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March 28, 2012Culture

Morning Roundup - March 28, 2012

The Subtle Art of Sabotaging a Pastor -- Jared Wilson

There are many temptations common among the Enemy's undershepherds but one universal temptation of them arises from their flesh and it is this: they want people to be pleased with them. Wanting to be liked is not a sin, really -- to use the Enemy's terminology -- but it can be quickly turned to one at the hands of a spiritual disintegrator as shrewd as yourself. Some tacks you might consider:

Suggest to your client that he works for the people, not the Enemy. This will not be a hard sell as they are faces he sees every day. Remind him who pays his salary. The quicker you can get your patient to see himself as a professional, as an employee, the better.

Strike up with your fellow workers to send in to his office, voicemail, and email inbox parishioner after parishioner with demands, requests, and philosophical banners to wave. Through them propose hill after hill to die on, all save Golgotha.

Keep his head spinning. Even so-called "innocent" concerns can be proper distractions from Who your patient is ultimately beholden to if they offer plausible substitutes for the "first importance" of the Bad News. The slip into people-pleasing mode can be masked as subtly as a serpent slithering in the tall grass (no offense intended to his Majesty).

Fifteen Reasons Why I Stayed in the Church -- Hannah at Sometimes a Light

Imagine the worst case scenario of church politics; add to that having to live on government support because the church won't pay your husband (the pastor) enough to support you and your three children ("Nobody asked you to have another kid.") Throw in some deputation experience and seeing first-hand how we're often simply franchising American Christianity via missions. Stir until you reach mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion, and you've pretty much got our story covered.

And yet we stayed. Even more, we subject our children to the weekly routine of church life (despite the fact that my five-year-old pouts every Sunday morning about having to go.) To top it all off, my husband just accepted a position as a senior pastor of a conservative church only a little more than an hour away from an evangelical Mecca.

So why have we stayed unlike so many of our peers? I hope it's not because we're co-dependent or that we're blind to the problems. And I hope it's not because we haven't evaluated our position or because we lack critical thinking skills. Actually, to be honest, it's probably those very things that have kept us in the church. So here's my list in no particular order:

1. I believe that there is no such thing as Church (with a capital "C") without church (with a lower case "c")--as messy and as difficult as that may be.

2. I want to be the change in the world that I seek. And that means engaging the problems closest to me. Like in the next pew. Like in this pew. Like in my own seat.

3. I believe that reconciling nations and people starts at home. If I can't work toward reconciliation in my own church, there is no way I will be able to accomplish it on a broader level anywhere else.

4. I'm not a militant separatist. I don't believe that everybody has to think EXACTLY the way I do before I will worship with them. Even if they are more conservative than I am.

5. I don't expect the church to be anything other than it is--a group of difficult, broken people plodding their way to glory.

Read the rest here.

The Scribes Didn't Just Copy the Text -- Jim Hamilton

The scribes didn't just copy the text. They also left some comments in margins, like these listed by Tommy Wasserman:

"New parchment, bad ink; I say nothing more.

"I am very cold."

"That's a hard page and a weary work to read it."

"Let the reader's voice honor the writer's pen."

"This page has not been written very slowly."

"The parchment is hairy."

"The ink is thin."

Read the rest here.

The Archaeological Evidence For Jesus -- Craig A. Evans

The archaeological evidence shows that Jesus grew up in a small village, Nazareth, about four miles from Sepphoris, a prominent city in the early first century C.E. This city had a Greco-Roman look, complete with paved, columned street, but its inhabitants were observant Jews. The evidence further shows that Nazareth was linked to a network of roads that accommodated travel and commerce. The quaint notion that Jesus grew up in rustic isolation has been laid to rest. The youthful Jesus may well have visited Sepphoris, whose theatre may have been the inspiration for his later mockery of religious hypocrites as play-actors.

The evidence for the existence of synagogue buildings in the time of Jesus is now quite strong. Archaeologists have identified at least seven such buildings that date before the year 70. It is in the context of the synagogue that Jesus would have matured in the religious tradition of Israel and heard Scripture read and interpreted. Although some historians think rates of literacy in the first-century Roman Empire were quite low, archaeological finds, such as the tablets found in Vindolanda, England, near Hadrian's Wall, or the thousands of graffiti etched on the scorched walls of Pompeii and Herculaneum, suggest that at least a crude literacy was widespread and reached all levels of society. This evidence, along with the Gospels' portrait of a Jesus who debates scribes and ruling priests, asking them if they had ever read this or that passage of Scripture, suggests that Jesus, founder of a movement that produced and collected literature, was himself literate.

Archaeological discoveries have given us a pretty good idea of the wealth of the ruling priests Jesus encountered in the precincts of Jerusalem's famous temple. We may have the name of Caiaphas, the name of the high priest who condemned Jesus, inscribed on an ossuary (bone box). Only one year ago it was reported that an ossuary has been found with the name of the priest's granddaughter. A number of other priestly ossuaries and possibly even the burial chamber of the family of Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas.

Of great interest are several discoveries that have a bearing on the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. These include the skeletal remains of a man who had been crucified. (An iron spike is embedded in his right heel!) Despite his execution, his body was taken down from the cross and was properly buried, in accordance with Jewish custom. There is no reason to think that Jesus was treated any differently. His body was placed in a tomb, with the expectation that his bones later would be gathered and placed in his family's tomb. The Easter discovery dramatically altered this expectation.

Will there be more? I have no doubt. Just last week, a court in Israel concluded that there is no convincing evidence of fraud in the case of the ossuary bearing the inscription, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." The debates and controversies will continue.

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Morning Roundup - March 28, 2012