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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2019  (Read 134 times)

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patrick jane

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Christianity Today Magazine - December 2019
« on: December 03, 2019, 05:27:30 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/november/being-pastor-perilous-profession-part-1.html






Being a Pastor: A Perilous Profession, Part 1



Like each of us, pastors are people with needs, capacities, and limitations. These capacities are not limitless despite pressures and messages to the contrary.


Relationships are central to the gospel.

God pursuing and reconciling relationship with and for us is the biblical story. Our responding to God and living in community with each other is central to the Christian life.

Pastors often take the lead in this process. Pastors have multiple relational responsibilities to their families, congregations, and communities. And like each of us, pastors are people with needs, capacities, and limitations. These capacities are not limitless despite pressures and messages to the contrary.

As church members, we acknowledge that we expect a lot from our pastors. They are there to be shepherds, to lead, to care, and to guide. What we tend to forget is that they are also human beings who have relational, emotional, and spiritual needs that should be meet in community. The question that arises is, “Are we listening to our pastors and their needs?”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer explored the needs we have in Christian community in his book Life Together. He challenges us to develop the art of listening:

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.

So, it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too.

This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.

We want pastors to experience having their needs listened to and receiving margin to spend time quietly before God and joyfully in the community in which he has placed them.

In addition to the personal need, this receiving by pastors can be an important spiritual modeling to their communities. However, there are many challenges to this aspect of living a Christ-centered life in the 21stcentury.

Technology, transience due to career, position in the church, and a culture of pressure and anxiety lead people to isolate or seek their only social support from their church and pastoral leadership, further increasing the demands and gobbling up the scarce and sacred margins of our pastors.

Stress and Response

The work of a pastor is truly varied, demanding, wonderful, and at times, very stressful. This work places demands upon physical, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and relational resources which can result in significant distress.

Distress is associated with a number of very obvious and well documented negative health outcomes related to sleep, blood pressure, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease.

Additionally, there are well documented effects upon mood and relationships, with stress related burnout resulting in increased avoidance and isolation, which may further exacerbate the original distress.

This, is turn, may result in increased irritability/emotional reactivity, isolation, compassion fatigue, physical fatigue, anxiety/worry, avoidance patterns, relational difficulties and suicidal feelings.

In addition to these more obvious emotional effects, there are also the more subtle impacts of stress upon cognitive performance.

Under too much stress we do not perform as well cognitively. This may result in poorer decision making and reduced creativity, which will likely further exacerbate the original distress.

This impact upon cognitive performance is particularly relevant when tasks are not over-learned or well-practiced. Stress has a particularly potent negative impact when performing complicated tasks that are not part of one’s everyday routine.

Given the broad nature of a pastor’s work and responsibilities (i.e., teacher, executive, counselor, friend, marketer, advocate…), there are many tasks that by virtue of these varied responsibilities are not routine and cannot become over learned or “well-practiced.”

These tasks are often pushed to a later time (which continues the gobbling up of even more cognitive resources). This avoidance likely further exacerbates the original distress, often leading to burnout.

The power of this type of avoidant distraction can be increasingly forceful under times of stress. In one of its most damaging forms, stress-inspired avoidance results in increased risk for pursuit of damaging relational patterns including inappropriate relationship (emotional, sexual affairs), substance abuse, domineering leadership stance, and other damaging behavioral and relational patterns.

When burdened by stressful thoughts, it becomes difficult to put our best foot forward, demonstrating our true capabilities allowing us to make our best decisions.

Furthermore, difficulties associated with stress and related decrements in performance may result in further feelings of burnout, inadequacy, and shame. This becomes a vicious cycle – especially if our response is simply to try harder and pull harder on those bootstraps in isolation. This never works for long.

One needs to know the warning signs and look for ways to activate support and self-care and to discern a clearer alignment with God’s sustainable calling. Tomorrow we will address warning signs and how pastors can move forward.

David J. Van Dyke, PhD, LMFT is an associate professor and director of the Marriage & Family Therapy master’s program at Wheaton College. He and his wife, Tara, own and run With U Parenting to provide family support and training for life’s biggest transitions.





Ben Pyykkonen, PhD is a clinical psychologist/neuropsychologist, associate professor, and director of the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Wheaton College. He is also a practicing clinician and director of neuropsychology at Meier Clinics of Wheaton.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 09:36:56 am by patrick jane »
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2019
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2019, 04:53:43 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/december-web-only/wesley-hill-advent-lords-prayer.html





Remember the Future




Advent reminds us we've already seen it.


