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Is Christianity Homophobic?

A young man in our congregation runs a chain of bakery stores in Northern Ireland. A few months ago a gay man representing a group called ‘Queerspace’ came into one of his stores and placed an order for a cake with the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’. The order was refused by the management because it went against their strong Christian convictions about the nature of marriage. There would have been no problem selling the customer a cake—he wan’t being denied service because of his sexual orientation. The bakery simply refused to endorse his campaign for gay marriage. The management have also refused to ice cakes with (heterosexual) pornographic pictures or slogans they found offensive. There was no question of this man being treated differently because he is a homosexual.

Nevertheless, a few weeks later, the bakery was threatened with legal action by the Equality Commission, a publicly funded body, claiming they had breached equality laws which outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

Needless to say, the case prompted a media storm. And it didn’t take long before Christians in general, and the management of this bakery in particular, were being accused of homophobia. It’s such a common slur, isn’t […]

Unboxing the Idols of Our Heart

If I were to ask you what is currently the most popular YouTube channel, would you know? Or, what genre of internet videos could earn one stay-at-home mom between $2 million and $13 million in advertising per year? What is your guess? What is the fastest growing genre of internet videos? Cute kitty videos? D-I-Y demos? Pornography?

The answer is none of the above.

The fastest growing genre of YouTube videos is a phenomenon known as unboxing. Yep. Unboxing. Have you heard of it? For the benefit of those who are not Millennials, I will explain. Unboxing is a video genre where the subject of the video is a product that is unpackaged or “unboxed” before the viewer’s eyes. The one doing the unboxing is normally not shown, except for the hands. But her voice is heard as she explains the opening of the new product step-by-step. The viewer hears a description of box quality, what the tissue paper feels like, the amount of plastic around a product, how many ties are holding it in place. In detail, the viewer is invited into the serotonin-driven experience that we all have felt when we get something new. […]

Browse Worthy: David Murray’s Student Tech Tips

With school getting into full swing these days, it is important for students to work on their organizational abilities.  In this increasingly technological age, boxes of crayons and notebooks with tabs are being replaced with digital apps and files it seems.  Not only that, but even yesterday’s technology gets replaced in a blink of an eye.  My youngest daughter’s Christian school just told her to leave last year’s flash drive at home and sign up for Dropbox.  Trying to keep up with the best ways to use and organize the technology can be overwhelming.

That’s why I am thankful for the series of “New Student Tips” Dr. David Murray is doing over at his HeadHeartHand blog.  Clearly explained and carefully linked, he guides you through the top web applications that can help you not only order your educational life, but all of it.  I am not sure how many more he intends to do in this series, but here are the links of the articles so far.  They have been beneficial to me, and I have even learned more about the ones I am already using.  Also, the good news is that these are all free!

So whether a new student or an old one like me,  take […]

The Children Are Always Included

Where do our children stand with respect to God’s covenant? How should we treat them as Christian parents? Why do we baptize infants? Those questions fill the mind of parents. They were never more on our mind this summer than as we drove to participate in extended family gatherings on both sides of our family.

In that drive time, we listened to Ted Donnelly’s six sermon series on infant baptism. He is a now-retired pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland. Though the sermons were preached nine years ago, the timeless truth of God’s word is preached from a grandfatherly man who not only knows the Scripture but who has experienced the blessing of it in the various stages of life, too. In this series, he handles not only the technical aspects of baptism, but each message is drenched with pastoral love and tenderness.

Is Your Church Restful?

Recently, a reader submitted the following question:

I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of hustle and bustle of church business and committee work and clip boards flying around to sign up for this and that. Of course I too have approached people, clipboard in hand, on the Lord’s Day. Would one of you consider addressing this topic?

This is a perceptive question that, if we answer it well, could help us maintain or rescue the blessings of corporate worship and Sabbath-keeping.

Before we attempt an answer, let’s assuming the following factors are at play:

A sincere desire to honor the Lord’s Day and enjoy the rest it provides
The need to clearly communicate the needs and ministries of the church and recruit people to be involved
The fact that the corporate gathering for worship is the easiest time to communicate and recruit
The danger that the bustle of announcements, sign-up sheets and committee meetings might overshadow or even undo some of the rest provided on the Sabbath

In other words, the congregation needs to know what’s going on and how to get involved without losing the focus and restfulness of worship. If your congregation has a lot of things going on, you’ll agree that striking this […]

Responding to Gay Marriages

Perhaps it’s largely due to judicial activism. Perhaps it may be a short-lived reality with long-term inevitability, but our county in Indiana saw its first gay marriages solemnized at the courthouse this week. For some of GR’s readership, this has been a reality for some time, for others it is yet in the future. But the closeness to home has made me try to think clearly about how we are to respond. This is by no means the final word, but some pastoral thoughts.

This Country Song Life

Had some of those days of late

  That sound like a country song.

You know the kind I mean when

  Everything goes all wrong?

The concrete block we was a-holdin’

  My son dropped on the count of two.

So I danced around like a charismatic

  While my fingernail turned all blue.

Pesky squirrel knocked down my feeder again

  So I took aim right at his head;

His chortle and the dripping water told me

  I’d hit my garden hose instead.

Was diggin’ out for my woman those

  Overgrown bushes in the yard,

When the handle of my favorite shovel broke

  ‘Cause I pushed down way too hard.

“Typical York luck!” is what

  Mama taught me to holler.

But now, by God’s good grace,

  Them words I try to swaller.

And instead of fussin’ and fumin’

  And gettin’ all jittery with my nerves,

I just try and remember that

  I’m still doing better than I deserve.

Besides, my finger’s no longer a-throbbing,

  And duct tape kinda fixed the hose.

Yep, I did lose a shovel I’ll miss but

  My wife’s still pretty as a rose.

Now, I ain’t written no tune for you

  To sing with me this country song.

But figured a knowin’ nod would be

  ‘Nuff for you to sing along.

To the Class of 2014: Take the Mountain

The following commencement address to the Sycamore Covenant Academy (Kokomo, Indiana) Class of 2014 was delivered on May 23, 2014. Several in attendance asked for a copy, so after putting the notes to a manuscript (no doubt inexactly), here it is:

Congratulations to the class of 2014! The thirteen of you have worked hard, and it is wonderful to see you complete this portion of your journey. As you transition to the next phase of life, it is fitting to have a celebration like this one – complete with the cake we will have in a few minutes. Celebrations look backward to what has been accomplished, and they anticipate the road ahead. What is next for you? You will scatter as you go off to college and work; you will likely marry, have children, own a home that requires constant care, have monthly bills come due with alarming frequency, and wake up one day and realize that all of your wildest dreams have not come true and that life can be pretty boring, frankly. So how do we look forward to what is ahead?