Notes for 2019: A Year of Reformation

Stand at the crossing, and consider the ancient path, for it is good and it leads to Me. Walk on this path, and you will find rest for your souls. 
-Jeremiah 6:16a-b (Voice)

I believe that 2019 is going to be a year of reformation.

I looked up reformation in the Bible, and could not find it, at first.  I noticed that The Young's Literal Translation translates 'metanoian', as reformation, and 'metanoeson', as repent.  Where most translations translate Jesus' words as, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near", Young's has, "Reform".

It is interesting to consider that Jesus' kingdom message, was to reform: To go back to the original design.  When we repent, we turn away and go back.

I found a better Greek word for reformation.  It is found once, in Hebrews 9:10: 'Diorthosis'
They are physical regulations and only deal with food, drink, and various washings imposed until the time of the new order. (CSB)
but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. (ESV)
Diorthosis means:
etymologically "making straight," and was used of restoring to the normally straight condition that which is crooked or bent. In this passage it means the rectification of conditions, setting things to rights, and is a description of the Messianic time. (1)
We usually hear about the protestant reformation as being the first reformation.  And then we say that we need a second reformation.  Luther did a lot of good, but did not go all the way, you could say.  And other groups said something similar and did go further, like the Anabaptists.

But, another way of looking at it is that Jesus was the reformation.  And John the baptist was his opening act.  John had a reformation message.

Later, Luther was trying to bring the church back again to Jesus.  And today Jesus himself wants his church back again, to be like him, and how he trained his original followers to walk out their lives.

I believe that the word for 2019 is reformation.  I know we've been talking about this for years, but I think it's the thing in 2019.

And I believe that it's not just the church, but many things are getting a reforming.  You could call it a global reset.

Reformation defined:
"improvement, alteration for the better," late 14c., "restoration;" mid-15c., "improvement," from Old French reformacion and directly from Latin reformationem (nominative reformatio), noun of action from past participle stem of reformare (see reform (v.)). (2)
Reform defined:
 c. 1300, "to convert into another and better form," from Old French reformer "rebuild, reconstruct, recreate" (12c.), from Latin reformare "to form again, change, transform, alter," from re- "again" (see re-) + formare "to form" (see form (n.)). Intransitive sense from 1580s.
Meaning "to bring (a person) away from an evil course of life" is recorded from early 15c.; of governments, institutions, etc., from early 15c. Related: Reformed; reforming. (3)

Twelve ways or aspects of reformation:

Twelve words I wrote in my notebook, after I wrote Reformation for 2019.

  1. Rearrange
  2. Reorient
  3. Reconfigure
  4. Restate
  5. Restore
  6. Resurrect
  7. Recall
  8. Recalibrate
  9. Recollect
  10. Renaissance
  11. Reorder
  12. Rewire

1. Rearrange 

from re- "back, again" + arrange. Related: Rearranged; rearranging; rearrangement. (4)

late 14c., "draw up a line of battle," from Old French arengier "put in a row, put in battle order" (12c., Modern French arranger), from a- "to" (see ad-) + rangier "set in a row" (Modern French ranger), from rang "rank," from Frankish *hring or a similar Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hringaz"something curved, circle," from nasalized form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend."

A rare word until the meaning generalized to "to place things in order" c. 1780-1800. Meaning "come to an agreement or understanding" is by 1786. Musical sense of "adapt for other instruments or voices" is from 1808. Related: Arranged; arranging. Arranged marriage attested from 1854. (5)

2. Reorient

from re- "back, again" + orient
c. 1727, originally "to arrange facing east," from French s'orienter "to take one's bearings," literally "to face the east" (also the source of German orientierung), from Old French orient "east," from Latin orientum (see Orient (n.)). Extended meaning "determine bearings" first attested 1842; figurative sense is from 1850. Related: Oriented; orienting. (6)

3. Reconfigure 

from re- "back, again" + configure
late 14c. (implied in configured) "to form, dispose in a certain form," from Latin configurare "to fashion after a pattern," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + figurare "to form, shape," from figura "a shape, form, figure" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Related: Configuring. (7)

4. Restate
from re- "back, again" + state
State (verb)
1590s, "to set in a position," from state (n.1); the sense of "declare in words" is first attested 1640s, from the notion of "placing" something on the record. Related: Stated; stating. (8)

5. Restore
c. 1300, "to give back," also, "to build up again, repair," from Old French restorer, from Latin restaurare "repair, rebuild, renew," from re- "back, again" (see re-) + -staurare, as in instaurare "to set up, establish; renew, restore," from PIE *stau-ro-, from root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." (9)

6. Resurrect

1772, back-formation from resurrection. Related: Resurrected; resurrecting. "The correct form is resurge, which, however, is intransitive only, whereas the verb resurrect can be used both as transitive and intransitive ..." [Klein]. Related: Resurrected; resurrecting. (10)

Resurrection (noun)

c. 1300, originally the name of a Church festival commemorating Christ's rising from death, from Anglo-French resurrectiun, Old French resurrection "the Resurrection of Christ" (12c.) and directly from Church Latin resurrectionem (nominative resurrectio) "a rising again from the dead," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin resurgere "rise again, appear again" (see resurgent). Replaced Old English æriste; in Middle English sometimes translated as againrising.