When Mark the Evangelist wanted to sum up the way Jesus started His earthly ministry, he used these words:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (1:14–15).
The Greek word that Mark uses to summarize Jesus’ message—basileia—is probably better translated with a word that indicates activity. A word like “rule,” “reign,” or even “kingship” is closer to the original meaning of basileia—which means that when Jesus says “the kingdom of God has come near,” He is proclaiming that God is asserting His rule in the world in and through Jesus’ ministry.

But what kind of rule will it be? Coronations can be terrifying. The enthronement of a new king or leader can make one queasy with dread. If you’ve never had to fear when a new prime minister, president, or monarch comes into power, then you have lived a life of rare privilege. For many people in the world—throughout history and also presently, even in the modern West—the passing of power to a new ruler is a matter of gnawing anxiety.

A scene from the end of The Godfather—one of the most haunting pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen—captures this fear well. The protagonist, Michael Corleone, stands near the baptismal font in an ornate Catholic church for his nephew’s christening. As the camera lingers on his stoic facial expression and elegant suit, the scene cuts to a series of assassinations that Michael has orchestrated, which are happening at the very same time as the service of baptism. It turns out that Michael has arranged to become the kingpin of the New York mob, and he is ascend­ing to his throne by means of a bloodbath. The cost of his rule is the death of anyone who stands in his way. The agonizing, devastating final scene of the film shows him being crowned, as it were, as “Don Corleone”—the new monarch of terror.

This fictional story is haunting enough, but similar stories happen in real life all the time. Dictators trample on human dignity to ascend their thrones. Terrorists seize the reins of power. Evil overlords who care nothing for the poor or the sick take control of governments and kingdoms, and the citizens consequently fear for their lives. Coronations, for much of the world, are occasions of uncertainty, worry, and alarm.

Perhaps that same worry and alarm was stirred up in the hearts of Jesus’ hearers when He preached. His message about God’s reign would have conjured up all the churning emotions that coronations usually conjure up: the trembling uncertainty about how severe the new king’s reign would be, the nagging apprehension that the king might demand of them what they aren’t able to give, the dread of what wars the king might lead them into. This is the way things go with kings in our world. Perhaps Jesus’ hearers would have remembered the words of the prophet Samuel:

These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king. (1 Sam 8:11–18)

The world of first-century Judea was sadly familiar with this sort of kingly script. The Jews of Palestine were used to ambitious would-be rulers rising through the ranks by means of betrayal and intrigue and nighttime assassinations. They were familiar with the story of Julius Caesar’s stabbing. They knew the way that plot unfolds.

But God’s now-arriving rule doesn’t follow the usual pattern, according to Jesus.

The Unseen Kingdom

God’s reign spells liberation for Israel, not coercion. God taking up His crown means the dawning of a new era of deliverance, not domination. When Jesus wants to point His hearers to the telltale signs of God’s kingship bursting onto the scene, He says things like this: “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Luke 11:20).

Where you see people being delivered from oppression, in other words, there you see God’s reign in action. Jesus made His followers into emissaries of God’s saving rule; “he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:2). Where you see healing and the restoration of what sin and death have disfigured, there you see God’s kingship displayed.

That is what Jesus teaches His followers to cry out for: “Your kingdom come” means “Father, make Your healing reign more and more tangible and visible in our world. Let Your rule assert itself ever more concretely in the places where sickness and evil still seem to have the upper hand.”

Jesus also teaches His followers to pray “Your kingdom come” because—we must not evade this uncomfortable truth—God’s rule is not yet visible in the way we long for it to be. God’s reign, Jesus says,

is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. (Mark 4:31–32)

Or, as He puts it in another place, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened” (Matt 13:33). God’s rule is breaking into the world in Jesus’ ministry—but not in such a way that it can be readily identified by the unaided human eye. We can discern it by faith, but we don’t yet see it in the way that we will someday.

One illustration that modern Bible interpreters use to describe the mysterious already-but-not-yet nature of God’s reign is the distinction between “D-Day,” the operation whereby the Allied forces in World War II secured a foothold in France in 1944, and “V-E Day,” or “Victory in Europe Day,” which came some eleven months later when Nazi Germany offered its unconditional surrender.

Historians looking back now recognize that the war was effectively won when the Allies landed on Normandy’s beaches. The D-Day invasion hearkened the end of the Nazi regime, even though the death camps kept running and many more lives of combatants and civilians alike were lost before Germany’s surrender in May of the following year.

