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News That Illustrates: February 18, 2013

Pizza Chain Makes a Very Special Delivery
Army National Guard Maj. Shawn Faulkner wanted to reach out from his post in Afghanistan and do something special for his wife's birthday. Since his wife loves Mellow Mushroom pizza, he contacted their corporate offices and asked them to deliver a pizza and a $50 gift card to their Jacksonville, Florida home. Well, the local Mellow Mushroom franchise did better than that! Their chef made a heart-shaped pizza and even added heart-shaped pepperoni slices. Then their delivery guy dropped off the pizza, a bunch of flowers and balloons, and the $50 gift card—all for free. Josephine Faulkner said, "I was surprised and excited and overwhelmed and all of that. It was so nice." The General Manager of Mellow Mushroom emailed Maj. Faulkner and said, "We got you bro."

PREACHING ANGLES: God, grace of; Husbands; Marriage; Valentine's Day

Megan Fox on Speaking in Tongues
The Wall Street Journal reported on a recent interview about the actress Megan Fox "getting the Holy Ghost" as she grew up in a Pentecostal home. The article also provided a brief (and largely positive) history of Pentecostalism in America and why it's so attractive to millions of Christians around the world. The original interview with Ms. Fox had a fascinating exchange in which has this highly-preachable quote: "I can't stand pills. I don't like drinking. I don't like feeling out of control …. And I know what you're thinking, Then why would I want to go to church and speak in tongues? You have to understand, there I feel safe. I was raised to believe that you're safe in God's hands. But I don't feel safe with myself."

PREACHING ANGLES: Dependence on God; Help from God; Holy Spirit; Pentecost

Most/Least Happy Days Shows Our Struggle with Joy
A recent Gallup poll reveals America's most and least happy days of 2012. Which calendar spots brought smiles? Unsurprisingly, holidays: Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, and New Years Day. Least happy days included specific events such as the day of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., Election Day, and the day after Election Day. It's natural to feel ups and downs for our level of happiness, but how does this relate to the Christian call for joy? While emotions of happiness come and go, the abiding joy of our identity in Jesus can remain, and smooth out the peaks and valleys of our day to day happiness.

PREACHING ANGLES: Happiness; Grief; Joy; Sadness

Restaurant Rewards Well Behaved Family
Ever seen a "Well Behaved Kids" discount on your meal receipt? Neither had the King family of Washington state. While out to dinner with their three young children at a cloth-napkin Italian restaurant, the wait staff was so impressed by the family's well behaved, conversational little ones, that they gave them free dessert and a compliment. A picture of the receipt was posted on the internet, and the story went viral. It's a good reminder that people are always watching us and that we're representing Jesus and our church family wherever we are.

PREACHING ANGLES: Evangelism, lifestyle; Impact; Witnessing

Stop Wasting Time with 'Undesirables'
A Canadian newspaper wrote a story about ConservativeOnly.Com, a dating website that promises to "purge your personal dating pool of liberals, progressives, socialists, Marxists, communists, feminazis, and democrats." (If there isn't one already, somebody will probably start a parallel LiberalOnly.com dating site.) Launched in January of 2012, the site urges its potential members to "stop wasting time with undesirables and sign up to meet the conservative match of your dreams." Many of the profiles are from conservatives claiming to be "trapped" in liberal settings. Isn't there something so utterly human (and so utterly unlike Jesus, see Matthew 5:38-48) about this attempt to avoid people who aren't like us?

PREACHING ANGLES: Enemies; Loving Others; Loving the Unlovely

Pastor, You Must Believe in God
Rod Dehrer reports on a story from Denmark about a Lutheran congregation that's seeking a new pastor. But the church has one non-negotiable but apparently controversial requirement: the prospective pastor must believe in God. In parts of post-Christian Europe, pastors don't always have to believe in God to minister in a church. For instance, one pastor complained, "Personally, I prefer a good agnostic theologian rather than a fundamentalist who believes the Bible [can] fit all human aspects of life." A minister's council issued a protest against this congregation, saying "who can decide if a person has the correct beliefs?" Rod Dreher comments, "In Denmark, what few churchgoing Lutheran Christians there are left are reduced to having to ask that the Church send them a pastor who actually believes in God—and this is controversial!"

PREACHING ANGLES: Church, leadership of; Pastors; Secularism

Don't Forget that Jesus Was a "Dirty God"
Have you ever gotten fed up with the culturally accepted image of Jesus as a clean-cut, goody-two-shoes, blond and blue-eyed white guy? Well, you're not alone. Author and professor Johnnie Moore reminds us in a recent blog post that Jesus fully embraced our humanity—even the uncomfortable, disgusting, and unglamorous parts. "… Actually," says Moore, "the Jesus of the Bible was more human than most people are conditioned to think. I call this the dirty side of Jesus. He was grittier, and a lot more like us than maybe we believe, and that's one of the reasons why so many thousands of people followed him so quickly. They could relate to him." You and I can relate to this dirty Jesus too, no matter how tough or dirty our circumstances might be.

PREACHING ANGLES: Christ, humanity; Christ, incarnation; Incarnation

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