Thursday, June 28, 2007

Red Letter Christians

As we enter into another U.S. presidential election season, there is one thing that is becoming apparently clear. The Republican party is losing its stranglehold on one of its core constituencies -- evangelical Christians. A growing number of Christ-followers who are defined as evangelicals are turning their focus beyond the issues typically defined by the far-right wing of conservative Christians (e.g. gay marriage, abortion, etc). While acknowledging the importance of addressing these issues, there are a number of us that believe that the Christian faith affects more areas of life than just those that deal with sexuality.
As Democratic presidential candidates are becoming more vocal about their own faith, I hope that we can enter into a time of healthy dialogue whereas the issues that are most on God's heart, according to Scripture, can be discussed in a mature and helpful manner. Among this growing group of Christians that are dissatisfied with how the extreme Christian right represents our faith to the world are some leaders that noted author and speaker Tony Campolo has labeled "Red Letter Christians." Who are they?
"These people, named after the red ink some Bible publishers use to denote the words of Jesus, hold to traditional Christian beliefs and believe the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, which they view as authoritative and relevant for faith and practice. But unlike many evangelicals, the red-letter Christians have broadened their agenda to include issues that, in the past, had seemed like the province of liberals: environmental protection, gun control and opposition to war and capital punishment. They also affirm a Christianity that sees Jesus as transcending partisan politics.
"We are people who want to assure that Jesus is neither defined as a Republican nor a Democrat," Campolo said. "When asked about party affiliation, the red-letter Christian is prone to answer, ‘Please name the issue.’"
If you want to learn more about Red Letter Christians and the rise of Christians not satisfied with the current discussions that revolve around American religion and politics, check out this article

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are Dads That Important?

This past Sunday was Father's Day and, as a dad, it was a fun day for me. The kids greeted me with a barrage of balloons and their own homemade cards. And this year Father's Day was extra special since Lori and I just found out that we're expecting our fourth child in January. I'm also thankful that unlike many I know, I have a good dad that I love and think fondly of. It's so disheartening that for so many men and women Father's Day is a difficult day rather than one of celebration.

Unfortunately, many in our society have not been raised with what I see as a necessity -- a loving, caring and protective dad. Because so many were raised without a dad in the house, it has become all too common to think of dads as a luxury or an add-on. Many single moms have done a courageous and selfless job of raising their children without a husband in the home. But moms are not dads and vice versa. Young boys need a father to teach them to be a man and young girls need a father to teach them how to be properly loved by a man. There is no substitute.

As a father, I know that my wife cannot play the role that I play anymore than I can be the same kind of mommy that she can. Though many men have failed in their responsibilities to the children they have fathered, I was still concerned by what Albert Mohler recently reported on his blog. It seems that Hallmark, in its card line targeted to African Americans, has made a card entitled "For Mother on Father's Day."

As Dr. Mohler says,

"There is nothing wrong with honoring mothers on any day, but our society is not strengthened by confusing mothers and fathers. To the contrary, in doing so we not only sow the seeds of our own cultural dissolution, we bring undeniable harm into the lives of millions of children. This is all done in the name of sensitivity, of course."

You can read Dr. Mohler's full comments on this here. And in many respects, this is an indictment again of those of us that are men and how women have been forced to fill our shoes when we haven't stepped up to the plate in order to fulfill our God-given roles. This reminds me of the awesome responsibility that it is to be a dad and that this privilege should not be taken lightly. I have so much respect and admiration for the men that I know that didn't have a positive father figure in their life, but are still committed to being godly husbands and fathers themselves. May your tribe increase!

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spending Too Much Time on the Web?

When I first started my blog a couple years ago, I talked to my friend, Rob, about how the whole blogging thing works. Rob's a bit of an expert on these sorts of things and his input has been helpful. One of the things that he introduced (or should I say, explained) to me is RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. Previous to the point when Rob explained this to me, I had a number of blogs or columnists that I liked to read on a consistent basis. So I would visit their websites every day or two and see if there was any new content. If not, then I just moved on. But after a while, you kinda get tired of going to a site if there is nothing new to look at. Am I right?
Taking Rob's advice I set up an account with a newsreader called Bloglines. This allows me to simply subscribe to the "feed" of a blog and not have to sign up with e-mail subscriptions or actually go to the site to read new posts. It's saved a lot of time and enables to do much more reading each day than I did before. If this doesn't make sense, you might want to watch this easy-to-follow video:

Because I use Bloglines to read several dozen blogs, I'm able to quickly read the new posts and not waste time visiting blogs that don't have anything new. In addition, it's been great for reading new notes for my Facebook friends. I have well over 400 "Friends" on Facebook and it would take way too much time to individually search each of their pages to look for new notes. But by using a newsreader, I'm able to easily read new notes from my friends -- all in one place!

To subscribe to your friend's notes on Facebook, simply go to the "Notes" page and click "My Friends' Notes" under 'Subscribe to these Notes' on the right-hand side of the page. If you have any questions on any of this, I'll do my best to answer them.