Sky Links, 7-29-17

Photo credit: Spacebridge, by longobord, C.C. 2.0
Haddon Robinson recently died.
I became acquainted with Haddon Robinson through the Radio Bible Class program and thoroughly enjoyed his winsomeness, brilliance, humility and obvious love for communicating the book.

Quotes from the Preaching Today eulogy, Honoring Haddon Robinson:
"Have you had any new insights about preaching recently?" He replied, "I've discovered that our brain works on a ten-day creative cycle. So, if a person wants to prepare their best sermons, they need to begin their preparation at least ten days in advance. This will ensure a person will hit their creative peak somewhere in that cycle."

“One who can explain a passage clearly and apply it to life accurately gets credit for being a genius.” He didn’t want to be considered a genius, of course—in fact, he once said that he felt akin to the donkey on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem—but he was brilliant at explaining the Bible clearly and applying it to life accurately. 

“Land the plane! The sermon should be just long enough to get the necessary thing said … If the congregation knows you will quit when you’re finished, they will put up with a great deal.” 

Probably my most-quoted Haddonism: “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew. You must understand an idea to explain it clearly.” 

Haddon Robinson taught me the primacy and, ultimately, the sufficiency of the text. The question to be answered was not how to say my big idea but how to preach that of the author. It was a lesson I learned well and have dedicated my life to practicing and promulgating.

Someone in the class asked, "With so many different styles of preaching what is your view as to the most beneficial?" Haddon said, "Well …" and then paused for a couple seconds while looking at the ground to gather his thoughts. It became clear to me over time that this is classic Dr. Robinson. He was a master with words and was never in a rush to say something after one second what could be said better after two. After a thoughtful pause, he said, "There is no such thing as styles of preaching. There is effective communication of God's Word and ineffective communication of God's Word. If you want to call them styles, be my guest, but I'd rather call one preaching and the other talking to yourself."

Our job is to offer the truth in the text as a gift to the people of God, and stay as close to the ground as possible along the way. Haddon reminds me that it I need to be aware of how and when my own personal insecurities might seek to hijack the sermon.

Expressing simple truths in clever ways or profound truths in difficult ways is not particularly difficult. But expressing profound truth in simple terms is the mark of homiletical genius and the great contribution of Haddon Robinson to the field of evangelical preaching.

This post is from a Leadership Journal interview by Ed Rowell, entitled: The Hersey of Application.
Haddon Robinson: Preachers want to be faithful to the Scriptures, and going through seminary, they have learned exegesis. But they may not have learned how to make the journey from the biblical text to the modern world. They get out of seminary and realize the preacher's question is application: How do you take this text and determine what it means for this audience?

Sometimes we apply the text in ways that might make the biblical writer say, "Wait a minute, that's the wrong use of what I said." This is the heresy of a good truth applied in the wrong way.

The Key Elements to a Good Sermon:

The Gathering of The Church

Molong Nacuua wrote about gatherings:

"There is another kind of ‘church meeting.’ It’s Hebrews 10:24-25. It’s a kind of meeting that came out of relationship. It is the by-product of our relationships.
It’s guilt-free. “Is Monday night fine with you?” A brother ask.
“No. Tuesday would be fine” was the response.
“Ok. See you then.” That’s it.
Not based on schedule or routine. “We should always meet on Wednesday night at 7pm.” And if we could not for some reason then we cancel it and do it next week, same day and time and place.
Not based on program, “Our topic tonight is about Grace….next week is Love.” But our God-life itself becomes the topic. “You know I read something this morning,…and it makes me think…” someone might share.
“A brother talk to me about what I did is wrong” another sister opened up, “and it help me see myself how selfish I am…”
“You know what, earlier today as I went walking to the market I almost hit by a car,” one exclaimed, “but thank God it didn’t hit me at all.” A testimony, but you know it’s not the ‘religious way’ like “I want to thank God that I almost hit by a car,…(put up a smiley face with a little bit of reluctance to speak because you have to find the right words and phrase and yes religious terms) praise the Lord, I want to give all the glory to Him.” The person cannot normally speak.
“I had a vivid dream last night,…” a single mother said, “what do you think is the meaning?”"

Molong Nacua: Gatherings

Worship Times and Singing With God

Dan Wilt wrote a post about the state of worship in the church, from an Evangelical American perspective.

"There was a time when people were singing about God, and the great shift in congregations and individuals was that they began to sing directly to God in their songs. Enter the contemporary worship movement of the 70s (almost 50 years ago), 80s, and even 90s. While that was a precious and important shift, he suggested that something else is emerging with the younger set raised in the environs of the 90s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s (we’re almost there).

These people represent what I will call Worship Immersion Culture, and I strongly identify with this group as well.