Generalized sense of "revival" is from 1640s. Also used in Middle English of the rising again of the dead on the Last Day (c. 1300). (11)

7. Recall
1580s, "to bring back by calling upon," from re- "back, again" + call (v.); in some cases a loan-translation of Middle French rappeler (see repeal (v.)) or Latin revocare (see revoke). Sense of "bring back to memory" is from 1610s. Related: Recalled; recalling. (12)
 call (v.)
mid-13c., "to cry out; call for, summon, invoke; ask for, demand, order; give a name to, apply by way of designation," from Old Norse kalla "to cry loudly, summon in a loud voice; name, call by name," from Proto-Germanic *kall- (source also of Middle Dutch kallen "to speak, say, tell," Dutch kallen "to talk, chatter," Old High German kallon "to speak loudly, call"), from PIE root *gal- "to call, shout." Related: Called; calling.
Old English cognate ceallian "to shout, utter in a loud voice" was rare, the usual word being clipian(source of Middle English clepe, yclept). Coin-toss sense is from 1801; card-playing sense "demand that the hands be shown" is from 1670s; poker sense "match or raise a bet" is by 1889. Meaning "to make a short stop or visit" (Middle English) was literally "to stand at the door and call." Telephone sense is from 1882.
To call for "demand, require" is from 1530s (earlier in this sense was call after, c. 1400). To call (something) back "revoke" is from 1550s. To call (something) off "cancel" is by 1888; earlier call off meant "summon away, divert" (1630s). To call (someone) names is from 1590s. To call out someone to fight (1823) corresponds to French provoquer. To call it a night "go to bed" is from 1919.

call (n.)
early 14c., "a loud cry, an outcry," also "a summons, an invitation," from call (v.). From 1580s as "a summons" (by bugle, drum, etc.) to military men to perform some duty; from 1680s as "the cry or note of a bird." Sense of "a short formal visit" is from 1862; meaning "a communication by telephone" is from 1878. From 1670s as "requirement, duty, right," hence, colloquially, "occasion, cause." (13)

calling (n.)
mid-13c., "outcry, shouting," also "a summons or invitation," verbal noun from call (v.). The sense "vocation, profession, trade, occupation" (1550s) traces to I Corinthians vii.20, where it means "position or state in life." (14)
The concept of “call” is a way of describing Christian conversion:
To the church of God at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours.
God is faithful; you were called by him into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
-1 Corinthians 1:2 & 9

8. Recalibrate
word-forming element meaning "back to the original place; again, anew, once more," also with a sense of "undoing," c. 1200, from Old French and directly from Latin re- "again, back, anew, against," (15)

calibrate (v.)
"determine the caliber of," 1839, verb formed from caliber + -ate (2). Also "determine the relative value of" different parts of an arbitrary scale (1869). Related: calibrated; calibrating. (16)

9. Recollect 
"to recover or recall knowledge of, bring back to the mind or memory," 1550s, from Latin recollectus, past participle of recolligere, "to take up again, regain," etymologically "to collect again," from re-"again" (see re-) + colligere "gather" (see collect (v.)). Related: Recollected; recollecting. The pronunciation is based on recollection.

Remember implies that a thing exists in the memory, not that it is actually present in the thoughts at the moment, but that it recurs without effort. Recollect means that a fact, forgotten or partially lost to memory, is after some effort recalled and present to the mind. Remembrance is the store-house, recollection the act of culling out this article and that from the repository. He remembers everything he hears, and can recollect any statement when called on. The words, however, are often confounded, and we say we cannot remember a thing when we mean we cannot recollect it. [Century Dictionary, 1895] (17)

10. Renaissance  
"great period of revival of classical-based art and learning in Europe that began in the fourteenth century," 1840, from French renaissance des lettres, from Old French renaissance, literally "rebirth," usually in a spiritual sense, from renastre "grow anew" (of plants), "be reborn" (Modern French renaître), from Vulgar Latin *renascere, from Latin renasci "be born again, rise again, reappear, be renewed," from re- "again" (see re-) + nasci "be born" (Old Latin gnasci, from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget").
An earlier term for it was revival of learning (1785). In general usage, with a lower-case r-, "a revival" of anything that has long been in decay or disuse (especially of learning, literature, art), it is attested from 1872. Renaissance man is first recorded 1906. (18)

11. Reorder
"to set in order again," from re- + order (v.). From 1810 as "repeat an order." (19)

12. Rewire 

It is hard to find a definition of this one, besides the idea of a house being rewired, because of the wiring being worn out, out of date, or unsafe.

When a person is rewired, it means how they are connected to themselves, to others, and to God.

Some people say, "I'm not wired that way", meaning they do not or can not function a certain way.

Trauma rewires us from our original functional way of being.  God wants to rewire people to be reformed back to the original design of our hearts and minds.

Rewiring also has to do with a paradigm shift: "Oh, I see it now!"


1. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'REFORMATION'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.


And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. No, they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
-Matthew 9:17

My wife and I have been getting rid of old books.  We got a bunch of new books for Christmas.  I saw Lance Wallnau, yesterday, on Facebook live, talking about this very thing, and then quoting from Henry Cloud's book, Necessary Endings.

Yesterday, I got out a tool, that has been been broken for about 5 or 6 years.  It was finally time to fix it, because I need it for a project. 

For half the afternoon, I tried to fix it. 

I finally gave up, and made plans to go to the store, and buy a new and improved version of the same tool.

