Don’t Share Your Pronouns, Manti Te’o’s Fake Girlfriend, and Preaching to Children – Points of Interest for Sept. 12, 2022

When Asked ‘What Are Your Pronouns,’ Don’t Answer

Here’s a take on the pronouns debate from a non-religious evolutionary biologist.

“Coercing people into publicly stating their pronouns in the name of ‘inclusion’ is a Trojan horse that empowers gender ideology and expands its reach. It is the thin end of the gender activists’ wedge designed to normalize their worldview. Participating in pronoun rituals makes you complicit in gender ideology’s regressive belief system, thereby legitimizing it. Far from an innocuous act signaling support for inclusion, it serves as an implicit endorsement of gender ideology and all of its radical tenets.”

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How Manti Te’o’s Fake Girlfriend Helps Explain Transgenderism

I’m not into football (or whatever sport this is about) but this is a sadly fascinating story nonetheless.

“Most young adults today have grown up in a world where they’re known mostly by how they “present” themselves online. They take for granted that a certain distance between their real self and their online self is normal. In some ways, the many possibilities of a digital self have become more compelling than the boring old embodied self in all its limitations.”

“For adolescents especially, struggling through awkward bodily development, embracing a disembodied identity online can feel like a reprieve.”

Preacher, Don’t Forget to Speak to the Children

“Preacher, you should speak to the children in your sermons. It’s a fun and endearing task. I’m not always successful, but I try in every sermon to make a specific application to children. This helps them to perk up and listen. It helps them to know that their pastor cares about them. But most importantly, it communicates that the preached Word is for them, too.”

“Churches tend to prioritize what their pastors prioritize. So I’ve noticed that my applications to children have pushed the church as a whole to build intergenerational relationships.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Teens and Social Media, Gaming and the Metaverse, and The Painful and Fruitful Ministry of Charles Simeon – Points of Interest for August 22, 2022

5 New Stats You Should Know About Teens and Social Media

“It’s not hyperbolic to say that YouTube is the most influential—and, therefore, the most important—website in the world. It’s used by almost every single teen in the country, and as of Pew’s latest research of U.S. adults in 2021, it’s also used by 81 percent of all adults. YouTube is king of the social media world.”

“If you and I are going to help the teenagers in our lives have a more healthy relationship with social media, we need to be willing to evaluate our own. The Pew research clearly shows that social media is a teen issue, but it’s not only a teen and student ministry issue. We ought to check our own lives before we instruct the teens in our care.”

Gaming and the Metaverse – Mere Orthodoxy

“The purpose of gaming is to simulate meaning… Video games give us a way to feel important while meaning nothing… This explains why so many video games are preoccupied with giving you experiences that would have life-wrecking consequences were you to have them in the real world. I get to have the thrill of combat or speeding or killing without the consequences. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many people seem to have forgotten this.”

The Painful and Fruitful Ministry of Charles Simeon

“Simeon endured his many challenges by attending carefully to his own soul. He learned a dictum early in his life that ‘to soar heavenward’ one must ‘grow downwards in humility.’ So, Simeon spent long hours every day in God’s word and prayer. In fact, he went to bed early so that he could get up early and give unhurried time to his Lord in these ways.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

The Struggling Pastor’s Best Friend, Why Are Teenagers So Sad and Anxious?, and High Praise for Songwriter Mark Heard – Points of Interest for August 15, 2022

John Calvin: The Struggling Pastor’s Best Friend

“Since unceasing spiritual battle is the reality of ministry, all who would be pastors “should carefully consider with themselves, whether or not they were able to bear so heavy a burden.” Ministry will always be filled with difficulties and sufferings, so the frank assessment of one’s ability to bear those difficulties is an essential part of examining one’s call to ministry.”

“Pastors who look to the love of Christ will be enabled to forget their comforts and reputations and be able to persevere in a work that so often costs them those comforts and reputations.”

Why Are American Teenagers So Sad and Anxious?

“Kids need millions of experiences of conflict, getting lost, struggling with something, failing in a low-stakes environment. That’s what play is all about, play is what develops our brain. But what we did beginning around 2009 was we put all of our kids on experience blockers.”

Mark Heard: Treasure of the Broken Land

I quite enjoyed this essay on one of my favourite songwriters, the late Mark Heard. I made a playlist of some of my favourite songs. Have a listen.

“Heard’s reputation is built primarily on his last three albums. That’s where his poetic promise flowered and he finally shook loose of the Christian music industry that had never wanted much to do with him anyway.”

