Mess of Pottage Blog

Luke's "Pro" Blog

Dad is #10 Most-Wished For Present

Sign of the times: A ‘dad’ is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children:

…a survey of their typical lists for Father Christmas has shown many have more serious concerns, requesting “a dad” instead. A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.

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Child Shootings – Not Just in Connecticut

Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club makes some good points on children being shot:

Statistically most children killed are from the inner cities and mostly black. The Children’s Defense Fund notes that the firearm injuries rate for children and teens is 5 per 100,000 for whites and 51.1 per 100,000 for blacks. And most of the deaths don’t happen in Sandy Hook, in universities or theaters in Colorado but in (by descending order) New Orleans, St. Louis, Oakland, Newark, Baltimore, Richmond, Miami, Washington DC, Detroit and Cincinnati. About 2,800 children and teens are killed per year. Every year.

The shooting rate is 10 times higher for black children than for white kids. There’s no way to defend that.

Read the whole thing.

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A Great Time to Be a Pastor

I’ve recently come across two articles that illustrate why this is a great time to be a pastor. Or, for that matter, a follower of Christ.

Presbyterian leaders in Pittsburgh reeling from latest exodus:

At least 200 other churches have similarly left the 1.9 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) since 2007. The most prominent issue was acceptance of local option on gay ordination, but those departing say that changing sexual standards reflect a broader disregard for the biblical authority. Defenders of the changes compare them to earlier reinterpretations of scripture involving women’s ordination, divorce and slavery.

Tod Bolsinger’s blog: Hemorrhaging Pastors:

Three. In one day. On Monday, I heard of three of my pastor friends who all resigned this week. No affairs, no scandal, no one is renouncing faith. But three, really good, experienced, pastors all turned in resignations and walked away. Two are leaving church ministry all together.

I have been hearing from more pastors these days. Some of it is related to my work with TAG Consulting, a lot of it is because I am, well, one of them. We chat and email and text and the common thread is always the same: “The church is stuck and we don’t know what to do.”

For the record, I’m not planning to resign anything. I like my work and my church. But that doesn’t keep me from seeing the problems. Problems in my denomination, problems in the local church, and my own problems as someone trained to lead a church that no longer exists.

The Church is in crisis. People who don’t see it are kidding themselves, especially pastors. The lay leaders in a congregation ought to know, or certainly ought to suspect. The church as we know it is dying.

But in a perverse way, that’s good news. As Samuel Johnson put it, “when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

A few weeks after World War II began, the English writer C.S. Lewis gave an address to students at Oxford University called “Learning in War-Time.” In it, he said this:

War makes death real to us, and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past. They thought it good for us to be always aware of our mortality. I am inclined to think they were right. All the animal life in us, all schemes of happiness that centred in this world, were always doomed to a final frustration. In ordinary times only a wise man can realise it. Now the stupidest of us knows. We see unmistakably the sort of universe in which we have all along been living, and must come to terms with it. If we had foolish un-Christian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon.

The same is true of the church. In North America, the Church is in a crisis like nothing it has experienced before.

But God is still in his heaven, and Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus told Peter that was the rock upon which he would build his church, and the gates of Hades would not overcome it.

Christ’s Church endures. The programs and buildings and even the friendships we have mistaken for the church may not endure — or let’s be honest: many of those things certainly will not. But it’s not our church, it’s God’s. “Many are the plans in a person’s mind, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
—“How Firm a Foundation

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Will the Last Congregation to Leave…

…turn out the lights? Another one bolts for the exit. I don’t think they’re going to be the last.

The church in Richland became one of 20 southwestern Pennsylvania congregations to vote to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join the EPC. Of the 400 members who voted Sunday, 368 voted to leave; only 31 voted to remain affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church and Round Hill Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Township also voted to join the EPC recently.

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This is a truly horrifying crime, and not just because I work in a church.

An elementary school music teacher shot his ex-wife while she played the organ during church service and, after leaving briefly, returned and shot her again to ensure she was dead, police said.

Congregants eventually overpowered Gregory Eldred, ending the shooting Sunday at the First United Presbyterian Church of Coudersport, about 140 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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