This was a necessary ending.

Lance said that a key for many of us, as we enter 2019, is to let go of the past. 

We have to end something in order to start or participate in something new.  It is like when a person goes out with a new person, but they are still thinking and talking about their previous relationship.

I have seen this with Christians and churches or churching.  They can not join something new, because they have not ended the old.  We are either bitter or nostalgic and both hinder our entering into the new.

With everything we do when we get married.  From the engagement, the period of time before the wedding, with all the prep and perhaps some counseling.  Then everything about the wedding.  And finally, the vows, made before friends, family, and God.

All that is not just a beginning, but an ending.  It culminates in the line, spoken at some weddings, "forsaking all others."

As we move into 2019, it is very applicable now to consider endings.  New wine needs new wineskins.

Here are some quotes from Henry Cloud's book:

“Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.”
“In the language of Ecclesiastes, are there situations in business or in life where you are trying to birth things that should be dying? Trying to heal something that should be killed off? Laughing at something that you should be weeping about? Embracing something (or someone) you should shun? Searching for an answer for something when it is time to give up? Continuing to try to love something or someone when it is time to talk about what you hate?”
“Pruning is strategic. It is directional and forward-looking. It is intentional toward a vision, desires, and objectives that have been clearly defined and are measurable. If you have that, you know what a rose is, and pruning will help you get one of true beauty.”
“Failing well means ending something that is not working and choosing to do something else better.”
“There is a difference between helping someone who is disabled, incapable, or otherwise infirm versus helping someone who is resisting growing up and taking care of what every adult (or child, for that matter) has to be responsible for: herself or himself. When you find yourself in any way paying for someone else’s responsibilities, not only are you stuck with a delayed ending, but you are probably harming that person.”
“You can’t prune toward anything if you don’t know what you want. You have to figure out what you are trying to be or build and then define what the pruning standards are going to be. That definition and those standards will bring you to the pruning moments, wherein you either own the vision or you don’t.”
“first, accept life cycles and seasons; second, accept that life produces too much life, and third, accept that incurable illness and sometimes evil are part of life too. Taken together, these three principles will help you to make peace with endings, so that when their time has come, you will be able to do what you need to do.”
“Many people wish for a different universe than the one in which we live. They want one where every day is harvest time and there are no long laborious summer months to go through in order to get there. And when the harvest is ripe and they are thriving, they want no approaching winters where they see that the harvest is over and a cold death is looming.”
“Sometimes there is bleeding when you cut out a cancer.”
“Great is the art of the beginning, but greater is the art of ending. —HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW”
“If we accept the premise that pruning is necessary but still notice that we have an emotional misalignment with that premise, we will struggle to realize our vision of the future and our potential. But if you can become aware of your resistances and internal conflicts now, then you can begin to face them and work them through.”
“So if you feel resistance about executing a certain ending, figure out what two or more desires are in conflict, admit to yourself that you can have only one, and then ask yourself this question: Which one am I willing to give up to have the other one?”
You have to break through the comfort level that you are in, where you are settling for living in hell just because you know the names of all the streets. Remember, you were not designed to cope but to thrive. But just like a rosebush, you can’t thrive without pruning, which means your necessary endings truly are urgent. Let’s look at how to get there.”
I found all these quotes, from Henry Cloud's, Necessary Endings book, on Good Reads.  Over 1000 5 star reviews.  Many people said it was their best book of that year.

Sky Links, 12-29-18

An introduction to Jordan Peterson, for kids

The biggest fake news stories of 2018

Johnson, Obama, Nixon, F.D.R., Wilson, Adams, and Lincoln were rougher on the press than Trump
The president was frustrated with the media coverage of him and his policies, swearing that 85 percent of all newspapers were against him.
“Our newspapers cannot be edited in the interests of the general public,” the president griped. Then, almost derisively, he said: “Freedom of the press. How many bogies are conjured up by invoking that greatly overworked phrase?”
So, he opted to bypass the traditional media he was convinced was unfair and speak directly to America.
And President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats on the radio, beginning in 1933, proved to be a successful political move.

Sound familiar? Mueller team deletes evidence

The Justice Department's internal watchdog revealed on Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller's office scrubbed all of the data from FBI agent Peter Strzok's iPhone, while his FBI mistress Lisa Page's phone had been scrubbed by a different department, according to a comprehensive report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released on Thursday.

After Strzok was kicked off the special counsel investigation following the discovery of anti-Trump text messages between he and Page, his Mueller's Records Officer scrubbed Strzok's iPhone after determining "it contained no substantive text messages," reports the Conservative Review's Jordan Schachtel.

-Tyler Durden

Was the fake news press colluding with terrorists?
The Washington Post has caused itself a major scandal since it has come to light they and their martyred “reformer” Jamal Khashoggi were publishing anti-Saudi propaganda for Qatar. They tried to bury this in a pre-Christmas Saturday news dump, but that can’t stop the damage this will do to their reputation.

The persecution of the church in China

In an op-ed published on Washington Post on December 27, U.S. Congressman Chris Smith from New Jersey calls on the world to let the Chinese government know that their effort to erase religion and culture of their people are destructive, shameful acts that will not be tolerated by the community of nations.
Under President Xi, he said, Bibles are burned, churches destroyed, crosses set ablaze atop church steeples and now, religious leaders are required to install facial-recognition cameras in their places of worship. New regulations expand restrictions on religious expression online and prohibit those under age 18 from attending services.