Pray for the foothills
Home to the drones of power lines and rock doves
Mountains gray as velvet
Field for dots of yucca, white with jacarandas
Facing the sky as the day burns away is a desert in mourning
Sheltering the dead stones
Cradle of the lost bones
Home of eternal comings and goings
(“Another Day in Limbo”)

“When an artist dies in his prime, the temptation is to mourn the art he never had a chance to make. And that’s doubly true for Heard, who’d really come into his own as a singer and songwriter only a few years before he died. But we should be thankful for the music he left behind…Heard’s work will stand the test of time, I am sure, even if only a few thousand people ever hear it.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

A Christian View on Psychedelics, Should Pastors Have Friends?, and How to Spot a Wolf – Points of Interest for August 8, 2022

Pastors Should Have Friends in Church. Do They?

This is an oft-reported problem in churches. I am grateful that I pastor a church in which so many of the congregants are also my friends. Clearly, this is how it should be, but too often it is not. Give this article a read to understand why.

“Yes, pastors and their wives should have close friends within the church, but this doesn’t mean they will. Such a sentence is hard to write; it is an even harder reality to face. Friendships within the church are so often difficult for pastors and their families. The loneliness is even enough to drive some to despair.”

A Christian View on Psychedelics

There is increasing interest – and therefore conversation – about the use of psychedelics. This article takes a look at the phenomenon from a Christian perspective.

“The Judeo-Christian heritage… teaches us that there is danger in such things, and that practices such as the ingesting of psychoactive substances put us in contact with a world of spirits that is not our assigned place. And yet Christianity fully validates that longing for a connection to the spiritual. The Scriptures make clear that this God-given hunger for the transcendent is meant to be satisfied by God himself, through Christ his Son, as mediated by the Holy Spirit.”

How to Spot a Wolf: Three Signs of False Teachers

Any seasoned pastor will find much to affirm in this article. When you see the signs listed below (and in the rest of the article) ring the alarm bell until somebody notices. You may be seen as the “bad guy” in the situation at first, but you will end up saving the church a lot of time and hurt in the long run.

“Watch for a pattern of pursuing church leadership positions that seems unhealthy. Watch for a charming charismatic personality that in the past has left a disproportionate number of disillusioned and wounded people in its wake. Watch for claims to and apparent demonstrations of the kinds of spiritual power valued in the church, but which encourage a troubling dependency on and loyalty to the leader(s). Watch for a group forming around a leader, noticeably comprised of susceptible, spiritually weak members, that begins to manifest distrust in godly church leaders. Watch for a pattern of conflicts with godly leaders and resistance to submit to leaders in general.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Giving God Room, and What It Means to Be Quarrelsome – Points of Interest  for April 4, 2022

Jonathan Leeman – An Ecclesiological Take on “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill”

“Pragmatism is a results-driven orientation, especially results that can be measured, like dollars in the plate or bodies in the pew. It throws overboard almost everything else the Bible says about being a church in pursuit of those numeric goals. Little by little, churches value leaders more for their giftedness than their faithfulness, their charisma more than their character.”

Rebekah Matt – Give God Room

“Rather than trying to control and manipulate a situation in order to bring an end to our problem, we’re to give God room in order to work in his own perfect timing.”

“Examples abound in the Bible of those who impatiently attempted to orchestrate a solution to their problem, even though they knew they ought to wait on the Lord: Abraham, Jacob, Saul, David, and others, including Sarah… Clearly, the Bible tells us we’re not to respond to challenges with worry or a desire to manipulate or control … but how, then, do we glorify God in the midst of difficult situations and great stress?”

Will McKinney – What Does Paul Mean By “Quarrelsome”?

“Simply put, a quarrelsome man argues about foolish controversies. He doesn’t have the sense to realize that what he is talking about will not be profitable. He continues to tread into conversation topics that breed division, not unity. He focuses on secondary or tertiary issues of the faith in an argumentative fashion; he frequently wants to argue and discuss these things.”

“At times, it’s important to discuss controversial or challenging topics. How a man addresses these topics will show his character. When they’re discussed, they should be done while showing consideration for others (Titus 3:2).”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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My Dumb Phone, Avoiding Mis- and Disinformation, and the Dawning of the Metaverse — Points of Interest  for March 28, 2022

Dru Johnson: Spiritual Lessons from My Dumb Phone

Despite much evidence that our use of smartphones is really REALLY bad for us, many – and I include myself – struggle to consistently manage our usage. Articles like one from an early adopter of reversing the current trends are helpful. Check out the whole thing and challenge yourself to make real changes.

“Scripture commands weekly stillness—Sabbath. Our bodies are designed for the daily stillness of sleep, where we trust the sovereignty of God to uphold all things together… And yet, my phone was becoming my main source of mental burden. It’s always on.

