Sky Links, 2-15-18

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

All this will flow from the kind and compassionate mercy of our God.
A new day is dawning: the Sunrise from the heavens will break through in our darkness,
And those who huddle in night, those who sit in the shadow of death,
Will be able to rise and walk in the light, guided in the pathway of peace.
-Luke 1:78-79 (VOICE)

Only God Can Make America Great Again
-James Robison

Those words were in the first sentences out of my mouth when I sat facing then-candidate Donald J. Trump. We were in his office in Trump Tower, with his son Eric sitting to my left. I spoke the words forcefully while expressing unconditional love for our country and for Mr. Trump’s family.

I repeated, “If America becomes great again, it will be because God and ‘we the people’ do it. But we need a leader with a father’s heart to inspire our too often fatherless families as George Washington did. It was the strength of his leadership and inspiration that earned the title of our nation’s father.”

Can a Woman Be a Pastor? Looking at the New Testament
-Sandra Glahn

Recently someone raised this question: Were there any mentions in the New Testament of men/women who were actually titled "pastor"? I keep hearing arguments that there were no women pastors in the Bible, but I can't find any men called "pastor" either.

The observation that no one, male or female, is called “pastor” is absolutely correct. We don’t see “Pastor Paul” or “Pastor Mark” or “Pastor John” in the Bible. Or “Pastor Phoebe” for that matter.

In the same way that no one person is ever referred to as the giver (imagine “Giver Aquila”), the exhorter (Exhorter Priscilla?), the evangelizer, the teacher, the mercy-shower…there is also no one in the New Testament referred to as the pastor. Even in their correspondence with local congregations, the writers of New Testament epistles never greet local “pastors.”

Six Keys For Corporate Worship In A Replant
-Thom S. Rainer (podcast)
  • It’s not uncommon for pastors in small churches to double as the worship leader.
  • The authenticity of worship matters much more than the style of worship.
  • When leading corporate worship, meet the congregation where they are and lead them where they need to go.
  • Don’t let your style of worship become your idol.
  • In corporate worship, the heart of the matter is the heart of the people.
  • The greatest instrument to worship God is the human voice.

-Wayne Jacobsen & Brad Cummings (podcast)

Gene Edwards is an enigmatic personality and a polarizing figure. No one has done more to encourage people think outside the box of institutionalized Christianity and see the Bride of Christ as Jesus is giving her shape in the world than Gene Edwards. And yet his model for replicating that church has been controversial and for some, painful. Wayne had the opportunity last month to sit down with Gene to share their mutual passion and the differences in how they see God working in the world. Brad and Wayne process that conversation and why trying to replicate his church by teaching people to follow a model, no matter how well constructed, is problematic at best. As a side note Brad and Wayne reflect on the imperfect vessels we all are, and how to celebrate God's work in a life, even when we recognize their flaws.

-Matthea Glass

Grief GOT HARD! So I stopped blogging for what… 3/4 years. I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking about starting again for a long time now. This journey of healing has been crazy. I will blog about the deep grief and recovery later, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve worked on a piece titled Unloved.


From my earliest memories, I felt unloved. I remember thinking maybe I was simply unlovable. There’s just something about me that people can’t love. When Kai died, I thought his death meant God didn’t love me. Feeling unloved is part of the fall. If you, like me, have felt unloved, you are NOT ALONE. We all seek to fill this void with everything except The One Who is Love.

1 John 4:8 … God is love.

One Cause of Christian Syncretism Beautifully Explained in a New Documentary: What Is New Thought?
-Roger Olson

If you are a Christian, especially an American Christian, and you are concerned about the eclectic blending of non-Christian philosophies and spiritualities with Christianity (syncretism) in contemporary American culture, you must watch “What Is New Thought?”—a documentary available on Amazon. It is free for those with Amazon Prime and can be purchased by others.

I have long known about and been very concerned about the subtle influence of the 19th century philosophy, spirituality, and movement known as New Thought both on American culture in general and on American Christianity. The documentary is pro-New Thought but gives a very helpful overview of New Thought history, major thinkers and promoters, varieties, and influences in American culture and religion—even where those influences are hardly noticed.

It is my opinion that New Thought, as presented in this documentary, is a major threat to orthodox Christianity and has brought about a condition in which thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans who think they are Christians are mentally and spiritually corrupted by what is basically a pagan worldview.

-Roger Olson

But a problem I notice among many Young, Restless, Reformed Calvinists and even some of their highly intelligent mentors is that they do not keep their Calvinist doctrine of providence in mind when talking about predestination. Unless stopped, and forced to bring them together, they often disconnect the two. Here’s how that goes: “Adam and Eve fell by their own free will and all of their descendants deserve hell because of their inherited iniquity and their sinfulness and God out of love and for his glory mercifully and graciously chooses some of the fallen who deserve hell to save.” But that immediately raises this question: “Did God foreordain and render certain Adam’s and Eve’s fall and all of its consequences including the iniquity and rebellion of their descendants?”

Rarely do I get that far in a conversation with a Calvinist. However, when I do, and they choose to answer, they divide and go in two directions. First, some will say “That all lies in the realm of mystery; we do not know exactly why or how the fall happened. All we know is that God permitted it for good reasons beyond our comprehension and used it to demonstrate his love and justice.” Then, with those Calvinists, the conversation must change and go to why God elects some of the fallen descendants of Adam and Eve to save and leaves the others to suffer in hell eternally when, since election is unconditional and grace is irresistible, God could save all people. At that point, if the conversation has gotten that far, most of those Calvinists say something like “Whatever God does is good just because God does it.” Ah! Nominalism/voluntarism as the “escape hatch” from having to explain how “good God” is compatible with such a horrible decree.

-Shane Blackshear (podcast)

Fresh Expressions is an international movement of missionary disciples cultivating new kinds of church alongside existing congregations to more effectively engage our growing post-Christian society.

Beginning in 2004 as an initiative of the Church of England and the British Methodist Church, the movement has resulted in the birth of thousands of new communities in the UK alone and brought renewal to scores of established churches. The movement has spread to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Germany. In 2010, the movement began taking shape in the US through the vision and generosity of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and a growing number of partners committed to a new era of missional ecumenism, a unity around the mission of God the Father through the resurrected Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

"How much of what we call church are we willing to give up to be the church?" 
-Lisa Smith

-Jason Daye, Church Leaders (podcast)

“We live and we love and we lead from the inside out.”

“Sometimes when we think of leadership development we think of the skill sets…but we also need to attend to our internal life.”

“He’s given us this wonderful privilege (ministering) but he didn’t give it to us to burn us out. He gave it to us in partnership with him.”

“As leaders we have different relationships with mentors than we do with peers so I try to have accountable relationships in both areas.”

“The discipline of celebration, we need to sit down and enjoy what God has given us. It is important to remember how God has helped you.”

“What isn’t happening because we’re held back by a broken identity? A healthy identity gives rise to a vibrant purpose.”

“These broken pieces of our lives…as we place them in God’s hands we can find a greater freedom to move into what he has for us.”

“The broken pieces are broken but under the grace of God they don’t have to stay broken, they can be redeemed”

“Wilderness experiences reveal what we are about….it brings us to the end of ourselves.”

“Sometimes we don’t even know what our expectations are until they aren’t met.”

“When we walk in our valley of dry bones….God is present. You’re still his child and he’s still with you.”