-International Christian Concern

A story of forgiveness and grace

One man’s choice to forgive has forged an unimaginable friendship, rooted in a tragic accident that started at the end of a 24-hour work shift...
...“I remembered somebody said this in a sermon — in moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there's opportunities to demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance,” Fitzgerald said. “Here was an opportunity where I could do that. And I chose to demonstrate grace.”
-Robin Sindler and Eun Kyung Kim

Women's oppression by... women
For all the feminist complaints that fairy tale princesses are victims of the patriarchy, it’s really the women — rather than the men — in fairy tales that are mostly trying to control the princesses. The Evil Queen tries to murder Snow White in a fit of jealous rage. Cinderella’s wicked stepmother forces her into servitude. A wicked witch kidnaps Rapunzel and locks her in a tower. And on and on. It’s women telling other women what they can and can’t do, what they can and can’t wear, what they can and can’t think. Which, funnily enough, is pretty much exactly what’s happening in real life within the movement that’s hellbent on demonizing fairy tale princesses: feminism.
While the term “feminism” simply means “political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” there are many within the movement’s current iteration who feel that this can only be achieved if all women follow a prescribed set of values and behaviors set forth by . . . feminists. Women don’t need men. All mothers must work outside the home. A “strong” woman is a “badass” warrior. And on an on.
It’s not that all — or even most — feminists feel this way. It’s just that this is the “feminism” covered most frequently by the media and therefore it’s the philosophy that has become, through osmosis, the “feminist” agenda. Women telling other women what to do. Just like in fairy tales.

The movie that you did not see and did not hear about, this year

It’s easy to make an argument as to why the film is vanishing from screens or just hasn’t been discussed by reviewers and the media, but it’s equally as easy to dismiss them. Maybe it’s an economic question and the film didn’t do so well? Well, it was never going to topple Halloween, but it still broke into the top 10 on its opening weekend, making $1.2 million (which, for an independent film with little in the way of marketing, is an incredible amount). Factor in the anecdotal evidence that cinemas didn’t have any posters up for it and showings being cancelled or empty rooms being advertised as sold out and it’s all the more amazing. It’s really unheard of for a film with this economic performance to be pulled so quickly.
Maybe the audience didn’t enjoy it – look at Rotten Tomatoes, and it has a 98% approval rating. Perhaps it’s just that the film didn’t receive a wide-enough release, and so the media couldn’t cover it – well, the same day, The New York Times reviewed Beautiful Boy (screened in four cinemas) and Over the Limit (just one). Gosnell debuted in 673 cinemas, and attracted only one review in any major newspaper. The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Rechtshaffen wrote: “You can say one thing for Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer – it will never be mistaken for having a liberal bias… the film adopts a sanctimonious tone that’s anything but subtle.”
I think that this review goes some of the way to explaining the media blackballing of the movie. It is noticeably a right-wing movie (to quote Rechtshaffen, “the film never loses sight of the choir to which it is plainly preaching”), but why should that be a problem? An awful lot of Hollywood movies and stars freely and openly advocate left-wing messages, and award ceremonies are frequently derided as opportunities to spout progressive politics (even more so since the election of President Trump).

The opioid crisis
More than 700,000 Americans died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, about 10% of them in 2017 alone, according to a new report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In total, there were a staggering 70,237 drug overdose deaths last year, which is more deaths than all US military fatal casualties of the Vietnam War. Opioids were involved in 67.8%, or 47,600 of those deaths. Of those opioid-related overdose deaths, 59.8% of them, or 28,466, were due to synthetic opioids.

The report, which was published online in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), also examined drug overdose deaths from 2013-17. During that time, "drug overdose death rates increased in 35 of 50 states and DC, and significant increases in death rates involving synthetic opioids occurred in 15 of 20 states," the report said adding that the rapid increase was driven by fentanyl.
Of the 35 districts reporting data, 23 states and DC noticed increased rates of death directly linked to synthetic opioids. Fentanyl overdose deaths surged 150% from 2016 to 2017.

-Tyler Durden

Abundant energy in the future
Fossil fuels have amply repaid their energy cost so far, but the margin is falling as we seek gas and oil from tighter rocks and more remote regions. Nuclear fission passes the EROEI test with flying colours but remains costly because of ornate regulation.

Which brings me to nuclear fusion, a process potentially with a wildly positive EROEI (it fuels the sun and the H-bomb) but that so far has proved impossible to control. Fusion’s ever-receding promise suggests caution, but a British company, Tokamak Energy, is increasingly confident it can generate electricity by 2030, ahead of its American rivals. It forecasts ten large (1.5 GWe) power plants a year being built by 2035, and a hundred by 2040. It is a cheeky, private-sector upstart challenging the slow, international, public-sector collaboration on fusion.

The new fusion optimists base their confidence on yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO), a novel superconducting material that allows smaller, less cold but more powerful magnets. Britain is a world leader in YBCO technology, so it is not impossible that we could see a breakthrough here in the next two decades comparable to Thomas Newcomen’s steam invention of 1712.

Suppose fusion does make the “too cheap to meter” breakthrough that fission failed to make. We could then stop worrying about carbon dioxide, but what would we do with all this energy? We could make as much fresh water as we fancied, through desalination, to water the deserts. We could grow food indoors to release the countryside for nature. We could electrify all transport. We could enable Africa to become as wealthy as America.

