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News That Illustrates: April 30, 2012

Chuck Colson: Dazzled by His Own Implausible Redemption
Dozens of obituaries and tributes have been written about Chuck Colson, but my personal favorite was written by Michael Gerson at The Washington Post. Gerson was a job-seeking college senior when he first met Colson. Gerson claimed that Colson was "my greatest example of the transforming power of grace." And although Colson was "utterly consumed by his calling to serve prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families," Gerson notes that ultimately, "Chuck was possessed, not by some cause, but by someone." Gerson also writes, "Many wondered at Chuck's sudden conversion to Christianity. He seemed to wonder at it himself. He spent each day that followed [his conversion], for nearly 40 years, dazzled by his own implausible redemption." Not a bad way to spend the rest of your life.

PREACHING ANGLES: Gospel; Gratitude; Redemption; Salvation

Hunger Games Makes Archery Cool
Here's a powerful example of how movies (not to mention literature and stories of all kinds) influence people to think and live differently. The Associated Press reported that "in schools and backyards, for their birthdays and out with their dads, kids are gaga for archery." A salesman for an outdoor sports store in New Jersey reported, "All of a sudden sales of bows have, like, tripled." Why the sudden interest in archery? On March 23rd the movie Hunger Games opened in theaters across the country. One of the main characters, a girl named Katniss, wins the hunger games thanks to the archery skills she honed while hunting game in the woods in her native District 12.

PREACHING ANGLES: Entertainment; Heroes; Influence; Stories

Should We Just Forget the Church?
A few weeks ago the Daily Beast uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote a cover story for Newsweek titled "Christianity in Crisis: Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests, and get-rich evangelists." The cover copy urged: "Forget the church. Follow Jesus." Mark Galli wrote a thoughtful response to Sullivan's histrionic screed against the church. While Galli admits that people in the church can exude self-righteousness and mean-spiritedness, the church is the perfect place to follow Jesus and learn how to love like Jesus. Galli writes that there's "no other way to learn love except by plunging in with people like this …. So the church seems to be an academy of love, and the place where the love of Christ meets us more objectively, especially in word and sacrament." This is a fantastic article loaded with great examples of why we need the church and good theology.

PREACHING ANGLES: Church; Doctrine; Theology

Life without Sex: The Asexuality Movement
There's an interesting article at The Atlantic about the founder of AVEN (the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network). Asexuality is defined as an absence of sexual attraction. They aren't celibates. Instead, they just have no interest in sexual relations. Chris Krycho wrote a brilliant response from a Christian perspective. Krycho contends that "the church has an answer to the sexual maladies of our culture, but we must first jettison the idea that we're going to win people over to the church by being sexually hip, and we must reject our culture's toxic equation of identity with sexuality." More specifically, Krycho writes, "Only Christianity both values human sexuality as a genuine societal and personal good and values celibacy as a genuine societal and personal good." Krycho provides a beautiful example of how to respond to a current issue with grace, discernment, and biblical insight.

PREACHING ANGLES: Sex; Sexuality; Theology

Sex Trafficking—It's Not Just "Over There"
Here are three shocking articles for every American who thinks sex trafficking only happens in faraway places like Nepal or Thailand. At USA Today Kristen Powers states that "we have a global epidemic of sex trafficking." She writes, "Men working abroad on behalf of our government engage in this kind of behavior so frequently that the Pentagon was forced in 2004 to draft an anti-prostitution rule aimed at preventing the U.S. military from being complicit in fueling sex trafficking." Secondly, Nicholas Kristoff shares an infuriating story about a young girl named "Brianna" who was forced into prostitution—at least in part thanks to Wall Street bankers. Finally, offering a biblical response, Albert Mohler writes; "American Christians who understand the incomprehensible scandal and moral horror of sex trafficking must recognize that this is an issue of high moral priority.

PREACHING ANGLES: Injustice; Morality; Social action

"World Peace" Bashes Man in the Head
Metta World Peace (that's his new legal name), formerly known as Ron Artest of the L.A. Lakers pro basketball team, was suspended seven games for giving a vicious elbow to James Harden. After his name change, Artest—World Peace said, "Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world." His publicist said that World Peace chose Metta as his first name because "it is a traditional Buddhist word that means loving kindness and friendliness towards all." After the brutal elbow to the head (which from replays appears to be entirely intentional), Metta World Peace said, "I got real emotional and excited, and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with the unintentional elbow."

PREACHING ANGLES: Apology; Conversion; New Name

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Ken Schroeder

May 03, 2012  11:48am

The Michael Gerson obituary of Chuck Colson provides a great introductory story for my message from Mark 7:31-37. What appears to be a passage on compassionate ministry, Mark seems to want his audience to see much more. Christ offers a strong example of evangelistic ministry and the necessity on the part of the individual to have his ears (and heart) "opened" to the gospel.

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