The number one benefit for me [of switching to a ‘dumb phone’] became clarity of mind and time to think. A month in and I feel much more coherent in my own headspace. After my body fully realized that there’s no need to pull out my phone for anything, I began attending to smells, sounds, and sights more than before. My prayers have also increased, and more in the mode of intercession than pleading for personal favors… In unremarkable ways, moving to a low-tech phone eased my terror of stillness by forcing quiet into a dozen little junctures of my day.”

Patrick Miller: How to Avoid Misinformation and Disinformation Online

Wedded to our smartphone usage is our obsession with social media. This combination of hardware and software is dominating our lives. Many seem hopelessly addicted. Take note…

“Every social media algorithm is designed to pinpoint successful posts (i.e., posts that attract engagement such as comments, likes, or shares) and put them in front of as many people as possible. This keeps users on the platform longer, which means more ad revenue. Emotionally gripping posts are great for business. Who cares if they’re true?”

“‘I can’t trust anything’ cynicism is not the answer to the abundance of untruth online. Instead, we must love truth by seeking it out. Christians should be known as those who seek to understand context in the face of decontextualization, who seek truth in the face of disinformation.”

Gene Veith: The Goal Is to Make the Metaverse our “Primary” Reality

You may be hearing talk of the “metaverse”. If you’re not sure what the metaverse is, there’s some good info here. The following quote is from a board member of Mark Zuckerberg’s company, Marc Andreessen:

“Reality has had 5,000 years to get good, and is clearly still woefully lacking for most people; I don’t think we should wait another 5,000 years to see if it eventually closes the gap. We should build — and we are building — online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in.”

This is frightening stuff. We already know that living virtually is destroying our humanity and yet our digital overlords are intent on making our use constant and all-encompassing. Will we go along?

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Missionaries in Ukraine, Failing With Screentime, and “Doing Business” With the World – Points of Interest for March 21, 2022

Vasyl Ostryi: To Stay and Serve – Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine

Here is a first-hand account from missionaries on the ground in Ukraine.

“We have decided to stay, both as a family and as a church. When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need… We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.”

Tim Challies: When Parents Feel Like We Are Mostly Failing Most of the Time

Over the last year, I feel like I’ve made progress on managing my screen time, but every so often I realize that I’ve fallen into the same bad habits. Does it work the same way for you? We also struggle to manage our kids’ screentime, and in this article, Tim Challies tells us why that is. 

“Most of us hesitate to properly manage our children’s use of their devices at least in part because we don’t care to manage our own. There’s nothing intrinsic to being a parent that gives you the right to watch endless amounts of YouTube while capping your kids at a half hour. Though we hate to admit it, much of our children’s behavior is learned behavior. If you want to know who they’ve learned it from, you should probably start with the person in the mirror.”

Robert Rothwell: Can Christians “Do Business” with the World?

I’m seeing some church leaders promoting a separate Christian marketplace or numerous Christian “micro-economies” to remove and protect the church from the world and its systems. While this might seem to have some merit on the surface, and while we should indeed distance ourselves from obvious evil and we do business, these ideas don’t seem to hold up in light of scripture. There are several good quotes below, but the whole article is worth reading. 

“Paul’s clarification on the matter shows that he does not want us to remove ourselves from the world. He wants us to associate with sinners—not in endorsing or joining in their sin, but in making ourselves available to them so that they can hear the gospel… Therefore, because we are not to separate from the world into a Christian ghetto, we have to participate in the world’s economy and do business with our non-Christian neighbors. There is no way around it.”

“Jesus commended the paying of taxes to the very authorities He knew would soon crucify Him. The Roman Empire was not merely non-Christian—it was anti-Christian… Since Jesus and Paul would never tell us to do anything that involves us in sin, we may deduce from these passages that Christians are not morally responsible if their tax dollars are used for sinful purposes. And if we are not morally responsible for what the government does with our tax dollars, we are certainly not responsible for what companies do with our purchasing dollars.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Darryl Dash on Ministry Hacks and David Hood on The Trucker Convoy – Points of Interest for February 21, 2022

This is a weekly roundup of pieces I read on other sites around the web. Click on the titles to open the articles in a new tab. Happy reading!

Darryl Dash: You Can’t Hack Your Way to a Faithful Ministry

These are some good observations by my friend Darryl Dash. I can attest to the fact that, as Darryl says here, suffering helps. It is never pleasant but it always accomplishes whatever God has sent it to accomplish.