Sky Links, 12-22-18

  1. Pray about it as much as you prepare for it. I’ve seen too many churches prepare much, and then only briefly ask God to bless their work. 
  2. Challenge your church members to invite a minimum of five people each. Give them a goal, and you might find that they’re much more willing to invite others. Most members can find at least five people to invite.
  3. Enlist a “follow up” team to contact guests and returning church members who attend. If you secure contact information but never follow up, you’ll have missed an open door.
  4. Have greeters everywhere from the parking lot to the parking lot—that is, from the time folks enter the lot to the time they leave. Be friendly.
  5. Consider asking everyone to wear a nametag. Knowing names facilitates conversations and makes the evening more personal (and, if you assume that everybody will already know everybody else, you’re probably not using the evening evangelistically).
  6. Ask everyone to complete a registration card. When everyone does it, guests are typically less reticent to provide information you need for follow up.
  7. Don’t forget about the kids when you preach or tell the Christmas story. Intentionally draw in the children, and you’ll draw the adults in, too. The opposite is not always true.
  8. Don’t try to impress people with your message–just communicate the simple, beautiful, childlike gospel story. If your community leaves talking only about what a good speaker you are, the devil may have hijacked your message.
  9. Don’t use the service to introduce new choruses or hymns. Christmas is often a time of familiarity and tradition. Use the music portion of your service wisely.
  10. Use older adults in the program, too. If your church is a multi-generational church, let the community see that reality on the platform.
  11. Spend a few minutes praying for a nation or a people group that will not be celebrating the birth of Christ next week. While we celebrate, much of the world will have no idea what Christmas is all about. December 25 will be only another day to survive.
  12. Be clear, and be clear again, about how folks may contact you if they have questions about the church or the gospel. Many may not respond to the gospel that evening, but still have questions in the days to come.
  13. If you take an offering, think about a benevolence offering for the needy in your community. This is a season of giving, so do something that will help your church give to others when Christmas is over.
  14. Enlist some prayer warriors to pray for one month for guests who attend your Christmas Eve service. That is, pray intentionally before the service, during the service, and after the service. Don’t carry out this special service or its follow up in your own power.
  15. Evaluate the service as soon as possible. If the Lord doesn’t return in the next year, Christmas Eve will come again. Celebrate it better next year because you’ve evaluated it this year.

Church Hurt: Occupational Hazards of the Pastorate

Thom S. Rainer's article of the week was about when the pastor's friend leaves the church
I’ve asked the question dozens of times. In one way or another, I simply ask pastors: “What has been one of your most painful moments in ministry?”
Obviously, the responses are diverse, but one response seems pretty consistent. Let me summarize it with this quote from a pastor who spoke to me just two weeks ago.
“Critics and bullies bother me,” he said. “But at least you know where you stand with them. The greatest pain for me took place when one of my good friends and his family decided to leave the church. At least I thought he was a good friend. I felt like I had been stabbed in the back.
I am not surprised at the pain. I am, however, surprised how common the experience is with so many pastors.
There were over 100 comments.  Here are a few:

When my husband and I were engaged one of my co-workers, whose husband was a retired pastor, offered one piece of advice. She said, “Just remember, the people at church are not your friends.” As a 22 year old I thought that was a sad and bitter statement. After 14 years of marriage/ministry life, I totally get it.

I’m a pastor of 32 years, 16 in my present church. What is described in this article is expected for those in ministry. We don’t expect to be betrayed, but perhaps we should. Even Jesus was betrayed. I found an interesting verse that may apply to this discussion, John 2:24, “But Jesus didn’t entrust himself to them, for he knew what was in their hearts.” Yup! My response: First, there are different levels of friendship. It’s not “be friends” or “don’t be friends.” It’s choose your LEVEL of friendship wisely. Have I been hurt and betrayed by close friends in the church? Of course I have! The pain of those betrayals is awful! And yet, slowly and cautiously, I continue to develop friends within the church–some (not a majority) end up being close friends. Why I don’t completely seal off my heart: Because opening my heart to people, to me, is a part of deep ministry. How do I NOT love people on a deep level? Will I be hurt again? For sure. Par for the course. Goes with the territory. But slowly, discerningly, I will continue to open my heart in various measures to my people.

I’m a PK and now a pastor’s wife. When my dad was a pastor my parents were hurt by friends in the church so they ended up keeping their members at a distance. When we planted our church 12 years ago we decided we wanted to have close friends in the church.
Well, the ones that we would have over for dinner and games and go to movies with, the ones we invested in more than any other members are the ones who have hurt us the most and have left us.
I laughed at the feeling of wanting to punch them in the face but praying instead. I’ve never wanted to actually punch someone but my husband has.
And it has taken a TON of prayer to move past the hurt.
But now I just can’t bring myself to open up to those close friendships in the church anymore. I’ve tried to be different than my parents but now I see why they built the wall.
As for the comment on pastors being approachable, we still take members to dinner and spend time getting to know them at church events. I just can’t have real friends in church anymore.