It’s as though we live between two similarly momentous days. We look backward to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the moment when God’s rule showed itself to be unconquerable—theological D-Day, we might call it. In a very real way, God’s conquest of His rebellious world was achieved when His Son left His tomb behind on Easter morning. Yet suffering continues, and we go on longing for an end that isn’t yet public and universal. In this time between the times, as we await Christ’s coming in glory, we who have caught the vision of the way the war will end, we “who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23).

We know that God will one day do for us and for His whole creation what He did for Jesus in raising Him from the dead, but for now, in the meantime, we weep and wait. And that is why we continue to pray, “Your kingdom come,” meaning, “Father, let us see, in the present, more and more signs that the war You have won against the powers that corrupt and enslave Your world is nearing its consummation. Give us more tangible previews of that great day when death will be swallowed up in victory. Help us see that Jesus’ resurrection isn’t just a one-off event but will sweep us along in its wake so that we will share in His transformation.”

As we enter this season of Advent, in which we prepare to celebrate Christmas and, beyond that, Christ’s second advent, we wait and long for the promised transformation of the world, the glorious appearing of our benevolent King.




Wesley Hill is associate professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. This adapted excerpt is from his new book The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide to Prayer to Our Father (Lexham Press).
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2019
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2019, 10:06:28 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/december/biblical-literalism-among-american-protestants.html






Biblical Literalism among American Protestants




Pastors, denominational leaders, and curious Christians need to be reassured—American Christianity is not becoming more liberal.


The fact that the religious unaffiliated have risen from about five percent of Americans in the mid-1970’s to nearly a quarter of the population by 2018 has all sorts of interesting impacts on what an average church looks like on Sunday morning.

Obviously, one of the most important ones to pastors and denominational leaders is: Does my church look different today than it did a few decades ago? More specifically, what does the average church goer believe about the Bible today and how has that changed over time?

It’s notoriously difficult to assess the theological worldview of an individual through a survey instrument but the General Social Survey has been asking respondents about their view of the Bible since 1984.

The question reads: Which of these statements comes closest to describing your feelings about the Bible?

The three response options are:

The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word
The Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally, word for word
The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men
While we can quibble with the overall measurement validity of these options, it’s fair to say that the first option is a good proxy for an evangelical’s view of the Bible, while the middle one would seem to be more prevalent among mainline Protestants and Catholics, and the last would be chosen by those who aren’t Christians.

How have three views changed over time in the general public?

How have three views changed over time in the general public?

Well, it’s clear from the above graph that the two outside options are the ones that have seen movement. While the share of Americans who are biblical literalists has dropped by 7.4 percent, those who hold an inspired view of the Bible have stayed incredibly consistent.

On the other hand, the share of Americans who believe that the Bible is a book of fables is up nearly eight percentage points. But, these changes are likely the result of many people choosing to be religiously unaffiliated over the last thirty years. What would happen if the sample was restricted to just people who identify with a Christian tradition?

This portrait is much different.

In fact, there is no statistically significant difference between where these categories were in 1984 versus where they are in the most recent wave of the GSS in 2018. It’s interesting to note that half of all Christians hold to the middle option—the Bible is inspired by God but shouldn’t be taken literally.

Four in ten Christians hold to the view that the Bible should be taken as word for word truth, and just one in ten Christians believe that the Bible was written by men.

But, what about the most religiously active Christians. Do weekly church goers hold to a different type of theology than Christendom as a whole?

To understand that I calculated the share of those who attend church at least once a week who are biblical literalists and compared that to the share of all Christians who are biblical literalists.

As previously noted, about 40 percent of all Christians are literalists. That’s essentially be the case with some small deviations since 1984.

However, something interesting is happening among the most religiously active. While half of them used to be biblical literalists in 1984, now that share has jumped to nearly 60%. In fact, the most religiously devout have become more theologically conservative over time.

So, what’s happening here? It’s very likely that this is due, in some part, to the decline in mainline Protestants. While they used to be 30% of the population in 1976, they are just 10% of Americans in 2018.

Many people in this tradition were not biblical literalists, but were highly active. As scores of mainline Protestants died off or become religiously unaffiliated, evangelicals have held relatively steady. We know that many of them are religiously devout and theologically conservative.

Pastors, denominational leaders, and curious Christians need to be reassured—American Christianity is not becoming more liberal.

In fact, there may be some evidence that we are becoming even slightly more theologically conservative. While millions of Americans have declared that they are religiously unaffiliated, those who remain are steadfast in their faith and in their theological convictions.







Dr. Ryan Burge is a professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. He teaches in a variety of areas, including American institutions, public administration, and international relations. His research focuses largely on the intersection between religiosity and political behavior, especially in the American context.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

 

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