Worship Immersion Culture – Surround Us With The Music

Worship Immersion Culture is not primarily drawn to sing about God, nor even do they always feel a need to sing to God. Rather, they are a generation that wants to sing with God. They want to participate in God’s life, and be propelled by worship encounters into a world that is begging them to live out their worship incarnationally – manifesting Christ’s presence in all aspects of life."

Is It Too Loud? Worship Accompaniment Vs. Worship Immersion Culture, by Dan Wilt

Healthy Things Grow?

Sam Luce wrote a post on the ('christianese') saying, "Healthy things grow":

Healthy things grow, is one of the things I used to say to describe something successful. I once thought that something must be healthy because it is experiencing some measure of success. I would see more families come to our church or see and organization flushing and would say: healthy things grow because of their growth I assumed a) they were a healthy organization b) their growth was a sign of God’s blessing. While this may be true in some cases overall assuming healthy things grow is not helpful at all. Here is why.

Roger Olson reviewed Greg Boyd's Crucifixion of The Warrior God:

Have you ever been perplexed about the Old Testament’s “texts of terror” including especially those in which God is reported to have commanded the merciless slaughter of not only men and animals but also non-combatant women and children? If you’re still perplexed and care enough about the problems these texts present for Christian theology (and Christianity’s reputation in a skeptical world), you need to read Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Old Testament’s Violent Portraits of God in Light of the Cross published this year (2017) by Fortress Press in two volumes...

...Ultimately, to make a very long story short (and fail to do justice to it!), Boyd argues that the Old Testament portraits of God commanding and committing extreme violence against even children cannot be taken at face value even as they must be interpreted seriously as “masks” God allows his fallen people to put on him. Just as God allowed people to crucify him, so God allowed even his own people to blame him for their (or invisible, spiritual cosmic powers’) wicked deeds. Although I don’t remember Boyd putting it exactly this way, I think it is fair to describe his view as that God voluntarily “took the blame” just as he “took the shame” on the cross.

I will just mention here one example of the numerous steps in Boyd’s overall argument. According to him, God never commits deadly violence, even when it is deserved, because his nature is love, but he does (often has and will) “withdraw,” step aside, as it were, to allow others (nations, armies, evil men, Satan and his minions) to wreak havoc with deadly force. But God only does this when people reject God’s loving embrace and non-violent defense and protection and insist on disobeying God with idolatry and violence. It is interesting how many examples Boyd mines from the Old Testament of references to non-divine agents actually doing violence the authors then attribute to God!

If you are thinking something like “This whole line of reasoning just sounds implausible” you really just need to read Crucifixion. Boyd masterfully anticipates every counter-argument and deftly deflects it.

Although I have read Origen, I was quite amazed at how much support for his overall view Boyd found in that extremely important church father who seems also to have believed that God never commits violence. But Boyd does not follow Origen’s allegorizing method; he instead argues that “something else is going on” in (behind) Old Testament texts of terror that we can discern only through focusing on the cross as the perfect revelation of God’s character.

Review of Greg Boyd's Crucifixion of The Warrior God, by Roger Olson

Gen Z Will Vote Conservative

Massive change is happening.  A new voting block is coming up: Gen Z.  And they are likely to vote Republican or conservative.  Here is why:

Salena Zito wrote about Jeff Brauer's research on Gen Y:

Generation Z possibly had a major, yet completely overlooked, impact in this historic election. “Generation Z voters were likely attracted to Trump because of his strong stances on national security and economic recovery — the main concerns of that generation,” said Brauer.

“This generation is different, and they are about to have a profound impact on commerce, politics and trends,” Brauer concludes. “If politicians and business leaders aren’t paying attention yet, they better, because they are about to change the world.”

Eric Metaxas also wrote about Gen Z:

Members of “Generation Z” are now beginning to graduate high school, and 2016 was the first time any of them were old enough to vote. At seventy million and counting, they’re also about to outnumber their predecessors.

So, what’s so intriguing about this new brood? Well, according to a growing body of research, they may be, by certain measures, the most conservative generation since World War II—more than Millennials, Generation Xers and even the Baby-Boomers.

The Next Generation of Americans (Gen Z) May Be the Most Conservative Since WWII, by Eric Metaxas

Ben Ford wrote about a new study about Gen Z:

Generation Z — those born between 1995 and 2010 — is rapidly becoming the next large voting demographic, replacing Millennials. This will be the first time members of Generation Z will vote in a presidential election, and they’ll have an impact on our government for years to come.

Findings from one of the first major studies of the generation now coming of age were published in “Generation Z Goes to College” by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace. According to the authors, Gen Z cares about societal issues and brings a “change agent mentality” as they transition into adulthood. But Gen Z has little faith in Washington.