Thom this has been one of the most painful things in my 33 years of pastoral ministry. Its happened more than once, where people I really liked and felt kinship with left. Several were best friends. One guy was so weak after surgery at one point I helped him get to the bathroom. And, then months later he left for something else, in a moment of my greatest weakness. It hurt. A lot. I love him and bless him now many years later, but wow!
I affirm the value of cultivating friendship with other pastors outside your church and denomination. Nobody understands like they do. They have helped me through some real trials. But I also have some of my closest friends that are on our elder board. They have stood with me through the worst of it. They are standing with me now as I leave this church of 21 years to pursue a missions ministry. Develop prayerful discernment, invest wisely, and go deeply. After all, we are asking our members to do the same thing when we encourage them to join a small group. In the same breath, are we unconsciously telling them, “but know you can’t really trust people here-I dont’t! “. Ministry is painful! Suffering and glory are always linked together (Philippians 3:7-11). Some of Our Lord’s disciples walked away (end of John 6). But many of them ended up giving their lives for him. I think there are some deep friendships out there waiting to be enjoyed.

I was betrayed in a previous pastorate by a man, who I mistakenly thought, was my friend. He was a deacon: one of six. He treated my family and me decently the first 2-3 years. Later on in my tenure, he turned on me and was critical. I did nothing to him to warrant it. There was a situation, which occurred, in which he got a little mad and he caused me problems the last year or so of my time. He would never admit it. Hot-tempered, easily mad, and not self-reflective at all. The emotional pain was hard. A veteran pastor later told me, “Those, who try to get close to you early, often will turn on you later. Be wary of any (or even 2-3) who attempt to cozy up to you very quickly as you get settled in a new place.” He was right. A pastor is better off not to forge close friendships with those in his congregation. People are fickle (Vast majority) and will turn on you on a dime. The pastors, who form close friendships with 2-3 or 4-5 in their congregations, are rare. They’re at wonderful churches. Best to form 2-3 close friendships outside the congregation. You will get burned. Trust me on this. Not cynical here, just truthful.

My situation is very scary: I am a 57 y/o rookie pastor who was called in March of 2018. The other candidate was from the church I was called to. His wife was a deacon there and he served as an associate Minister. Although he was not ordained, his name went into the hat. We were both invited to the vote and God spoke and I was called with 2/3 majority. Now, I did not know this man, but I embraced him and asked if he would stay and help me navigate through the transition. Even though him and his wife was very, very upset, he said he would.
I had an official licencing service for him and began to prepare him for the 2019 ordination within our local convention. I gave him preaching engagements and set him up with three vacant churches. This is where it gets weird:
One day, out of the blue, he calls me and ask for a meeting; we had one and he told me that he did not like me and did not want to be under the covering of the church. He also told me since I did not support him or click the like button on his “Facebook” page, that I was not supporting him and he was taking his family and leaving the church. He told me I was a “showboat” because I go to all of the community events, and I thought I was better than him since I had my degrees.
Needless to say, I was devastated, The hate he had been holding in for seven months all came out in a 20 minute meeting.
How did I deal with it? I cried: Yes, like I baby, I cried to my wife, and I cried to God. I began to re-read the Bible, and God put scriptures in my path to sooth the pain. I realized that I can no longer be gullible, rather wise in my pastorate. Some members of the church heard so many false rumors I begin to question the spirit within the church. I continue to pray for this minister and his family, which is making me a stronger and more confident pastor.


 Heresy Clarified Simply -Scot McKnight

What's Up With Judge Roberts?

When Trump criticized the San Francisco judge as being an “Obama judge,” Roberts—in a public statement unusual for a sitting SCOTUS justice—criticized Trump and stated that there’s no such thing as “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” and that judges are “an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
Translation: don’t you dare imply that judges are political; we are above all that!
Then yesterday, by refusing to stop the San Francisco judge’s injunction, Roberts became the swing vote when the same issue came to the Supreme Court. He voted with the liberals in allowing the previous injunction to remain in effect.
This was not any sort of decision on the merits; it was merely a decision not to reverse the San Francisco judge’s decision, pending a later ruling on the merits of the asylum question. It was also a defense of that judge as being a member of that “group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right.” Perhaps, to Roberts’ way of thinking, had Roberts voted to reverse the decision of that San Francisco judge, it would have lent support to the idea that the San Francisco judge had been motivated by “Obama judge” partisanship to make an incorrect ruling.
It may be that, when the asylum question is heard on the merits, Roberts will end up voting with the conservatives and uphold Trump’s position. Perhaps. But I believe that in the meantime Roberts was deeply offended by Trump’s criticism of the judiciary, even though I think Trump was absolutely correct in that criticism.
I believe that there are at least three more things operating with Roberts in handing down this decision. The first is that most people, especially ambitious people—and that includes SCOTUS justices—are attracted to power. Power is enticing, and increasing one’s own power is always tempting. So what could be more powerful for Roberts than becoming a swing justice? It would mean that a great many huge and important cases would turn on what Roberts thinks.
Secondly, Roberts was nominated by George Bush. What better way for Roberts to prove that he’s no “Bush judge” than to vote with the liberals? So that’s another motivation to do what he did yesterday.
Thirdly, I’ve noticed a tendency in Roberts—long before Trump became president—to vote in the way that is least likely to upset the status quo apple cart. For example, in the case of Obamacare, Roberts found a “creative” way to avoid a bold overturning of a bill that had been passed by Congress. In yesterday’s injunction case, the path of least resistance was to let the injunction stand rather than to overrule it. But when the case about asylum actually reaches SCOTUS, Roberts could go either way—he might rule with Trump in order to uphold an executive order already issued, or he might rule against Trump in order to support the implementation of the pre-existing (pre-Trump) policy on how asylum is handled.
Is John Roberts the new Anthony Kennedy and if so, why? -Neo

