Sunday Strippers
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The members at New Beginnings Ministries, Warsaw, Ohio, have gotten an eyeful lately. And that has brought some negative national and international attention. For the past few Sundays, women who work at Foxhole North, a strip club, have showed up to protest the congregation—and some of them have been topless. Why? Because church members have been protesting the strip club for years. On weekends they stand outside the strip club with bullhorns, signs, and video cameras. Thomas George, the owner... Read More
Good-Bye, Robin
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“You ain’t never had a friend like me.” That song was the showstopper in Disney’s movie Aladdin, and it was sung by the effervescent genie of the lamp, voiced by Robin Williams. The genie’s entire persona was so much like Robin’s own that the comedian must have written many (most?) of his own lines. Robin Williams is dead at age 63, by all appearances a suicide. The details of his death are coming out piecemeal, and they are sad, so... Read More
Marked as a Christian
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If you scroll too quickly through Facebook and Twitter, you might think the symbol popping up all over is a smiley face. In reality, it’s anything but. Today in Iraq, the Arabic symbol for the letter N—ن—is being used by the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS. As they take control of Iraqi cities, they use this symbol to mark the homes that belong to a Nazarene, or Christian. Christians are being forced to flee, convert to Islam, pay a... Read More
Invasive Species
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I don’t know if there’s anywhere in the United States that’s not struggling to control rapid growth of plants or animals of species that are not native to the region. The prime agents for these often harmful invasions, of course, are people. People both knowingly and unknowingly haul seeds, plants, and animals back and forth between continents. It is astonishing how just a casual species introduction can go haywire. Some species transplantations have been phenomenally successful. Botanists tell us that... Read More
Praying for a Discount
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Mary’s Gourmet Diner in North Carolina has really been making headlines. Their little-known (until social media got wind of it) gift to their customers was that they would randomly offer a 15% discount for those who pray publicly while in their restaurant. Last week when a patron posted a photo of their receipt, reflecting the discount, a local Christian radio station shared it and now everyone is talking. People from all sides are beating the idea to death: Should Christians... Read More
Church and Changes
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Last week I blogged about the conclusions from some Christian observers that membership and attendance in Christian churches is in serious decline. I offered my own “top five” list of attitudes in congregations that can help growth. The 5th was this: “You aren’t really ready to welcome new people unless you are willing to let them change your style and congregational culture.”   That comment drew some questions and pushback, and so I would like to expand on what I... Read More
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Last month the board that oversees the Golden Gate Bridge approved a $76 million funding plan for a suicide-prevention net. In 2013, 46 people jumped to their deaths. There are phones on the bridge’s walkway, encouraging people to call if they are suicidal. Just a few days ago, the first suicide happened on the new span of the Bay Bridge in California. People were up in arms, wondering why a suicide barrier wasn’t part of that design. This week making... Read More
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Those challenging words are in the title of a new book by Joani and Thom Schultz. Researchers at the Hartford Institute might concur. Here are some of their current stats on religion in America: Only 40% of Americans say they attend worship services in a given week, but the actual numbers are far worse. Half of the “churchgoing” respondents are lying—the real number is only 20%. In the three years from 2010 to 2012, half of all churches in America... Read More
Straight Talk
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A nine-year-old boy asked me if a lot of people read this blog. When I told him the range of low to high, he thought that sounded like a lot. Until my son reminded us all, “Yea, but there’s like seven billion people in the world.”  Ouch. But I laughed. It’s cute when it comes from kids, who really do say the darndest things. Do we take straight talk so well, however, when it comes from those close to us who have... Read More
Halfrican-American
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Mulatto. Quadroon. Métis. Mestizo. Creole. Race is without a doubt the most tender subject in U.S. history, and the children born to parents of different races have been called many things. Some of the names are abusive, of course. Some are just earnest attempts to describe. A young man in my congregation with both black and white heritage told his mom that he considers himself a “Halfrican-American.” Whatever you choose to call them, people with multiracial heritage are on the... Read More