“The only one way to develop a soul that has anything to offer is to walk with God through the ups and downs of life, faithfully participating in the ordinary means of grace for a long time. Such a soul comes from experiencing God’s sanctifying work in your life for years. Suffering helps. So does growing old, but even that isn’t enough. God will work in you through his Spirit, and you must respond to that work in faith and obedience. You can’t microwave or hack your way to this kind of growth. When it comes to ministry, everything you offer is a result of that deep walk with and delight in God, and no shortcuts exist to get there.”

Darryl Dash

David Hood: Reflections on the trucker convoy, freedom, and our True Hope

It is amazing, but not surprising, how quickly the heated rhetoric about the convoy has subsided in light of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This is good on some counts, as it has lowered the temperature on a situation that was in the early stages of exploding, but it is bad on others since there was progress being made by way of these heated discussions among those having them.

I really hate the phrase “Nobody’s mind is changed by arguing!” There is indeed a type of arguing that is fruitless, but who has ever changed their mind about anything without hearing an argument that was different from what they already believed?

To that end, I thought David Hood did a fine job in his article of balancing praise and cautions. Although quite long, the entire article is worth reading. Key quote:

“True freedom is living the way we were meant to with the One we were created for, and that freedom is only found in Jesus Christ. That freedom requires no laws, no judges, and no governments to uphold it. It is upheld by God in heaven and it exists regardless of earthly circumstances. We can have all of the political freedoms on Earth and still be slaves. We can have absolutely zero political freedoms and still be the freest we’ve ever been.”

David Hood

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Conrad Black, John Piper, and Divisions in the Church – Points of Interest for February 21, 2022

This is a weekly roundup of pieces I read on other sites around the web. Click on the titles to open the articles in a new tab. Happy reading!

Conrad Black: Trudeau’s wretched smear-job of truckers highlights sorry state of Canadian leadership

“The official response to the truckers protesting COVID restrictions is one of the most disgraceful political episodes in the history of Canada as an autonomous country… The truckers can win this confrontation by exposing Trudeau’s pompous posturing and his slander of the truckers as a fraud. But they can’t win by trying to intimidate the government and by so inconveniencing the public that they demand the government make concessions to end the truckers’ protests… The truckers are right to rail against authoritarian mandates, but they should remember that they have no mandate from anyone to do anything, and their hold on public support is tenuous.”

John Piper: Are Divisions in the Church Necessary?

“When we come to Christ, we are grafted in by the Spirit to one body, Jesus Christ, and members one of another, so that the command in Ephesians 4 is to ‘maintain the unity.’ Don’t create it — show it to the world… the public effectiveness of our unity is when unbelievers see on the ground attitudes and acts of love among believers.”

Paul Carter: Towards Unity Of Mind And Judgment

“The Bible has to be our common authority. If you are reading Calvin more than you are reading the Bible, then you are part of the problem. If you are reading Rushdoony more than you are reading the Bible, then you are part of the problem. If you are reading Zahn, Boyd, McKnight, DeYoung, Keller or Carson more than you are reading the Bible, then you are part of the problem. Using a scholar as a guide or a conversation partner is wonderful – but using them as a lens or a cipher leads to tribalism.”

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Harry Potter, Exercising Caution in Our Online Words, and The Confessions of Mark Heard – Points of Interest for February 7, 2022

This is a weekly roundup of pieces I read on other sites around the web. Click on the titles to open the articles in a new tab. Happy reading!

The Strange Fate of Hamilton and Harry Potter | Carl R. Trueman 

“Years ago, when teaching at seminary, I used to tell the students that moral relevance in the modern world was a cruel and fickle mistress. However much Christians accommodated themselves to her demands, sooner or later she would want more. Christian morality and the morality of the world simply could not be reconciled in the long term… Today, moral tastes have too short a shelf life for that. Indeed, embracing the moral spirit of the age is now more akin to having a one-night stand—and that with somebody who kicks you out of bed in the morning and calls the police.”

An Unexpected Reply | Phil Cotnoir

“We have far too easily divorced our online words from the stringent commands about our speech that we find all over the Scriptures. Something about the disembodied nature of the digital medium offers a kind of veil that blinds us to the spiritual significance of our words. And so the digital world is not only a far less human place because it is necessarily disembodied, but also because that disembodiment encourages us to dehumanize others as well.”

The Confessions of Mark Heard
If you’ve never listened to the music of Mark Heard, please spend some time with the playlist below.

“Heard had an ear for melody and a voice full of yearning, but it’s his lyrics that make his songs resonate so deeply for many. He sang of the complexities of human life — the wistfulness of nostalgia, the spectre of death, the joys and ambiguities of romantic love, the quest for truth and permanence in a culture that values neither — while pointing beyond those things to a transcendent hope, however and wherever that hope is found.”

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