What about that 60 vote rule and the so called nuclear option, in The Senate?
Senators don’t need unanimous consent to bring up a bill. The lack of unanimous consent or 60 votes doesn’t table a bill. It’s just that opposing senators in the minority can request to be recognized and continuously hold the floor. In recent years, majority parties have never made the minority do that. Sometimes it makes sense to pre-emptively achieve an agreement because the majority just can’t afford to chew up endless days on debate of a single issue. But sometimes there are issues worth fighting for. Either way, this is the end of the line for the 115th Congress. 
How do you get Democrats to stop talking? This is where Senate Rule XIX, “the two-speech rule,” comes into play. The rule explicitly prohibits individual senators from speaking “more than twice upon any one question in debate on the same legislative day.” Given that Republicans preside over the chair and control the floor, they can refuse to officially adjourn, opting only to recess temporarily, and keep the Senate in the same legislative day indefinitely. This will ensure that even the Democrats who are willing and able to speak for a long time will eventually be forced to relent.
 This never happens and is never enforced, because Republicans never force Democrats to hold the floor in the first place and McConnell simply won’t bring up legislation without a unanimous consent agreement or without 60 votes to ultimately shut off debate. But if he forced the minority to hold the floor and enforced Rule XIX, Democrats would exhaust themselves very quickly. This is a strategy laid out by James Wallner, an expert on Senate procedure who is currently completing a manuscript on the history of the Senate.
Wallner points out that Democrats do have the ability to challenge rulings of the chair and bring up points of order or call for quorum calls as means of prolonging their floor time, but Republicans can dispense with their motions with 51 votes. Eventually, Democrats would run out of steam and exhaust their two speeches per member. This would theoretically take several days or weeks, but it all depends on the determination of each side. If Republicans keep them in session day and night and over the weekends and make them hold the floor, Democrats would eventually run out of options to block a majority vote to proceed with the border wall funding continuing resolution.
Trump doesn't need 60 Senate votes  to fix the border and short-circuit a shutdown -Daniel Horowitz

The growing attacks on free speech in Europe

An Austrian appellate court has upheld the conviction of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife and anti-Jihad activist, for "denigrating religious beliefs" after giving a series of seminars about the dangers of radical Islam.
The December 20 ruling (2011) shows that while Judaism and Christianity can be disparaged with impunity in postmodern multicultural Austria, speaking the truth about Islam is subject to swift and hefty legal penalties.
Although the case has major implications for freedom of speech in Austria, as well as in Europe as a whole, it has received virtually no press coverage in the American mainstream media.
A Black Day in Austria  -Soeren Kern

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff on the Eric Metaxas show

65-year-old Swedish woman sentenced to prison for criticizing Islam


Sky Links, 12-15-18

The dark side of the pastorate: being fired (emphasis mine)
Many pastors are being fired this Christmas season.
I know. I see it every year. I deal with it every year.
To be clear, I cannot be certain pastor terminations accelerate at Christmas. Perhaps the numbers seem high since the timing is so insidious. Regardless, these considerations apply regardless of the time of year.
  1. Many pastor firings occur because one or a few malcontents are spreading rumors. Please check the sources of these rumors. Please ask people other than the malcontents and bullies.
  2.  A number of pastor firings occur due to underhanded actions by other staff. I know of one situation where the executive pastor did not like the leadership of the pastor, so he worked in darkness with the personnel committee to get the pastor fired. The personnel committee never asked for the pastor’s side of the conflict.
  3. Many pastors are fired without any explanation. I am surprised how often this reality transpires. Typically, the personnel committee or similar group tells the pastors they will not get a severance if they challenge them or question them.
  4. Very few pastors get adequate severance when they are fired. It typically takes several months for a pastor to find a job. Severance often runs out before then.
  5. Your church is labeled as a “preacher-eating” church. Your church’s reputation and witness are hurt in the community. You will wonder why other pastors decline to interview for the open position. They know. They’ve heard what you did.
  6. If you had been willing to be patient and Christ-like, pastors would likely seek another job without your firing them. If you let pastors know their job is in jeopardy and give them six to nine months to find another position, many will do so. Pastors can always find another church much easier if they have a church. And the church avoids the pain, conflict, and dirtied reputation that comes with firing a pastor.
Six Considerations Before You Fire Your Pastor This Christmas -Thom S. Rainer

The Opioid Epidemic


How long-term pastors can avoid getting in ruts (Karl Vaters)

As someone who celebrates 26 years at the same church this month, here are the top 5 dangers I’m constantly trying to avoid, in no particular order:
1. Getting Stuck In A Rut
2. Getting Stuck In A Rut
3. Getting Stuck In A Rut
4. Getting Stuck In A Rut
5. Getting Stuck In A Rut
Yeah, that’s about it. If you can stay out of that rut, a long-term pastorate is best for everyone. So, how do we avoid getting stuck?
Here are a handful of lessons I keep learning that help me stay fresh, excited and forward-looking after two and a half decades at the same church.

