my heart at bay?

Things were no better in the ministry I led, where attendance was down and I was receiving confusing messages from my supervisor intimating that the church’s pastoral management team wasn’t happy with me. I became defensive and combative, subconsciously afraid everyone would realize what I already knew: I was a failure. There was something wrong with me. Something shameful.

I didn’t cheat on my wife—thank God—but I got closer than I thought myself capable, and while my marriage survived this near-miss, my job did not. I was fired when my wife was six months pregnant. I experienced daily panic attacks and drastic weight loss, and I was told by a recruiter that my resume now had Scarlet A that would keep me out of ministry for years.

For the first time I began to wonder if—underneath my sin, unwise choices, arrogance, and ...

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The Unintended Impact of The Church Planting Industry on Our Evangelistic Impact

Is church planting still the most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven?

I’ve been planting churches since 1988. My first church was planted in the inner city of Buffalo, New York, among the urban poor. I worked bi-vocationally as an insulation contractor and planted the church on the weekends. I was 21 years old and didn’t know what I was doing, but God worked through it all.

The church planting world has changed substantially since then.

In 1988, church planting in most denominations was driven by people who couldn’t find another ministry job. Since they couldn’t find a place to work, they went out and tried church planting. There were a few denominations that were exceptions, but on the whole most denominations operated in that way.

Over the years, church planting has in many ways become the preferred ministry venture for many of our most entrepreneurial leaders. This preference for church planting is a significant change from just a few decades ago.

This kind of church planting emphasis has largely been concentrated inside of evangelicalism because entrepreneurial leadership has not often been welcomed or engaged inside mainline Protestantism, both for structural and theological reasons.

But as church planting has shifted into this pattern, denominations that did not welcome the entrepreneurial leader have struggled with engaging in the church planting shift.

A brief history

About a decade ago, for a research project, I read every book in the English language published on church planting since the mid-1950s. I’m not the final authority on all things church planting, but I do know a good amount about the history.

Before the late 1980s and mid-1990s, for the most part churches planted churches, rather than entrepreneurial individuals. When there was a need for a church ...

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