Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bethany Community Update Email

Dear Bethany Community Church,

Some women’s advocacy groups are protesting CBS’ decision to air a commercial during the Super Bowl that they say is offensive and demeaning to women.

The groups are not protesting the demeaning of women on the sidelines or during the half-time show. The commercial is not one in which women are objectified to sell beer or cars or announce new web companies.

Instead, the groups’ fury is targeted at a 30-second ad from Focus on the Family in which a mother will relate the story of how she was advised to abort her unborn son when she became ill in the Philippines. She refused to do so and her son, Tim Tebow, became one of the most successful quarterbacks to ever play at the University of Florida, or anywhere else for that matter.

I try not to be a pessimist. I have every confidence that through the gospel, hearts can be changed and our culture can change in radical ways. But I have to admit that the furor over this ad has me quite saddened and perplexed.

The venue in question—the Super Bowl—has hosted some of the most offensive advertising content ever. There was the scandalous “wardrobe malfunction” incident several years ago that resulted in heated discussions regarding indecency, but for the most part these discussions missed the fact that decency and modesty in television were long ago replaced with an insidious lasciviousness.

The divide in our country on this issue is truly great. Terry O’Neil, the president of the National Organization for Women, referred to the ad as “extraordinarily offensive and demeaning.” How tragic that in our Mad Hatter sort of world, using women as billboards is wholesome entertainment and the promotion of message of life is demeaning to women while promoting the choice of life is demeaning.

By His Grace,

Pastor Daniel

2010 Orphan Sunday Video

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Read a Little, not a Lot

Dear Bethany Community Church,

Let me add one more suggestion to your ever-growing list of New Year’s Resolutions: resolve to read little bit instead of trying to read a lot.

Books can sometimes be rather formidable opponents, weighing in at several hundred pages usually.  Great tomes can seem even more overwhelming.  We feel as though we are doing well to read the Bible, much less additional reading! 

Therefore, my suggestion is to try not to read “a lot” but instead try to read “a little bit.”

Pastor John Stott tells of his struggle to find adequate study time and the realization he came to in his book Between Two Worlds:

I found from the beginning that [spending an entire morning in study] was an impossible ideal to attain.  I made valiant efforts, but I failed.  Mornings?  Why, on Sunday morning I was at public worship in church; on Monday morning there was a staff meeting; Tuesday was my day off; by Wednesday there were urgent letters to write; on Thursday morning I taught in our Church Day School; on Friday morning there was sure to be a funeral; and Saturday morning I had to reserve for actual sermon preparation.  Thus the week went by without a single morning being free for those books which I was supposed to be reading.  So I found myself obliged to lower my expectations and set myself more realistic goals.  I have come to believe in the cumulative value of shorter periods of study (202). 

John Piper confirms Stott’s conclusion and offers this observation in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals:

We think we don’t have time to read.  We despair of reading anything spiritually rich and substantial because life seems to be lived in snatches.  One of the most helpful discoveries I have made is how much can be read in disciplined blocks of twenty minutes a day. 

Suppose that you read slowly, say about 250 words a minutes (as I do).  This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words.  An average book has about four hundred words a page.  So you could read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes.  Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year.  That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages.  Assume that an average book is 250 pages long.  This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year (66-67).

You probably do not have several hours every day to read a book.  But perhaps you have twenty minutes a day before you fall asleep, or half an hour while you eat lunch. 

By God’s grace and for His glory, venture into new worlds this year in your reading!
By His Grace,

Pastor Daniel