Stay Curious
If the pastor isn’t learning and growing, the congregation will be able to tell. Maybe before we can....

Listen More Than You Talk
 People may get tired of hearing you talk, but they’ll never get tired of having you listen...

Entrust Ministry To Younger Leaders
 The youth are not the church of tomorrow. Tomorrow is too late.
 They’re the church of today....

Encourage Ministry Styles That You Don’t Like
Years ago, I heard a piece of wisdom from a retiring pastor that has stuck with me ever since. In referring to the new songs and instruments being used in the church, he said “I’ve learned to worship Jesus singing songs I don’t like.”...

Be Approachable And Correctable
Is anyone in your church allowed to tell you you’re wrong? Other than your spouse? If not, you and the church are in a dangerous place....

Equip, Equip, Equip 
Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders. They equip God’s people to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) instead of using them to do our bidding...
The 5 Biggest Dangers of a Long-Term Pastorate and How to Avoid Them
-Karl Vaters

Anti Alzheimer's Diet: More Fat Less Sugar! Foods to Help Prevent Dementia 
-Dr. David Perlmutter

Bible Gateway 2018
Out of more than 2 billion pageviews conducted by visitors to Bible Gateway during 2018, the most popular verse for the year was Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2. John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
3. Philippians 4:13 — I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
4. Romans 8:28 — And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
5. Psalm 23:4 — Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
6. Romans 12:2 — Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
7. Psalm 23:6 — Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
8. Psalm 23:1 — The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
9. Psalm 23:5 — You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
10. Matthew 6:33 — But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Bible Gateway: Year in Review -Jonathan Petersen

YouVersion 2018

The most read verse in the United States:
Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you;do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
The most popular verse in other countries:

ArgentinaJoshua 1:9
AustraliaJeremiah 29:11
BangladeshJohn 3:16
BrazilJoshua 1:9
CanadaJeremiah 29:11
ChileIsaiah 41:10
ChinaProverbs 4:23
ColombiaJoshua 1:9
Egypt1 Peter 5:7
FranceIsaiah 41:10
GermanyJoshua 1:9
GhanaJeremiah 29:11
India1 Peter 5:7
IndonesiaJeremiah 29:11
Iraq1 Peter 5:7
ItalyIsaiah 41:10
JapanJeremiah 29:11
KoreaProverbs 16:9
MexicoJoshua 1:9
NepalJohn 3:16
NetherlandsIsaiah 41:10
NigeriaJeremiah 29:11
PeruIsaiah 41:10
PhilippinesJeremiah 29:11
RussiaProverbs 4:23
Singapore Jeremiah 29:11
South AfricaIsaiah 41:10
SpainIsaiah 41:10
ThailandMatthew 6:33
TurkeyJohn 3:16
UAEJeremiah 29:11
UkraineRomans 8:28
United KingdomJeremiah 29:11
United StatesIsaiah 41:10
VietnamMatthew 6:33

YouVersion 2018 Key Stats 

Pinterest is censoring anti-vaccine pins
The popular image-sharing social media website Pinterest is blocking pins that provide safety information about vaccines, or question whether or not legislation should be passed to mandate vaccines....

The vaccination question is not settled in the medical community

Where do licensed physicians who practice medicine in the U.S. stand today regarding the current vaccine debate to remove informed consent to vaccines? This is one area of the debate where you are not likely to hear both sides in the mainstream media.
Mainstream media, for the most part, is biased in its coverage of the current vaccine debate when it comes to the issue of removing informed consent, and not allowing parents to exempt their children from vaccines. The debate is positioned as parents against doctors, with parents supposedly representing emotional pleas, while doctors are supposedly unified in stating that “the science is settled” regarding vaccines, and universally in favor of mandatory vaccination policy removing parental exemptions.
However, nothing could be further from the truth in the vaccine debate. Doctors are not unified at all on their positions regarding “the science” of vaccines, nor are they unified in the position of removing informed consent to a medical procedure like vaccines.
Pinterest Censoring Anti-Vaccine Doctors and Pins Related to Vaccine Rights
Medical Doctors Opposed to Forced Vaccinations – Should Their Views be Silenced?
-Brian Shilhavy

The Church Is Growing in Syria. Turkey Wants to Kill It.

In the Federation of Northern Syria, new Christians are safe. For now. My good friend Bassam visited one of their churches in Kobane. He reports that the building is already too small for all the souls flocking to Christ. Bassam told me:

I was struggling to control my emotions and hold back tears. I couldn’t believe that I was on Syrian soil attending a legal church service for Kurdish converts to Christianity. This miracle in the heart of the Middle East is possible thanks to the freedom in The Federation to convert and be Christian in all openness. We all know what the Turkish jihadists will do to them (if they are allowed to) and these new Christians do fear that day.
If Turkey defies Donald Trump, and if Trump does not stop Erdogan, these churches will burn; these Christians will die.

 An Assyrian Christian from Tal Nasri said: “If Erdogan is allowed to attack this place, no Christian will remain here.” One Turkish newspaper claims that Turkey plans to occupy 40 kilometers into Syria. That would mean the end of Christianity in North-East Syria, where it has existed since the Apostles. Every Christian Syrian settlement would fall to the Turks.

Trump Warns Erdogan Not to Wipe Out Syrian Christians. Will Turks Defy America? 
-Johannes De Jong


Whitewash The Tombs